Small-market radio stations may not have the big
bucks to spend on Web designers and special features. However, when it comes to
attractive, effective Web design, there are plenty of creative ways to compete
with the majors.
Here are 10 examples of small-market sites (owned
by companies large and small) that are doing such a nice job they couldn’t help
but catch Radio World’s eye.
What: WAXS(FM), “Groovy 94.1”
Owner: Plateau Broadcasting
Hometown: Oak Hill,
Why we like it: With its 1960s-feeling
bubble font station logo, an ode to its “groovy” name and a rapid flood of news
stories, photos, box ads — plus the famous faces banner up top, with Diana Ross
and Elton John — all fit in with their retro theme. But the large “listen live”
box with mock equalizer and links to previously played songs (which are
available for purchase with a click-through) keep it feeling very much up to
date. Here’s a station that knows its niche and still provides a whole bunch of
content. Who would have thought that 1960s style and 21st century tech would
make such a happy couple?
What: KIXY(FM), “KIXY 94.7”
Owner: Foster Communications
Hometown: San Angelo,
we like it: KIXY’s website manages to bridge the gap between
rock ’n’ roll frenzy and good taste, by confining its content to a vertical box
that sits in the center of the page, atop a background of small KIXY 94.7 logos.
The heart of the page is a mix of station promos (including a “now streaming
live” link) and paid advertising. On the left side there’s a small tab of links
to staff bios, programming, contests and other features. Collectively, this is
a site that communicates high energy without clutter.
What: WHBL(AM), “WHBL News Radio 1130”
Owner: Midwest Communications
we like it: Sheboygan may rank as Arbitron market No. 265,
but WHBL’s cleanly designed news website is anything but small-town. You’ve got
current news stories — from local to global — and accompanying photojournalism.
The Weather page offers forecasts and an interactive radar/satellite map that
can layer on natural disasters and alerts. Add blogs on local topics, station
bios, text subscriptions for breaking news, WHBL podcasts of on-air content, a
Listen Live link, community events calendar and even movie listings and
obituaries, and WHBL’s website has the area covered. It’s a real information
draw for residents as well as outside listeners.
What: KLAZ(FM), “KLAZ 105.5 Hit Music”
Owner: Noalmark Broadcasting Corp.
Hometown: Hot Springs,
Why we like it: The Hot Springs home
page is stylish and sleek, with big photos, a prominent “Listen Live” equalizer
link, photos, news stories and a wealth of other features. Worth noting: See
the big, bold buttons for KLAZ’s Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and Request links. This
is how you get your listeners to notice such links, and to use them.
What: KTWO(AM), “K2 Radio”
Hometown: Casper, Wyo.
Why we like it: This is Arbitron
market No. 277 — out of a total 277 markets. But, like many of the examples
cited here, we see a website that goes beyond its humble roots into something
bigger.The website for K2 Radio, a
Townsquare Media station, features bold news stories with lots of photos; then lots
more photos for staff bios, Facebook links, contests, prizes and advertising. Photos
are one of the best ways to get people interested in your site, and KTWO mines
this idea.To save money, Digital
Managing Editor Tom McCarthy says, “Our sites are built on a common platform
along with the rest of the Townsquare Media sites around the country.”
What: WBDX(FM), “J103”
Owner: Partners for Christian Media
Hometown: Trenton, Ga.
Why we like it: J103’s Christian-themed
website is colorful, eye-catching and packed full of useful features. The front
page is dominated by a large window that promotes local Christian events and
station Web features. There are also windows and links to a live on-air feed,
weather, traffic cameras, a daily Bible verse, J103 listener polls, staff blog
entries and advertising windows. The integration of spiritual and secular is
low-key and harmonious, while the site itself has lots of features, yet feels
site was created on a “very affordable” budget by local company Level 2 Design,
says J103 Production Director Brett Ritchey. It is maintained by Level 2 Design
and two J103 staffers on a part-time basis.
What: WDZQ(FM), “95Q”
Owner: Neuhoff Family Ltd. Partnership
Hometown: Decatur, Ill.
Why we like it: 95Q’s site
combines strong, clear design with an excellent range of country-themed
features. A quick inspection of the home page reveals all kinds of links tied
to programming, concerts, weather, advertising and streaming — plus tabs to on-air
staff, photos, contests, and the “Qmunity” — yet despite the chaos, the 95Q
page seems unified and balanced. We think the unity comes from the big 95Q
banner at the top, with its rotating background of top country stars. Classy
What: WMSR(AM/FM), “Thunder Radio”
Owner: Coffee County Broadcasting
Why we like it: This website,
which gets 175,000 page views a month in a town of a 10,000-population town, is
eye-catching and feature packed. The front page alone features local breaking
news stories with photos, a prominently placed link to the station’s AM/FM
simulcast, staff bios and a local community calendar. Ads are large enough to
be seen easily, but not so much that they overpower the content.
keep costs down, designer Brian Marcom used WordPress. “It’s a total team
effort and really the key to our success,” says WMSR owner/GM Rob Clutter.
What: WPLR(FM), “PLR FM”
Owner: Cox Radio
Hometown: Milford, Conn.
we like it: It is impossible not to like a radio website
that boldly displays a red stiletto shoe with the title “Daddy Drag Race” beside
it. (Apparently WPLR’s Chaz & AJ were convincing dads to dress up in drag
and run to win One Direction tickets for their daughters.) On a larger scale,
WPLR’s male-skewed content is honestly male-skewed; unlike so many mock-male
sites on the Web. And really, who, male or female, isn’t going to be at least
intrigued by a video link showing how to open a can of beer with a chainsaw? Add
various quirky features, ads and tabs to “Stuff You Should Know,” and the PLR
FM site is fun, fun, fun.
What: WSLU(FM), “North Country Public
Owner: St. Lawrence University
Hometown: Canton, N.Y.
Why we like it: North Country
Public Radio — NCPR — covers parts of New York, Vermont and Ontario, Canada.
Despite its small-market roots, NCPR’s website offers regional news, blogs,
weather, photos, events listings, program info and Twitter feeds. And despite
the fact that NCPR.org has NPR’s resources to draw on, this site is clearly
about the “North Country” first and foremost. In 2001, NCPR received a $300,000
to fund site development and three years salary for two staff. Since 2004, the station
has carried the staff cost. “We put a lot of work into finding smart,
inexpensive ways to get things done, which often means building it ourselves,”
says NCPR New Media Developer Bill Haenel.