Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Radio Websites -- Odds and Ends

Our recent series of posts about how to improve a radio station's website (using our local radio station WJMA as a case study) generated some good discussion both on- and offline. Rather than go back and alter the posts, I decided to just do a final roundup of ideas. Thanks to everyone who helped with this!

Don't be shy about your assets
Did you know that Piedmont Communications owns more than just WJMA? You wouldn't unless you went to their company page. On the home page for WJMA should be linked to WLSA, WCVA, WVCV, and WOJL, along with some indication as to their format. (Sorry, I couldn't find links to those other stations -- that's a whole separate issue).

This is important for two reasons: listeners and advertisers.

The iPod revolution has demonstrated that listeners are eclectic. While a person may prefer a particular musical genre, there's usually a few songs from other kinds on their MP3 player as well. A WJMA listener might occasionally go to another station for some variety. Letting them know what other music Piedmont Communications offers just helps keeps that listener within the Piedmont Communications family of stations.

As I said in the last post, a business' website often forms the first impression for potential customers.
Current and potential advertisers coming to the WJMA site need to be aware that there are other stations. Don't rely on a sales call to explain it -- the modern business owner (and yes, even little ol' Orange County, Virginia has a growing number of them) will do online research on their own.

Don't forget the video
I talked about always having a digital camera at hand to take pictures to post on the site. Video's great, too. Clips should be short, and make some kind of narrative sense. And if its an entertaining clip, like an office prank, then post it on YouTube and other video sites. The more content you have on the web and the more places you have it ultimately increases traffic to your site.

Link everything
Hotlinks are the key to a successful website. Any URLS in PSAs should be linked, as well as any articles referred to. Cross-linking between pages within a site is extremely helpful. If you're talking about something on another page in another category, don't make the reader go all the way back through the navigation menu to get there -- just link to it. They'll be more likely to visit that page, and more visits = more views for the sponsors on those pages.

No dancing baloney
Keep animation to a minimum -- especially with advertising banners. Also, go easy on the flash animation and other such distractions. While the goal is to monetize the site, ads should be carefully placed so they don't overpower the content (which is why the reader is there). And an excessive amount of banner animation can actually drive people from the site.

Did I miss anything? Add your comment below and let me know.

- Ralph

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Radio Websites -- Driving Traffic to the Website

Over the past three posts, we've been looking at radio websites and how to improve them, using our local station, WJMA as a case study.

We've looked at how to build unique and compelling content, and how to monitize it. So how does WJMA get people to come to this wonderful new website when there are millions of others they could go to?

Simple. Integrate the URL into the station's branding, and integrate the site into the station's broadcast content. Let's look at those two ideas in detail.

Integrate the URL into the station's branding
WJMA has a pretty simple URL, which helps greatly -- This URL should be on every bumpersticker, every promotional cap or T-shirt, every scrap of stationary, every business card, and anything else that bears the company logo. This form of publicity is pretty standard, but it's amazing how often businesses miss opportunities by thinking of the URL as a separate -- rather than an integral -- part of their branding.

WJMA has an additional advantage. It's a radio station. Every time an announcer opens the mike the URL should be mentioned. Now notice that I did NOT list the URL as "" Newcomers to the whole Interwebtubie thing carefully include the three dubs in every web address. And sometimes, bless their little hearts, they even include "http colon backslash backslash."

None of this is really necessary. Just say "" and move on. At the very least, the URL should be in every station ID and every positioning statement.

Integrate the site into the station's content
The biggest mistake many broadcasters (and other businesses) make is thinking of their website as something separate from their core business. It's not. The public doesn't think so. Increasingly, the website is a potential customer's first impression of the company.

A radio station owner may think they're a broadcaster, but that concept went out with the previous century. In the 21st century, a radio station with a website is a content provider. Some of that content are appropriate for the Internet only, some for on-air broadcast only. But the successful stations will create an increasing amount that uses both channels. Here're some specific examples.

