Sadly, we’ve seen way too many rock stars pass away in the past few weeks: Scott Weiland. David Bowie. Glenn Frey. It goes without saying that when this happens, live DJs should address it on the air. But what should your station’s digital response be when these tragedies occur? Here are some things you can do:
1. Do No Harm on Social Media
First and foremost, make sure that every public-facing member of your staff knows better than to make light of the situation on social media. A poorly worded tweet can do a lot of damage, and a person’s death is not a good time to go for laughs. If you have doubt about whether or not something might be misinterpreted, skip it.
2. Create Online Content
Even if you’re not going to drastically change your on-air programming in response to a death, you can use your website to pay homage to the departed. Create a blogpost or page on your website celebrating the life of the deceased artist. Here are some ideas:
- Have each DJ write a short paragraph about their favorite song by the artist; embed YouTube videos to accompany each paragraph.
- Create a short listicle celebrating the artist. For example, “The Top 5 David Bowie Personas.”
- If you have recordings of old interviews or performances, post them along with a remembrance.
Remember, if you include images in your content, make sure that you have paid for the rights to use them. Violating copyright can result in hefty fines.
3. Invite Listeners to Comment, but Police the Comments Carefully
At the end of your content, invite listeners to participate by sharing their memories in the comments section of the page. Just make sure that somebody is keeping a watchful eye on what’s posted. Immediately delete any distasteful comments.
4. Create a Vanity URL that Redirects to Your Content
A vanity URL is an easy-to-remember url, such as wkrp.com/glennfrey. Encourage your air talent to give out the url when they talk about the artist. Create imaging production directing people to the url. Create additional vanity urls for common misspellings, such as wkrp.com/glennfry.
5. Send an Email Campaign
Send an email campaign to your listeners inviting them to click through to your content and share their memories in the comments section.
6. Invite Your Listeners to Contribute Content
Your station can invite listeners to share their memories in audio form so that you can then use them on the air. Use Speakpipe to allow listeners to leave voicemail messages on your website. If your station’s mobile app was built by jācapps, this is a good time to take advantage of the Open Mic feature, which allows people to contribute audio from their smartphone.
While you may be limited in your on-air response when a major artist dies, you are not limited on the web. Your listeners have strong emotional connections to these musicians. Use your website to help them celebrate the lives of the artists who have left us.
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