The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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August 9, 2013

Joe Hadsall: Perfect time to look at local radio talent

JOPLIN, Mo. — My sympathies and condolences go to Kidd Kraddick and his friends, family and fans.

The other members of the "Kidd Kraddick in the Morning Show" returned to the mics Monday without their namesake, who died suddenly last month. Kraddick had a big reputation for charitable actions, including the New Orleans fundraising golf tournament where he died.

He left a lasting legacy at the Irving, Texas, radio station from where his syndicated show was broadcast.

The show will go on, somehow. I don't know exactly how, but the show will transform without Kraddick's presence. Maybe someone new will join, or maybe the other on-air personalities will keep it going.

But that's for people in Irving to decide. Here's my question: Why can't the same thing happen here in Joplin?

A trend in modern radio that has really bothered me is the disappearing local DJs in favor of syndicated shows -- especially morning shows, which give stations the greatest chance to ingrain their signals deeply into listeners' lives.

I was thrilled, for example, when KJML-FM (Rock 107.1) scrapped Mancow and replaced him with Shark. But I was equally bummed when they turned over nighttime broadcasting to Lou Brutus, a syndicated rock guru who resides nowhere near the 417 or 620.

I'm OK with some syndicated shows on the weekend -- I understand their allure and value -- but weekday time should to be filled with local voices. And any station that eschews DJs completely just creeps me out. Might as well be one of those obscure, strangely named satellite stations.

I got my media start in radio. It led me to magazines, which led to newspapers and eventually my position with The Joplin Globe. I still have a lot of love for local radio stations -- the keyword in that last sentence is "local."

I couldn't give a toss about satellite radio. Why pay for a service with no commercials when I can just switch to another station when commercials come on? And satellite stations don't have my neighbors on air. When I turn on local radio stations, I hear voices that belong to people I see in the field, at special events, around town.

One such person is Steve Kraus, the program director for KSYN-FM, which is the Zimmer-owned station that broadcasts "Kraddick." Kraus taught me how to adjust levels, cue music and answer calls at a similar Springfield Top-40 station. Watching him in the booth, I learned that the music is most important, and sharing that experience with listeners means so much more than being a star on the radio.

KSYN has a cool opportunity here: Why not revive a local morning show for our Top-40 market? New competitor KCAR-FM (Star 104.3), operated by KJML owner AMI, doesn't have a local morning show. And another AMI station, KMOQ-FM (New Life Radio) is making an impact with its local morning show featuring Howie and Bubba, despite being an audience-narrowing contemporary Christian station. (Arbitron ratings might suggest something different -- I didn't look, because Arbitron ratings are useless and irrelevant in this market.)

I realize that last paragraph is filled with unsolicited advice from a guy who doesn't even work in the field anymore. I know firsthand how worthless that advice can be.

But as a listener, I'd rather hear our people. Why couldn't Joplin be the home of a broadcaster who had every bit of the warmth, reach and generosity as Kidd Kraddick? It can. And that broadcaster could be a mere intern right now.

Locally owned radio companies need to invest in local talent. When sales representatives from radio stations solicit advertisements from local businesses, they say that it's good to invest locally. By investing more in homegrown talent, those stations can practice what they preach. And I'll listen.

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