In this day and age, information comes at us fast — too fast! Television, Internet, print media, social media ... with so many different forms of media out there, it's impossible to decipher it all.
Even radio has progressed. What was once only AM/FM now includes XM — the satellite means for delivering the signal.
By utilizing all of these various platforms, bass fishing has found its place in mainstream media. And perhaps the longest running connection has been through radio.
Today there are countless radio programs devoted to our sport, and they can be heard just about anywhere. These programs provide an invaluable service, too. They deliver up-to-the-minute fishing reports, introduce new products to their listeners, and they frequently speak out on conservation issues. Some utilize a call-in talk show format, others rely on interviews with notable sports figures or celebrities from the entertainment industry. Still others combine all of these elements, covering a broad range of topics.
Personally, I like the fact that radio has survived. There's something to be said for old school media. And when it comes to entertainment, to me, radio fishing shows deliver that something extra. They somehow seem friendlier.
Big Shows With Reach
Among big-time broadcasters are shows like "In-Fishermen Radio," "Fishing This Week with Alex Langer," "O'Neill Outside" (WSB, Atlanta), "Chauncey's Great Outdoors" (ESPN, Chicago), "Wired2Fish Radio" and "Tight Lines with Sammy Lee." Shows like these are broadcast nationwide via satellite or through 50,000-watt super stations, and many can be received through podcasts on an iPhone, iPad or PC.
Although the content of these shows may vary, their common goal is to entertain their listeners. Whether it's by discussing the best fishing destinations or interviewing notable personalities, the bottom line is keeping their listeners engaged. And they can achieve that with a variety of formats. Some are lengthy, multi-segment formats that run as much as two hours. Others, like "In-Fishermen" and "Tight Lines" offer concise 3-minute presentations — hitting hundreds of markets, multiple times weekly. The number of listeners for either of these broadcasting strategies is massive.
Like many show hosts, Sammy Lee and Alex Langer include interviews with notable anglers, sports figures or entertainers — all of whom share a love of angling. That connects them to the listener. Names like Ray Scott, Ted Williams, Wade Boggs, Bill Dance, Davy Allison, Mel Tillis, Hank Williams Jr., Johnny Lee, Merle Haggard … the list goes on and on.
Listeners tune in to programs that feature hi-profile personalities like these.
Targeting more specific markets are regional shows, many of which are interactive with their audiences. By utilizing a call-in option, listeners can engage in the programming. And without a doubt, this approach helps build listener loyalty.
"Hooked Up with Steve & Deb" (WOKC) is a prime example of this homegrown approach. Broadcasting live from the shores of Lake Okeechobee, former B.A.S.S. pro Steve Daniel and his wife Debi reach thousands of loyal listeners across South Florida and beyond.
Besides providing the latest fishing reports on the "Big O" and other area waters, they feature live interviews with area guides and top-ranked professional anglers. And their show encourages caller participation.
In Northern California, listeners can tune into Kent Brown's "Ultimate Bass Radio" (KHTK, Sacramento), which utilizes a very similar format. Like Steve Daniel, Kent comes from a tournament background, which gives him added insight on how to provide informative programming for both beginner and advanced anglers alike.
Around Memphis, listeners can tune into "Outdoors with Larry Rea." And in the heartland, there's "The Fishing and Outdoors Radio Show." Along the eastern Canadian border, avid anglers have "Renegade Bass Radio" — the voice for tournament fishermen throughout Ontario and Quebec.
There are literally hundreds of regional radio programs dedicated to angling, and many concentrate on bass fishing specifically. Combined, these programs provide an invaluable service — not only in entertainment value, but also in their ability to reach remote markets. That's critical to the industry as a whole. This grassroots connection not only introduces casual listeners to the sport, it keeps the rest of us informed, and hopefully makes us better anglers in the process.
From a professional angler's perspective, it's a great way to connect with fans and people who share common interests. And our sponsors like the additional reach provided by radio. I can't begin to tell you how many radio interviews and live remotes I've been a part of over the years, and all of these opportunities brought me closer to the people that follow and support fishing.
In the space of this column I've mentioned only a minute fraction of the fishing shows out there — there are literally hundreds more, all of which deserve recognition. So sound off!
Using the Facebook feedback forum below, tell us the name of your favorite radio fishing program and why you love them. And be sure to include the station's call letters (i.e., WXYZ) so others can find them too!