1) Audience participation
Move call-in polls to the website. Setting up an on-line poll is pretty simple, and it's an easy way to drive traffic to the site. Ask for audience opinions. Have the listeners vote "thumbs up/thumbs down" on songs the station's considering adding to its playlist -- that's like getting focus group info for free!

"Battle of the bands" can be good, too. Have two new songs square off against each other on Monday, with listeners voting online. The winner's up against a new song on Tuesday, and that winner against another song on Wednesday, and on through the week, until the big finale on Friday. "American Idol" and similar programs have demonstrated the appeal of this kind of audience participation.

Here're some examples of how to do this on-air. Note to the webmaster -- the poll should be either on the front page or there should be a big button linking to its page. Make it easy to find!

"So what do you think about this new proposal to expand Route 29? Yea or nay? Vote and give us your opinion at"

"Who's going to take the Richmond 500 this weekend? Jeff Gordon or Jimmie Johnson? Let us know at" [For polls with a big response, the dj could report on it from time to time, keeping the interest up and web traffic brisk. "Gordon's ahead in our poll by about 2 to 1 over Johnson right now. Do you think Gordan can take the Richmond 500? Vote now at We'll announce the final results at 8:35."]

"Got a new track from the Dixie Bee-Liners coming up next. Is it hot, or is it not? Let us know at" [Perhaps a 10-second clip could be posted with the poll so voters could listen again. This would be especially helpful if two songs are competing.]

And of course, these polls are also opportunities for sponsorship as well.

2) Additional information
Use the website to cut PSA clutter. Every station's received long-winded announcements that just make for bad radio if read in their entirety. Trim the message to the core, and put the rest online. Here's an example:

"And the FunRun to support the Red Cross happens this Saturday morning in Rapidan. See the Hardee's community bulletin board at for more information." [The website post would have the sign-up info, contacts, Red Cross URL, and all the other information provided by the organizers.]

"Orange takes on the Fluvanna Flucos in basketball action this Friday night. For game time and a complete listing of regional sports, check out the WJMA scoreboard at, sponsored by Faulconer Hardware."

"So we got an e-mail in from Patsy K. who's really hot about slow drivers. She says, "I've got to drive Rt. 231 to get to work. It's a two-lane road, with almost no opportunities to pass. Is it too much to ask drivers to at least drive five miles under the limit? C'mon, pick up the pace! Some of these geezers drive so slow I don't know if I'll even make it to work before we close!" I know how you feel, Patsy -- that's one of the nice things about getting to the station at five in the morning. I only have to worry about deer -- and at least, they move fast! Got something you want to vent about? Let us know. Go to 'Here's the beef' at and gets it off your chest. ' And if we read your beef on the air, you'll receive a gift certificate from Hardee's."

These are just a few examples, but there's many more -- as many as there are features on the site.

So will this help WJMA? I don't know. It depends on what they decide to do with the information (they may not even be aware this discussion is going on). We'll have some indication, though, when this page no longer looks like this, and (heaven help us) this page no longer looks like this (both screen shots were taken November 28, 2007).

- Ralph

Monday, November 26, 2007

Radio Websites -- Populating Pages with Approporiate Ads

Inspired by the uninspired website of our local radio station WJMA, I decided to help them (and many other stations) by offering up some practical ways to improve and monetize their site.

Last post I outlined how WJMA could generate a significant amount of unique content to attract visitors, and for very little money.

This time around, we'll look at how to make those pages and pages of compelling content pay.

A radio station is confined to a specific geographic area. The Internet is global. In the past, radio stations had to rely on local businesses for their revenue, with some money coming from national ad agencies. On the web, advertisers can come from anyplace. The trick is to match the right sponsor with the right traffic.

Local Advertisers
The time has passed when radio sales staffs can just do business as usual. WJMA's sales staff have some pretty highfalutin' titles, such as Senior Marketing Consultant and Senior Advertising Consultant (any junior MC's or AC's on staff?). Now's the time to live up to those titles.

