James Cridland: The thing many radio station websites forget

Radio futurologist James Cridland

James Cridland: It is all about your website and newsletters this week. James thinks most radio stations are missing out on an opportunity to connect with listeners and has a few suggestions for you.

I tend to look at a lot of radio station websites and newsletters every day as part of my job. This is interesting and head-scratching at the same time.

There’s a strange thing about radio newsletters. People sign up to them because, by and large, they’re fans of the radio station: at least, they’ve interacted with the radio station in the past.

A good newsletter offers the chance to grow your time-spent-listening by giving your most loyal listeners the opportunity to try something new. Perhaps there’s a good interview next week, a new show starting this weekend, or a best-of clip from something that isn’t the breakfast show to help your listeners discover new things about your station to keep them listening? (Better still: can you segment your newsletter based on when they interact with you?)

A good newsletter also offers the chance to make your listeners closer to your station by giving them news and information about the on-air talent. It might be as simple as one of your breakfast hosts has a new haircut; or your mid-morning show host took a nice photo at the local park last week. Your talent is what separates you from Pandora or Spotify, after all; so making the most of their relationship with listeners is important.

Instead, the majority of newsletters I see from a radio station has nothing to do with the radio station. A few paid-for competitions, some showbiz stories that everyone else has. The goal, it seems, is to drum-up some short-term page traffic rather than long-term listening habits. That appears, to me, to be a missed opportunity.

However, here’s a bigger missed opportunity.

I discovered a radio station with one of those random names that doesn’t communicate that it’s a radio station – “The Prime”, or “SportsChat”, or something like that. I went to visit to find out how to tune in.

Now, sure, this website had a “listen now” button on every page, which opened up a web player. I didn’t want that. Specifically, I wanted to find out whether it was on DAB or whether it was on an AM/FM frequency somewhere – you know, the way that delivers over 80% of your TSL. I prodded the website hopefully: but I couldn’t find anything.

I then discovered one frequency on a different website. And I idly wondered whether it existed on the radio station’s website. You can search through a particular website by typing “site:example.com cheese” into Google, and that’ll search for any mention of cheese on that website. Anyway – no, it didn’t. The radio station website didn’t actually have any frequency on it. Nor – astonishingly – the phrase “radio station”.

Chances are, your station is available in many different ways: from an app to a set of AM/FM frequencies, on digital radio in some form, or on other platforms. List them. For this station, I knew none of the ways I could tune in. This seems a tad disappointing.

As a suggestion: your website, and its newsletter, has a primary function of getting people to listen longer to your radio station. By all means, do other things on it. But get the basics right. Frequencies, platforms, apps – if they’re not easily visible on your website, you’ve missed a trick; and make sure your station newsletter actually mentions, you know, the station.

James Cridland is a radio futurologist – a writer, speaker and consultant working with the brightest radio brains in the world. He has worked for the BBC and Virgin Radio in London. Join over 2,500 other radio professionals and subscribe to his free weekly newsletter (in English) at https://james.cridland.net

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