Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Radio in Virginia -- just how old is old media, anyway?

Got an interesting email from a friend. And if your business has a website, this message may be of interest. My friend writes:
I heard part of a story this morning saying Phil Goodwin [news director of WJMA FM] had won two (I think) awards from the Virginia Association of Broadcasters. The WJMA FM web site is still "under construction," so I didn't find any info there. Then I checked the VAB web site to get the details and found...
-- their conference is coming up June 26-28, 2008
-- a link for making hotel reservations
-- a link for conference reservations
-- a link for conference sponsorships
-- a link for the 2007 VAB Station Awards Guide and Entry Form
-- a link for a list of awards and nomination criteria
We've talked at length about how an "under construction" placeholder damages a business' reputation. I'd like to know more about WJMA's awards, but their site's still down -- as it has been for over two weeks now. Whatever positive impression I had of the station evaporated once I hit that "under construction" page.

But keeping a site up isn't enough.

You can tell if a brick and mortar business is thriving by how often their stock is refurbished, and with what frequency new products are added to the mix. For an online store -- or any other business, regular updates serve the same purpose.

Now I'm in the midst of a website redesign for DCD Records. If you go to the site, however, you'll still find everything fully operational. It's currently residing on a separate server, but once we have the new site ready , we'll move it over in the middle of the night when traffic is minimal. The next day, visitors will see the new site, and business will continue uninterrupted. (Here's a sneak peek -- comments welcome!)

Although I'm not putting a lot of effort into the old site, I'm still keeping it updated. The new release images on the home page change as we add a new product and the podcast listings get updated when we do a new post. Minimal maintenance, but still an indication that someone's home.

Which brings us to the Virginia Association of Broadcasters site. This is the professional trade association -- a media professional trade association. When I see out of date information on the site's homepage, I don't think media professional -- I think media amateur.

Most of the page are devoted to a conference that's already over. And when I go to the news page, I see the newest story is from June 2007! Their station locator page is riddled with errors, that neither the VAB nor the stations seem interested in correcting. WMJA, for example, doesn't show up either in a search of the Culpeper market, or the Orange market. I guess they're too busy constructing their own fantabulous website to worry about their listings.

There is no excuse for anyone professionally involved with media to make this kind of fundamental mistake. It simply shows that the VAB either doesn't care or doesn't understand the impression their website makes.

Radio is already considered old media. To show either an ignorance or disdain for the Internet (which is where media audiences are moving to in increasing numbers) make them not just old, but ancient.

- Ralph

Day 17 of the WJMA Web Watch.


  1. Ralph,

    You know from your days in commercial radio (and probably non-commercial, too) that we tried to pay attention to kill times and dates for commercials, PSAs, news stories, etc. so that they would not run past their logical cut off date. It looks to me like the VAB site needs to learn something from its members.

    And how many times have you heard an out of date weather forecast on an automated station? At 7 in the evening, you don't want to hear "The weather for this afternoon...? It just sounds stupid.

  2. Amen to that. If I were a member of the VAB, I'd want to hold someone's feet to the fire.

    Automation's not inherently evil, but some operators don't understand that it requires monitoring, just like live radio. Ditto with websites. You can't just post and forget -- not if you care about your professional image.

    One time, at the station I used to work at, the automated cart machine got stuck and the same commercial ran from about 8:00 pm until sometime the next morning.

    I don't know how they resolved the billing for that one...