Top three traffic reporting mistakes on radio

Steve Kowch blog photoFrom where I sit On The Kowch, here are the top three things that can lead to road rage when listening to radio traffic reports. The problem is that traffic reporters don’t understand what it’s like sitting in a car stuck in traffic. If they did, they wouldn’t say the things they do on the radio. So here are the top three things I want to tell traffic reporters.

  1. Don’t the traffic reporters understand that early in the morning we aren’t at our best mentally so it’s important to repeat where the traffic problems are instead of saying steer clear of the area because of the accident. WHERE? It’s only when they mention the expressway is blocked that I tune in to what they’re saying. Is it too difficult for them to repeat where the accident is instead of just saying in the area?

  2. The host thinks it’s okay to joke with the traffic reporter before they start their report at the designated time. Meanwhile, I’m driving into traffic chaos because by the time the reporter finally gets serious and suggests getting off at exit X to avoid the traffic jam, I’ve just passed the suggested exit on the highway and now I’m stuck in grid lock because of some stupid joke! Do the traffic report first and then pretend you’re a comedian on the radio.
  3. Just don’t tell me there is a problem, tell me how to avoid it. Give me suggestions on how to get around the traffic problems. Provide me with alternative routes. If you can’t do that, you’re not thinking of the motorists depending on your traffic reports. I can tell you from experience as a program director that when any of these three things happen on a regular basis, listeners tell us they change the station to find a more reliable traffic report that meets their needs.

From where I sit On The Kowch, traffic reporters need to understand how people listen to the radio. They don’t hang onto your every word. They’re busy in the morning getting ready for work and the kids ready for school. In the afternoon on their way home, they’re tired, thinking of their day or what to buy for supper,  so they tune in mentally only when they hear there’s a problem. Unfortunately most traffic reporters only mention WHERE the problem is at the start of their report. They need to repeat where the problem is to help people get around it.

Steve Kowch was program director of two of Canada’s largest newstalk radio stations (including CJAD in Montreal and CFRB in Toronto) for 14 years

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