Recently, the rock community has seen an unfortunate spate of deaths: David Bowie, Scott Weiland, Glenn Frey, and others. How should radio stations respond online?
In our conversations with listeners, they've told us their first instinct when they hear news like this is to turn to Google. After a quick search, they will usually click on a trusted news source like CNN or NPR. In other words, (music) radio's role is not necessarily to suddenly transform into a journalistic outlet.
So what role does a radio station's website play?
One key role is to help listeners reminisce. While listeners may not be turning to your station's website for the date, time, and cause of death, they are looking to your station to help them celebrate the life of the artist, and perhaps even learn more about his/her career and achievements.
A great way to do this is to resurface older content. If you have recordings of past interviews or performances* that you can post online, do so. Create a page dedicated to the artist with a designated vanity URL, such as wkrp.com/david-bowie. Promote that page on the air with both live mentions and production elements.
But there's no reason to wait until a core artist dies to recycle your old content. As radio programmers, we constantly focus on finding new content to put on the air. It rarely crosses our mind to pull older material out of the vault. But websites are an ideal tool for showcasing past bits. You have listeners who are interested in hearing your station's 1985 interview with Sammy Hagar, or your 1991 interview with Kurt Cobain. Make them available online and promote them on the air.
In the Techsurvey that we’re wrapping up this week, we have a question about website visits by listeners like yours. I’ve been looking over Fred’s shoulder at the data as its coming in, and I can tell you that more people stop by radio station website’s every week that you might think.
If you're programming a station with a long history, develop a proactive plan to use the web to capitalize on your heritage. Take inventory of your archive. Once a week, aim to add a new piece of old content to your website and promote it on the air. Finally, make sure your website has a robust search feature so listeners can find what they’re looking for. Before long, you'll find that your website hosts a treasure trove of material for passionate music fans.
(*Check with your legal team first.)
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