Category Archives: March 2016

Engineering Spotlight: Dave Grant, Cumulus Media (Grand Rapids)

We’re pleased to begin a new spotlight series featuring the hardworking engineers at our stations.  To nominate an engineer for a spotlight, please email Alisha Clack at clack@michmab.com.

Dave GrantDave Grant
CPBE, Chief Engineer, Cumulus Media, Grand Rapids.  Approaching 4 years, but this is his second time working for WLAV; was the CE for WLAV-AM/FN from 1986 to 1993.

Brief Engineering Resume:
Dave: My first radio job was screening calls for a sports talk show on WKBZ-AM (Muskegon). From there I started running Tiger games and eventually got a job as an on-air announcer at WLRQ-AM in Whitehall. (side note, WLRQ, currently WKLQ, is now owned by the Cumulus Muskegon cluster!) From there, I went next door to the FM station owned by Regional Broadcasting at the time. It was automated, so that left time to tinker with equipment. I became more interested in engineering, and started helping the regional engineer whenever anything needed repair.

I have been really fortunate to have had a couple of great engineering mentors over the years, and opportunities to work with them on a contract basis for a lot of different stations early in my career. This gave me a very broad education on repairing and troubleshooting a myriad of different types and brands of equipment. After that, I went to my first real full-time engineering job in Florida, and spent two years at two different stations before returning to be the Chief Engineer for Liggett Broadcasting. After that, I went to WLAV and spent seven years before the station was sold. I then decided a change would do me good and went into telecom working for a small local competitive telephone company. They were bought and sold many times before eventually becoming part of Verizon. All the while I kept a couple contract stations, I just couldn’t get radio out of my system.

I spent fifteen years in telecom, with the last two years working in Baghdad under contract with the U.S. government. After that ended, I began looking for full-time work again and eventually landed at Cumulus.

Q: How did you get started in broadcast engineering?
Dave:  I love music and grew up listening to the Big 89, WLS. Around age 13, my family moved to Muskegon and we lived near the WTRU-AM studios and transmitter site. I rarely could tune in WLS at home, so WTRU became my station. I listened to that station a lot, and originally was more interested in being an announcer. Eventually I would be an announcer for WTRU, but as it turns out, I didn’t much care for it. Engineering had already taken hold.

Tell us something about yourself that very few people know…
Dave:  My on-air moniker was Dave Lee.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Dave:  Always treat people well, you never know when you might end up working for them. Karma is everywhere.

WDIV-TV’s (Detroit) “Help Me Hank” Offers Free Tax Advice

WDIV-032816_500On March 22, WDIV-TV’s “Help Me Hank” consumer unit hosted a phone bank offering viewers free tax advice.

The Michigan Association of CPAs (MICPA) provided a team of experts to answer viewer questions.

According to the station, the MICPA has been around since 1901. It has more than 17,500 members and is considered the leading statewide professional organization dedicated to promoting the value of the CPA profession. Each member meets strict statutory and regulatory requirements. They embrace the highest standards of professional and ethical performance.

Editorial: How to Reduce the Bounce Rate on Your Station’s Website

Seth ReslerBy: Seth Resler, Jacobs Media Strategies

A website “bounce” happens when somebody comes to your station’s site and then leaves without navigating to another page on your site. Like radio tune-outs, bounces can happen for any number of reasons: people may have gotten what they needed from the webpage, they may not like what they see on the page, or there may be an external factor that has nothing to do with the site. For example, they may have been viewing your site on their phone when they arrived at their bus stop, so they left.

Like radio tune-outs, the fewer bounces your website has, the better. You can track your bounce rate (the number of single page view visits divided by the total number of visits) in Google Analytics. As a rule of thumb, you should aim for a bounce rate of less than 50%. Lower is always better.

Here are six ways to reduce the bounce rate on your radio station’s website:

1. Include inline links to related content.

When people are reading one piece of content on your website, encourage them to visit related content. While many websites do this by including links to related content at the end of a blogpost, inserting them directly into the body of the post can improve your bounce rate even more. Politico does this very effectively:

Seth0324-1
2. Make sure your social media posts accurately reflect your content.

When people click a link to your content on social media, they have expectations about what they are going to see. If you violate those expectations, they will leave.

For example, if I see a post about Metallica’s upcoming tour in my Facebook feed, but clicking on the link takes me to a gluten-free cheesecake recipe, I am going to bounce. This is an extreme example, but sometimes we accidentally give people the wrong impression when we post to social media.

For example, if the blogpost was about all of the concert tours happening this summer, but didn’t mention Metallica until the seventh paragraph, people may be confused if the Facebook post implies that the content is all about Metallica.

Make sure that your content — especially the headline — is clearly related to the social media post used to share it.

