A recent survey conducted of radio newsrooms in the top-50 markets reveals that 66% of radio stations report that their station has been affected by the economic downturn. Of those experiencing the impact of the tough economy, nearly 70% say they have laid off workers and cut their staff size, while more than 15% of stations say they have to do more with less.

Along with the cutback trend, more than 88% of stations report that they no longer have reporters dedicated to covering specific beats.  In fact, of the six stations reporting that they still have beat reporters, half of those reporters are business/economic reporters who are undoubtedly covering the current economic turmoil.

What does all this mean for you as you are pitching your story? With cutbacks becoming more common, 42% of newsrooms say they are more reliant on outside sources to get stories on the air.  This provides both an opportunity and a challenge in your pitching.

With reporters increasingly relying on outside sources and doing more with less, those with strong storylines to pitch may have more opportunity to get their news on the air, but that doesn’t mean that stations have become less discriminating.  Since reporters are serving more as general assignment reporters and not covering particular beats, it’s more important than ever to speak in layman’s terms and bring them information that’s important to the average radio listener.  And these days, that means pocketbook issues.

When asked what other elements newsrooms look for in stories, local angles and local spokespeople for interviews were mentioned by more than half of stations as being very important to getting a story on the air, followed by the impact of economic issues in their local community, as the second most relevant element of a story.  Further, the survey indicates that 28% of stations said their stations no longer have time for features, with their stations covering hard-hitting, current news stories.
So, if you have a timely story or spokesperson that speaks to the current economic situation, and your story speaks to the average radio listener, your local radio station wants you!