Radio Station Websites
by Mike West, Owner/Radiojock.com
mikewest@radiojock.com

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Getting your station on the net

   The advantage of having a presense on the Internet is in the increased visibility that it provides for your station. Also, being a commercial site and having your own domain has its benefits. You may want only to showcase your station, its talent, and activities. Or, you can create an online store to offer a wide range of merchandise, and as a means to market your station's logo on a wide variety of items. Your station's website can be a focal point of your community on the internet and provide web surfers with a lot of information about your community and whats going on there. Also, links can provide increased visibility for local sponsors if they have websites. Links for local weather conditions and much more. Be sure that your city is indicated prominently on your site so that it shows up in search engines.

Building the site

   If you are not familiar with site building technology consult with someone who is. First impressions do count. Design your site so that it can be viewed by most of the people who use the Internet. This means stay away from content that can only be viewed with certain plugins. To design the site using HTML 3.2 standards would be safe for most browsers. Avoid browser specific html tags. Design for an 800X600 display, which is the easiest to view for most web surfers. These suggestions will apply to your main page, if you would like to provide content that requires a special plugin, Java, or large graphics save it for another page. Get them onto your site first.

   I have been on many sites with a lot of glitter but no gold. Content is very important. Be sure that what you have to say on your page is interesting and relevant. Remember that local web surfers may know that Z-103 FM is WZZZ but what about other viewers? Provide an about page with ALL the station's info. Call letters, city of license, format, address, phone numbers, contact info, and station history, ect.

   Ease of navigation is essential. You may know where everything is on your site, but will your viewers know? Make certain that all the features on your site are properly linked and are highly visible. Graphics should be of high quality and fast loading. You don't have to try and cram everything on the main page if you provide easily visible links to another. The main page should load in 15 to 20 seconds max with a standard 56k connection.

Graphic Design

   This one feature will make or break your site. No matter what content you have on the site the graphic presentation is the first thing a viewer will notice. Take your time and do it right. Whether you opt for a design service, or the guy down the block, remember that your station's image is on the line. To keep costs down you could hold an on air contest to design a new station logo, or you can call the local high school or college to find students skilled in graphic design. The possibilities are there.

Promote your site

   The best looking website is of no value if nobody knows its there. Register the site with the many search engines on the Internet. Promote the site on air. Have a contest and give away a computer as the first prize. A local computer store or internet provider could sponsor the contest. Make sure that contestants must visit the site to register to win. Have giveaways that are targeted to all surfers on the WWW. The response will be tremendous. Properly promoted a station could give away 10 or so CD's a week and enjoy many thousands of hits on their website from all over. Links to and from broadcast, music, artists, and radio related sites are important. If you offer viewers a playlist, make sure it's current. Many stations also offer web surfers free screensavers and desktop wallpaper.

Your station's URL

   Even if you were not planning a website for the immediate future it would be wise to register your call letters as your URL (uniform resourse locator) with the internic. A URL is like real estate on the WWW. The cost is low and it is like money in the bank. Currently the fee is only $35.00 a year. Domain hosting will run about 30 to 50 dollars a month depending on how much space and additional services you need. The point is that getting on the net is easily affordable even for small stations. Quite a few small stations get on the net as a sub directory of someone elses domain, which they probably get free or at a very low cost.

Using the web as a tool

   The many possibilities that the Internet provide are incredible. Never before in the history of man has one form of technology opened up so much of the world to an individual. The increase in learning and knowledge is enormous. Whatever you want to learn or see it is out there somewhere on the net. The ability to find answers by searching on your own or with help from someone with that knowledge is common. The free exchange of culture and information with others around the globe is very exciting. Personally I have met many people from all over the world using the Internet.

   For radio station personnel it offers many ways to increase their broadcast knowledge. There are many show prep sites that stimulate and provide content for your air show. The Internet has all the news and current affairs that you could ever want. Sports, financial, music news, artist bio's, whatever you need to keep your listeners informed and entertained. There are digital quality sound bites on a wide variety of subjects available all over the net. However it is always good to verify the copyright. Generic artist drops and bio's can be downloaded for use on air from many recording labels. You can listen to classic radio shows, air checks, jingles, and commercials from a variety of sources. If you do voiceovers or you are looking for that special voice for your station it's on the Internet. Drop Jocks use the net to promote and deliver their product to the entire world. Announcers can showcase and market their skills to a vast number of people. Broadcast relationships can be forged and maintained across the country or around the world using the net.

   There are many web sites that specialize in broadcast related content. From learning the basics to advanced voiceover and recording techniques, studio maintenance, equipment, and more. Survival in radio depends on talent and knowledge and the net has the resources to help increase both. Many sites have station listings that you can use to check out radio stations from all over the country and the world. Many radio station web sites post playlists so you can see what songs are played on the station. DJ bio's and pics are also popular. A well designed site can really give you a good feel of the station and the community.

The Future

   The Internet is growing at an incredible rate. What is not possible or even dreamed of today will be tomorrow's reality. With the exponential increase in technology, web content will be delivered in new and faster ways. The boundaries that exist today will be a thing of the past. I can envision a day where people anywhere on the planet will be able to listen to or view a radio station's site, probably on some kind of pocket device with digital quality audio and video.

Mike West
Radiojock.com