All posts by Seth Resler

Use These 4 Channels to Drive Traffic to Your Radio Station’s Website

Seth Resler

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

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

Today’s radio broadcasters are required to know how to use more tools than ever before. It’s no longer sufficient to simply know how the turntables and cart machines work; the modern radio DJ is expected to understand blogs, podcasts, social networks, email marketing, and more. To pull all of these different tools together into a single overarching framework, we use a Content Marketing strategy.

The first step in that Content Marketing strategy is to create content that is lives on your station’s website: online articles, blogposts, videos, podcasts, etc.

Once you’ve done that, you then need to drive people to that online content. Here are four channels for doing so:

1. Social Media
When you talk about online promotional channels, social networks like Facebook and Twitter are the first things that come to most radio broadcasters’ minds. You want to share your content on social media for the same reason that your radio station posts a billboard by the side of the highway: lots of people go there, and you hope some of them will see it and tune into your station — or click through to your website.

When it comes to social media, there are a lot of data points that can be measured, including likes, shares, and comments. Getting more of these is always a positive sign, but keep your focus on the most important data point: The number of people who click through and visit your website. After all, it is only once they come to your website that you can get them to take an action that has an impact on the bottom line.

Think of it this way: When you’re trying to measure the success of a billboard campaign, the yardstick you use is the Nielsen ratings. If they go up, the campaign worked. If they don’t go up, the campaign failed. It’s the same thing with social media: if your web traffic increases, your social media efforts are working; if it doesn’t, then you need to adjust.

This also means that some social networks are going to be more valuable than others. Lots of your listeners are on Instagram, but it’s much tougher to drive website traffic with Instagram than it is with Twitter because you can’t include clickable links in your Instagram posts. Meanwhile, Facebook’s ability to drive website traffic has significantly decreased for most broadcasters as the company has made changes to its algorithm.

2. Search Engines
Unlike social media, most radio broadcasters pay very little attention to search engines. This is a mistake. You want your website content to appear in search engine results for the same reason you want your content on social media and you want your billboard by the highway: lots of people go to search engines. In my experience, social media traffic tends to be sporadic: a post can go viral on social media and attract a lot of traffic, then die down. With search engines, the traffic tends to be slow but steady. Once Google decides that a piece of content you created is a good match for a particular search query, it will continue to send people to your website day in and day out. Here’s an example of how one post has done that on our website.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the art of getting your content to appear in search engine results. It can be intimidating, and you could a firm to do SEO for your website if you felt the need, but there are some basic steps your station can take to optimize your website posts and increase the chances of them being found in search results.

3. Your Airwaves
Your station’s airwaves are the most potent weapon in its promotional arsenal. That’s why clients pay to be on them! Yet few radio stations take full advantage of this channel for driving traffic back to their website. I’m always surprised by the number of stations that run sweepers between songs to drive people to Facebook or Instagram, but not their own websites. If I were programming a radio station today, the production elements between every song would drive people back to a different page of the station website.

4. Email
Email is not a good channel for driving people to your station’s website for the very first time (I don’t recommend buying email lists), but if people have given you their email address when they visited in the past, it’s a great way to drive return traffic. I recommend setting up automatic email campaigns that are sent to your list when you publish new content. Email is also a good way to recycle some of your older but evergreen content.

You will want to track the performance of all of these channels in your Google Analytics. You will also see other channels in your Google Analytics data, such as direct traffic (people who type your URL directly into their browser), referral traffic (people who come to your website by clicking on a link on another website, such as a blog), and paid search traffic (if you are paying to run a Google AdWords campaign). Over time, monitor how each of these channels are performing for you. You may discover some tweaks you can make to increase your website traffic.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.

5 Ways to Help Radio DJs Avoid Writer’s Block When Blogging

Seth Resler

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

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

When I talk to radio stations about their overall digital strategy, I use the framework of Content Marketing. Content Marketing begins, of course, with content. While videos and podcasts are wonderful forms of content for radio stations to produce, for most stations who are strapped for time and resources, launching a radio station blog is usually the easiest and most effective way to grow your website traffic.