The sales staff should actively encourage current clients to place banners online. Take Reynolds Pontiac GM of Orange, for example. I happen to know that their big supporters of the Orange community. So why not get their banner on the community calendar page or the local news page?

Placement on those pages re-enforces Reynolds' position in the Orange community. And of course, any click-throughs just mean more potential business for the car dealership.

Not every business thinks about promoting their website on other websites -- which is where the marketing consultant part comes in. The sales staff could offer a package deal of on-air spots plus web ads. Initially, the web ads could even be free just to show the value of website placement. It would also get the ball rolling, as it's easier to sell the concept of banner ads on a site if there's already ads on the site -- especially those of a competitor!

Internet Advertising
While local advertising in important, the web offers other possibilities as well. There are all kinds of affiliate programs one could join.

For CE Conversations, we've kept things simple and just used Google AdSense. There are other similar services that offer contextual ads. As content builds on a page, the ads become more focused on the subject of the page, which makes them more relevant (and, therefore, more appealing) to people visiting the page.

Our site has fairly modest traffic, which generates a proportionally modest amount of income. Potentially, WJMA's site should be enjoying a far greater number of visitors, and therefore, generate a significant amount of income. And if the service is free, and requires virtually no maintenance, how much income would it need to bring in to be considered profitable?

Another effective way to raise revenue is to join an affiliate program. I use one for the Gamut Playlist blog. Since the site is exclusively devoted to classical recordings, I joined Commission Junction to become an affiliate of It's worked very well. The revenue from the Gamut site is about twenty times that of CE Conversations (don't be too impressed -- no one's quit their day job yet).

WJMA could zoom in on specific products and services that match the interest of visitors to specific pages and populate the entire site with appropriate ads.

The only caveat is not to do too much. Too many ads diminish the effectiveness of the banners and clutter the site. Well-placed ads used sparingly, though, can be successful both for the client (the advertiser), and the host (the radio stations).

At this point, any radio marketing consultant worth their salt should be able to rattle off, at least, ten businesses or product brands that their station should feature on their website with affiliate ads.

So now let's assume that WJMA has a site chock full of interesting content and sponsors and/or banner ads on every page. The store's open, but where's all the people?

Stay tuned -- this is the easiest part yet if you're a broadcaster.

- Ralph

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Radio Websites -- Creating Compelling Content

The last post, inspired by the lack-luster website of our local radio station WJMA, I outlined three ways for a radio station to build a strong Internet presence and start generating revenue from it. As promised, here's a closer look at the first point -- creating compelling content.

To generate traffic, there has to be a reason to come to the site, and there has to be a fresh reason to come every day. There are two basic ways to do this:

1. Re-purpose the station's existing content
2. Create new web-only content

Neither of these is especially difficult, especially if there's someone on staff who's primary purpose is updating and maintaining the site content.

Re-purpose the station's existing content

PSAs (Public Service Announcements)
Radio stations receive a steady stream of PSAs from local charities, community music groups, high school organizations, churches, and various other groups. All these groups want to get the word out about their event.

Every single one of these announcements should go to the radio station website in a community bulletin board. It can be a straightforward listing, one after the other in chronological order, updated daily by the webmaster. A calendar in a sidebar would be very helpful, too. Just click on a date a see what's happening that day. And of course, any web address given should be a live link to the organization's site.

A properly maintained online community bulletin board can be a useful asset.

News and Information
Not everyone has a news department, but WJMA does. Why not recycle the broadcast news on the web? I'm not talking about streaming -- I mean really repurposing the content for a different media.

The national and state news Goodwin reads from various news agencies have no value online -- one can get that information straight from the source. What is of interest is the unique content Goodwin provides.

For example, Goodwin reports on an Orange County Board of Supervisor's meeting and uses some actualities (soundbites) during the newscast. That segment should be posted to the WJMA news page on the website as an MP3. It should also be carefully tagged, with the date, the subject, the names of everyone used in the actualities, and the name of the reporter.

