via Rick Pluta, Managing Editor and State Capitol bureau Chief, MPRN
As a prosecutor, Cheyna Roth stayed busy putting away the bad guys. Now, she’s turning those skills to covering government and politics as the new state Capitol correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network (MPRN).
“As a lawyer I only ever got to tell one side of a story, but as a journalist I’m able to use the analytical skills I learned in the legal profession to dig into all sides of an issue,” she says.
Roth was an assistant prosecutor in Ionia County handling a lot of prisoner misconduct cases when she decided, after about a year and a half, that her passion was story-telling:
“NPR got me through an almost hour long commute every day,” she says. “Listening to the stories and amazing quality of radio production was a real catalyst for my leaving the legal field to pursue journalism. Every morning and evening I would listen and say, ‘I want to do that.’ To have the opportunity to work in public radio is quite a dream come true.”
Roth, 27, returned to school and graduated in 2016 with a master’s degree in journalism from Michigan State University. During grad school, she interned with Michigan Radio, and post-graduation, her freelance career included multi-media reporting for WKAR and researching and producing a documentary on an ex-con’s experiences teaching life lessons to kids in Flint.
Roth will focus on covering the Legislature and criminal justice issues in her new role with MPRN.
In the aftermath of tragic shootings across the country, WXYZ-TV (Detroit) teamed up with Detroit community leaders on July 14 to present a special broadcast “Detroit 2020: Unify Detroit” to help address the issues facing the local community.
WXYZ Editorial and Public Affairs Director, Chuck Stokes, was joined by Detroit Police Chief James Craig, along with Rev. Charles Williams II, President, National Action Network of Michigan and Steve Spreitzer, President and CEO of the Michigan Roundtable, to discuss what is being done to heal the nation and the local community.
The special was broadcast live from WXYZ’s downtown Detroit studio at the Qube building. WXYZ anchor Stephen Clark contributed to the discussion through social media.
The special aired just prior to President Obama’s landmark town hall special “The President and The People: A National Conversation,” which addressed the tragic shootings across the county.
Cumulus Media has announced that Bill Michaels, Program Director of radio stations WXKR-FM, WLQR-FM, WTOD-AM and WQQO HD2, has been promoted to Operations Manager for the company’s station cluster in Toledo, OH and Monroe, MI.
Michaels will manage station operations for Cumulus’ eight stations in Toledo and Monroe and continue to program three stations in the cluster. Michaels was born and raised in Toledo, where he got his start in radio in 1991 and worked his way up to Operations Manager for Clear Channel/iHeartMedia-Toledo. After serving as Corporate Director of Programming for MacDonald-Garber Broadcasting in Northern Michigan, he joined Cumulus Media-Toledo in 2014 as Program Director of Classic Rock 94.5 WXKR.
Andy Stuart, Regional Vice President and Market Manager for Cumulus Media-Toledo said: “Bill and I have worked together for a long time and while I am quite certain that he has the experience, intuition and leadership skills necessary to lead our stations to greatness, I’m also quite certain he can handle my penchant for emailing and texting him at 3AM.”
Michaels said: “I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am about this opportunity. Andy Stuart and I have worked together for a long time with huge success and I’m looking forward to that continuing. I also would like to thank Mike McVay and Doug Hamand for this exciting opportunity and giving me the chance to do what I love doing in my hometown of Toledo, Ohio.”
On July 19, it was announced that Beasley Broadcast Group and Greater Media have entered into an agreement for Beasley to acquire all of the outstanding stock of Greater Media for an aggregate consideration of approximately $240 million.
The acquisition includes 21 radio stations in seven markets including Detroit, Philadelphia, Boston, Charlotte, N.C., Middlesex, N.J., Monmouth, N.J. and Morristown, N.J.
The Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association has announced that Jennifer Hammond of WJBK-TV (Detroit) as its Ty Tyson “Excellence in Sports Broadcasting Award” winner for the 2015-16 sports season.
The organization has honored excellence in sports broadcasting since the first recipient Josh Lewin in 2000. Hammond is a first-time winner and the first female to receive the award, having worked at WJBK-TV, WDFN Radio, as well as radio stations in Chicago, during her outstanding career.
Previous recipients include the late Ernie Harwell and late Budd Lynch, and current broadcasters Frank Beckmann, George Blaha, Jim Brandstatter, Mark Champion, Ken Daniels, Dan Dickerson, Mario Impemba, Ken Kal, Dan Miller, Trevor Thompson and Will Tieman.
Our 2015-16 season award was presented July 11, 2016 at the 30th Annual DSBA Charity Golf Outing at Cherry Creek Golf Club in Shelby Township by DSBA President Trevor Thompson of Fox Sports Detroit.