Of course, somebody needs to write these blogposts, and most stations don’t have a cadre of journalists on staff, which means blogging duties are going to be doled out to folks — usually DJs — who already have a lot on their plate. In my experience, there are two types of on-air talent: those who are hungry to be multimedia personalities and are willing to write, create videos, host podcasts, and put their creative talents to any use they can in their efforts to become a star; and those who got into radio because they prefer talking to writing. For this latter group, blogging can seem like an unbearable chore, and it can be difficult to get them to produce the content your station needs to grow its web traffic.

I sympathize with this latter group. I made several attempts at launching a blog over the past fifteen years, and none of them stuck until I stared writing about digital strategies for radio stations. Just as it takes a while — often years — for a DJ to find their voice on the microphone, it can take a long time for a DJ to find their voice as a blogger. In fact, their on-air voice and their written voice may be very different. They certainly are for me. When I’m on the radio, I deadpan short, snarky breaks laced with pop culture references; when I write, I strive to be instructional and helpful.

Nonetheless, we now live in a multimedia age, and our most successful on-air talents are the ones who find ways to be kings and queens of all media. You don’t need to look any farther than iHeart Radio’s Bobby Bones, who just published a book and has made a slew of television appearances, including an upcoming stint on Dancing With the Stars.

But you’ve got to crawl before you dance, so let’s start with blogging. Every week, I have to write a blogpost, and the process inevitably consists of three hours of me banging my head against the wall, screaming, “What am I going to write about?!” Then, an idea pops into my head, and I sit down and knock out a blogpost in 20 minutes. The 20 minutes is not difficult. The three hours are excruciating. The worst part of blogging for me — and I suspect many others — is thinking of something to say.

So here are five ways that you can help your airstaff overcome writer’s block:

1. Brainstorm a list of blog topic formulas.
Blog topics formulas are simple turnkey topic ideas that can be used over and over again but produce a different blogpost each time. An easy example is, “5 Things to Do Around Town This Weekend.” You could use this formula 52 times a year and each time you would produce a compelling piece of content for your listeners.

Gather all of your blog contributors in a room and brainstorm a list of blog topic formulas. Here are some ideas to help you start. When you’re done compiling this list, publish it in a place where all of your writers can access it.

2. Let DJs write about the things they are passionate about.
Let’s face it, it’s a lot easier to write about things that you care about it. Find out what your on-air personalities are passionate about and allow them to blog about those topics. They often enjoy this outlet because these are topics that may be of interest to the audience, but don’t warrant a lot of on-air time. For example, you might have a morning show host who is really passionate about wrestling, or an afternoon jock who loves sharing recipes for healthy meals. If these topics fit with your station brand but are second or third tier subjects, let the jocks blog about them.

3. Crowdsource blogposts.
You may require your on-air talent to produce blogposts, but that doesn’t mean they actually have to do the writing. Allow your jocks to invite influencers in your market, such as local bands, chefs, or athletes, to contribute to the blog. This can be through written interviews, guest posts (see these examples), or by having multiple people contribute different answers to a question (here’s an example).

4. Share the website analytics with blog authors.
Employees like to see how their contributions are impacting the overall success of their organization. That’s why, when I was a program director, I believed in sharing the ratings with my airstaff. In fact, I always appreciated the jocks who came into my office to learn more about the ratings.

The same holds true for website analytics. Share them with your blog contributors. In particular, show them which blogposts are attracting the most website traffic. This information can be found in your website’s Google Analytics data. (Here’s a guide to Google Analytics for Radio Programmers.) The more they see that their efforts are having an impact, the more enthusiastic they’ll be about contributing. Moreover, when they see which blog topics are reacting with the audience — and which are not — it will give them guidance on selecting future topics.

5. Set the bar low and raise it slowly.
The fastest way to discourage reluctant writers is to set unrealistically aggressive goals. It takes time for on-air talent to make the transition to blogging, and they may not all adopt the practice at the same speed. Requiring your air talent to start writing daily blogposts tomorrow is only going to frustrate you and them. Instead, set a modest goal: one blogpost each week. When they’re able to hit that goal on a regular basis, gradually raise the bar: two blogposts per week, then two good blogposts per week, then three per week, etc. Most of all, be patient and supportive. This isn’t easy, and you won’t see success overnight.

Reducing writers block is one of the most important steps to take when launching or ramping up your radio station’s blog output. For more information on how your radio station can launch a blog, check out this guide.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.