Right now those reports are heard once and forgotten. Posting them online just adds value to the station's website.

J.D. Slade now does the morning show on WJMA. And if it's anything like his last stint at the station, the show should be funny and entertaining. I'm assuming the station can do airchecks (that is, have a setup that automatically records when the mike gets turned on, and stops when the mike turns off).

So take the best bits and post them to the site as MP3s. Even if there are only a couple of segments a week worth posting, it won't be long before the station's website has a nice collection of J.D.'s funniest moments.

Bits from other announcers can be posted as well. It can be very effective if there's an in-studio guest. Although listeners might miss the interview when it's broadcast, they can always revisit it online. And once WJMA has several of those posted, they'll have an impressive roster of names that show how important the station really is.

Create new web-only contentThis does not have to be a daunting task. Here're some suggestions.

Start a station blog
Give the webmaster authority to crack the whip, and open it to everyone at the station. So what should go in this blog?
1. Best bits from the shows (see above). The DJ should set up the sound clip, which would be inserted into the blog entry.

Ex. "Something totally unexpected happened this morning when I was talking to a caller. I know what she meant to say, but what she said was something else! [insert mp3 link here]."

2. New music/features. The program director/music director could talk about new music or a new feature. Again, it can be short but it will help promote the station.

Ex. "Next week we start a new program "Nashville Now" on Sunday mornings. The show will keep you up to date on what's happening in country music. Listen for it 10:00 every Sunday beginning this weekend."


Ex. "WJMA just added the new song by Kenny Chesney. It's the first tune off his new album and represents a return to his country music roots. Listen for the debut of "Walk Away, Rene" on J.D. Slade's show during the 9:00 hour tomorrow morning."

3. Events!
Any time the station does a live remote, or a charity event, someone should be taking as many digital pictures as possible. Use the best two in a blog post, and create a page for the rest of them.

Ex. "FunRun 07 was a huge success! WJMA was there in force, and over $10,000 was raised to fight cancer. Here's the WJMA crew hamming it up after the race [insert picture here]. Joe Smith was the winner, with an impressive time of 1:05:02 [insert picture here]. Check out our events page for all the fun! [link to the appropriate events page here].

Aggregation and Conversation
A simple way to have fresh content is to employ an aggregator on the station website. If you look over at the right sidebar of this blog, you'll see the latest tech news headlines, courtesy of Some of these services (like are free, and some are available for a fee. Either way, once the aggregator's in place, the site will have up to date headlines without any work from the station staff. And you avoid embarrassing things like having a blank headlines page with a date two weeks out of date.

Sean Tubbs of the Charlottesville Podcasting Network posted some excellent suggestions about getting content from outside providers. That's another great source, and Sean's post demonstrated another effective -- and important -- way to generate fresh content.

Radio broadcasts are one-way transmissions: I send, you receive. A website, however, can provide two-way conversations: I post, you comment, I respond, others chime in. And when folks post comments, they're showing that they're interested in your content.

Many old media websites offer free content but require a sign-in process to collect demographic data. This slows the conversation to a trickle. While you need to have some kind of simple screening process to prevent spam in your comment fields, the conversation should be open to all.

There's plenty of programs (some free) that provide data about your website's traffic (we use That's the information you should be concerned about.

When I wrote about the recent Board of Supervisors race, local traffic shot way up. Within two posts I knew what keywords would bring in Orange County readers. I also knew where they were coming from -- several came from the public school system's server, suggesting school board related topics might increase that traffic. I also knew what time of day they were reading, and how long they were spending on the site, suggesting the optimal post time as well as best text length. In other words, everything I needed to know to grow that segment of our readership.

Almost every page should have room for comments. And these should be read carefully. They'll suggest directions the site should grow in. Several posts on this blog were directly inspired by comments from readers.

Everything posted should be available forever (with the exception of old PSAs). The more content a station has, the more it appears to be a going concern. Plus, the more chances people will find something they're looking for.

