Airbnb (www.airbnb.com) is a website that brings together vacationers seeking an alternative to hotels and struggling homeowners who have rooms for rent (according to an Airbnb study in 2012, 56 percent of the show’s hosts in San Francisco use their earnings to help pay their mortgage or rent (growth has been attributed to the lingering effects of the 2008 global financial crisis).
Conceived as a way to make a few extra bucks, the site has become an unexpected income lifeline for the homeowners-but there’s a growing backlash in the form of neighborhood concerns from other residents about noise, traffic and congestion.
Some Airbnb hosts have been accused of running virtual hotels, jamming their homes with excessive amounts of visitors, whose presence alters the community environment.
“They’re popping up everywhere” said Scott Plante, a neighborhood councilman. “They’re all over Silver Lake, and it’s the volume of these things. There has to be some sort of balance.”
And there’s rising opposition against other service sites from neighbors, city officials and business rivals: Taxicab companies have protested against the transportation service sites, citing unregulated competition and the help-for-hire sites have been accused of undercutting by plumbers and other tradesmen.
Proponents say it’s part of a broader shift in an economy that’s being rapidly propelled by an emerging peer-to-peer marketplace; other examples include websites like Lyft (renting couches), Task Rabbit (lending out one’s own time and expertise) and Relay Rides (renting out the car).
Radio Want-ad Shows
In some parts of rural America, it’s still very common to pick up the phone and dial a local radio station to sell an item Three times every weekday (twice on Saturdays), people in western Arkansas can call in to KARV’s “Dial-A-Trade”(on the air since the 1970s), an audio adaptation of the classified ads. For an hour or so, callers explain what they’re looking to buy, sell or trade. And it’s all live on the air for free (with phone numbers and home directions given out!).
To the locals, it’s a public service (radio want-ad shows are a longstanding tradition in Arkansas); to ‘outsiders’, it’s viewed as a time capsule, a quaint relic from a bygone era. But for several decades, similar shows across the U.S. have made the airwaves. In addition to the bartering, the preserved (for the most part) lifestyle of rural America is showcased.
In Russellville, Arkansas, where KARV and Dial-A-Trade’s located, it all works very well: “If they tried to take that show off the air, there would be an uprising”, said Doug Krile, executive director of the Arkansas Broadcasters Association. People like bargains, Krile said, and they like the interaction that comes with radio.
The show attracts a mostly older demographic (most likely due to the nostalgia factor): “Probably 95 percent of them are going to be over 40 or 50”, said Dial-A-Trade host Chris Womack.
The show also reflects the area’s persistent poverty (even among those who are employed); “If they need to pay their gas bill and they’ve got something that’s worth 50 or 60 bucks, they can call the program”, Womack stated. “Some people are hurting, even today.”
On a recent broadcast, callers sold: watermelons, tomatoes, cantaloupes, chickens, rabbits, baby ducks, a clarinet, a 9 mmpistol and an offer to haul trash and hay!
There are no online broadcasts of Dial-A-Trade, but the show’s future seems secure. Many Russellville residents don’t have a computer or Internet access. And surprisingly, about one in five people in the state of Arkansas don’t even use the Internet, according to a 2012 report from Connect Arkansas.
After listening to Dial-A-Trade for a few minutes, visitors will learn that these are not only farming people who know how to use guns, but also that manners-and religion-are equally as important in Russellville’s daily life.
Sources: “Airbnb: A ‘savior’ or just a nuisance?”-Los Angeles Times-The (Sunday) Vindicator, Sept. 15, 2013 and “Want-ad shows: relics on the radio”-Associated Press-The (Sunday) Vindicator, Sept. 8, 2013