Where is Your Radio Station’s Website Traffic Coming From?

Seth Resler

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

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

Radio programmers should regularly review their website stats to gauge their performance. I encourage broadcasters to do this as part of a weekly web meeting. One of the most important source of stats to review is your Google Analytics data. Among other things, it will show you where people who visit your website are coming from.

Website traffic sources will be broadly grouped into these categories:

    • Direct Traffic: People who are typing your website’s URL directly into their browser. This is a bigger source of traffic for radio stations than companies in other industries because listeners hear the URL over the station’s airwaves so often. Radio stations that use a Content Marketing strategy to grow their website traffic will probably see direct traffic shrink as a percentage as other sources grow.
    • Organic Search: If people type something into a search engine like Google and your website comes back as a result, that is called an “organic search result.” When visitors come to your website after clicking one of these organic search results, Google labels the traffic as “Organic Search.” As you optimize your website for search engines and publish more content, you should see the amount of traffic from Organic Search increase. You may see a few pieces of content on your website that regularly produce organic search traffic. For example, this post by morning show personality Sheri Lynch regularly produces Organic Search traffic on our website.
    • Paid Search: Organic Search traffic is different than Paid Search traffic. If you are paying to advertise your website in search engines (such as through Google AdWords), you may get traffic when people click on one of these paid advertisements. Most radio stations don’t run paid search ad campaigns on a regular basis.
    • Social Media: People who come to your website through a link on a social network like Facebook or Twitter are lumped under the “Social Media” heading. You’ll want to drill down and see which networks are providing the most traffic. In all likelihood, Facebook will be the biggest source of traffic by far, but you may be surprised to see Twitter outperform Instagram. Are LinkedIn, Snapchat, Pinterest, or other social networks a significant source of website traffic for your station?
    • Referral: People who come to your website through a link on another website, such as a blog or news site, are called “Referral Traffic.” If your station has a link on a highly trafficked website — for example, if the local newspaper publishes an article about your station and includes a link to your website — than you may see a significant source of referral traffic.
    • Email: If you capture the email addresses of website visitors and regularly send out email campaigns that drive people back to your site, email may be a significant source of traffic.

Google Analytics can show you your website traffic sources as a percentage in a pie graph, but these can shift over time. If your overall website traffic is increasing, the percentage of one traffic source might go down simply because another source is growing at a faster rate. So it’s a good idea to look at the raw visitor numbers, not just the percentages.

If you haven’t looked at your Google Analytics data in a while, take a peek and see how people are getting to your radio station’s website.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.

10 Things to Include in Your Radio Station’s Electronic Press Kit

Seth Resler

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

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

If your radio station would like to get press coverage — and what station wouldn’t? — it’s a good idea to put together an electronic press kit (EPK). An EPK is a collection of digital resources that make it easy for journalists and others in the media to publish a story on a particular subject. We often associate EPKs with musical artists, but it’s a good idea for radio stations to create them as well.

Here’s what to include in your radio station’s electronic press kit:

    1. Logos: Include color and black and white logos, both high resolution (300 dots per inch) for print and low resolution (72 dots per inch) for the web.
    2. Station Description: Include a boilerplate paragraph about the radio station. This is probably the same paragraph that you include at the end of your station’s press releases. You may want to create different paragraphs for different audiences. For example, the local arts and entertainment paper may require a different description than the local business journal.
    3. Bios and Headshots of Key Staff Members: If a journalist wants to write about one of your airstaff members, make it easy for them. Include photos of your morning show personalities separately and together as a team. Remember to make both high and low resolution photos available.
    4. Descriptions of Key Shows: Include short descriptions of key shows, including the morning show and any specialty shows that you air.
    5. Descriptions and Photos of Signature Events: Include photos and short descriptions of signature events, such as annual concerts or fundraisers.
    6. Publicity Photos: Include a few general radio station photos, including promotional appearances, famous artist interviews and in-studio action shots.
    7. Fact Sheet: Compile a list of key facts about the radio station, including its ratings, revenue numbers and years in business.
    8. Important Links: Make it easy for journalists to link to appropriate webpages by including a list of important links, such as your station’s homepage, social media pages and webpages for key shows, on-air personalities and events.
    9. Highlight Video and Aircheck Reels: Many outlets like to take advantage of multimedia, so if you have a short video that shows off the radio station or audio files of DJ airchecks, make them available.
    10. Press Clippings and Testimonials: If people are saying good things about your radio station, let the world know. Include links to any press about the station, as well as testimonials from clients, artists, local community leaders and important figures in the music industry.

