Conservation Districts on the Air!
Conservation Districts using radio as a communication medium to spread the word about programs, services and other useful information about natural resource conservation.
There are more than 14,000 radio stations across the nation. Local stations were once the only constant source of communication, information and entertainment in rural and less-populated areas. A direct connection with the community, with unique local news and information have always been an integral part of local radio station success. Today, competing with modern cable and satellite television, satellite radio and the Internet and World Wide Web, it’s even more crucial to the survival of local stations to provide a vital service to their listeners and play a role unique in their own community that sets them apart from major communication channels. The situation can offer opportunities to conservation districts to help provide local news with information about programs, services and other useful information about natural resource conservation.
A number of conservation districts in Oklahoma have had and continue longtime relationships with local newspapers. Just a few examples include Beaver County Conservation District’s full page ads in the Beaver Herald-Democrat for more than two decades. Cimarron County Conservation District has a regular space in the Boise City News that serves as the district’s newsletter, with county-wide distribution and no postage cost to the district. Woodward County Conservation District has a similar arrangement with both the Woodward News and the Mooreland Leader.
There are many more conservation districts in the state with continuing, effective communications programs working with local newspapers — too many to name here. But there are also some who incorporate local radio stations into their local news media outreach mix.
Grady County Conservation District has worked with local newspapers effectively for many years, even including at times a conservation supplement to the newspaper. And a local newspaper employee won the Communications Award from the National Association of Conservation Districts one year from a district nomination. But Grady County CD also has an ongoing relationship with the local radio station, KOOL 105.5 FM. Dee Surber, programs coordinator for the district, often records public service announcements (PSAs) that the station broadcasts. She is often interviewed about current district activities, either at the station or over the telephone. She also provides text to the station that George Plummer, KOOL news director reads live or records for broadcast.
Garfield County Conservation District received the Excellence in Communication Award from the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts and the Oklahoma Press Association in 2008 for a series of 30-second radio PSAs featuring Garfield County Conservation District’s secretary and promoting district services and contact information.
Recently, Trish Kloeckler, Muskogee County Conservation District secretary, was invited to join Cliff Casteel on Okie Country KTFX 101.7 FM to talk about the Muskogee Mardi Gras for which the district is a cosponsor. After the interview, Casteel asked Kloeckler to stay in the studio as his unofficial “co-host” for the rest of the morning. Subsequently the station called Kloeckler and invited her back to go on the air again.
No doubt there are more conservation districts in Oklahoma making good use of local radio station communication opportunities then are mentioned here. But for those who are not, here are a few ideas:
- Contact the local station and ask for the person in charge of programming. Give them your name and the name of the district and tell them briefly what the district does.
- Enquire if they would be interested in information about natural resource conservation and programs, services and information available for local producers, landowners, residents and students.
- Offer to provide 30-second PSAs, either by text for station employees to read; or, if district employees or directors are comfortable with being broadcast, offer to provide a person to record the PSA for broadcast.
- Offer someone available for interviews, live or recorded, about local district activities and services.
Writing a 30-second PSA is not hard, but it doesn’t take very many words to use up that 30 seconds. Just put a few essential words on paper and time yourself with a watch with a secondhand or a stop watch reading it at a smooth and comfortable pace. Be sure to speak it aloud, because that is the only way to identify and eliminate tongue twisters and uncomfortable words. If you are not sure of your grammar, ask someone who is to check it. Eliminate any unneeded words in order to get more meaningful content into the 30 seconds.
Here are a few examples of 30-second PSAs. The blanks can be filled in with local information.
- “No matter where you live in Oklahoma, a local conservation district is there to serve you. Conservation districts encourage the wise use of soil, water and other natural resources. We do this by providing information and technical assistance to landusers, residents and students. Contact the ______(DISTRICT NAME)_____ Conservation District to find out how we can help you with your natural resource needs.”
- “This is _____(NAME)_______ with the _____(DISTRICT NAME)________ Conservation District reminding you that your conservation stands ready to help you with natural resource conservation assistance and information. If we can be of assistance, call ______(TELEPHONE NUMBER)____ in ____(TOWN)________. Rural economy depends on productive soil and adequate clean water. Let’s work together to conserve our natural resources.”
- “The ____(DISTRICT NAME)___ Conservation District invites the public to join them for the _____(EVENT NAME)____ to be held at the _____(LOCATION)____, _____(ADDRESS)_____, in ____(TOWN)______, on ____(DATE)____, beginning at _____(TIME A.M. or P.M.)_______. For more information call the ____(DISTRICT NAME)___ Conservation District at ___(TELEPHONE NUMBER)____. Please join us to ___(CELEBRATE, DISCUSS, ETC.)______ the ____(TOPIC OR PURPOSE)_____ event!
For more information or assistance with PSAs or radio outreach for your conservation district, contact Mark Harrison, public information officer, at the Oklahoma Conservation Commission.