Friday, May 05, 2006

A graph tells a thousand words

This is an Alexa graph representing radio station WFMU's traffic since late 2001.(Click on the '5Y' tab)

Question: By looking at the graph, can anyone guess when WFMU added a blog to their website?

Answer: December 28, 2004. As you can see from the graph, the radio station's traffic starts a nice upward arch right at the end of 2004.

I was going through my browser bookmarks, and decided to visit the website for a radio station I had marked years ago. I checked it out, saw a mish-mash of flashing banner ads, pics of artists, and ads for upcoming concerts, and immediately wondered why this station had no blog? How hard would it be to get a couple of interns to post some music/celeb related gossip/news/gossip, and live-blog the station's concerts? I figured that adding a blog to this, or any radio station's website would likely be a boon for traffic, and the graph above proves this point.

If Alexa's graph is accurate, WFMU effectively quadrupled their website traffic by adding a blog. Is there anyone that works in radio that can give me an idea of what type of affect a 4X increase in traffic would have on a station's ad rates? (JD?)


J.D. said...

It depends on what kind of ads you're talking about. If it's local business, then they're not going to care about web traffic from other areas of the country. Now, if you could demonstrate that web traffic was coming from IPs in the local geographic area, that might sway advertisers to pay a bit more. If you're talking about national ads, which don't make up a lot of local radio programming, then yeah maybe.

Most radio stations who have an online presence (streaming webcast) SHOULD start taking an interest in national advertising. I don't know why they don't, but they could, now that radio is not necessarily limited to your local listening area anymore.

You have to remember that the web is a brand new frontier, and most radio stations are run by old-school broadcasters. They don't grasp it yet. That's why such a small percentage of radio stations do web-streaming, and almost all of those are Clear-Channel or a part of some other mega-conglomerate. And that's why 90 percent of the radio station websites you see are just some slap-dash job that is just thrown up so they won't be the only radio station without a site.

The last radio station I worked for had a one page website, and the only thing on it was a link to the email box for requests (which, thanks to my unimaginative and useless boss were NEVER to be played, even if they called in. We were to just say, thanks, we'll get it on, and never play it...but I digress.) One of my favorite stations in Nashville used to have a really pimped page, but for some reason, they took most of it down, including the web-stream.

Here's my formula for a good radio station site: Web-stream is a MUST. There needs to be some interactivity (request box, email for radio staff and DJs). There should be a DJ profile, including pic, for every DJ, and some way to interact with them. And as far as I'm concerned, every DJ needs a blog, even if the DJs themselves don't actually write them. Radio listeners, without exception, idolize their DJs. The DJ is a mythical person, the man who controls the music, the man whose voice talks over our songs, the man who talks on the radio, man! So even the scabbiest man in the world can be a god among men, so to speak, if he is a DJ. Fans will EAT UP a blog. There's no excuse not to have one or two. (A good example, I'm sorry to say, is from a rival of mine who I pretty much hated in college, but he does write a good blog for his radio station. It's at

What a radio station needs to do is compile a comprehensive list of data tracking all traffic from the website. This is a more concrete number, since it's impossible to determine how many people in your listening area are tuning in. If web volume is high, you might mention that to potential advertisers...could sweeten the pot a bit.

Can you tell I'm up past my bedtime?

Ryan said...


My last gig was in radio, and I was a huge advocate of integrating a blog into the mix of at least a few of our websites (I worked for four stations in a cluster here in Vancouver).

For that youth demo, it seemed like a no-brainer, because (as JD pointed out) people idolize their DJs. He / she is the first person they hear in the morning; they shower with them; they help them drive to work - why not tap into that loyalty and create an honest, open conversation with these avid listeners?

Our stations were a bit of an anomaly too, in that our web streaming capabilities were pretty far advanced compared to other stations (or markets, for that matter). With that, we did have a strong percentage of national advertisers (GM,, etc) spending good money on our sites. Extra blog traffic probably could have increased that.

Now that I'm gone, I guess they'll never realize their full potential, will they?

It's their loss, really. :o)

Anonymous said...

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