Once you’ve assembled all of the above onto a single webpage, include a link to this page in your website footer. It’s up to you whether you want to require a password to access the EPK. Be sure to include a link to your station’s EPK in all press releases that you send out, and periodically review it to see if it needs to be updated. By compiling all of these materials together, you’ll make it much easier for journalists to cover your radio station.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.

Where to Use Technology-Based Redirects on Your Radio Station’s Website

Seth Resler

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

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

When listeners come to your radio station’s website, you want to steer them toward specific goals, such as signing up for an email list or streaming the station. Often, the most effective way to steer them towards a goal is by removing less important options. Of course, sometimes the path you want to steer a person down may depend upon the device they are using to access your website. For example, you may want people on desktop computers to go somewhere different than people on mobile devices; or, you may want to send Apple and Android users to different destinations.

Fortunately, it’s possible to create technology-based redirects. These are links that send different people to different places depending on the technology that they are using to access your website. This can declutter your website by combining multiple links into a single call to action. Technology-based redirects can be set up through programming code, a WordPress plugin like Pretty Links Pro, or a website like App.url.

Here are some places on your radio station’s website where you might want to use technology-based redirects:

1. The Mobile App
When you create a link to download your radio station’s mobile app, it’s a good idea to send visitors to the appropriate app store on their phones. This means you’ll need one link for people who are on iOS, one link for people who are on Android, links for people who are on Windows or Blackberry phones (if you have a mobile app that supports them), and a link for people who are on none of the above (such as visitors on a desktop computer). A technology-based redirect allows you to create one “Download Our App” button instead of multiple “Download our App for _____ Phones” links.

2. Podcasts
Now that Google has followed Apple’s lead and introduced a (mostly) native Podcasts app, you can create direct links to your radio station’s podcasts in a podcast player on both iOS and Android phones. This means it’s possible to create a simple “Listen Now” button instead of a laundry list of links to the podcast in different apps. Here are instructions for doing so.

3. Contest Forms
Sometimes, you don’t want to send people to different destinations based on their operating system, but rather on the type of device that they’re using — a desktop, tablet, or mobile device. For example, when you are asking people to fill out a form, the type of device they are on makes a big difference. People who are using their phone while waiting in line for a latte at Starbucks are far less likely to fill out a long form that people sitting at a desktop computer at work. You could redirect people to two different versions on an entry form for the same contest — one long and one short — depending on the type of device they are using to maximize the number of people who will enter.

We do this on our website. For example, if you go to one of our webinar recordings, you will be asked to fill out a form before watching it. The length of that form depends on the type of device you use. Technology-based redirects are one way to direct people to different forms depending on their device.

By using technology-based redirects to combine multiple links into a single call to action, you radio station can increase the number of website visitors that take the actions that matter to you most.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.

Using Interviews to Create Content for Your Radio Station’s Blog

Seth Resler

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

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

At the heart of any successful online strategy is content. But most radio stations find themselves with staffs that don’t have an abundance of time to blog. Fortunately, there are a few shortcuts for generating quality blog content. One of them is to publish written interviews. Here’s how:

1. Make a list of appropriate topic areas for your radio station.
What are your listeners interested in? Make a list. For example, if you have a rock station that targets 28-to-34-year-old men, those topics might include:

  • Beer
  • Cars
  • Movies
  • Sports
  • Stand-up comedy
  • Etc.

On the other hand, if your station targets 25-to-54-year-old women, you might be looking at a list that includes parenting, clothing, wine and cocktails, etc.

2. Brainstorm a list of influencers in the market related to these topics.
An influencer is somebody who has a following of their own. This following could be a television audience, a readership, a social media following or an email list. The hope is that if you interview them on your station’s website, they will share a link to the post with their following, and drive traffic to it. Keep in mind, influencers can be individuals or organizations.

