Tuesday, August 19, 2014

WTMJ Leads The Way In More Ways Than One

It can happen. A prominent radio station making use of its web site to add innovation and expand its reach for its audience. WTMJ 620 Milwaukee is about to launch a new feature for its WiSports.com web site called "Preps Live". This will include live streaming broadcasts of at least 26 area high school football games this season, with plans underway to include basketball when that season arrives.

Matt Menzi and Alex Uhan will be the lead announcers for the series, which will also feature various football playoff games in November. Although WTMJ is not a full time sports talk station, the station has been Milwaukee's dominant play-by-play source over the years, including the Brewers, Packers, Bucks, and University of Wisconsin football.

This high school series of games will not be on the air, but having these games available live on their web site is still a nice innovation.

My contention has been that radio stations (sports and other formats) generally do not use their web site(s) to add to station content. They often give the audience FEWER reasons to listen to or engage with the over-the-air content.

When listeners to a sports station need to go to the web site to get out of town scores (not given on the air) or read a blog or opinion piece from a host or station reporter, it takes them away from listening to the station. If listeners don't have to tune in at a certain time to hear their favorite reporter's commentaries because they can read it on the web site, it serves to reduce the station's listening audience and reduces the urgency.

Too many sports stations fail to provide out of town scores, instead promoting them being on the station web site. What that really does is tells a percentage of the listening audience that they need to go elsewhere for information they want. Often times, the "elsewhere" is NOT the station web site. Thus, the station opens it up for a percentage of its audience to go to another source for the scores, as well as the opportunity to enjoy its content.

This is where the WTMJ innovation comes in. Not everyone in its listening audience is interested in local high school games. But those who are now have a special resource for it, which they can't get from another radio station or local source. And they can engage in WTMJ content while they listen. WTMJ  can provide this without having to program another entire radio station, and better serve its audience.

LOS ANGELES: KFWB 980 is going ahead with its all sports plans after all, even as KSPN and KLAC struggle for an audience. The station has reportedly added Ted Sobel, Bill Seward, and Bob Harvey to its local staff, and is now looking at starting in early September along with football season.

Across town, the current voice of the USC Trojans, who has also called L.A. Clippers games, Pete Arbogast, is going to be honored. Arbogast will be inducted into the Southern California Sports Broadcasters Hall of Fame in January.

BOSTON: The Sports Hub 98.5 has not only been losing its audience, but now has lost former Patriot Jermaine Wiggins from its talent roster. Wiggins left the station last week, and now has been added to the morning show of a music station instead.

HOUSTON: Listeners may need a magnifying glass to find him, but Barry Warner, a local radio veteran of the past 40 years, will return to the airwaves. The 70 year old Warner, most recently with KILT 610 until about a year ago, will appear on KFNC 97.5 and KGOW 1560 at least once per week. He is already scheduled to appear on Wednesdays with Geoff Ketchum and Sean Salisbury.

DES MOINES: The Champ 1700 is moving "The Zone" with Larry Cotlar and Jason Highly from middays, after a five year run, to the 4 to 6 PM spot starting next week. This is targeted toward taking away listeners from KXNO 1460 and its local "Miller and Brinson Show" which airs at the same time.

BENTON HARBOR MI: WSJM 1400 is dropping its news related talk shows in favor of going all sports starting next Monday (8/25). The station plans to expand its local high school sports coverage well beyond its 2-hour Saturday morning "The Coaches" show with Phil McDonald and Bret Witkoski.

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