News radio is in some ways the most desirable coverage for an action. It’s live and dramatic; during morning and afternoon “drive time” it reaches large, captive audiences; and radio reporters live for catchy soundbites (as opposed to TV reporters, who value good video footage.) These days, equipping your activists onsite with a cellular phone is a must: News radio loves those “live from the scene of the action” interviews.
Most cities now have one or two all-news stations, but a lot of music formats also do local news. (In a number of markets, alternative rock stations promote a “green” image, and will give environmental actions prominent and favorable coverage.)
All-news stations generally belong to one of the national radio networks – ABC, CBS or Mutual. The networks’ staff are almost all based in New York, but for an action with national impact you should call them.
News reports on commercial radio are quite short – a minute or less. More thorough are the non-commercial stations and networks, including National Public Radio (NPR) and Pacifica Radio News.
NPR, supported in part with tax dollars, has, to the general public, a liberal image. Activists joke that it stands for National Pentagon, or National Petroleum, Radio. Still, NPR stations tend to take local news seriously, and the network is one of the more thoughtful and objective national news operations. They and their audience are interested in the environment. (NPR is the main source of news for contributors to Greenpeace.)
PACIFICA is unlike any other news operation in America. It’s a string of six listener-supported stations (Berkeley, Los Angeles, Boston, New York, Washington and Houston) with an unabashedly leftist viewpoint. The production values and reporting skill may lag, but the audiences are sizable, and KPFA (Berkeley) and (WBAI) New York put on credible news shows.