For example, your list of influencers might include:

  • The local paper’s restaurant critic
  • The singer of a popular local band
  • The local food and arts festival
  • A local brewery
  • The quarterback for the college football team

3. Using an email template, send them an invitation to be interviewed.
Reach out to these people and organizations and ask them if they would like to be interviewed for your radio station’s website. You can speed up this process by creating email templates. Depending on the email program you use, you may be able to save email templates (or install an extension that allows you to save email templates) so they can be easily used over and over again. Or, simply save the email copy in a document and copy and paste it into your emails.

I find it best to use two email templates. The first is a very short introduction. For example, it might say:

“Hello, my name is Johnny Fever from 108.8 WKRP. We love the work that you do and we’d like to highlight it in a written Q&A on our website. You can see a past example of this type of interview at wkrp.com/past-interview. If you’d be interested, please let me know and I’ll send you more details.”

If people respond to this email (not all of them will), follow up with a second email that contains five to ten questions. For example:

“Great, we’d love to feature you! Please answer the questions below. Also, please send us a headshot, a logo from your organization, a two-sentence bio, and any links you’d like us to include. Here are the questions…”

I often “overwrite” the questions and then shorten them before publishing the interview. This way, I avoid short boring answers. For example, I might email, “Tell us how you got started. Who were your early influences? When did you first know that this was what you wanted to do?” But in the published interview, I’ll shorten it to, “Tell us how you got started.”

4. Publish the interview.
When the interviewee sends answers back, paste them into a blogpost, format it correctly and publish it. Share it on social media — not just on your station’s social media accounts, but also in any relevant discussion groups. For example, if you interview the lead singer of a Detroit band, share a link in the “Detroit Musicians” Facebook group. Be sure to tag the person or organization in these posts.

Finally, email a link to the post to the interviewee and encourage them to share it on social media. (Use a third saved email template to make this easier.) Hopefully, they will share it with their following and the post will go viral.

Interviews are an easy way to generate content for your radio station’s blog. If you’d like more content ideas, check out this list of sure-fire blog topics.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.

3 Tips for Radio Broadcasters Using Facebook Ads

Seth Resler

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

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

Radio stations like running Facebook ads because they are inexpensive and can target specific audiences. If your station only has $1,000 to spend on marketing and wants to reach men between the ages of 25 and 54 in a particular Milwaukee suburb, Facebook ads are a very effective way to do so. If your station is looking to spend money on Facebook ads, here are some tips:

1. Have a Specific Digital Goal
Online ads are powerful because you can measure how much it costs to get people to perform a specific online action. However, if the goal of your ad campaign isn’t digital, you lose this advantage. Never run a Facebook ad campaign with a vague goal like “raising brand awareness.” Also, don’t set up your campaign with a non-digital goal in mind, such as “increasing the ratings.” Nielsen is fickle, and you could spend a lot of money with no ratings results, without being able to tell if the disconnect is due to Facebook or Nielsen.

Instead, create ad campaigns that drive people towards a very specific digital action. The key is that you want to be able to measure the number of people who take this action as a result of your ad campaign. For example, if you want to get more listeners for your station, design a campaign with the goal of getting people to stream the station. If you want to raise awareness about the morning show, design a campaign to drive online entries for a morning show contest. If you want to promote your station’s big summer concert, design a campaign that leads people to buy tickets online.

Of all the possible digital goals for a Facebook ad campaign, my preference is to drive people to sign up for your radio station’s email database. This is because once you capture a listener’s email address, you can reach them again at any time without spending more money. On the other hand, if you drive them to stream the station, you will have to pay for another ad to get them to stream again. I also prefer driving people to the email database over your station’s Facebook page because you own your station’s email list and can use it however you see fit; your Facebook page is subject to the whims of Facebook’s algorithm. One change by Zuckerberg and far fewer listeners could see your station’s posts on Facebook even though you paid for ads to get followers.

2. Send People to a Landing Page
Don’t send people to your radio station’s homepage; instead, send them to a landing page. A landing page (also called a “squeeze page”) is a webpage that encourages visitors to take a specific action by removing other options. For example, if the goal of your Facebook ad campaign is to get people to enter a contest, send them to a page that describes the contest and displays a form to fill out, but removes all other elements, including the main menu and the sidebar. Here’s a guide to designing website landing pages.

