My Station Has a Website, But...
December 10, 2013
Have you ever known anyone who would politely badger others until they got what they wanted and then never use it? I have never really thought new drops, liners, jingles or whatever terminology you use, needed to be changed out frequently, but others did not share my point of view. Every few months one particular air staff and the GM would hound me for new drops and I would give in because it was such a small gesture to make so many happy. I would always jokingly ask if listeners were calling and demanding new ways to identify the station.
The new ones would arrive, like kids with new toys, the personalities would get excited and rotate all of them for a few days, then resort to old habits and use only a few; Thank God with modern automation systems; no PD has to put out memos telling folks to play all the drops. Whoops, I am getting away from my point, which is, if you insist on having something, use it correctly! This brings me to an e-mail exchange concerning a station's website.
Jock: It is mandatory at our company that every jock within our cluster of stations blog daily during our six-day work week. Each of our stations only has two live jocks, one of which is the PD, and everyone has multiple responsibilities. There is not enough time in the day to do a good job with all of the demands put on us. I don't want this to come across as whining, but blogging has become more like when we would be disciplined by a teacher having to write some meaningless sentence over 100 times and hand it in.
Our station's site looks pretty generic and in my opinion serves no purpose other than being online. I have been here for six months and everyone seems to shrug their shoulders when the subject of any of our websites comes up. Other than the OM and upper management, I don't think any listeners read the blogs, so what's the point? And none of the stations in our cluster are streaming. We have to do something because I do believe our website could be a useful tool to connect with our listeners, but it's not right now.
Coach: You are not alone in your thoughts; I still see a lot of station websites and wonder what is going on. One of my clients is in negotiations for a programming job and one of his top priorities is his future employer's current website. It looks generic and is not being fully utilized; and here's the clincher -- it is in a top-10 market. I am not making excuses, but many stations do not have the manpower, expertise or willingness to pay to keep their sites up to par. Before making any suggestions, you need to find out if the website looks the way it does because of budgetary factors, the designer, poor communications with designer, poor maintenance, unrealistic expectations, or if in the scheme of things it's a low priority.
Jock: Okay, then what?
Coach: Then approach your PD in a non-combative way and start making your suggestions; never complain without having a plan. However, be prepared to be put in charge of implementing your ideas for the new and improved website.
Jock: I am no whiz kid; I need a little help with what to suggest. I just know we can do better.
Coach: I am not a web designer, but I can tell you the things I like seeing on a station website:
- Pictures with large, readable text
- Blogs with comments; also blogs do not have to be daily, at least once a week
- Less visual clutter
- Sites that are smartphone-friendly
- Simple to operate and workable podcasts of shows
- Content that makes sense and is up to date
- Periodically updated pictures and videos of station events, jocks and artists' videos
- Banners that reflect your station's and city's identity
- Cross-plugging on-air contests and promotions
- Do not use radio jargon, use words the average listener can understand.
You mentioned your cluster does not stream, but even without streaming, a site can be a valuable tool, but it should be a part of the equation. Try and make sure the redesigned site is a Content Management System (CMS) because it allows you to update certain elements without having to know code; a designer is still required but unless the template itself needs adjusting or there is a problem with the site, they are not needed as much. Sometimes sales and programming get into heated battles because a site becomes the new added-value dump; reach a compromise and keep clutter to a minimum; the website should be treated like the airwaves. Tthe goal is to recycle the listener base and keep them happy.
Also, fill your website with local community events. I suggest you look at various station sites and find ones suitable to your liking and then draw up your plan. Lastly and this is important, make sure whoever redesigns your site is trustworthy, has a track record, and is always accessible within a reasonable amount of time.
Jock: I am going to do some homework and put something together. Would it be okay to run it past you before I propose anything?