Covering the Iowa Caucuses

The Iowa Caucuses (Jan 3) is a big deal in the national political scheme of things. One of Learfield’s news networks –Radio Iowa– will cover it, just as we’ve done since the network began in 1987.

We’ll provide two 4-minute reports each hour throughout the evening. These audio reports will be fed by satellite to affiliated radio stations throughout the state (and streamed live on our website). The radio stations will air some or all of these reports along with whatever other programming they are doing that night. This is the way networks like ours have operated since… well, since forever.

The editorial edge of state networks is our ability to focus on the "state" angle of the stories we cover. The Iowa Caucuses will be the big national story of the day (evening). Every news organization in the country will be covering the story, wall-to-wall.

So where’s our niche? What do we provide that a listener can’t get more of, faster somewhere else? Is our "target audience" people who can’t be in front of their TV or computer that evening? We have to proceed on the assumption there will be people listening to their local radio stations that night and hearing our reports a couple of times an hour.

I’m not sure where I’m headed with this ramble. I’m just trying to understand how –and to what degree– things are changing for news organizations like ours.

And whither the bloggers? Will they be live blogging the caucuses? Is that allowed? Not sure what that would add, since the news organizations (or the Associated Press) will have –I assume– someone covering each of the caucus locations.

My friend (and Radio Iowa News Director) Kay Henderson has been living and breathing Iowa politics for the last year or so. She probably has the answers to most of these questions. Or at least some interesting insight. I suspect she’s too busy to enlighten us, but watch the comments, just in case. She checks in here.

I think I’ve lost the thread of this ramble… I just know that I’m glad I’m no longer responsible for coming up with long and short term strategy for our networks.

We’ll know how many radio stations are "clearing" our reports on Caucus night. We will NOT know how many people are listening to those reports. That’s a question for the Magic Eight Ball. If I could ask one more, it would be how will all of this change four years from now?

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