Here's a real-life example. On this blog, I talked about HD Radio on QVC back in early September. Last week I started seeing an upswing in traffic. The post showed on a site collecting stories about HD Radio on November 21. So something I wrote two months ago is now driving traffic to our site.

If that post wasn't still available, it wouldn't have happened. So keep that content available. You don't know when someone will be looking for that Board of Supervisors meeting actuality, or something about FunRun 07 or that crazy thing that happened on the morning show a few weeks back.

OK, so say WJMA has their site packed with all this valuable and unique content. How do they make it pay?

Stay tuned.

- Ralph

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Radio Websites -- A Modest Proposal

The last post I heavily critiqued WJMA's website, a good example of what happens when radio stations who don't understand the Internet (or how to use it) go online.

Can WJMA's website be saved? Better still -- can it actually generate income? Sure. Management just has to embrace three crucial concepts.
  1. Create compelling content
  2. Populate pages with appropriate ads
  3. Drive traffic to the website
But for things to change, management has to do one of those paradigm-shifty things. One can no longer run a radio station like an automated jukebox and expect to thrive. The selection of tunes -- no matter how broad -- can't possibly match the range on the average person's iPod (or another MP3 player).

And the station can have all the unbroken music sweeps it wants. At some point, it's got to run commercials. An MP3 player never does.

It's also time to stop thinking of a radio station as just a broadcasting medium. Consider it a content provider and invest accordingly. Properly positioned, a station can use its over-the-air signal and a robust website to extend its reach far beyond its actual listening area. Which extends the station's potential client base beyond its immediate market.

The first step is to hire someone specifically to develop, generate, update, organize and be responsible for web content. Many stations foist it off on some overworked shlub who's already on staff. The worker immediately drops it the bottom of his massive to-do list -- right below the note to monitor the HD Radio feed to make sure it's still on the air.

Over the next three posts, I'll outline each concept in detail. And if you have feedback or suggestions, please post. Together we can save WMJA (or any other radio station that's ready to join the century we're living in).

- Ralph

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Ted Mack's Original Radio Website

I recently commented on WTYD's confessed inability to monetize their website. The concept's simple enough -- generate content that brings people in (and brings them back), and they place appropriate ads in front of them.

Just to give one example of how it could work for WTYD -- the Tide (WTYD) has a local band network. Why not make link sponsored by, say Guitar Center, and then have a banner ad on the band page? Why not a banner ad from Musician's Friend? Each of their specialized pages could have similar appropriate advertising (either brick-and-mortar or Internet).

The Tide's site has other similar opportunities, such as their concert calendar, lyrics page, and so on.

Of course, you have to have content to go to in order to get the traffic to justify the advertiser's investment.

Which brings us to WJMA's website. As near as I can tell, our local radio station only has a website because someone told them it was all the rage. The Tide could make money on their website. Not so with WJMA.

The home page is clean and uncluttered -- which is good. But things fall apart when you start clicking on links.

Their contest page just basically says "listen to win." So there's no real reason to visit this page. Why not have some clues or even some kind of online-only contest?

Want to meet the staff? Too bad -- that page is still under construction. Which is a real web design no-no? Keep the freakin' page offline until the content's finished. An "under construction" notice is like asking someone if they want a soda, and when they say yes, responding that you don't have any.

Headline news can be an easy way to generate fresh content (and possibly sell some banner ads from local newspapers). WJMA's Local Headline News is blank -- with a date of November 9! C'mon, guys, even this blog has better news coverage (check out our feed from in the right column).

Community events can be another way to bring traffic. Post all the public service announcements that come into your station, and announce your website URL frequently ("for more information, visit"). Businesses that want to be seen supporting the community could sponsor said page. WJMA's Community Event page is blank. Ouch.

The local government and schools pages link to the various homepages of the area county governments and schools. That's fine, of course, but fairly static and not likely to generate much traffic.

The weather page links to, which is fine -- that page should have some kind of ads supporting it, though. Isn't the weather sponsored on the radio? Perhaps a package deal would be in order to get the ball rolling.

