The Plain Dealer's Chuck Yarborough wrote a story for Sunday's paper about the state of radio here in Cleveland, Cleveland radio faces incursions by Pandora and others, as well as a still-ailing economy. He interviewed numerous people in the business. That they talked on record was admirable in light of the fact that no one from Clear Channel would do so.
It's true, local stations need to emphasize the fact that they are local in order to compete against satellite and internet radio. Engagement with the community is a must in every aspect including marketing. Be forewarned though, there will be a day when internet radio is ubiquitous. Tuning in an internet station in your car will be as easy as punching a button to listen to WNCX. So what's to stop an internet station from catering only to the Cleveland market at that point. Just because they're on the internet and able to be heard all over the world doesn't prevent them from acting locally.
What these non-traditional music sources are offering that local radio is not is innovation and adventurousness. That's why people tune out commercial radio. It's dull and lifeless. There's no personality and, as John Gorman put it, no gatekeepers who'll help us discover new music. There's plenty of great new music out there. You just won't hear it on local commercial radio. It's risky, and staid corporations are averse to risk. Ask any entrepreneur and they'll tell you, no risk no gain.