Jumpstart Your Radio Station’s Blog With This Simple Formula

Seth Resler

By: Seth Resler,
Jacobs Media Strategies

To keep listeners coming back to your radio station’s website over and over again, you’ve got to continually pump out content. There’s no shortcut. If you stopped playing music on the air, listeners would stop tuning in. Your website works the same way. Unfortunately, so many radio broadcasters are stretched so thin these days, that when you ask them to write blogposts on top of all their other duties, they groan with exasperation.

Often, the biggest challenge is not the writing itself, but coming up with a topic to write about. There’s nothing worse than staring at a blank computer screen trying to think of an idea. If you can eliminate that issue, blogging becomes much easier.

The way to overcome writer’s block is to develop blog topic formulas — repeatable topics that produce different content every time they’re used. When radio stations are looking to start blogging for the first time, there’s a simple blog topic formula that I like to suggest:

“5 Things To Do Around Town This Weekend”

I love this formula because any radio personality can use it, regardless of their station’s format or their market size. All it takes is a couple of introductory sentences followed by a list of five linked subtitles, each supported by two or three sentences of description. Remember, blogposts don’t need to be long to generate traffic — 300 to 700 words will do the trick. This formula a great way for a radio station to support what’s happening in the community, whether it’s the college football game, the arts and wine festival, or the new restaurant opening.

Not only is this blogpost easy to write every week, it can also be paired with an automated email campaign. On your website, invite your listeners to sign up for the email database to get weekend activity suggestions. Set up an RSS-to-email campaign to automatically send these suggestions out on Wednesday afternoon or Thursday morning. Ta-da! Now you’ve got content that can be shared on social media, indexed by search engines, and will also drive traffic via email.

Once you’re pumping out a weekly list of activities, you’ll see how this content marketing strategy can build website traffic, and you’ll be ready to experiment with other blog topic formulas. Here’s a list of ideas. Happy blogging!

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at [email protected] or 1-800-968-7622.

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

WZZM’s Janet Mason Announces Retirement

Janet Mason

WZZM-TV (Grand Rapids) President and General Manager, Janet Mason, has announced her plans to retire this summer after 22 years at the station and 44 years in the broadcasting industry.

Mason was named President and General Manager of WZZM 13, the TEGNA owned ABC affiliate in Grand Rapids and West Michigan in January 1997. She has spent more than 40 years with Gannett, now TEGNA, in a variety of executive and on-air positions.

“When I began my Gannett journey at WTCN-WUSA-KARE in Minneapolis/St Paul in January 1979, I didn’t know where that journey would take me or how long it would last,” said Mason. “It has been a wonderful and rewarding adventure.”

There were many firsts in Mason’s career. She was part of the first wave of women who became television newscasters in the 1970s. She became Gannett Broadcasting’s first woman and person of color News Director in the 1980s and the first woman and person of color TV General Manager in West Michigan in the 1990s.

Mason spent 17 years at KARE 11 rising through the ranks from general assignment reporter to local Today Show news cut-in anchor to St Paul Bureau Chief to Assistant News Director to the last eight years as Vice President / News. She was part of the leadership team that took the station from 4th to 1st.

In 1996, she was promoted to Vice President / News at Gannett Broadcasting where she worked with station General Managers and News Directors to help improve their news programs.

A year later, she was named President & General Manager of WZZM 13 (now known as 13 ON YOUR SIDE).

During her 22-year tenure at WZZM 13 ON YOUR SIDE, she significantly expanded the number of hours devoted to news, created the 13 Watchdog Investigative Team, provided in-depth coverage of many significant events, ushered West Michigan into the digital age of journalism and high definition television, and built a legacy of community involvement.

“As caring people, you have rallied our viewers to truly make a positive difference in West Michigan,” said Mason to her staff. “It’s been a true joy working beside you collecting toys for needy children, saving lives through our breast cancer and safe driving campaigns, collecting water for Flint and tons of food for the hungry, and countless other community projects”.

A favorite project was rescuing a West Michigan and Grand Rapids icon, the Weatherball, from a scrapyard and bringing it back to its glory. The 13 Weatherball is a stainless-steel sphere that is 16 feet in diameter, wrapped in 288 neon lights, and sits on top of a 100 feet pole. The ball changes colors to represent the next day’s weather.

She plans to stay with the station until mid-July, so there is a smooth transition for her successor.

Before Gannett/TEGNA, Mason worked for television stations in Wisconsin and Iowa.

Over the years, Mason has served on a variety of industry and community boards, including the ABC Television Affiliates Association, Michigan Association of Broadcasters, Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce, and Economic Club of Grand Rapids. She has been a guest instructor for the National Association of Broadcasters Management Development Seminar for TV Executives and University of Missouri / RTNDA News Executive Seminar.

Mason has received multiple honors over the years, including the Silver Circle from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences – Michigan Chapter, Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism from the University of Missouri School of Journalism, and Certificate of Commendation from the Governor of Minnesota for her work on diversity issues.

