Noncommercial station WWEV(FM) outside of Atlanta has seen increased visibility since adopting the dot-radio domain. Among the curated website names it will use are victory.radio, worship.radio and ondemand.radio.
A small Christian station in the South has taken a big step to increase its visibility and listenership by embracing the dot-radio domain.
Station WWEV(FM) in Cumming, Ga., is one of a handful of pioneer radio stations that signed up with the European Broadcasting Union for the newly available “dot-radio” top level domain name. The noncommercial station reached out to the EBU and the dot-radio registry — which reads as “.radio” — and was approved for a new internet address.
The goal was to create a new radio-focused top-level domain (TLD) name that would improve the way in which people using internet resources linked to radio, the EBU said when the project was announced.
Since adopting the new domain name, WWEV says it has seen a 30% increase in monthly visits. Most of that increase has come from search engine results, said Austin Hollis, director of technology for the station.
“I believe that when people searched ‘victory radio’ or ‘Christian radio,’ the dot-radio TLD has made an impact on this,” he said.
Since 1981, station WWEV has been broadcasting Christian teaching, faith-based music and sermons from local pastors to listeners on 91.5 FM outside of Atlanta. The curated collection of music and programming that WWEV airs is a deliberate part of the station’s daily mission. “We’re not just playing top 40 Christian songs,” Hollis said.
The station is a nonprofit with a rich history of approaching ministry differently, said Ray Haynes, general manager. “We seek to be an anointed radio station that impacts people who are going through life, dealing with pain and hurts, and typical struggles,” he said. “We don’t push hit songs or artists or concern ourselves with ratings,” he said. “We play popular artists as well as unsigned artists, unknown artists, independent artists and up-and-coming artists as long as the quality and message is great.”
Acquiring the victory.radio domain fit the station’s vision of making its message and ministry available worldwide, Haynes said. The station has listeners in more than 200 countries and in all 50 states, and through the station’s Victory OnDemand app (which is currently beta testing and is expected to launch in January 2018), listeners will have access to what Hayes called an interactive platform like Spotify, as well as a streaming platform like Pandora, both initiating from the songs playing live on the air. This allows users to initiate a stream, launch a playlist, or replay a song from the station’s live radio history, he said.
The station also plans to offer this free ad-based app to any other interested Christian radio station so they can use it as a fundraising tool. The app would feature that individual station’s live on-air stream.
The station decided to participate as a pioneers in the dot-radio system — rather than waiting for the landrush for dot-radio names that some expect to occur later on — because the station thought it would highlight the unique programming that the station is doing. The station heard about the pioneer program, met with the EBU at the spring NAB Show, and were approved soon after.
The station is now up and running online at both www.victory915.com and victory.radio, and will soon go live with worship.radio and ondemand.radio. Once all of the station’s websites are finalized, all traffic will be directed to victory.radio.
“Moving to victory.radio is a two-step process for us,” Hollis said. The first step was for us to issue SSL certificates for victory.radio so the station can use its current site layout with the new domain and to accept donations. The second step is to redesign its web presence to feature a cleaner user interface, access to a new high-quality stream and other technological improvements.
“Since we rely on donations from listeners, we had to make sure all of our code that processes the donations accepted the change,” Hollis said.
One of the major benefits of adopting a dot-radio moniker? The boost the station has seen in visitors. “It has helped our search engine performance having the dot-radio extension,” Hollis said.
The station was not concerned about confusing visitors with something other than a simple dot-com address.
Today, Hollis said, people are familiar with different dot-com addresses. Just as a number of churches in the areas have begun using dot-church to differentiate themselves, so WWEV thought that using victory-dot-radio would allow the station to set itself apart.
“Acquiring the victory.radio domain fits our vision of making this message and unique ministry readily available everywhere,” Haynes said.