Future of Local News is in Your ‘Selfie;’ Help Before WHAV’s Saturday Year-End

In the last few weeks, 97.9 WHAV FM has earned public praise for its objective and critical analyses of gang violence and the proposed, but contentious, city budget.

Deep digging, time-consuming research, interviews with multiple sources and viewpoints and quality writing comes at a great cost. Yet, WHAV managed to undertake these projects even while still reporting more original and exclusive local news, more often, than all other sources combined. It isn’t just bad news either. Listeners and readers flock to WHAV’s comprehensive reports on new restaurants and night spots throughout the city.

Seasoned industry observers wonder how a small, community radio station can do so much with so little. The answer, on one hand, is WHAV’s new, efficient methods and electronic tools to enable more news reporting than the city has seen in more than 20 years. On the other—and most importantly—WHAV members make it possible with monthly and annual subscriptions. The end result, thanks to you, is that WHAV has assembled the largest local audience ever in the city’s history.

Many have come to the conclusion local news must be paid for by the people who are most impacted by local decisions—residents. One of the biggest proponents of this position is Ben Thompson, a former Apple and Microsoft marketer and now author of Stratechery.

“Local government needs oversight, which is another way of saying local news is necessary for a well-functioning democracy,” Thompson wrote last year. However, he added, residents will have to get used to paying for it themselves. “The future of ‘local news’ would almost certainly be subscription, not advertising-based,” he opined.

To keep vibrant, robust and deep local news coming, it is vital you renew or upgrade your membership today. Click to learn about WHAV’s digitally competitive News Match Premium Monthly Subscription. Unfortunately, this is time sensitive, since WHAV’s fiscal year ends Saturday. If you prefer to send a check, make it out to WHAV and mail to WHAV, 189 Ward Hill Ave., Haverhill, MA 01835.

Competition is Healthy…But There is a Breaking Point

Legendary CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite.

WHAV’s expanded local news effort has not only made the radio station better but helped push other players to do a better job—all to the public’s benefit.

Competition helps keep the news media from becoming complacent. Rivals worry about being scooped by others, and embarrassment ensures they’ll eventually cave and release news broken by competitors.

Legendary CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite once made a similar observation.

“I think it is absolutely essential in a democracy to have competition in the media, a lot of competition, and we seem to be moving away from that.”

Cronkite’s words especially ring true in Essex County and beyond. There are no other radio stations between Lowell and the ocean providing local news. Even among those who claim the “local” handle, you won’t hear them report the important vote taken by the Haverhill School Committee or the latest drug trafficker takedown.

WHAV is the only Haverhill-based news source, and the only nonprofit local news outlet existing or proposed in the area. Unlike any existing or proposed outlet, your dollars don’t line out-of-town pockets. With no investors to pay, WHAV News—on-air, online or throughout social media—remains objective, accurate, reliable and trustworthy.

Historically, however, limited advertising (underwriting in the case of WHAV) dollars in this market have been unable to support multiple quality news outlets. There are only so many businesses to pitch and win over. Ruling on the bitter 1960s battle between the Haverhill Gazette and Haverhill Journal newspapers, U.S. District Court Judge Charles E. Wyzanski acknowledged finite local resources. “There is every reason to believe that no matter what policies they had adopted the market could not have brought them both financial success…” (See WHAV’s “No Survivors in Haverhill’s Titanic Newspaper Battle”)

If you can afford it, support all of the news media with subscriptions and advertising. If money is tight, consider exclusively supporting WHAV. Now, you can support objective, accurate, reliable and trustworthy local news at the same amount or less than others charge for monthly digital-only subscriptions with the News Match Premium Monthly Subscription ($20.83 monthly). Existing members may now upgrade their subscription plans.

WHAV News is Ever Expanding

Assistant Editor Allison Corneau.

During this fiscal year, WHAV committed ever-more resources to its growing local news operation.

Assistant Editor Allison Corneau, anchor Eric Scott and board operator Sean Cokely joined WHAV News. If Scott’s name sounds familiar, it is because he previously served two on-air stints at WHAV—first, in 1983, and again in 1992.

With the help of former WHAV Station Manager William Gould, chairman of the city’s Cable Television Advisory Committee, the radio station returned to live broadcasting of regular Haverhill City Council and Haverhill School Committee meetings. WHAV outfitted the Theodore A. Pelosi Jr. City Council Chambers in City Hall with state-of-the-art audio transmission equipment.

Local news is heard on the air every weekday, hourly between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. There are also recaps weeknights at 11; local weather every half hour; Week-in-Review, Saturdays and Sundays at noon, 6 and 11 p.m.; Community Spotlight at quarter past every hour, 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week; live broadcasts of regular City Council and School Committee meetings; New Open Mic Show every Monday night; and more. Breaking news airs when it happens and expanded reports appear at WHAV.net and social media.

For online listeners, WHAV also recently added a new player on its Tune-In page, listing the current program playing along with the previous five items.

In the year ahead—with your support—WHAV seeks to add additional news and sports staff, a new website and technological updates.

To keep vibrant, robust and deep local news coming, it is vital you renew or upgrade your membership today. Click to learn about WHAV’s digitally competitive News Match Premium Monthly Subscription. Unfortunately, this is time sensitive, since WHAV’s fiscal year ends Saturday. If you prefer to send a check, make it out to WHAV and mail to WHAV, 189 Ward Hill Ave., Haverhill, MA 01835.

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