All posts by MAB Staff

Michigan TV Stations to Host Telethon for Flint

Flint-water-crisis-telethonOn Tuesday, March 15, five Michigan television stations will come together to host “Flint Water Crisis: For Our Families,” a telethon that will air from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. to raise funds for the Community Foundation of Greater Flint’s Child Health and Development Fund.

The telethon will be hosted by WDIV-TV (Detroit).  It will air on WEYI-TV (Flint), WOOD-TV (Grand Rapids), WILX-TV (Lansing) and WWTV/WWUP-TV in northern Michigan.

WDIV-TV General Manager Marla Drutz told the Detroit Free Press that the idea came up during a station staff meeting:

“As we became more and more involved in our coverage of Flint, it became more and more important that it had to be more than coverage that we’d be involved in.  Every TV station we called….didn’t wait even five seconds to say yes.”

The telethon will be hosted at Art Van Furniture in Flint.

Editorial: The Most Important Question You Can Ask People Who Come to Your Website

Seth ReslerBy: Seth Resler, Jacobs Media

One of my favorite ways to evaluate radio station websites is a usability test. The goal is to get a feel for how real people use the website, and to figure out if there are any aspects of the site that present difficulties.

Usability tests are fairly simple to run. I recruit three people to evaluate the site. This test is not an exact science, so I am not concerned with their age, gender, or any other demographic characteristics; I just want people who know how to use the internet. (The only exception is for sports radio stations, where I want testers to have at least a casual interest in sports.)

I prefer to use testers who come from outside the radio station’s market because I want them to react to the website, not any prior knowledge they may have from listening to a station. If the site performs well with people who don’t know the brand, then it’s sure to do well with people who do.

One at a time, we bring these people in, sit them in front of a computer, and ask them to think out loud while they perform specific tasks on the website. For example, we may ask:

  • “You want to know more about the morning show. What can you tell me?”
  • “You’ve won a prize from the station. How do you get it?”
  • “You want to advertise on this station. How can you learn more about that?”

As we watch what they do, we learn a lot about what’s working on the website and what’s not. Inevitably, the first question I always ask in a usability test is this:

“What does this organization do?”

I have never seen a website pass the question on the first try. Not even websites that I’ve built myself, knowing that this would be the first question. Don’t take this for granted. In one test I performed, it took the tester ten minutes to figure out that they were looking at a radio station’s website.

The Tagline

I am in the process of developing a new website for Jacobs Media. We’ve already performed two usability tests on the forthcoming site. Sure enough, people struggled to answer that first question.

On an early version of the site, we used the tagline “Over 30 Years of Media Expertise and Innovation.” When asked what we do, one tester replied, “This company coaches people who are about to go out on a publicity tour, like an author of a new book.”

Fail.

So we learned that we needed to tell people that we worked with media companies, not individuals. We also felt that we needed to describe the specific problem that we solve for our clients. In the coming weeks, you’ll see what we came up with.

By the same token, the main text on a radio station’s website needs to clearly state what they do. If your station logo includes a dial position and frequency (“103.7 FM”), people will usually figure out that you’re a radio station. But if your station has a name that isn’t as obvious (“The Falcon,” “92X,” or “Harry FM”), you may need to reinforce the radio station message with an appropriate image, such as a tuner or sound waves.

Your station’s tagline is equally important. If your station uses a tagline like “Today’s Hottest Country” or “The Best Hip Hop and R&B,” people will have an easy time figuring out what type of music your station plays. But while a tagline like “Today’s Best Variety” or “Mix Music” may make sense sandwiched between songs on the air, it can lose that context on your website.

The Image

We struggled with the homepage image on the forthcoming Jacobs Media site. We provide “strategy and research for media companies.” Unfortunately, none of those words are particularly visual. (Quick: Close your eyes and think of “strategy.” What picture popped into your head?) This challenge prompted a lot of back and forth with our graphic designer. You’ll see what we settled on in the coming weeks. For now, here’s one of the images we rejected:
SethArticle-031416_400Fortunately, for radio stations it is much easier to come up with an image that illustrates what they do. The simplest way is to offer up an image featuring a handful of recognizable core artists. If you play the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Foo Fighters, and Coldplay, stick them in a montage and make it the central image on the website.

Too often, radio stations use a slideshow on their homepage. As a result, the first image people see when they come to a station’s homepage is a coffee sponsor logo or a photo of the C-level band playing in town this weekend. These images do not help visitors answer the question, “What does this organization do?”

Don’t take this question for granted. It’s not as straight-forward as you might think. We’ve been giving it a lot of thought here at Jacobs Media, in no small part because what we do for clients has evolved as technology has evolved. Soon, you’ll see how we chose to express it on our new website.

If you have any questions about website performance and usability testing, please reach out to me.

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of the above article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

MAB’s Clack Re-appointed to MCCERCC

Clack_300Alisha Clack, Manager of the Emergency Alert System and Development Coordinator for the Michigan AMBER Alert Foundation, was re-appointed by Governor Snyder to the Michigan Citizens-Community Emergency Response Coordinating Council (MCCERCC) for the term expiring December 31, 2019.  This will be Alisha’s second term in the position.

The mission of MCCERCC is to support and enhance Michigan’s homeland security, community health, public safety, and all hazard and emergency preparedness with responsible leadership and planning. This includes: public education and awareness campaigns; coordination of programs, information and resources; development of structural and non‐structural projects to enhance emergency response and volunteer coordination capabilities at the state and local levels and within the private sector; and establishment of collaborative public/private partnerships to identify, develop, and implement specific opportunities of local, regional, or statewide application.

Reverse Auction File Formats Available

The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) has posted the reverse auction file format specs that will be available and for those broadcasters who take part in the auction. As the auction bidding proceeds, the commission will post each licensee’s data — to be reviewed by that owner only, according to the Commission, which could help participant’s shape their bidding strategies.

