Monday, April 06, 2009

WJMA Podwatch -- Day One

Looks like it's time to start the WJMA Podwatch. Two weeks ago we offered up some suggestions to make the WJMA news podcasts more effective, both for the listeners and for the station. Simple fixes, really.

  1. Add contact and identifying info to the MP3's meta data.
  2. Add the date to the title so the podcasts would sort properly.
  3. Put in artwork for visual reference (and brand re-enforcement) and add an opener so we know who we're listening to and what they're talking about at the beginning of the podcast -- not at the end.

And after two weeks -- the podcasts are now dated. !?!?

Just doing the barest minimum doesn't help -- and this isn't really the barest minimum. So we'll start the clock and see how long it takes to make these MP3s useful to podcast listeners (who have different needs than radio listeners).

So why does this matter? Well, there are lessons to be learned here for any business with an online component (even those not considering podcasts). And a key one is credibility. Piedmont Communications (who own WJMA), addressing current and future advertisers in their blog said:

Using the web to market your business and sell your product can unquestionably be very effective…. Good web design and maintenance are pricey….we should know. We just completed a relaunch of the WJMA FM website. Once you’ve spent the money to gussy up your site, you’ve got to drive traffic to it in order for it to do you any good.

We feel like in our market, and with our listeners, we’ve got the franchise on emotive, engaging advertising that will make people want to visit your website, leveraging your ad dollars and web investment to create sales for you.

I totally agree. They got the concept.

But if I were a potential advertiser, I'd be looking at what Piedmont Communications is doing to drive traffic to their own website. It's the most effective way they can show their Interwebtube expertise -- and provide some hard numbers to their clients.

As Mark Ramsey said in a recent Hear 2.0 post:

The digital elements in [a station's] portfolio are not "non-traditional revenue," they are "new traditional revenue."... Every broadcaster should be restructuring from the ground up around digital opportunities, not simply tacking on digital strategies like so many strips of duct tape.

How well has WJMA incorporated the digital tools of their "gussied up" website into their product? Well, it took them 344 days to go from a placeholder to a functioning website again. Let's see how long it takes to bring their podcasts (which is just one part of their digital initiative) up to current practice. This is day one.

- Ralph


  1. Anonymous1:30 PM

    What's the deal, Graves? You must have some real axe to grind with these poor Luddites at WJMA. Did one of 'em kick your dog? Just curious.


  2. Sorry, no dog.

    At the heart of it, I'd just like to see our local radio station succeed. Yes, I've had some harsh criticisms, but I believe I've always done the following:

    1) Presented what I see as a problem
    2) Explain why I see it as a problem
    2) Present what I see as the solution
    3) Explain why I see it as a solution

    I try to present links to supporting materials from other professionals in the industry (or other relevant media) to support my points.

    Hopefully I've been able to document that this isn't just my personal opinion (which, unsupported, is valueless by itself), but that what I'm talking about are things other stations are doing, or other media companies, or the way the industry is moving (or should be moving).

    So why focus on WJMA? Well, Piedmont Communications is a locally-owned, independent media company -- which I think has the best chance of success in this changing environment.

    But if my posts were only about WJMA then I wouldn't waste my readership's time by publishing them. That's a subject that too tightly focussed and of too little interest to our subscribers in other states and countries.

    There's plenty of commentary about the general state of radio, though. What I'm trying to do is tie the specific (WJMA) to the general.

    It's one thing to talk in general about how a radio station can do podcasts, for example. An important discussion, but not very helpful to stations trying to get a handle on the whole Interwebtube thing. Examining a specific station's podcasts and looking at what works, and what doesn't, however, can help other stations (as well as the station being critiqued).

    And I believe I've always held myself up for examination, too. Sure, I have a lot to say about WJMA's podcasts -- but I've also shared a lot of information about our own as well. So readers can look at what we do and determine for themselves how qualified my criticism is.

    Finally, just for the record, I'm more of a cat person.