AM radio has long been the bastion of conservative talk shows. With the Swirl radio program being aired on Talk 650 KSTE Saturdays at 6 pm, Sacramento airwaves are getting a full, albeit small, dose of progressive radio. Swirl is hosted by Michelle Meow and focuses exclusively on lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) topics.
What’s happening in the neighborhood
The best way to describe Swirl is community radio. This community just
happens to be the gay community. Whereas most progressive or conservative talk radio programs lean heavily on promoting their ideology, and bashing each other, Swirl is about promoting the LGBT community. They have segments on sports, entertainment, money and politics coupled with interviews from a variety of guests.
Swirling in Sacramento
Swirl radio recently came to Sacramento for a live broadcast at 18th and L Street. Host Michelle
Meow interviewed Dr. David Thompson, Chaplain at The Experience alternative religious gatherings, Shara Perkins Murphy and Felicia Johnson from the Sacramento Gay and Lesbian Center and Michael Sestak representing the Sacramento Rainbow Chamber. Broadcasting first from San Francisco, Swirl has brought on affiliates in Monterey and now Sacramento.
Straight forward news and information
There is nothing in the closet about the broadcast. The host Michelle Meow and all the contributors are all very comfortable talking about all things gay. At the same time, they are professional and entertaining. From listening to the pod casts I found nothing that was anymore edgy than some of the topics and parodies you would find in conservative talk radio. Bottom line: your kids are just a safe listening to Swirl as they are hearing Rush Limbaugh.
Soccer updates and safety
It is fairly obvious that Swirl is aimed directly at the LGBT community. They are not broadcasting in
hopes convincing conservative Christians to accept the LGBT lifestyle. Swirl is the recognition that many cities across America have established gay communities and would like radio programming focused on their concerns. Crazy as it may sound; the concerns of the LGBT community are not too different than any other town.
The Swirl folks are not trying to create a format or content for the sake of selling advertising like you may see in a sitcom or movie. They are from the LGBT community and are genuine. Listen to one of their pod casts and you will understand. Swirl has a solid broadcast that should get listeners. The question is, in this fractured infotainment market of radio, TV, cable, internet age, can they attract and sustain a large enough audience?
Master of my domain
My unsolicited analysis is that they will need to leverage social media to a larger extent outside of their core audience in the Bay area. I don’t have cable TV, but from twitter I always know what Rachel Maddow (#maddow) or the Ed Show (#edshow) is talking about because people are tweeting about it. Audience engagement will be a key factor for survival. Once your audience feels like they own you, the future is locked in. The Sacramento LGBT community should look at “buying into” Swirl; they have good programming that is fun and entertaining.