School closings via text message

I did the sign-on shift for most of my time on the radio. And on days that it snowed (not that often in southeast Missouri), the phone would ring off the hook from parents (and students) asking about school closings. The superintendent would get out early to check the roads and then call the radio stations.

Even though we gave the closings every 5 minutes, the phone never stopped ringing. It was madness.

We got a little snow here in Jefferson City overnight and while Shawna was bringing me my oatmeal, she got a text message from the Jefferson City school system, alerting her there would be no school today.

The school uses texting to communicate a variety of things, even providing updates throughout the day.

I assume the local radio stations still get a call and many people rely heavily on the on-air reports. This is just one more instance of disintermediation. The people with the information (schools) communicating directly to the people who want/need the information (students/parents).

I’m guessing most folks don’t give their mobile numbers to just anybody. And how valuable is it to the schools to have the mobile number of every “customer?”

Do most radio stations have the mobile numbers of the listeners? I would hope so. And are they using those numbers to provide something as valuable as school closing information?

4 thoughts on “School closings via text message

  1. It occurred to me yesterday morning that my 1-year-old daughter won’t have a memory of huddling around the radio early in the morning, waiting to see if her school name is called. I realized this when my 12-year-old son got online without a thought to check the school closings list.
    On a semi-related note, my son and his classmates gave Food Network-style presentations of recipes in class yesterday as an assignment. Nobody bothered to record any of them. How easy would it have been to set up a video camera, upload the video to YouTube, and let the kids assess themselves?

  2. Very interesting indeed. Kory and I had a couple of discussions with our parents during Thanksgiving. Our elders were convinced of the complete incompatibility of things like text messaging and mobile devices with the educational process. They cited kids texting in class instead of pretending they were anachronistically in a 19th-century schoolhouse.
    We argued that such technology was not going to go away and these institutions should embrace it, and find a way to make it a productive part of the learning experience. They did not think such a thing was a good idea or practical. Here we see the first of many very powerful and obvious applications. Ha, ha, ha.

  3. Steve – we’ve been working with radio on a school closings and delays using both email and text notifications for over a year, and the response from listeners has been very positive. Of course it doesn’t cut down on the calls to the station as much as you’d expect… then again, people still call my church wanting to know what time midnight mass is..?
    One of the most interesting text alerts I’ve seen has been here in Ohio – (Powell is a bedroom community of Columbus – Delaware County) – Delaware uses text alerts for tornado warnings! It’s used together with voice (phone) and public (siren). You’d probably get more use out of it in Missouri, but neat none-the-less.

  4. BTW, those text messages are SPONSORED! Hawthorn Bank was the sponsor of today’s text announcing NO SCHOOL.
    …saw an interesting bit of news the other night where teachers are now registering their class (just like engaged couples register for gifts) for items needed in the classroom. Teachers are spending an average $4,300 of their money on classroom supplies, this way parents and corporations can chip in.
    Also mentioned was the teacher that sold AD SPACE on tests! His ad space is sold out! Every kid that takes the test got a coupon for (…whatever it was). Proceeds went to buy needed classroom supplies. Brilliant!

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