What does “Local” mean and does it matter any more?

While doing my testing thing the other night, I was listening to WBT-AM in Charlotte, NC, a city I lived in for about 4 years, and lived near for about 10.

WBT used to be owned by Jefferson-Pilot, an insurance company. Maybe a decade ago, the station was sold to Greater Media, the company that runs WTKK-FM in Boston.

I was struck that the “local” host had not the slightest tinge of a North Carolina accent, even a make believe one. The host said his name was Doc Washburn – I thought I was listening to Doc Watson – I know most hosts by their voice – maybe it is just coincidence their name is similar.

Doc Washburn most recently worked in Panama City Florida – from my time listening to him, not only does he sound like he is doing the show from his studio in Florida, there was no sense that he has spent any time in Charlotte or knows anything about the city.

While there are military facilities along the Atlantic coast, there are none near Charlotte. Spending more money on the military may be an issue in Panama City with Tyndall Air Base, it isn’t a bread and butter issue to Charlotte. NASCAR, March madness, Waffle House, the best type of BBQ and where to get it are things people would want to talk about.

Contrast this to Henry Boggan

While WBT can be heard after dark all up and down the East Coast, you knew within a few minutes he was local. He grew up in North Carolina, his family all lived in the area, he could talk about the back roads up to Asheville where the moonshiners lived, and the hippies living in Love Valley, and the art of playing the spoons – because he lived his life there and loved and respected the people.

I don’t know that it’s possible to ever go back to that time, but it’s kind if a time for introspection, at least for me.

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1 Response to What does “Local” mean and does it matter any more?

  1. Art Stone says:

    Tonight – Burnie Thompson from Florida is telling a poignant story about sea turtles to the audience of WLOH-AM in Ohio. I’m actually wondering if this is an accident – the station used to carry Joy Browne – maybe they didn’t get the memo

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