WKZO’s Retired John McNeill Receives State Tribute

Kalamazoo County Commission Board Chair Julie Rogers with WKZO’s John McNeill. (Photo credit: Julie Rogers via Twitter)

By: Jeana Gondek, WKZO

WKZO’s newly retired John McNeill was recently recognized for his 40-plus years of radio reporting.

At Tuesday night’s Kalamazoo County Commission meeting, McNeill was presented with a special award.

The state tribute was created and written by Senator Sean McCann. It was also signed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the entire state House and Kalamazoo County delegations.

It read, “For the past 50 years, John has been a dedicated radio broadcaster serving Kalamazoo and Battle Creek citizens with enthusiasm. His absence will be strongly felt by his employer and colleague, who greatly esteem his journalistic integrity and work.”

John began as a weekend broadcaster in Michigan City Indiana, was a co-founder of Western Michigan University’s WIDR-FM, and worked at a couple music radio stations before coming to Midwest Communications where he worked in news for 40 years.

Even though he’s hanging up the headphones, John says he’ll find ways to stay busy.

He hinted that he’s looking at other opportunities to stay involved and active in the community.

WKAR-FM Names New Morning Edition Host

Mary Ellen Pitney Photo credit: Northwest Public Broadcasting

WKAR Public Media has announced that Mary Ellen Pitney will join the station as the Capital Region host and local producer for NPR’s Morning Edition on 90.5 FM WKAR-FM at Michigan State University.

The announcement was made May 23 by Reginald Hardwick, Digital News Director at WKAR. Pitney joins the WKAR news team on June 10, and will debut as Morning Edition local host later this summer.

“Mary Ellen is truly a connoisseur of public radio,” said Hardwick. “She grew up in a military family and learned to count on familiar voices of public radio whether she was in Texas or Hawaii. Mary Ellen brings energy, curiosity and a passion for our industry that comes across in her delivery.”

Pitney comes to the Capital region after three years as Weekend Edition host at Northwest Public Broadcasting in Pullman, Washington. She is a graduate of Washington State University’s Edward R. Murrow College of Communication.

Deal Reached in Michigan Auto Insurance Health Care Coverage

Gongwer reports that Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, and House Speaker Lee Chatfield confirmed publicly this morning  that the Democratic governor and the Republican legislative leadership reached an agreement on a bill to change how auto insurance covers health care for those injured in traffic crashes.

“After constructive conversations over the past week, I am pleased to announce that we have reached an agreement in concept on bipartisan auto no-fault reform legislation that will lower costs and protect coverage for Michigan drivers,” Ms. Whitmer said in a statement. “The deal: guarantees rate relief for every Michigan driver; provides a choice in coverage levels; establishes more uniform and structured compensation levels for medical providers; and removes the ability of insurance companies to discriminate based on non-driving factors. I look forward to working with the legislature to pass and sign this important legislation into law.”

Mr. Chatfield (R-Levering) and Mr. Shirkey (R-Clarklake) released a statement saying motorists’ long wait for auto insurance rate relief is over.

“After very productive negotiations with our governor over the past week, we now have an agreement on a bipartisan plan that will be signed into law,” they said in a statement. “Today’s vote will be a significant victory for the hard-working people of Michigan that will finally fix our broken car insurance system and deliver real, meaningful rate relief for families, seniors and household budgets all over the state.”

Video Looking at the Basics of the Online Public Inspection File and Quarterly Issues Programs Lists

David Oxenford - Color

David Oxenford

By: David Oxenford, Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP

Looking for a brief explanation of the online public inspection file and Quarterly Issues Programs List, and how they will be viewed in connection with the upcoming license renewal cycle – including the potential fines for violations of the rules? The Indiana Broadcasters has just released this video of me discussing those issues available here.

We have written in more depth about these issues, including our discussion of the importance of the online public file for the renewal process (here and here), the importance of Quarterly Issues Programs lists (here) and the required content of the online public file (here and here). With the license renewal filing process starting for radio stations in June (see the schedule of filing for stations, which is done on a state by state basis, here) and for TV a year later, these obligations, while basic, are very important. So if you have questions about these issues, check out these resources, and contact your own legal advisor for more information.

David Oxenford is MAB’s Washington Legal Counsel and provides members with answers to their legal questions with the MAB Legal Hotline. Access information here. (Members only access).

There are no additional costs for the call; the advice is free as part of your MAB membership.

NATAS Michigan Announces 41st Annual Regional EMMY® Nominations

Television stations, cable networks, ad agencies and production houses throughout Michigan have received nominations for this year’s National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences/Michigan 41st Annual Regional EMMY® Awards.

Tickets are now on sale for the EMMY® Awards ceremonies, to be held at the MotorCity Sound Board Theater on Saturday, June 15.

Ticket purchase information is here.

For a complete list of this year’s nominees, click here.


Congressman Tim Walberg will speak at #MABsummer, receive MAB’s Lifetime of Distinguished Public Service Award

Congressman Tim Walberg

Congressman Tim Walberg (R-7) has joined the list of speakers who will be on hand for the MAB’s Advocacy Conference & Annual Business Meeting on August 5-6 at the JW Marriott in Grand Rapids.  Additionally, he will be honored with the MAB Board of Director’s Lifetime of Distinguished Public Service Award during the conference’s concluding Awards Banquet.

