WV Association Launches Weekly Radio Program Dedicated to the Marcellus Shale

A new weekly half hour radio program dedicated to the Marcellus Shale will soon be on the air in West Virginia:

The natural gas industry is launching a six- to 12-month public relations blitz to tell its side of the story about the importance of exploiting the Marcellus shale reserves, launching a paid half-hour talk show and one-minute promotional ads on 49 West Virginia radio stations.

The West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association won’t say how much it’s spending on the deal with WAJR-AM of Morgantown and its members and independent affiliates, but Executive Director Corky DeMarco is hoping it will pay off with a well-educated public.

“There’s a lot of misinformation out there and a lot of misunderstanding,” he said. “You pick up the newspaper every single day in any community in West Virginia, and there’s something about the Marcellus in there. If we’re going to educate the public, we can’t wait for them to call us.”

“Inside Shale” will air every Tuesday from 8:35 to 9 a.m., providing various experts who will answer questions and “try to get ahead of issues,” DeMarco said. The lineup could feature inspectors and regulators, too.

The time slot is during “Talk of the Town,” which occasionally features an “Ask the Experts” segment.

WAJR’s Morgantown market manager, Gary Mertins, will host the segment. He says “Inside Shale” is no different than other paid 30-minute segments that air now, including a “Talk to the Doc” program sponsored by a local hospital and another sponsored by a chiropractor.

Mertins said he will take calls from listeners, and in a planning meeting on Friday, asked the industry leaders if any question is off-limits.

“They said ‘absolutely not,”’ said Mertins, who also hopes to host interviews with geologists, economists and regulators.

“They won’t be all softball questions,” he said. “I do think, though, that the one thing the industry hasn’t had the opportunity to do — and what this show will help them to do — is to talk about the benefits of all this growth.”*

*The Times West Virginian (Jul 17, 2011) – Gas industry plans significant PR blitz