3. Optimize for content for search engines.

Likewise, when people click on links in the results in search engines like Google, they have expectations about what they will see. Be sure to optimize your blogpost correctly. Start by including keywords in the title, the URL, and the body of your text. For example, if your blogpost is about Kanye West, include Kanye’s name in the post’s title. Avoid titles that are too vague.

4. Conduct a website usability test.

If your website is not easy to use, people will leave. Run a Website Usability Test to see how people interact with your site. In this test, you sit people down in front of your website and ask them to perform certain tasks while thinking out loud.

For example, you might ask them to enter a contest they heard about on the radio, find more information on the morning show, or sign up for the station’s email list. This test will show you what people have trouble doing when they come to your website. Making changes based on the results can have a positive impact on your website’s bounce rate.

5. Optimize your site for mobile devices.

When you look at your Google Analytics, pay attention to the bounce rate across different types of devices: desktops, tablets, and mobile. The bounce rate will almost always be higher on mobile devices because we are less likely to leisurely browse on our smartphones, but if it’s dramatically higher this could be a cause for concern.

If your website is not designed to look good on smartphone browsers (you’ve seen those sites — the ones that you have to pinch and zoom in on to read on a phone), then you’re probably driving visitors away. It’s also a good idea to run a usability test on the mobile version of your website in addition to the desktop version to make sure that it is just as easy to use.

6. Increase readability.

Another good way to decrease your website’s bounce rate is to make your content more readable. For many sites, this means reducing the grade level of the content by removing big vocabulary words and shortening sentences.

With radio station websites, however, it is often helpful to raise the grade level of the content. Make sure that the blog uses complete sentences that are grammatically correct. Avoid emoticons, excessive use of exclamation points, and all caps. You can measure the grade level of a blogpost with this tool.

7. Tune up your site’s speed.

If it takes too long for your webpage to load, people will bail out. If you find that your site takes a long time to load and you have a high bounce rate, there could be a correlation. There are a number of ways to boost your site speed, from using a CDN to reducing plugins to cleaning up code; your webmaster can investigate these.

Do you know what the bounce rate is on your radio station’s website? If not, find out and decide whether or not it’s an issue that you need to address. Let me know how I can help.

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.

Traffic Director Spotlight: Jennifer Lozen Thunder Bay Broadcasting (Alpena)

JenniferLozenJennifer Lozen 
Thunder Bay Broadcasting, Alpena

Jennifer Lozen is the Traffic Director and Program Director for WBKB-TV/WBUP-TV/WBKP-TV, based in Alpena, where she has been for the last eight years.

Q1: What is your favorite comfort food?
Jennifer: Nachos

Q2: When I’m not working, I’d rather be…
Jennifer: With friends and family, relaxing.

Q4: If I had the chance, I’d really like to have lunch with…
Jennifer: Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

Q5: Best advice you have ever received?
Jennifer: Don’t worry about what others are doing or saying, focus on what’s best for you because you’re the only one that can live your life.

 

This post was updated on March 30 to correct the number of years Jennifer has been working at Thunder Bay Broadcasting.

GLBC Speaker Highlight: Valerie Geller

The GLBC schedule has been finalized, and features some national-caliber speakers and educational sessions. Check out the full line-up here: bit.ly/GLBConference

Speaker Highlight: Valerie Geller

Valerie will be presenting the keynote address at the GLBC on Tuesday, May 3. Valerie is a nationally known broadcast consultant and industry expert who has spoken at several NAB conferences, as well as internationally.

VgellerValerie Geller Presents: Get, Keep and BUILD Your Audience!

Content is king!   Creating your content is what sets you apart from every other “screen” or speaker you compete with. Everyone can improve and move to the next level of performance to create powerful content for TV & Radio, and work more effectively across ALL platforms!

The key to staying the most relevant content source for your audience is all about becoming a more powerful communicator and storyteller. There are no boring stories, only boring storytellers. In this session, learn proven techniques to grow not only your talent, but your audience as well.

These proven Powerful Communicator methods, in use by top broadcasters throughout the world, are based on just three things: “Tell the Truth, Make it Matter and NEVER be BORING.” Aircheck coaching, finding and developing talent and powerful storytelling techniques, on-air performance coaching techniques are all included. Each participant will come away with actionable techniques to become stronger, more compelling broadcasters, armed with techniques they can put into practice immediately to engage and grow their audiences.

Early Bird Deadline Approaching!

The GLBC offers a discount on registration to members who sign up early. Members can attend the entire conference for only $159! This includes all the educational sessions on Monday, the legendary “Beer & Bull” Welcome Reception, all sessions and Keynote address on Tuesday, along with breakfast, lunch, and the Legislative Reception. After April 1, the rates to attend the GLBC go up. Save money by registering today!

