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


  1. I believe I sat next to their news director during the Hilary Clinton event, as I covered that for WVTF Public Radio. Of course, I also posted the full audio to the Charlottesville Podcasting Network as well.

    Why not collaborate with outside providers, much in the same way that CPN is now helping WTJU post two of its specialty radio shows?

    Of course, my interests are simply to get things heard, to open up society a bit more by airing as much as possible. Their interests are to stay alive. Somewhere in here are the ingredients for a great collaboration in which everyone benefits.

    I don't believe I've ever listened to WJMA (is that the call sign?) - do they do much local production?

  2. One more - the key to getting things started is to get the net roots involved. Open up comments. Look at what's happening here in Charlottesville with the Hook opening up its comments to all comers. That means real dialogue. Great discussions. If a radio station devoted to Orange County did that, they might get something going, might do what they need to do, which is to stay relevant.

  3. In its heyday, WJMA was very much a local radio station, as you can see from the WJMA history site put together by former employees.

    The current owners -- in my opinion -- are still too focused on the Clear Channel model. That is, automate everything and keep the staff to a minimum. There's very little original content, especially compared to the Arch Harrison era of the 1960's and 1970's.