“Be it in her relationship building, professionalism, or her broadcasting of everything in the world of sports in this market, Jennifer Hammond has brought grace, humor and humility to all she has put her hand to,” said Thompson. “She has also consistently delivered a standard of excellence that exemplifies the spirit of our founder and past president, Ty Tyson, for whom this award is named. These traits make her most deserving of this year’s Ty Tyson Award, along with the distinction of being the first female ever to be so honored, a distinction that seems both long overdue for the gender, yet right on time given the recipient. Congratulations Jennifer. The DSBA is very proud to have you!”
WUPS-FM (Houghton Lake) has been named the flagship station of Central Michigan University athletics and will broadcast every football and men’s basketball games, as well as other select events.
“WUPS has been a loyal, committed partner in the past and I am excited to make them our exclusive flagship station,” CMU Director of Athletics Dave Heeke said. “Being partnered with a station that has the strongest FM signal in the state means fantastic access for our fans. We are also excited about the potential promotional opportunities available with WUPS to expand the Chippewa brand.”
The three-year agreement with the 100,000-watt station means WUPS will take the lead for radio coverage from Chippewa Sports Network for sporting events and coaches shows. The signal for games will feed seven other stations in Michigan. WUPS, based out of Harrison, Michigan, serves central and northern Michigan and is part of the Black Diamond Broadcast Group.
“It’s an honor and it’s going to be great for Chippewa fans throughout Central and Northern Michigan,” Black Diamond Broadcast Group CEO Mike Chires said. “Everyone at 98.5 WUPS is excited and proud to be CMU’s exclusive flagship radio station.”
Other stations in the Chippewa Sports Network: WXYT-AM 1270 in Detroit, WLUN-FM 100.9 in Midland, WJRW-AM 1340 in Grand Rapids, WLAW-FM 92.5 in Muskegon, WJML-AM 1110 in Petoskey, WLUN-FM 100.9 in Midland and WJNL-AM 1210 in Traverse City.
CBS Radio Detroit’s WWJ-AM, WXYT-FM and WXYT-AM, in association with IMG Sports has announced a long-term alliance to air University of Michigan football, men’s basketball and ice hockey. The multi-year agreement is an extension of a partnership that began more than 20 years ago.
WWJ-AM is the flagship station for U-M football and WXYT-FM (97.1 The Ticket) will simulcast select games. U-M men’s basketball will air on WWJ-AM and U-M ice hockey will air on WXYT-AM (Sports Radio 1270). In addition, 97.1 The Ticket will carry a weekly interview with Head Football Coach Jim Harbaugh.
WWJ-AM and 97.1 The Ticket offer the most 24/7 live and local sports and news programming in the market. Listeners can hear all three stations online at www.cbsdetroit.com and via the Radio.com app for a variety of mobile devices.
“We are excited that IMG renewed our great partnership with the CBS Radio Detroit family. This will continue to provide a consistent flagship home for Michigan football and basketball broadcasts in southeast Michigan and will place our hockey games on a regular channel in the market. We look forward to another multi-year partnership on game broadcasts and coaches radio shows,” said Warde Manuel, Director of Athletics.
Debbie Kenyon, CBS Radio Detroit Senior Vice President/Market Manager, said, “WWJ Newsradio 950, CBS Sports Radio 1270 and 97.1 The Ticket are thrilled to renew our partnership with IMG and the University of Michigan. IMG and U-M are truly one of the best sports partners in the business.”
“It’s an honor to continue our relationship with the University and be the flagship station for University of Michigan football and basketball. It’s a perfect partnership between two traditional organizations, WWJ Newsradio 950 and the U-M” said Rob Davidek, WWJ Program Director.
Recently, Facebook announced that it is changing its algorithm to prioritize content posted to a person’s newsfeed by family and friends over content from brands, media outlets and other pages. Your station has probably seen a steady decrease in engagement with its posts over the last few months, and now it seems its going to get worse.
We have seen year after year in our Techsurvey that Facebook is far and away the most important social network for stations trying to reach their listeners. So what should your station do?
First, it’s important to understand why Facebook is making these changes. Facebook has a vested interest in providing its users with content that they like. If the network fills people’s newsfeed with promotional content that they don’t want to see, people may start using Facebook less. This algorithm is an attempt to provide a better user experience. This is a laudable goal, and stations should also want to ensure that they are not filling the feeds of their users with unwanted content.
Facebook also wants to keep people on Facebook, rather than sending them to third party sites. When people are on Facebook, Facebook can show them ads that generate revenue. Once Facebook sends them elsewhere, they can no longer show them ads. Facebook has introduced features like Instant Articles in an attempt to keep people in their walled garden of content. On this point, stations (and other media outlets) may be at odds with Facebook: A key goal of many station’s digital strategies ought to be to get people back to their own websites.
Finally, Facebook wants to sell ads. It’s a business, and that’s how this business generates revenue. Facebook doesn’t exist so that your station can advertise itself for free. Again, your station may be at odds with Facebook on this point: you probably don’t want to pay to reach your listeners if you don’t have to. But then, you don’t allow Facebook to advertise on your station for free, so it cuts both ways here.