The concert page is current, and this would be another page that should be generating traffic and should have some sponsorship.

As the experts have repeatedly pointed out, a station's website can be a valuable tool and revenue stream but too many station managers don't comprehend the role of this new media.

Two more examples of how much Piedmont Communications (the proud owner of WJMA) understands about this Interwebtubie thing. In their "About Us" page, they say
"With the installation of new state of the art IBOC transmitting equipment in 2006, WJMA and WOJL became the first two commercial FM stations of their market size in Virginia to begin broadcasting in full HD high definition, providing listeners with the best possible audio quality available anywhere in the U.S. Piedmont Communications, Inc. will continue to use the latest technological advances and listener responsive programming to deliver the best radio service in Virginia."
First off, the "HD high definition" link is dead. Secondly, HD Radio is misidentified as "HD high definition." So this station that uses "the latest technological advances" apparently doesn't know the name of said advance, nor how to create a link properly.

But my absolute favorite part of the site is the job opportunities. WJMA is looking for an operations manager and program director. The duties include the following:
"Responsible for Supervising all on-air, news, engineering and production staff. Overseas programming on all four PCI stations, and manages facilities and studios."
At first, I thought Piedmont Communications was looking for someone to manage the content they were receiving from Europe. But I soon realized that they had just misspelled "oversees."

'Nuff said.

- Ralph

(And for those under a certain age who are puzzled by the title reference, Ted Mack was a celebrated radio and TV host of an amateur talent show).

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Sick day (at the movies)

While Ralph was busily posting, I was busily retching.

Yes, I had the dubious pleasure of leaving work early on Tuesday with a stomach ailment that's been making its way around the office. After braving the worst of it for a while at home, I was able to sit in bed with a cup of tea and watch the telly.

I'm not into daytime TV, and there weren't any football games on, so the obvious choice was to watch movies. On a whim, I turned on AMC and didn't turn it off again until when I went to sleep that night.

Why? Check out this lineup: The Quiet Man, The Dirty Dozen, Heartbreak Ridge, Rear Window, and Vertigo (the first half). Good comfortable fits, every one of them. (Now if AMC would quit showing these full-screen and with commercials, but that's another story.)

It was like the old days of watching Saturday Night at the Movies on the networks, and in honor of the occasion, I'll give you my three-word review/synopsis/impressions of each one:

The Quiet Man -- Dragging Maureen O'Hara.

The Dirty Dozen --
Kill the krauts.

Heartbreak Ridge --
Tough Gunny Clint.

Rear Window --
Grace Kelly -- wow.

Vertigo -- Kim Novak -- wow.


Internet Stream Dries Up in Tidewater

A reader asked me to comment on the decision by sister stations WTYD and WBACH to cease Internet streaming. A simple posting on the sites of these Williamsburg, Virginia stations announced the end of the service.

Had the station chose to stick to facts (rates have risen, income hasn't, something has to give), I wouldn't be writing about it. But its whining tone begs some kind of response. The announcement originally was posted on both The Tide and WBACH's website -- it now only appears on WBACH's.
Congress, the record companies, artists and their various lobby groups, in their collective wisdom, have determined that we should pay royalty fees for music played online...
It's true. Rates have risen, as I (and many others) have talked about before. What the announcement doesn't talk about was commercial radio's indifference to it. As others have noted, only NPR really took a stance when the rate hikes were proposed -- the NAB remained curiously silent. And now they have to live with the results.

Yes, the mean old record companies screwed everyone with the help of Congress. But now that the results of commercial radio's inaction have come home to roost, I can only say "boo hoo hoo."
Our website doesn't generate any revenue - $0. Knowing that most radio stations' websites don't generate any revenue, these titans of brilliance have still decided that we should pay based on the possible future revenues of online broadcasting.
Both the Tide and WBACH's websites are remarkably free of advertising, so I have no doubt they generate zero income. But whose fault is that?

