I had some time on the road driving a route from Kansas City to Joplin, MO, to Indianapolis, to Cincinnati and back to Kansas City. While the 1,400 miles can be fatiguing, there is one aspect I look forward to: Listening to the radio.
When I drive through St. Louis, Indianapolis and Cincinnati (my hometown), I of course seek out the big heritage stations I know. But these aren’t the highlight of the trip. It’s what I hear in the smaller towns that reminds me of what radio is all about.
A few times in Missouri and Illinois I heard a news break that covered commodities and farm reports. Anticipated yields from the sales of crops and livestock don’t figure into my daily life, but those station listeners certainly listened for the details. I heard about several county fairs, weekend swap meets, upcoming holiday activities (this trip was a few weeks before Independence Day), and church or school functions. I heard a few classic remotes from the local appliance store and car dealer. I heard a few contests with a grand prize provided by a local merchant.
It was real radio. Radio for the public. As I zipped down the Interstate, the local community was moving at its regular pace and listening to the radio. Those local stations are an integral part of their communities. Sure, any radio station has an important role in the local community, but that role is amplified in these smaller towns.