BURLINGTON -- Is there a bumper-to-bumper backup in Bolton? Rubbernecking on Route 2? A stalled manure spreader stinking up the Northern Connector? Whatever's slowing the flow, Vermonters can now tap into a service once available only in major metropolitan areas: regularly updated traffic reports during the morning and afternoon rush hours.
On April 3, Clear Channel Radio launched its "Vermont Total Traffic Network," which offers motorists real-time traffic data on its 15 AM and FM radio stations around the state. The reports are updated 10 times per day and are broadcast Monday through Friday during the 6-to-9 a.m. rush hour, and again from 3 to 7 p.m. The traffic reports cover virtually all the Clear Channel listening areas in Vermont, which include the Champlain Valley, Montpelier, Rutland, Randolph and White River Junction.
It's unclear whether Clear Channel is responding to a symptom of Vermont's rapid rate of growth or just trying to slice itself a larger piece of the radio pie. Karen Marshall, vice president and marketing manager for Clear Channel Radio in Vermont, points out that even rural Vermonters aren't immune to the traffic delays that occur on major thoroughfares throughout the state.
"I like to say that we have two seasons in Vermont that relate to roads: winter season and construction season," Marshall says. "When you have that one lane closed, say, between Williston and Exit 10, that's significant."
Clear Channel has set up a centralized "traffic center" in Vermont that monitors road conditions, then creates a traffic report customized for each radio market. Clear Channel's 15 stations boast an aggregate listenership of about 35 to 40 percent of the radio audience, according to Marshall.
Although Clear Channel's traffic network website claims that it uses its own network of "reporters, traffic cameras, helicopters and airplanes," Marshall explains that in Vermont, the vast majority of road and traffic data are generated by scanning emergency frequencies and getting construction and road-condition updates from the Vermont Agency of Transportation.
No word yet on whether Clear Channel will begin broadcasting live car chases.