Mark Ramsey of Hear 2.0 has been advising commercial radio for some time to understand the importance (and value) of their websites. And Ken Dardis of Audiographics has been doing the same. Online advertising is projected to grow 22% this year alone -- and yet this radio station can't generate any income at all on their website?

What about on-air/banner ad packages? What about using the site as a repository for more info with at least a line listing and a link to advertiser's websites?

Or how about Google AdSense, or an affiliate program like the Commission Junction? That's what we use for this blog and the Gamut playlist. They generate a modest amount of income, but our sites only have a fraction of what WTYD's should be.

It requires some creative thinking, sure. But if a radio station can't figure out how to drive traffic to its site (hint: integrate the URL into your broadcasts) to make it attractive to local advertisers, you can't blame that on the mean old record labels.

Reading this announcement, though, I got the impression that writer doesn't know much about the Internet. After all, this is just a notice. But what if it were rewritten slightly with links? Instead of just whining about Congress, how about providing a link to where folks can go and do something about it? No wonder they don't generate any web revenue.

And finally, although the notice initially ran on both WBACH and the Tide's websites, it now only shows on the classical station's. Why?

Because the Tide does have an Internet radio stream. There's a box leading to the Tide's New Music Channel (NMC). No, it's not a stream of their on-air broadcast. It's actually a separate Internet radio stream.

NMC is a service of Businesses can sign up for the service, have their logo inserted into the page (thanks to dynamic links) and the customer believes it's originating from the client.

In their info page, they assure everyone that they're paying all of the SoundExchange fees (and apparently can make money doing so -- although that may change once the ax falls).

And ironically, when you first go the Tide's NMC, directly below the station's logo is a banner to save Internet radio (like the one on the top of this blog). Too bad commercial radio chose to ignore it.

- Ralph

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

White Lies and the Social Network

I haven't talked about Sarah Honenberger and her book "White Lies" for a while, but she recently sent me an update, by way of a comment to one of our posts. The post talked about how online video clips can greatly expand audiences by making the content available for people to discover and watch on demand.

Honenberger sent the link to just such a clip. It's an interview she did at the Blue Ridge Regional Library in Henrico County, Virginia.

So now Honenberger's visit to the library extends far beyond the small number of people who had the opportunity to see her there.

Honenberger's experience in Internet marketing grows over the past year or so. We've had a number of conversations both online and off about blogs, websites and so on -- and her comment shows how much she's learned.

Rather than waiting for people to stumble across her interview, she posted the URL in our comments (and I'm assuming in other blogs as well). I'm sharing it as well, and I'm sure others will, too. She's using the social aspect of the Internet to get the word out.

And Honenberger's even working on a MySpace page. When it's ready, she can count on at least one friend request.

- Ralph

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

More Orange Odor

The investigation into the illegal campaign websites posted the recent Orange County Board of Supervisors elections continues, with an appropriate amount of huffing-and-puffing and exaggerated expressions of righteous indignation.

As the guilty parties will soon learn, it's almost impossible not leave traces on the Internet (especially if you're an amateur). But the other folks involved need to understand that nothing on the Internet truly goes away -- which means anyone can fact-check just about any time after the event.

Although I've only talked about the fake Teel Goodwin site, the (currently) unknown posters actually did two. Thomas Graves, an incumbent, was the subject of a similar site. Goodwin won, but Graves lost.

While both sites have been removed, they haven't completely disappeared. Google has the text for both cached. The pictures weren't saved, but the text is still there for all to examine.

And that examination can help dial back the drama now being played out in the papers.

The most recent issue of the Orange Review reported that:

According to [Commonwealth Attorney Diana] Wheeler, the state police are executing an investigation to determine who paid for a pair of illicit websites. The sites claimed to be authorized by incumbent District 2 supervisor candidate Thomas Graves, and District 3 supervisor candidate Teel Goodwin, but were not

Both websites used URLs that suggested they were supporting the candidates ( and, but there's nothing in the sites about anyone authorizing them -- which you can check for yourself.

