Friday, May 18, 2012

This Month's Polls: What Is "Local" To You?

Hey guys, it's time to discuss our new poll(s) at the SMS, and because of the potential this topic has to influence the SMS' future course, I'm devoting this whole post to these two new polls. Why two? One goes in hand with the other, and one half of the Twin Saults needs some extra specification on the subject. So, this is the base question for these two new polls:

When it comes to bands & concerts we cover at The Sault Metal Scene, how far from the Soo is "local" to you?

In the almost 5 years I've been administrating the SMS' online pages, I've gotten occasional requests to expand to regions further from town than we usually cover, or to cover some bands that aren't in our coverage range. Not long after we launched the site, I decided that our coverage range for bands & concerts should be 45 minutes driving time from either Sault Ontario or Sault Michigan, for a couple of reasons. As the site is geared towards the Sault Ste. Marie area, I wanted to mainly focus on bands, artists, and shows that are within a comfortable driving distance of the Soo, so that you guys knew of the concerts and bands that you could easily go see and learn about without putting yourself out or investing excess time/money in the process. Let's just say that I don't wanna go the Rock 101 Concert Track route and cover shows 5-7 hours away more than those actually in Sault Ste. Marie. The other reason for the 45 minute range is it's as far as we can get without leaving either the Algoma District or Chippewa County, which the Twin Saults lie in geographically. I've always figured that this was a safe and convenient range for what we cover, but there are a lot of variables on both sides, and with the requests and inquiries, I thought it'd be best to open this discussion to SMS readers!

Before you guys make any rash judgements, I want to know from these questions how far from Sault Ste. Marie do you consider to be "local". NOT how wide we should cover just to talk about and promote *insert band here*. I want the site's original integrity to remain intact as to the Sault Ste. Marie area, and though I don't doubt there are great bands in the Western U.P. or the Sudbury area (for example), I wanna know how far from here are you willing to drive to see or join a band and still consider it "local". Just because you are in or like a band 3 hours away doesn't necessarily mean you'd consider them to be "local" in reference to Sault Ste. Marie. As an example, would you consider Kewadin Casino gigs in St. Ignace to be local? Pigfest in Ishpeming? The Sinton Tavern in Thessalon? The CASS Cafe events at the Desbarats high school? This is what I want to find out. I'm sure the definition of local varies depending on the individual, but there are a lot of things to consider on both sides, and all that I can 100% say is that I do not want to invade a bigger city's music scene. The closest bigger cities on both sides of the border (Sudbury & Traverse City) have their own people to cover their scenes, I'm sure, and if we covered their bands and shows, I can't see myself doing it in as knowledged and proper of a job as someone from there... but am I wrong?

With that said, my first poll question is geared towards everyone in the Sault Ste. Marie region (Ontario & Michigan equally), so I'm posing this question to you guys: If we expand our coverage range, how far from Sault Ste. Marie in driving distance would you consider to be "local"? I've given 8 options for this poll, and while I can't guarantee that the winning choice will be adapted into the SMS (I'm not gonna make drastic changes imminently, that's too quick of an adjustment), your input will be greatly appreciated in terms of how we approach our future coverage. Pending the poll results, I am contemplating expanding our coverage in some form for our 5th anniversary on July 4th, but I won't know which direction (if any) to take without some reader input. So, carefully look at the poll choices below, and vote for your ideal "local" range in the poll on your left!

Just Sault Ste. Marie: If you happen to find that if it's not in the city limits of Sault Ste. Marie city limits, it's not local, then this would be the choice you'd pick. Maybe the outskirt communities mean little to you, or shouldn't count if they don't consistently have concerts? I'd disagree with both, but if this is your thought process, you'd wanna vote here. Note that even if this scored highly, we would not retract our coverage, which would be immensely unfair to bands and shows in nearby communities that we've covered for this long.

45 minutes from the Soo: This is our current coverage range (barring some concert festival exceptions.) In Ontario, this range adds Aweres, Echo Bay, Garden River, Goulais River, Laird, Prince Township, and Rankin (among other close communities) to our coverage, while Michigan regions like Barbeau, Bay Mills, Brimley, Dafter, Eckerman, Kinross, Pickford, Rudyard, and Sugar Island are within our range, among other areas in between. Note that this is also about as far as we can go before entering other Michigan counties, so if you want things to be just close communities in the Algoma/Chippewa range, consider the status quo. Should things remain as is for the SMS?

One hour from the Soo: Here's where things start to get debatable. If we expanded our band coverage to a full hour's distance from the Soo, we'd add areas like Desbarats, Port Findlay, Richard's Landing, and Searchmont to the Ontario coverage. In Michigan, an hour's drive time would add areas like Goetzville and Trout Lake to our full coverage, but this would also mean entering new counties. Most of the eastern Mackinac County would enter our coverage, including towns like St. Ignace, Cedarville, Brevort, and Allenville, among other communities and townships within that area. This would also lead to the possibility of Lower Peninsula coverage, as Mackinac City is within an hour's drive. I'm not sure how loyal Chippewa County residents (or Yoopers in general) are to us leaving the county/peninsula for some bands & shows, but that possibility exists if you guys wanna see an hour's range. Vote here if you prefer an hour's buffer!

90 minutes from the Soo: If we expanded coverage to bands & concerts within an hour & a half of the Soo, we'd add areas like Thessalon, Bruce Mines, St. Joseph Island in full, and Ophir to our coverage, while Michigan additions would include Paradise, De Tour Village, & Hulbert Township in Chippewa County, and Mackinac County areas like Mackinac Island, Garfield Township, and Hudson Township. This would also add parts of Luce County into our coverage, including Newberry, Pentland Township, and parts of McMillan Township, among other eastern spots in the county. In terms of the Lower Peninsula, it'd take us to Pellston and anywhere north of there. Is 90 minutes "local" to you, or is this starting to stretch it? Note also that this includes the hometown of Hempfest, Rock 101's general coverage range, and the former home of 97.9 FM (Classic Rock: The Bear), in case those are judges of "locality".

