Melanie Morgan is an award-winning radio talk show host, author, columnist, journalist, TV anchor, and reporter. Known for her advocacy on behalf of the American military and defense of the War on Terror, the long time Bay Area personality recently joined KRSO in Santa Rosa, CA as news director and morning anchor.
What's your opinion on how radio delivers the news today?
It seems as if there are three types of radio news from which listeners can choose now: There's either a tightly scripted news wheel like you hear at all-News stations, or entertainment "info" news that tastes like marshmallows for the ear and nourishes in about the same proportion. And then there is an addiction to NPR. National Public Radio does well, but it is not to everyone's liking, as it has a definite political slant.
I prefer hearing information that is delivered in a conversational way. I want to report news that directly affects the most people in the local community.
I think we are starting to swing back to local, local, local, and it's about time. Please, no house fires, missing dogs, murder and mayhem. "If it bleeds, it leads" is not pertinent to the lives of most people who are listening to radio these days. I am working with some truly great radio professionals at KSRO, like Michael O'Shea and Jim Murphy, who get this. Sonoma Media Group's Lawrence
Amaturo is an incredible owner who is partiCipating in a radio renaissance. I feel very lucky that I have a chance to grab a part of this new re-creation of radio and have a ton of fun like we used to in the old days.
What role does social media play in how listeners receive news?
I believe that most people are getting news from social media "accidentally." The statistics show that folks are using Facebook and Twitter for one purpose but end up fmding something else that they want to know more about.
Radio can exploit that research by making sure that a station's news department is visible. But the incessant promotion and use of social media hasn't proved to be a ratings winner nor a financial benefit for a news department. I'll leave it to the programming geniuses to determine when and how much use of social media is appropriate for a news department that is often stretched thin.
You are deeply involved and active in support of U.S. troops. How did that start, and what continues to inspire you about that mission?
I co-founded Move America Forward, the largest nonprofit pro-troops grassroots organization in the country, in 2005. It was a time when the Iraq war was not going well, and thousands of activists were in the streets of San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago. Our war veterans were experiencing outright hostility instead of the gratitude of our nation. Move America Forward is hyper-vigilant in fighting the narrative that marred the return of veterans of previous wars, particularly the Vietnam vets who were reviled or at best ignored for many decades.
Today, with the help of many of my friends in Talk radio like Rush Limbaugh (our biggest donor) , Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, and Laura Ingraham, and others in the world of Hollywood (Gary Sinise, Kelsey Grammer, Jon VOight), we come together for our yearly Web broadcast, called "Troopathon." It's our seventh year of fundraising to send care packages with fabulous items and personal notes from all who love our military.
We've raised more than $3 million and, more importantly, raised the profile of our heroes.
What do you like best about being a radio talk show host?
I very much enjoy the opportunity to present my listeners with a difficult problem, sketch a potential solution, and invite our audience to participate in social change. During my previous time at KSFO, we lobbied the state legislature to outlaw cancer-causing additiyes in our gasoline supply, eliminated stupid regulations and restrictions that were supposed to clean the air but instead cost thousands of jobs, and recalled a governor. Not bad work if you can get it.
How many arguments have you gotten into with Jack (Jack Swanson, Melanie's husband and radio programmer) about radio?
Zero. He's one of those programming geniuses that I defer to. Mostly. But please don't tell him that; it gives him a big head.