Schuette: Local Audit Not Subject to OMA

capitol3According to the Attorney General Bill Schuette’s opinion 7288, issued March 4, audits done of local governments to check for minimum assessing requirements are not subject to the state’s Open Meetings Act (OMA). The audits are held under the supervision of the State Tax Commission, and state law requires that all local assessing officials comply with and assist the commission in reviewing efforts to assess and levy property taxes.

The Attorney General, in his decision, stated that the auditor does not fall under the definition of a public body under the OMA, and the information gathered by the auditor does not constitute either a recommendation or a final decision on the local government’s assessing practices. In addition, the Court of Appeals has held that financial review teams, which the auditors could be considered, did not fall under the definition of a public body.

Attention Stations: EEO Credit Opportunity!

EEO pictureThe MAB Foundation will hold their annual Great Lakes Broadcasting Conference (GLBC) Career Fair on Tuesday, May 3 in Lansing. Participating in this fair gives you and your station(s)/media company the unique and valuable opportunity to reach out and educate the future of our industry, network with other media professionals, support the programs of the MAB Foundation and receive possible EEO credits.

GLBC sees hundreds of excited students and young professionals eager to meet with you! All station participants will receive official acknowledgement letters to be placed in their station’s EEO files. Take care of your EEO file and be prepared for possible EEO audits by registering to participate in this fair today!

Click here for more information: http://michmab.com/Careers/CareerFairs/GLBCCareerFair

Register here: http://bit.ly/16GLBCcareers

Blarney Stone Brings Five More Years of Tigers Baseball to Northern Michigan

According to a recent press release, Blarney Stone Broadcasting has extended their Detroit Tigers affiliate agreement through the 2020 season.

WUPY-FM (Ontonagon) will be celebrating the start of the Tigers’ new season this spring with two “Opening Day” parties.

The first will be on Tuesday, April 5, when the Tigers begin their season on the road against the Florida Marlins. [WUPY on-air personality] JC will be broadcasting live from The Firehouse in St. Helen [Michigan], and listeners can win a pair of tickets to an upcoming Tigers game, plus Q100 T-shirts in our Tiger Trivia contest.

The game will air on Y101.1, starting with the pregame show at 6:45 p.m. First pitch is at 7:10 p.m.

The Q100.3 party is on again when the Tigers head north for their home opener on April 8 against the New York Yankees. This time, JC will be broadcasting life from Fred’s of Roscommon from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Listeners can register to win more great prizes and Q100.1 T-shirts.

Pregame starts at 12:40 p.m., with the first pitch at 1:08 p.m. Hear all the action on Y101.

Michigan Broadcasting Hall of Famer Juke Van Oss Passes at 92

Juke Van OssMidwest Communications’ WHTC (Holland) reports that talk icon and beloved West Michigan resident Juke Van Oss died early Monday morning (3/7).

“Juke was a friend to all of us,” said WHTC/VAN General Manager Kevin Oswald on WHTC Monday, his voice filled with emotion. “He will be missed greatly.”

He’d worked as recently as Friday (3/4), interviewing historian and former Holland Sentinel editor Randy VandeWater. On Sunday (3/6), Mr. VanOss taught a Sunday school class, according to his family.

Mr. Van Oss was born in 1923 at a farm near Graafschap, a second-generation Dutch-American who grew up in Holland and Dowagiac before serving in World War II in the Army. His military service included tours of duty in the Philippines and Korea.

After the war, Mr. Van Oss worked at various places in the Holland area before getting hired at WHTC as an engineer on August 12, 1951. His on-air career started shortly afterward.

He was married to the former Janet Camp for 49 years. She preceded him in death in 1997.

Juke Van Oss was inducted into the Michigan Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2009.

Statewide Tornado Warning EAS Test April 13, 2016

Michigan Statewide Tornado DrillAt the request of and in cooperation with Michigan State Police Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division, the National Weather Service will conduct a test with the Tornado Warning EAS Code at 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time on Wednesday, April 13, 2016 as part of Michigan’s Severe Weather Awareness Week. The Michigan Association of Broadcasters has received a waiver from the FCC to use the actual EAS Tornado Warning Code (“TOR”) for this statewide test.

The MAB Board of Directors endorsed the test and encourage all member stations to participate. Other states, including Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Illinois have conducted similar tests in the past few years. However, participation in this test by broadcast stations and cable systems is voluntary.

If there is a threat of actual severe weather on April 13, the test will be postponed until April 14, 2016. If there is a threat of severe weather on April 14, the test will be cancelled. The go/no-go decision will be made by 4pm the day prior by the National Weather Service as well as the Statewide Tornado Drill Working group. MAB will post a go or no-go status on its homepage.

While the audio of this test will repeat several times in the script “This is a Test,” because the EAS Tornado Code is being sent, the crawl on TV stations and cable stations will read “A Tornado Warning has been issued for…”. We ask that TV broadcasters and cable operators making the decision to air the test audio should display a “This is a Test” graphic behind the crawl.

The test will be originated on NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) and will be relayed via the State Relay (SR) and Local Primary (LP) stations.

Promotion and Publicity:  The Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division, along with other stakeholders including the MAB, the National Weather Service, American Red Cross, Local Area Emergency Managers, and others have prepared a Statewide Tornado Drill Media Toolkit, including talking points, produced radio PSAs, sample social media posts, and more.

This kit and PSAs will be made available online shortly. The MAB will be sending out an additional memo once these materials are available, as well as a suggested on-air promotion timetable (starting roughly the week of April 4, 2016.

Questions? Contact Dan Kelley at the MAB: (517) 484-7444 or dkelley@michmab.com.