When I was growing up, I listened to the radio stations KELP (920 AM), KINT (1600 AM) and XROK – which was from Juarez but had a killer signal that could be heard all the way down into Central America on a clear night.
My Dad listened to KTSM (easy listening and a favorite of waiting rooms and government offices throughout the city) and KHEY 690 AM, which was El Paso’s only country radio station at the time. My brother listened to KPAS (94 FM) which was the precursor of KLAQ and the first real “album rock” station in the city.
We certainly didn’t have a lot of choices, but the we were happy with the ones we had.
One thing that most of these stations had in common at the time was that on the hour, every hour, was a five minute news break either from the likes of the AP, or Reuters, or ABC News or some other national news source.
Each broadcast was followed by a minute or so of the local weather.
The point was, I suppose, that the kids listening to the radio, no matter the station, also received the news whether they liked it or not. They may not have paid attention to it, but they got it. And some news, if even by osmosis, was better than no news.
Heck, KHEY even had “Paul Harvey News” at noon each day for a 15 minute news break. No matter who you were, you got the news at the top of each hour for five minutes (with one 30 second ad break) no matter what station you listened to.
You couldn’t “skip” to a station that was not playing the news. Over the years, the amount of time the news breaks became shorter and the number of ads increased, until eventually, almost all “entertainment” stations dropped the hourly news altogether.
Now if you want the news, you have to be to get into a news station. The folks that listen to those stations pretty much know the news already news, so it is an exercise in redundancy.
Today, you would be hard pressed to find the national news on any non-talk radio station, and even less local news save the weather and traffic. Streaming entertainment is even worse.
In order to hear the news on Spotify, Sirius XM, Pandora or iTunes Radio, the listener has to purposely select a “News Radio” station. Even those selections are not without some controversy as a listener can choose “Progressive” radio, or “Patriot” radio news, all with a decided slant.
Otherwise, it is a news wasteland among the streaming services. No news on over the air radio, no news on streaming services, and no news getting into the ears of young adults unless they purposely seek it out.
Don’t even ask if a student (or most adults anymore) have picked up and read a newspaper. We all know that that is not happening.
That needs to change.
Today, a good deal of young adults get their news from the non-traditional sources of news information such as social media and late night comedy shows. And while that is all well and good, I doubt that anyone would say that comedians are non-biased in their reporting. That is because, well, they are COMEDIANS!
Social media allows everyone to have conversations about what is happening, but for the most part, social media is also chamber of what they already know, so there is little or no true conversation about what is happening.
Research has shown that young people that are aware of what is happening around the country and world are much more likely to make more informed decisions at the ballot box and be much more politically active. They actually vote when they know what is happening around them.
For those reasons and many more, may I make this modest proposal?
Bring back hourly news programs to all of your radio and streaming services. On the hour, every hour, night and day, every day. You would be doing all of us a great favor, and you would be helping our country begin to understand that we all have common issues that need to be addressed and solved.
You would be helping to break down the siloed echo chambers of social media that we are all pretty much living in, and you would be making a great step forward in helping heal a deeply divided nation.
At least think about it. Please? Thanks.
Author: Tim Holt is an educator and writer, with over 33 years experience in education and opines on education-related topics here and on his own award-winning blog: HoltThink. He values your feedback.
Feel free to leave a comment. Read his previous columns here.