3. Run A/B Tests
When your ad campaign has a specific, quantifiable digital goal, you can measure how well it’s performing. This allows you to fine tune it as you go to maximize your results. To do this, use “A/B Tests.” In an A/B test, you run two campaigns that are identical in every respect except one. For example, you might run two campaigns on identical dates, with identical budgets, targeting identical audiences using identical copy, but with two different images. After a week, see if there’s a noticeable difference in the number of clicks with these ads. If so, modify your ad campaign accordingly.

The key to gaining actionable information from an A/B test is to only test one variable at a time. Here are some variables you may want to test:

  • Headline copy
  • Image
  • Target audience
  • Time of day
  • Days of the week

You can also test variables on the landing page. In this case, you’ll run two identical ad campaigns with each driving people to a different landing page. These pages will be identical except for one variable, such a the headline text. When you test a landing page, you’re not testing to see which ad campaign gets the most clicks (because they’re identical, they should get roughly the same); instead, you’re measuring to see which landing page leads to more goal completions.

Before allocating lots of money to your Facebook ad campaign, run a series of A/B tests to make sure you’re getting the biggest bang for your buck.

Facebook ads can be a powerful tool for radio broadcasters, but using them effectively takes some effort. Be sure to put enough thought into your campaigns and monitor the results closely.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.

9 Places Radio Stations Should Display Their Social Media Handles

Seth Resler

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

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

We’ve known for years that social media can be a powerful channel for radio stations looking to connect with their audiences. One key to growing your social media fanbase is to simply ask your listeners to follow you. Most stations are adept at doing this on their airwaves with a combination of live solicits and production elements. But are you also asking your listeners to follow you on social media in print? Here’s an checklist of places where your station can display its social media handles:

1. Station Vehicle: Next time you wrap the van, be sure to include your social media handles on both sides and the rear.

2. Banners: Include your station’s social media handles on the standard banners that you bring to every run-of-the-mill street team appearance as well as specialized banners, such as stage backdrops for your station’s big concert.

3. Pop-Up Tents.

4. Wristbands, Tickets, and Hand Stamps: If your station hosts events such as concerts, use entry as opportunity to promote your social media presence.

5. Clothing: Got merch? Include a small “@WKRP” on the shirt sleeves or the back of the hats.

6. Stickers: Include your station’s social media handles on the sticker itself or on the peel-off backing.

7. Email Signature: Create a standardized email signature for everybody in your station to use. Include links to all of your station’s social media accounts.

8. Business Cards.

9. Station Letterhead.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.

How Commercial Radio Broadcasters Can Learn More About Public Radio

Seth Resler

Editor’s Note: Our MAB Digital Guru’s weekly post usually appears in our Web/DIgital/Social section of MAB NewsBriefs.  Again this week, however, I’ve elected to put Seth’s piece in our programming section.  -Dan Kelley

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

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

The spheres of commercial radio and public radio are, for the most part, completely isolated from one another. Broadcasters don’t pay much attention to what their counterparts on the other side are doing. But as we move towards a world where on-demand audio is enabled by podcasts and voice commands, commercial radio broadcasters can learn a lot from public radio broadcasters. Sure, Bubba the Love Sponge is never going to need to run down the day’s stock market numbers like Kai Ryssdal; but there’s a lot of insight that can be gained by watching what public radio is doing.

For starters, the players in the public radio space are, by and large, much farther ahead when it comes to podcasting. Part of that stems from the fact that it’s simply easier to take a talk radio show and make it available on demand when there’s no music that needs to be removed. An episode of Fresh Air can be posted online without any major changes, while most commercial radio morning shows cannot. But public radio companies like NPR, PRX and WNYC have also made significant investments in the space. Every commercial radio programmer and on-air talent could benefit by looking at what they’ve done.