House Passes IPAWS Modernization Act

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a public warning improvement bill — the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System Modernization Act. The legislation, S. 1180, introduced by Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Senator Claire McCaskill, (D-MO), integrates multiple communication systems like EAS and wireless alerts, promotes local and regional public and private partnerships, and provides redundant alert mechanisms to reach the largest number of people during an emergency.

The legislation also establishes a training program to instruct federal, state, tribal, and local government officials in system use. It includes the capability to alert those with disabilities and those who have limited English proficiency. NAB Executive Vice President of Communications Dennis Wharton said NAB “applauds the House’s bipartisan passage of this legislation strengthening the public’s access to important emergency warnings and alerts. As ‘first informers,’ local radio and television stations understand the crucial need for up-to-the-second information when danger is near.” The bill now goes to the President for his signature.

Tuesday (3/29) is Decision Day for Broadcasters in Spectrum Auction

March 29 is “D-Day,” as in decision day for television broadcasters who have applied to participate in the FCC’s Spectrum Auction.  They must decide whether and how to give up their spectrum.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, has confirmed that the Commission is on track to start the auction on March 29 and should begin the reverse auction bidding in May as planned.  In an story published by Broadcasting and Cable, Wheeler said that “if he had to guess, the auction, both the forward and reverse portions, could be finished by August or September.”

The FCC’s list of applicants in the forward auction shows that its not just wireless companies and venture capitalists that are interested. Companies with cable and broadcast interests are also on the list of potential auction participants. Though a company has registered to participate in the forward auction does not necessarily mean that they will bid, according to a Broadcasting and Cable report.

Senate Committee Unanimously Passes Student Press Rights Bill

Rick Jones
Senator Rick Jones (R-24)

Legislation establishing “protection for freedom of expression for student journalists in public schools and institutions of higher education” unanimously passed the Senate Judiciary Committee with immediate effect. Committee chair and bill sponsor of Senate Bill 848 (The Student Free Press and Civics Readiness Act) Senator Rick Jones (R-24), called the bill a “victory for free speech.”

The bill establishes that student journalists in public schools and universities have a “right to exercise freedom of speech and of the press in school-sponsored media, regardless of whether the media are supported financially by the school or public institution of higher education.” It prohibits a school from exercising prior restraint against the publishing of an article unless the article was libelous or slanderous, an unwarranted invasion of privacy, a violation of state or federal law or an incitement to students that could cause them to commit an unlawful act, violate school policies, or substantially disrupt school operations.

SB 848 follows legislation enacted a year ago in North Dakota and which is now being considered in 28 states, including Michigan.

The MAB Board of Directors voted to support this legislation and promote its passage. The bill now moves to the full Senate chamber for a vote.

Legislation Creates Open Government Commission

capitol3State Representative Martin Howrylak (R-41) introduced HB 5488, legislation to establish an Open Government Commission within the Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR).

Howrylak’s bill would establish the Commission to receive and investigate citizen complaints regarding responses to request for information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The Commission may refer complaints to the Attorney General or recommend policies to a public body after a complaint is investigated. The Commission would be composed of nine members appointed by the Governor from recommendations by the Senate Majority Leader, Senate Minority Leader, Speaker of the House, House Minority Leader, Michigan Association of Broadcasters, and Michigan Press Association.

HB 5488 is now referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Ethics.

Michigan Radio Network Closing Its Doors

MRNAccording to a report in MIRS, the Michigan Radio Network (MRN), which provides daily state Capitol coverage to over 60 radio stations in Michigan, is closing its doors after 36-year run at the end of March. The parent company out of Missouri, Learfield Communications, is closing the operations because it’s no longer making enough money to keep the bureau alive. MRN personnel affected by the closing include veteran state capitol correspondent Rob Baykian who started with the network in 1981. Correspondent Dale George, Bureau Chief Ryan Hermes, and morning sports reporter Chris Lepley will be released from their duties.

The MAB would like to thank past and current owners of MRN and their staff for all the help they have given the MAB over the years, including help with radio distribution of the State of the State Address, the Governor’s Inauguration, and serving as relay for EAS.  Your help has been greatly appreciated.

Learfield acquired MRN in December, 2014 from Michigan-based Saga Communications.

MNN-Logo-300With the MRN shutdown, Michigan News Network (MNN) has stepped up its affiliation efforts throughout the state.  MNN offers both 1 and 2-minute hourly news updates Monday-through-Friday from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m,  In addition, the network offers a 1-minute Michigan sports update three times daily each weekday.  All content is produced by CBS Radio’s WWJ-AM (Detroit).

Presently, MNN serves 30 radio stations throughout Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsula.  Stations interested in an affiliation should contact affiliation information, contact Christopher Conn at (248) 327-2748 or chris.conn@cbsradio.com.

This article was updated on March 28 to include a thank you message from the MAB.