With Facebook’s goals in mind, let’s look at what your station can do.
1. Know the goals of your digital strategy.
Whenever I discuss digital strategy with a station, my first question is “What are your goals?” If you don’t have a firm grasp on the station’s digital goals, you won’t be able to make an informed decision about what to do. Are you trying to:
Encourage online streaming?
Increase email registrations?
Drive contest entries?
Generate sales leads?
You’ll need to know your goals and then determine how Facebook helps you achieve those goals. Your station’s digital strategy may have multiple goals and those goals may not be equally valuable. For example, a sales lead may be worth a lot more to your station than an email registration.
A word of warning here: Beware of the word “branding.” While there is value in branding, it is nebulous. People sometimes invoke “branding” when they don’t know what their goals are or how to achieve them. Don’t make that mistake.
2. Set yourself up to measure Facebook’s impact on your digital strategy.
Once you know your goals, you need to determine how Facebook helps you achieve those goals. For example, if your goal is to drive email registrations, how does Facebook help you do that?
Keep in mind, just because you can measure something, that doesn’t mean that it affects your station’s goals. You can measure Facebook likes, comments, and shares. Presumably, more of these are better. But that doesn’t mean that more likes leads to more email registrations. Some of these things that you can measure are more important than others. Make sure that you are paying attention to the important metrics and not giving undue weight to unimportant metrics.
The most important number to track is not found in your Facebook analytics, but in your Google Analytics: How many people came to your website by way of Facebook. The more people that come to your website, the more that will sign up for your email database. You want to pay close attention to the website traffic from Facebook, and try to figure out what causes that traffic to increase or decrease.
3. Create more compelling content.
Facebook wants to show people stuff that they like; Facebook doesn’t want to show people junk. This is true of every company that uses an algorithm to surface content, including Google. So the best way to protect your station from algorithm changes is not to try and game the system, but to produce high quality content. If you’re producing good stuff that people want to see, Facebook is more likely to show it to people.
For most stations, this means that it’s time to step up their game when it comes to online content, especially If you’ve been phoning in your blog and paying significantly less attention to it than your on-air product. We now live in a world where every media company is a multi-media company. You need people on your staff who can write and create compelling content that goes beyond just audio.
In addition to increasing the amount of high-quality content that your station produces, you should decrease the amount of low-quality content that you share on social media. Blatantly promotional posts that pitch advertisers’ products or encourage people to enter contests should fall by the wayside.
4. Don’t try to game the system.
Don’t buy into simple tricks that will allow you to circumvent Facebook’s algorithm. You’ll lose.
5. Experiment and review metrics regularly.
Gather the appropriate staff for a weekly web meeting in which you review the station’s digital metrics. Keep track of what’s happening with Facebook. Set up experiments to see what impacts those metrics. If you see certain types of content reacting on the social network, produce more of that content.
6. Allocate a budget for Facebook ads.
They say a good drug dealer always gives away the first batch for free, then charges customers when they come back for more. I hate to tell you this, but Facebook may have gotten your station addicted. You may need to pay if you want to continue to see the same amount of traffic from the social network. Figure out how Facebook ads can help your station achieve its digital goals and start experimenting with paid advertising now.
7. Strengthen other incoming traffic channels.
While Facebook is far and away the most important social network for stations, it’s not the only one. Develop and strengthen your strategy with other social networks, including Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Also, pay attention to sources of traffic besides social networks, especially search engines like Google and YouTube. (YouTube is the second-largest social network.) Implement and fine tune your station’s email campaigns to drive website traffic. Lastly, don’t forget to use your airwaves to drive people to the station’s website. This is a powerful tool that most stations don’t fully take advantage of to drive website traffic.
In the end, Facebook’s changes may negatively impact your station’s ability to reach your audience. You will probably need to alter your station’s strategy as a result. But, if you are tracking everything appropriately, you’ll be able to determine the best course of action.
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.
Molly Anderson is Traffic Director for Bay Cities Radio/Bay City Multi-Media in Marinette, WI/Menominee, MI and stations WMAM-AM, WSFQ-FM, WAGN-AM, WHYB-FM and WLST-FM. She has been with her current company for four years, the last three years in traffic.
Q1: What is your favorite comfort food? Molly:Garlic mashed potatoes and beef or venison tips.
Q2: Which Superhero would you be, and why? Molly: Storm – She has a variety of abilities, including the ability to control the weather. My family farms – and they would be ecstatic if I could control the weather! 🙂
Q3: When I’m not working, I’d rather be … Molly:Reading, Gardening, Farming, Photography, going on the ATV trails, snowmobiling or fishing.
Q4: What’s the best advice you have ever received? Molly:Never stop doing your best just because someone doesn’t give you credit.
Q5: If I had the chance, I’d really like to have lunch with…
Molly: Clint Eastwood.
Q6: Tell us something about yourself that very few people know.
Molly: I was on a chess league in grade school. I won 2nd place.