If you’re working at a commercial radio station, what’s a good way to learn more about public radio? Here are three places to start…

1. Listen.
If your primary exposure to public radio comes from their morning and afternoon drive news shows, it’s worth spending some time with their other programs you may not be aware of its breadth. Public radio’s offerings are incredibly diverse. Here’s a list of different shows to sample that I’ve selected because they show a range of different styles:

    1. This American Life: Led by Ira Glass, This American Life set the gold standard for storytelling journalism. Just as Howard Stern inspired a generation of shock jocks and Rush Limbaugh inspired a wave of conservative pundits, Glass has spawned countless disciples, many of whom have gone on into podcasting. After you’ve checked out This American Life, listen to the massive podcasting hit Serial, which is produced by the same team, and you’ll hear the stylistic influences.
    2. Death, Sex and Money: Lest you assume that all public radio programs are stuffy, Ana Sale hosts this podcast featuring one-on-one conversations with celebrities and other guests that tackle difficult topics that aren’t normally discussed in polite conversation. It’s NSFW but it will convince you that public radio broadcasters can be every bit as edgy as their commercial counterparts.
    3. Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!: Game shows aren’t just for television. This format offers a lighter take on the week’s news and can serve as an inspiration for commercial broadcasters who are more focused on entertainment than journalism. The show is also recorded in front of a live studio audience which adds to the fun and the complexity of the production.
    4. The Moth: This show is an excellent example of how radio broadcasters can crowdsource their material. It compiles recordings of storytellers from around the country. (It’s also worth going to a live Moth storytelling event. If you dare, get up on stage and share a story.)
    5. 2 Dope Queens: WNYC in New York has invested considerable time and energy into podcasting, often using the medium to showcase people from backgrounds that are otherwise underrepresented in radio. This show, hosted by African-American comedians Jessica Williams (former The Daily Show correspondent) and Phoebe Robinson, is a prime example. It’s been such a big hit that it’s now a television show on HBO.
    6. Up First: Voice-activated smart speakers like the Amazon Echo and Google Home are making it easier for people to consume audio at home. A number of media outlets, including The New York Times and ESPN, are taking advantage of this trend by offering short, daily podcasts that people can consume first thing in the morning. NPR’s Up First is a good example of a daily podcast that aims to build daily listening habits.

2. Learn.
The audio content that public radio creates often takes a very different form than what we create in commercial radio. I can hit the post on a Linkin Park song without breaking a sweat, but I’ve never used a shotgun mic to record B-roll audio in the field. How do public radio broadcasters do it?

Fortunately, NPR actually makes many of the secrets of their trade available online. Spend some time on NPR’s training website and you’ll refine your skills and even pick up some new ones.

3. Read.
If you want to find out even more about how public radio broadcasters practice their craft, there are two books worth picking up:

  1. Sound Reporting: The NPR Guide to Audio Journalism and Production: Jonathan Kern, who spent years training NPR staffers, explains exactly how they do what they do in this classic tome.
  2. Out on the Wire: The Storytelling Secrets of the New Masters of Radio: Jessica Abel, a cartoonist by trade, loved narrative radio so much that she decided to write a behind-the-scenes book about it in graphic form. It’s a unique way to get a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of shows like Planet Money, Radiolab, and Invisibilia.

As commercial radio broadcasters, we rarely take the time to look outside our own market or format. But if you really want to excel at your craft, it’s helpful to look for inspiration outside of your usual surroundings from time to time.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.

What Anthony Bourdain Taught Me About Radio Broadcasting

Seth Resler

Editor’s Note: Our MAB Digital Guru’s weekly post usually appears in our Web/DIgital/Social section of MAB NewsBriefs.  This week, however, I’ve elected to put Seth’s piece in our programming section.  -Dan Kelley

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

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

Last Friday morning, we awoke to the sad news that Anthony Bourdain, the preeminent pioneer in the world of food tourism, had taken his own life. He was an icon. I was a fan. In many ways, Anthony Bourdain shaped my career.

Like many radio broadcasters, I have bounced from city to city across the country. Every few years, I seemed to pack up my belongings and find a new home. In the course of all my moving, I learned that every city is unique. Sometimes, I learned this lesson the hard way.

My radio career began at WBRU in Providence, in the shadow of the Boston music scene. I was a college student working at the station, and like most twenty-somethings, I thought I knew a lot more than I did. After graduating, I stuffed my belongings into a U-Haul and headed out to St. Louis, where I became the Imaging Director at 105.7 The Point. I was hired by Allan Fee, and every once in a while, we didn’t see eye to eye. I distinctly remember a heated discussion we had over a music imaging sweeper that I was creating. It was the early 2000s, and I thought we should include the song, “The Impression That I Get,” the 1997 modern rock hit by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. Allan was opposed. I didn’t understand why.

