Radio 2.0

Web 2.0 is a term often applied to a perceived ongoing transition of the World Wide Web from a collection of websites to a full-fledged computing platform serving web applications to end users. Ultimately Web 2.0 services are expected to replace desktop computing applications for many purposes. [Wikipedia]

If I owned a radio station (let’s narrow this to “small market” radio station since I have no first-hand experience in large markets), how might I use the Web and related technologies (blogging, podcasting, SMS, etc) to better serve my listeners and advertisers? I have to believe that any idea I might come up with is arleady in place and has been for some time. But just for fun, he’s a few off the top of my head (in no particular order):

1. High-speed Internet access to every office and studio in the radio station. If you still have someone doing “live” radio, they need access to the web.
2. A station website. Doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive but it does need someone to feed and care for it. Don’t make them do this on their own time. More on content later.
3. A station blog. If I had to choose between one of the “traditional” black-background-lots-of-album-covers sites…and a well tended blog on Blogger or Typepad…I’d go with the blog.
4. Buy at least one digital audio recorder. I can think of no reason to ever buy another analog recorder.
5. If you do school closings and lunch room menus, post these to your site. If your schools are already doing this on their sites, link to them.
6. If you do obits on your station, post these to your website. Better yet, set up a database with a password protected form and let your local funeral homes post and update their announcments.
7. Provide a place where your local churches can post news or link to their websites if they’re already doing this.
8. If you do a daily “Tradio” sell-stuff-on-the-air program, record it and make it available as a podcast. You should also provide an online dB where listeners can post items for sale (a la craig’s list)
9. Record your major newscasts and post these as podcasts. Will take an extra 10 min but will greatly extend the audience for this programming.
10. Take the digital audio recorder to every city council meeting, chamber of commerce meeting, school board meeting, hospital board meeting, etc and record them gavel-to-gavel. Pull some cuts for the on-air news but post the full proceeding as a podcast. If you don’t do this, someone else will. And if you can’t staff these, ask for volunteers. Some of your techie listeners can probably do this better faster than you can and would love to be involved.
11. Create a business directory post short video tours/interviews. If video is just too much, do audio with accompanying photo gallery.
12. If they don’t already have them (and they will), set up blog for each of your loca civic organizations and help them get started. Link from the station site/blog and promote them on the air. Do the same leading up to the county fair or any other annual event.
13. Record the play-by-play audio of your local high school games and post to your website/blog as a podcast. Yes, you can sell sponsorships. Podcast the weekly Coach’s Corner, too.
14. If your local churches are not already “godcasting” their weekly services, offer to help them do this.
15. Find and encourage local bloggers and be sure you have them on the station blogroll.
16. If you have local bands, ask them to send you MP3 files of their recordings and include these on the station website. You’ll probably need a section for different genres (CW, Rock, etc)
17. Produce a local garden or home fix-up show and podcast these from the station website.

If you didn’t recognize a number of the terms I used above, find someone who can clue you in and ask them to help. I’d like to think that anyone currently working in radio (I left in 1984) could expand this list to 100 ideas. Or 200.

If all of this sounds “too local” or corny then forget it because you’re hopelessly screwed. The next generation of listeners are not going to be tuning you in for the tunes. If they listen at all, it will be for this kind of engagement with their lives. Ironically, this is where radio started half a century ago and we were very good at it. Some are still good at it and we better figure out how to get good at it again. Fast.

But don’t worry about your community. They’ll be fine and they can execute every one of the ideas above without any help from the local radio station.

Use the comments link below to let me know what I’ve missed.

3 thoughts on “Radio 2.0

  1. Warren: The good news is you don’t NEED an IT department to do most of the things I suggested. And I can’t imagine having a radio show and NOT blogging. Just yell if you need any help.

  2. I’m posting this blog on my office wall. We’re pretty maxed-out in our I.T. department, so I’m going to try to help as best I can. Moreover, with corporate OK I’m seriously thinking of just starting my own site to work in synch with my morning show. My wife and son are a helluva lot better at this stuff than I am, so I’m hopintg they’ll help the old man. Thanks for the thought-starter Steve.

  3. Well, thanks, Steve. There goes my presentation. I got to thinking about this last week while driving around the bootheel (you have a lovely hometown by the way)and while in Wisconsin last week. After talking to some stations that don’t even have websites, I began to think about what the necessities of a station would be while also pondering about how many different sponsors and sponsorship availabilities COULD be available. You hit it directly on the head and had a bunch more more than I did. May I package this and take it on the road? Really nice job.

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