By Walter Sabo
(Editor’s Note: In addition to radio stations and groups, Sabo Media has worked for decades with print media to produce successful, profitable radio in many forms. Clients have included Parade magazine, The Wall Street Journal, National Geographic, Cosmopolitan, Martha Stewart Living, and the Asbury Park Press.)
NEW YORK — A dynamic, future-oriented new stage has launched: RADIO STATIONS ON NEWSPAPER WEBSITES. The Boston Herald, as first reported here, will launch a radio station from their website on Monday August 5th. Boston Herald Radio will bring new, younger audience to the newspaper and hyper-local, live advertising capabilities unimaginable for newspapers until this moment.
Having participated in the success of many print-to-audio businesses, a list of essential ingredients have emerged that are required for longevity. Here are three:
1. Hire experienced radio executives to lead the station. Joe Sciacca, editor-in-chief of the Herald sealed his radio success by hiring Tom Shattuck as executive producer of the radio station. Tom’s background is in radio; WRKO and WTTK — both Boston. He knows what engaging radio sounds like and how to get it on the air. Tom would probably be a lousy newspaper editor. He is a skilled audio craftsman and he will inspire compelling audio.
2. Protect and grow the brand. The brand image is secured with the production of an engaging, memorable radio experience. Hire the best proven, local radio talent, let them perform in the way that made them successful. Bad radio attached to a newspaper’s nameplate will hurt the brand. Good radio, made by radio pros will enhance the brand—the customer is satisfied. No newspaper or magazine can afford to attach its name to a training ground for rookie hosts. Big papers would not hire a team of green reporters, they look for and test experienced writers to fill their editorial space. Radio requires the same level of professionalism to thrive.
3. One direction. In broad terms there are two types of radio and they are not compatible — commercial and non-commercial. Newspapers are commercial media. Be honest about what readers seek when coming to the paper and don’t be afraid to put those stories and features on the air. Radio listeners come to the newspaper’s website expecting those features. When the radio station and newspaper connect in terms of general content, a new and larger opportunity is created for advertisers to reach targeted audiences
Other things to consider…
Listeners are the editors. Listeners understand that radio is fleeting… live and unchecked. Print editors are trained and paid to check stories and approve coverage. Talk show hosts and DJs prepare their own material and because of the volume of production, they occasionally make mistakes. Listeners understand how radio is made and do not hold the station responsible for every word spoken, the way readers do of print news coverage.
Radio hosts are like columnists. They have opinions, they may or may not represent the views of station ownership and their job is to gather audience share through their skills as entertainers and informers.
Starting a radio station newspaper website is a prudent method to bring the newspaper to a digital platform successfully. Please contact me directly to continue this discussion on the ingredients for a successful radio station for weekly or daily newspapers.
Walter Sabo is chairman of New York City-based consulting firm Sabo Media. On a regular basis you will find trend reports and illuminating ideas from Sabo Media in TALKERS (www.talkers.com) and RadioInfo (www.radioinfo.com). Walter Sabo can be reached at Walter@sabomedia.com. Meet Walter Sabo at Talkers Los Angeles 2013 on Thursday October 10.