#MABsummer registration is now open. Hotel block room rates expire July 8. Learn more, register for the conference and reserve your room at MABsummer.com

Walberg is currently serving his sixth term in Congress as the representative of south-central Michigan. The diverse constituency of Michigan’s 7th District encompasses Branch, Eaton, Hillsdale, Jackson, Lenawee, and Monroe Counties, along with parts of Washtenaw County. Since first taking office, he has hosted hundreds of coffee and town hall meetings to better understand the thoughts and concerns of the district.

Prior to his time in public office, Walberg served as a pastor in Michigan and Indiana, as president of the Warren Reuther Center for education and Community Impact, and as a division manager for Moody Bible Institute. He also served in the Michigan House of Representatives from 1983 to 1999, and is proud to bring his reputation as a principled legislator, fiscal reformer, and defender of traditional values to Washington.

In the 116th Congress, Walberg serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Education and Labor Committee as Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions.

He and his wife, Sue, have been married for over 40 years, and enjoy spending time outdoors and riding on their Harley. They live in Tipton, Michigan, where they raised their three children: Matthew, Heidi and Caleb.

4 Digital Data Points That Radio Program Directors Should Know

Seth Resler

By: Seth Resler,
Jacobs Media Strategies

Chances are that most radio program directors in America can rattle off their latest ratings numbers without having to look them up. Whether it’s 12+ numbers or a specific demo, we usually know exactly how the station is performing at any given time.

But do you know how your station is doing digitally?

Here are four numbers that every radio program director should know off the top of their head:

1. Number of Unique Website Visitors
You know the size of your on-air audience, but do you know the size of your online audience? You should. While it’s good to check your Google Analytics stats on a weekly basis, comparing this number of monthly visitors over a year or more will give you a better sense of the larger trend. Hint: The number should be going up.

Also Good to Know: Where that traffic is coming from, and what your most visited web pages are.

2. Number of Email Addresses in the Database
Everybody always wants to talk about social media because it’s sexier, but the email database is the tried-and-true stalwart of online marketing. If you have 20,000 active users in your email database, you know that you can reach those people. If you have 20,000 fans of your Facebook page, your reach is still subject to the whims of Mark Zuckerberg’s algorithm. Know the database, grow the database.

Also Good to Know: The Open Rate, Bounce Rate and Unsubscribe Rate.

3. Total Streaming Hours
One of the most important actions a visitor to your website can take is to click the “Listen Now” button and stream your radio station. Of course, they can stream other ways as well — through your mobile app, on a smart speaker, via TuneIn, etc. Just as you want to track how much people are listening to your station over the air, you also want to know how much they’re listening online.

Also Good to Know: The number of Unique Listeners.

4. Number of Mobile App Installs
It’s a mobile world, baby. People carry their phones at their sides 24/7, so you want to make sure your station is on them. Know how many people have downloaded your app because it can have a significant impact on your listenership.

Also Good to Know: The number of Sessions (i.e., not just how many people have your app, but how often they’re using it).

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at [email protected] or 1-800-968-7622.

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

Meet Your Foundation Board Member of the Week: Julie Brinks

Julie Brinks

Julie Brinks serves as Vice President and General Manager of WOOD-TV (NBC), WOTV-TV (ABC) and WXSP-TV (My Network) and associated digital services including woodtv.com and wotv4women.com, serving Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Battle Creek.

Brinks has accumulated over 30 years of experience in local and national sales management, local programming and content, new business development, operations and strategic planning across multiple media platforms. Prior to joining Nexstar, Brinks served as General Manager of KOHD-TV (ABC) and KBNZ-LD (CBS) in Bend, Oregon, where she focused on brand development, local content leadership and excellence in viewer and client experience. During her tenure, she oversaw the launch of the stations’ news programming, managing all aspects of local branding, creative development, news set construction and talent recruitment.

Brinks has also held a position as Principal Consultant for Vici Media where she provided strategic direction, digital marketing and revenue development services to broadcast groups and individual stations as well as VP / General Manager of KGUN-TV (ABC), KWBA-TV (CW) and four radio properties in Tucson-Sierra Vista, Arizona. Additionally, she served as VP / General Manager of WPBN-TV (NBC) and WTOM-TV (NBC) in Traverse City- Cadillac, Michigan, where she developed and led highly effective teams and implemented sales, marketing and digital media initiatives.

Brinks earned her Bachelor’s degree in Broadcasting and Cinematic Arts from Central Michigan University and is also a graduate of the National Association of Broadcasters Education Foundation’s Broadcast Leadership Training (BLT) program. She has been a member of Rotary International and served on numerous community boards including the American Red Cross, Junior Achievement and City Club of Bend. She also worked as Chair of American Heart Association’s “Go Red” for Women and was a founding member of Haven Totes, Inc., a Tucson-based organization that provides life essentials for children and families in need.