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Local News, Produced Remotely

A customized news service is pitching that concept in Arbitron-rated markets

Radio has heard the complaints about voice-tracking. What about news-tracking?

There might be those who would question the concept of producing local radio news from afar, but Envision Radio Networks wouldn’t be one.

The latest from the radio broadcast content provider is a deal to represent the services of VirtualNewsCenter, a remote producer of local newsbreaks on a barter basis. VirtualNewsCenter says the agreement makes it “the first outsourced radio news provider to offer its service on a barter basis to stations in Arbitron-rated markets.” It continues to serve smaller markets as well.

VirtualNewsCenter, based in Wichita, Kan., calls itself “America’s local newsroom.” It began five years as CustomRadioNews, launched by entrepreneurs Scott Roberts and Ryan Martin. It uses a dozen or so anchors who remotely produce customized content for about 70 affiliates. Stations can sign up to have the remote news team check web sites, make beat calls, interview newsmakers and write up interesting police stories.

The company says it works with stations to develop local sources so news is fresh and, yes, local. It is blunt about the business benefits: “With VirtualNewsCenter, stations no longer need to pay for full-time newsroom employees, which saves stations money on benefits, taxes, training and idle time,” it states on its website.

Envision Radio Networks President and CEO Danno Walkoff was a bit gentler in phrasing for the announcement how the service can save stations money: “The customized news service delivers content that your listeners want and need on a daily basis with no additional needs placed on your current newsroom. Radio stations’ sales departments can still sell local advertising and sponsorships for each newscast delivered.”

VNC can also produce longer-form programming and offer weather, sports, entertainment, business and national news items as well; it can assist with website and social media content development and posting.