What I didn’t realize at this early stage of my career was that my point of reference was distorted by my time in New England. Sure, the Bosstones could sell out five nights at the Middle East for their annual Hometown Throwdown, but that didn’t mean they were any more than a one-hit wonder hundreds of miles west in St. Louis.

Instead, St. Louis was in the midst of a long-term love affair with The Urge, a local band that could easily sell out a string of shows at Mississippi Nights. I only knew The Urge from their minor hit, “Jump Right In,” that we had played for a few weeks in Providence. But in St. Louis, they were gods. Looking back on that discussion now, I see it as an epiphany: This was when I first discovered how important it was for a radio broadcaster to understand and tap into the local culture. I realized that Allan was right, and I was wrong.

While sports has never been my strong suit, I quickly learned this was another arena in which it is vital for broadcasters to know their market. In fact, sometimes music and sports align. When I returned to Providence as WBRU’s Program Director, I embraced the Dropkick Murphys. If I were blindly following the music charts, I never would have touched this Boston punk band. Instead, we spun them more than any radio station in America. This paid off in spades when they released a song called “Tessie,” a re-imagining of a classic Red Sox anthem, just as the baseball team broke the Curse of the Bambino and won the World Series for the first time in 86 years. That song was not a hit anywhere else, but we had it in heavy rotation, because we understood the local culture.

Radio Terroir
The need to understand local culture extends far beyond just music and sports. Anthony Bourdain was one of the people who taught me that. During my brief tenure in St. Louis, I was exposed to a variety of regional dishes, including toasted ravioli, Imo’s pizza, and Ted Drewes ice cream. At the time, I didn’t recognize their significance.

But years later, I started a social dining group in Boston. This club introduced me to the world of local celebrity chefs. I saw surprising parallels between the culinary world and the world of rock and roll. On a national level, fans fawned over superstar chefs like Mario Batali, Wolfgang Puck, and Gordon Ramsay.

But among them all, Anthony Bourdain was unique. His straight-talking book, Kitchen Confidential, read like a rock star memoir, filled with tattoos, scars, and drug addiction. (I highly recommend listening to the audio version, which Anthony narrates himself.)

What made Bourdain stand out was his understanding of place. He was keenly aware of the fact that just like every city or town has a different music or sports scene, every locale has a different food culture. He loved using food as a gateway to explore different local cultures. He built a fascinating career out of it.

There’s a fantastic word in the culinary world: “Terroir.” It describes how the location where a food is grown impacts the flavor. It’s used most often in wine making. When the wines made from grapes grown on the shady side of a vineyard hill taste different than the wines that use grapes from the sunny side, that’s terroir. More and more, however, the word terroir has been adopted to describe food. With the rise of the local food movement, top chefs increasingly use the availability of fresh, local ingredients as a major factor when creating their menus. As a result, the place informs the taste.

More than anybody, Bourdain embodied that connection between taste and place. He showed the world why people eat breakfast tacos in Austin, banh mis in San Jose, and coneys in Detroit.

Several years ago, I produced a podcast called Taste Trekkers. It was a podcast for “foodies who love travel and travelers who love food.” I would interview culinary experts from different cities about their local food scenes. This podcast owed a bigger debt of inspiration to Anthony Bourdain than anyone else. He made me want to explore different cities through food in the same way I had explored them through music during my radio career.Today, I like to think about the concept of terroir applied to radio stations. The reason that Los Angeles radio still plays Dramarama, Detroit radio still spins J Dilla, and Bay Area radio continues to rotate Too $hort is the same reason that barbecue sauce styles change as you drive across the South. The place informs the taste.

From time to time, I’ll see a Program Director move to a new city to take over a radio station. They’re usually eager to put their stamp on the station immediately: change the logo, overhaul the music library, or alter the on-air lineup. In doing so, they make the same mistake I was making when I wanted to image a St. Louis radio station with the Mighty Mighty Bosstones; they’re ignoring the terroir.

Anthony Bourdain would never make this mistake. He always showed great respect for the local culture. I believe that if Anthony Bourdain were to take over a radio station in a new city, the first thing he would do is learn the terroir. He would want to understand how the place informs the taste. We should all strive to be more like Anthony Bourdain.

Thank you for the inspiration, Tony. You will be missed.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.