This is one in a series of special reports for “Survival Guide 2: Radio’s New Media Leaders,” a supplement to the Sept. 24, 2008 issue.
When Bonneville launched its AAA Los Angeles FM station “The Sound” in April, the company was looking to forge strong relationships with its listeners; interactive relationships that would keep them loyal and coming back for more.
(click thumbnail)Not surprisingly, much of this effort has been put into www.TheSoundLA.com; the station site that features listener forums, live streaming and concert listings.
Of course, these features can be found on many radio web sites. “The Sound Wiki” cannot. It is a Wikipedia-style encyclopedia of artists such as Dave Matthews, Los Lobos and Steely Dan, one where listeners can add their own stories and comments to the various artist and venue entries.
“In building our Web site, we wanted to come up with ways to continue the dialog with our listeners, who are passionate music fans,” said Sammy Simpson, the station’s marketing director.
“The Sound Wiki is a big part of that. By giving listeners a place to learn more about their favorite artists, and to add their own stories about them, it fosters the kind of interactivity that The Sound is all about.”
The Sound Wiki was developed by Bonneville’s in-house team of Web designers at the company’s headquarters in Salt Lake City. Its look, format and functionality are extremely similar to Wikipedia’s, making its use easy for Wikipedia fans.
The clean simplicity of the Wiki design carries through to other parts of The Sound’s site, which is organized under four tabs: Hear It, See It, Be It and About It.
Hear It takes the listener to a live audio stream, the list of the last 10 songs played, and a search tool that lets them look up what’s been aired on The Sound during the past two weeks.
See It features a concert calendar and an station promotional video. Be It includes the Sound Village Discussion Forum, Sound e-mail updates, an online survey, a “Share the Sound” feature for sending station info to listeners’ friends, and the Sound Wiki.
About It details the station’s mission, contact information and employment information.
With only a few months under their belt, Simpson said it is too soon to assess how well his station’s new media strategy is working.
Still, he advises programmers to put the same emphasis on listener interaction that The Sound does.
“This means that you need the entire staff to get involved in producing this content,” he said. “It can’t just been two or three people maintaining the whole site.”