Widgets Magazine

Be In My Broadcast When this is Over

Josh Srago is heading out to NAB next week to take the FCC’s Chairman Wheeler to task on the Net Neutrality Rules. You can see his questions to the esteemed chairman here. -*The-*questions, if he can get them-*answered, could be quite revealing.
NAB is no stranger to revelations both to the industry and personal. -*Of all the technical gatherings, NAB has the most influence. -* -*Here George Tucker reflected in 2009 on-*an industry leader who kept it very local.
 
Originally Published May, 2009-*
Paul Sidney died a few weeks ago, in all likelihood you have never heard of him, but if you are in anyway involved in community building-*or broadcast,-*you need know-*his story.
Paul Sidney ran and was the voice of WLNG radio out of Sag Harbor Long Island. -*WLNG is local as local radio can get. The station is a throwback to late 50,Aeos style of operation where announcers add echo and heavy bottom EQ to their voices and the News is local, local and local.-* Growing up in the Hamptons of Long Island it was it was impossible to not be influenced by the sound and programming of WLNG as it was everywhere and at every event.
You can read Paul’s obituary here, it tells the tale of his coming over to WLNG, becoming its driving force and cult of personality. What it will not tell you is just how deeply he ingratiated himself and the radio station into the very fabric of the lives of those who listened to ,AeoLNG and even those who did not. -*The comments section of the article will do that well enough.
In addition to music and local news WLNG features live call in shows such as “Swap n’ Shop” -where people call in to trade a 1940,Aeos fly wheel for a couch or someone looking to buy or swap for a full set of tools.-* While at times it can be nap inducing it also is a window into people,Aeos lives, needs and character. Paul would not just help the caller to describe what they wanted to trade or relive themselves of but also would check on their status He engaged them in conversation about the news of their neighborhood.
It was not radio, it was community.
The radio station was among the first to have merchants record their own commercials, clearly not professional actors but direct and personal. The ads could be grating and awkward but then so were all the rest and yes, it was the person who owned the store. The ads always left-* you feeling ,Aei ,Aeothat,Aeos Jim,Aeos place, I should stop by and see how things are doing.
Having the mission to be local as local radio gets WLNG and Paul would travel to every possible event occurring on the east end of Long Island, eventually using two fully equipped remote trucks .-* The remotes were Mr. Sidney,Aeos glory and crowning achievement.-* These over-sized airstream RV,Aeos were literally at every store opening, town parade, fund raiser and carnival. The draw an ,AeoLNG remote could ,Aei(and still does I am told)- muster was phenomenal. It was not an event of note if the remote trucks were missing.
Paul knew how to work a crowd, how to detail just enough to give listeners a good picture, keep them listening AND to attend the event.
In my mid to late teens I developed an overly impressive angst about my surroundings and began a lifelong quest to find new, interesting and thought provoking music and media. This local radio station was the epitome of all I wanted to get away from. In my rush to find something else, the remarkableness of Paul Sidney and WLNG was ignored.
As a young person, grappling with defining a personal identity, you grew to loathe when parents put WLNG on, pronouncing it one of the seven signs of local lameness. Yet hearing the station was always comfortable, like going to the carnival with your younger brother- you would rather go alone, check out the girls and hang with friends. But he,Aeos your brother and its okay.
Leaving for-*NYC and its heady world of aggregating cultures and slick production values put-*the ,Aeofarm report,Aeo station behind me.
Imagine my shock when-*attending an NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) tradeshow and one of the first things-*I-*hear about-*upon stepping on to the exhibit floor is of -*Paul Sidney. -*I nearly retained my youthful arrogance thinking ,Aeowhat,Aeos this goat doing here, intruding on my sanctuary?’
Instead I stopped to see just why everyone was talking about-*Paul.-* The comments-*were eager, often hyperactive, asking just how such a small station could grab such large shares in the face of the conglomerates and city backed stations. The-*answers stuck me and started to chip away at preconceived notions.
My thoughts wandered back to WLNG and Mr. Sidney as I started to get involved in hosting bulletin boards on BBS, AOL and later a few web communities in the early to mid 90s.
It always struck me that group chat rooms were, in effect, community halls- only broadcast. Many compared and still compare-*social media-*to the days of CB radio popularity, complete with the snide disregard for the value of conversations it generated. The online community often overtly revels in the fact that they are community, ideas are shared and bonds forged.
More often than not individuals or groups talk just to hear themselves but in the end fundamental value is created,Aei community radio. -*Social media now is, in part, the largest community radio project ever, only the community is not a location but global and based on common interest.
Next time you tweet an event, start a rolling discussion or post ,Aeoreal-time,Aeo photos , remember that you are utilizing a form once dominated by people who used radio to build and keep communities talking. We owe , and can learn a great deal from, men like Paul Sidney- they provided the framework for it to be successful.
Paul Sidney,Aeos /uber local radio is the model we-*should pay attention to, all media is local, regardless of the physical location of the community. Those of us who participate in-*the creation and application of any industry outreach-*need to remember the passion, investment and yes, love of the community Mr. Sidney exhibited.
I for one will miss his voice and although I rarely venture back to the Hamptons he and WLNG will always be the sound of The Sound in my head.
 
Image copyright WLNG, used under creative commons

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