2 hours from the Soo: Now things start to get remote if you count only the U.P. & Algoma District. If our coverage stretched to 2 hours, we'd add communities like Iron Bridge, Montreal River, and Agawa Bay to the Ontario side of things, while Michigan would see more remote areas of the Eastern U.P., like Drummond Island, Curtis, Gould City, and Deer Park. Into the Lower Peninsula, a 2 hour range would take us to about the Gaylord area, though coastal cities like Charlevoix & Alpena would be a bit far still. Is 2 hours still a comfortable enough distance for you to consider that area "local" compared to Sault Ste. Marie?

More than 2 hours from the Soo: Have an even wider ranged idea for what you consider "local"? In Ontario, do you wanna stretch things out to Blind River, Elliot Lake, Wawa, Spanish, and other communities? How about counting the Sudbury or Manitoulin Districts? Note that SooToday often covers news and weather in these areas, so that could be a judge. In Michigan, should we stretch things out to Schoolcraft & Alger County (i.e. Manistique & Munising), or even further west into the U.P., like the Marquette area? Or maybe even further south into the Lower Peninsula? If your definition of "local" stretches beyond a 2 hour drive from the Soo, vote here!

Just Algoma District/Chippewa County: If you think that we should only cover the district/county that each of the twin Saults is in on the site, this is your option! My fear about this choice is the unfairness of it, as the Algoma District is larger than the entire U.P., so just sticking to that wouldn't seem fair for the Michigan metalheads, but I'm sure that opinion may vary with some people. If you want us to expand, but within the boundaries of the district or county we're already in, vote for this choice!

Any show or band with Saultites, regardless of distance: Probably the most extreme option in terms of distance, but this would essentially mean covering local bands like Garden of Bedlam, Half A Man, and The Bear Hunters at equal levels as bands like Infathom, Maximum RNR, and Phatstick, just as an example. The mere presence of a Saultite, even if the band is in a different state or province, would merit equal time and coverage, and the same would go for concerts that any band with a local member played out of town. Should any local residence, past or present, merit a band coverage on the site?

VOTE TODAY!!! Like our second poll, you have until June 18th to make your voices heard, so if you want to share your thoughts on what's local in your opinion, cast a vote within the next month!
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That leads us to our second poll, and though it's not restricted to just American voters, I'm definitely leaning it past the International Bridge, if you know what I mean. I'm posing this second question to you guys today: If we expand our coverage range, what other Michigan areas/counties would you consider to be "local"? Of course, I already mentioned that we currently cover areas within 45 minutes drive time from the Soo to be "local", but Michigan's different than Ontario in it's county/district makeup. The entire Algoma District is bigger than the Upper Peninsula, so it isn't out of the fairness realm to cover other counties in Michigan without issue. That said, I'm Canadian and I admittedly don't know how loyal Sault Michigan residents are to their city, county, or peninsula in terms of locality. Is it OK to move out of county for band/show coverage? Are trolls off limits? I need a Yooper perspective, particularly on the Eastern U.P., so here are the options for this second poll, which you can vote for multiple options for:

Mackinac County: Should the SMS move into Mackinac County for coverage? It's the closest county outside of Chippewa, and they contain communities like St. Ignace, Cedarville, Mackinac Island, Hessel, and Brevort that you may consider to be "local". I'm sure this is subjective and varies on the person, but if Mackinac County is local to you, vote for this choice!

Uncovered areas in Chippewa County: While our main coverage is Chippewa County-exclusive as it is, it's not universal to the entire county, and there are areas further than a 45 minute drive in this county, like Paradise, De Tour Village, Goetzville, and Drummond Island. Should the entire county be considered local for SMS coverage, or are these areas too far for a casual local distance?

Luce County: Directly west of Chippewa County is Luce County, and though you generally can't reach the county's main towns in under an hour, it is home to communities like Newberry (home of a few local radio stations) and larger townships like MacMillan & Pentland Township. Though sparsely populated compared to it's eastern U.P. counterparts, should Luce County be considered "local" compared to the Soo?

Cheboygan/Emmet County: Both of these counties are in the Lower Peninsula, and they're the first two you pass through on the I-75 going south. I'm not sure how anti-troll many of you guys are, but if a trip over the Mighty Mac is close enough to be local in your eyes, would cities like Mackinac City and Petoskey be worth coverage on a site about the Sault Ste. Marie area?

None of the above: Should we stick to just 45 minutes from Sault Michigan (or less?), without expanding to other areas and counties? Vote here if you'd rather we maintained the status quo!

Other: Are we being a bit conservative for what you consider "local"? Should we cover counties further west in the U.P., to factor in cities like Munising, Marquette, and Ishpeming? How about even deeper into the Lower Peninsula? If even those areas are local to you as a Saultite, vote for "Other"!

VOTE TODAY!!! This second poll has multiple options opened up, so please PICK ALL THAT APPLY if you have multiple ideas as to what other counties & areas are local to you! Your input is very important to help me see where readers' heads are at, and what coverage expansions we may take (if any) for our 5th anniversary in July, so please vote in both polls so I can get a representative opinion on what is "local" to you for the bands and concerts we regularly cover. You have until June 18th for both polls, so make your voices heard, and stay tuned for more news and notes shortly! Thanks everyone!

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