Wheeler said that by posting the websites with falsified "paid for by", and "authorized by" statements, a misdemeanor criminal offense has been committed.
Did anybody look at those sites? These phrases aren't on either site (which you can confirm for yourself).

When the story first broke, Teel Goodwin shared this thoughtful commentary:
"This is nasty and ugly," Goodwin said. "Everybody I talk to thinks it's offensive. I'm particularly offended because they mentioned my son on the Web site."
You can check the facts for yourself. The only mention of family I found was this:
Goodwin assisted his family, one of the largest landowners in Orange County, in attempting to rezone agricultural land for development of nearly 750 housing units in cooperation with Hovnanian Homes, a large national developer headquartered in New Jersey.
Unless his son was spearheading the Rapidan Crossing project, I don't see the reference that particularly offended Goodwin.

The illegal sites are a good example of how the Internet can be misused (and a damned clumsy example at that). But the aftermath can also be an example of its power. Unsubstantiated claims and exaggerations don't cut it anymore.

Not when the citizenry can go to the original sources and check the facts for themselves. Now that's democracy in action.

- Ralph

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The rest of the story

The election's over, and now the real work begins. For those outside the Central Virginia area, who have been following our posts about the election, Teel Goodwin won over Steve Satterfield in the Orange County Board of Supervisors race with 51% of the vote.

And the fallout continues. The Virginia State police are investigating the spurious Goodwin website, as it violated the campaign laws covering disclosure. I'm fairly confident the chowderheads behind the site will soon be apprehended.

Savvy Internet vandals can partially (or sometimes fully) cover their tracks -- but these guys are anything but.

I'll keep everyone posted on relevant developments.

- Ralph

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Don't care? Don't vote -- I'll take it from here.

We always see a lot of reports about the declining electorate. Some bemoan the fact that more people voted in the "American Idol" competition than did in the last presidential election.

Both parties always work to "get out the vote," practically dragging people off the streets (of the proper political stripe, of course) and getting them registered. Another popular solution has been the "motor voter" act, which lets citizens conveniently register to vote when they pick up their driver's license.

Personally, I'd like to see it all stop. Registering to vote isn't a complicated process, but it does require a little effort -- but no more so than voting for the American Idol, and getting a driver's license.

And if someone only registers if everyone else does the work for them, what kind of a voter will they be? I'd rather not have our officials elected by "Eenie, meanie, minee, moe."

Here's how I look at it. Every apathetic voter that stays home just makes my vote count more.

Consider: in a pool of 10,000 voters, my vote is one voice among 10,000. If 5,000 stay home, then my vote basically doubles in power. Today's a local election, so turnout may be more like 2,000 -- which makes my vote worth five votes.

So if you don't care much for your right to vote, that's your right. Do everyone a favor and please stay home. Folks that are concerned and informed about the issues will make the decisions that need to be made.

After all, you wouldn't want folks like me who don't follow "American Idol" to screw up the results by calling in random votes, would you?

- Ralph

Monday, November 05, 2007

The (political) odor spreads

Last post I talked about an example of local "dirty tricks" in the race for Orange County, Virginia's Board of Supervisors. A website with the address was posted by somebody who was decidedly not a Teel Goodwin supporter (the site has been removed from my last post).

The site was so amateurish in execution I don't believe it was created by his opponent, Steve Satterfield. But I did suggest that the unthinking action of this anti-Goodwin poster would have negative consequences -- and it has.

In the latest issue of the Orange Review, there's half-page ad for Teel Goodwin. It's basically a laundry list of prominent supporters inviting their neighbors to also support Goodwin. It lists what he's for -- and what he's against. And Goodwin is against "mean-spirited, misleading campaign ads, false websites and outside special interests...."

So the clumsly anonymous webposter did little more than give Goodwin some additional ammunition.

As we used to say in elementary school, "Smooth move, Ex-Lax."

- Ralph