"LOCALIZATION": A TAKE-HOME QUIZ
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
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
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?
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?