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by Dan O'Day

Although almost all program directors agree it's vital for an air personality "know the community," very few utilize a program to initiate a newly arrived jock into the local peculiarities of the community. Here's a starter quiz (which should be customized to reflect the market) for those PDs to give to their new arrivals.

Instructions for the PD: If the disc jockey is a newcomer to your station, hand him this quiz, a local phone book, and a town map...and have him share his findings with you at the end of the week. If it's someone who's been in the market for a while but still doesn't seem to be a part of it, give her the day off and tell her that tomorrow you'll be eager to hear what she's learned.

This also handily serves as a Community Crash Course for the personality who has just arrived and wants learn about the his new home as quickly as possible.

Instructions for the jock: Leave the station and enlist the aid of others - friends, landlords, strangers - in answering the questions. Don't accept just one person's answer as being "correct;" look for a consensus.

Local Speech: In northern states, it's called "going to the movies;" in the Deep South, however, it's called "going to the show." In New England, it's a "cookout;" in the West it's a "barbecue."

What local expressions often are unfamiliar to newcomers? What words will brand you as an outsider if you pronounce them the "wrong" way? (The word "route" - is it pronounced "root" or "rowt?")

What unusual community names are often mispronounced by outsiders? (Newcomers to Central Florida are likely to pronounce "Kissimee" as "Kiss'-ih -mee." But the name of the town is "Kih-si'-mee.")

What apparently common names have very distinctive local pronunciations? What cultural language is common to residents of the community? (I was raised in a urban culture; my first radio job was in a rural community in Virginia. When I read a live spot for farm equipment and pronounced the second word in "John Deere" as "Dearie," it wasn't difficult for the average listener to surmise I was a foreigner.)

Make a list of 20 difficult-to-pronounce names of communities, streets or prominent citizens.

Local Government: Does your community have a mayor, a city or town manager, or both? (If it has both, who really runs things?) Does it have a city council, a town council, a board of supervisors, a board of selectmen? How are they elected - in general or district elections? How long is their term of office? What politicians have been on the scene forever? How long has the mayor been in office? What is the subject of the current political controversy? What's the best-known political scandal of the past ten years? Is the municipal government considered to be corrupt or honest? Is the police department considered to be corrupt or honest? What are relations like between the police department and ethnic minorities? What's the attitude of the chief of police toward minorities? Does the chief of police get along with the mayor? What was the last big police department scandal or controversy?

Schools: What's the most controversial issue in the public school system? Which local schools are considered to be best academically? Worst? Which local schools are considered to be best and worst in sports? How do the local schools compare (as measured by students' standardized test scores) to other schools in the region and across the country?

Sports: What are the local high school sports dynasties? Who are the leading high school sports coaches? What are the big high school and college sports rivalries? What are the names of the big high school and college mascots? What sports are played in your region but are unknown to many others? (New England has "duckpin bowling;" Florida has Jai-Alai.)

Food Facts: In some areas, it's a hoagie. In others, it's a submarine. And in other parts of the country, it's a grinder. What is this large, luncheon meat sandwich called in your town? What's the local dish that sounds odd to out-of-towners but is a source of pride to members of the community? What breads are served in local restaurants that you see less frequently in other parts of the country. (In San Francisco, it's sourdough. In Los Angeles' many health food restaurants, it's multi-grain bread.)

What's the most popular Slurpee flavor at the local 7-11s? How health conscious are local residents in selecting the foods they eat? Many areas have their own special ways of preparing French fries or chicken wings. What about your community? What are the most common ethnic restaurants? What are the most expensive restaurants in town? What are the most romantic restaurants in town? What restaurants are famous for their bad food? Some like it hot. What about your community? Is its "hot" salsa too mild even for babies...or is its "mildly spicy" Szechuan food hot enough to sear the roof of your mouth?

Local Luminaries: Who are the local heroes - the people you'd better not make fun of? Who are the local high school, college, and professional sports legends? What celebrities were born or raised in your community and remain a source of pride to the community?

Employment: What are the Top Ten industries in the community (based on employment)? Which companies are the Top Ten employers? Which big local companies are popular in the community? Unpopular? What's the local unemployment rate? How does that compare to the rest of the region? What is the starting salary of a local police officer? Of a local teacher?

Transportation: What is the mass transit system called? (If you're an American now working at radio station in London, England, don't talk about "taking the subway to work." What Americans call a subway, Londoners call the Underground. In London, a subway is a pedestrian's underpass at an intersection.) What percentage of the citizens use it? How much does it cost to use? What is its reputation for safety? For cleanliness? For comfort? For reliability? For convenience? What manufacturer's automotive vehicles dominate the streets and highways? What types of automotive vehicles (subcompacts, luxury sedans, station wagons, four-wheel drives) are very common locally? How common is it for locals to have cellular phones in their vehicles? CB radios?

Human Relations: What ethnic minorities are heavily represented in the community? Lightly represented? Non-existent? What are the community's inter-racial relationships like? Which two ethnic groups have the poorest relations between them? Which ethnic groups historically have had poor relations but in recent years have succeeded in improving things?

Welcome to the Neighborhood: What are the names of the various ethnic neighborhoods, and where are they located? Is there a gay section of town? What's it called? Where is the most expensive neighborhood? What's it called? Which neighborhoods are the most crime-ridden? Where do teenagers go cruising? Where do the local hookers hang out?

Lifestyles: What are the favorite local weekend activities? Where are the hot spots for singles? Where do teenagers hang out after school? Where do teenagers hang out at night? What is the teenagers' preferred illegal activity (e.g., underage drinking, other drug use, drag racing, graffiti, etc.)?

Where is the local lovers' lane? What is the most-read local newspaper? The second most-read local newspaper?What are the political and social leanings of the community? What types of movies tend to do very well in the community? What types do badly? What time is considered "dinner time?" (In some communities, that means 5:30; in others it means 9:00.) Is there a community consensus on: Gun control? Abortion? Capital punishment? What normally mundane subjects can lead to conflict in your community?

Traffic: What are the worst intersections in town, accident-wise? At what local intersections are you most likely to be stuck for the longest time at a red light? What freeways (or parts of freeways) are most congested...and when?

Miscellaneous: What is the local minimum drinking age? Which supermarkets are open 24 hours? What are the biggest bug or insect pests? What do the locals think of their drinking water? What's the one tragedy in the community's history which you never should joke about? What are the local tourist attractions - and what do the locals think of them?

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