Overcoming Radio’s Fear of Digital

Why a Fear of Digital?

Here at Skyrocket Radio, we believe every radio station requires a website to maintain and enhance it’s relevance within the community it serves.  Nevertheless, some stations still have a fear of digital and cultivating an online audience.  Ask any owner or manager and they will say that they would love a great looking website for their station.  But for them, there are some realities to confront…

  1. They can’t justify the expense of a website.
  2. Nobody at the station knows how to work a website.
  3. There are too many options to choose from and they don’t know enough to pick one.

These are all valid concerns but that doesn’t mean your station should be “ok” with a mediocre or non-existent online presence.  Today, everyone searches for content.  Even if people have bookmarked a website, they will still search for it by name.  How is that easier?

In any regard, your station needs to be found within search results to remain on the playing field.  People might be looking for local radio stations, local topics or events.  They could also be new out-of-town businesses that are coming to town and looking for a places to advertise.  Your station needs to be discover-able for more than just the call letters, format or positioning statement.

Here’s an Exercise: Go to www.google.com and type your city, state.  How far down in the results does your radio station appear?  Next, do a search for your city, state and “radio station”.  Where does your station appear?  Do you see competitors of any kind in either of these results?  Your station should appear on the first page of both of these searches.

Being found is one thing.  Providing the visitor with great content is actually more important because search engines use the content to determine a relevance score and that determines how well your site performs in search.  In other words, your website cannot be a static brochure that rarely changes.  How often have you picked up the same brochure to see if you missed something?  Your website has to be an evolving entity just like your radio station.  It must always have fresh content that draws listeners and advertisers back.

Tips in Overcoming the Fear of Digital?

Look Beyond the Expense
I know this is big, but the expense is first justified by your station being relevant in your community and beyond your signal.  Radio stations without a website or with an inactive one are not being found or visited online – where most of your listeners and advertisers are.  Note the exercise above.  Are you losing online market hold to other sources (newspaper, tv station, local blog, etc)?

It’s amazing how many owners throw hard questions at our pricing structure but then have little opposition to purchasing a $2500 piece of gear to even out the mid-range frequencies on their signal.  It’s because they can visualize the need of one but cannot the other.

Realize the Website Enhances your Station and Gives You More Sales Opportunities
The more obvious way to justify the expense is recouping it several times over. Unfortunately, this is one the biggest fears for smaller markets to overcome. Medium/major markets are already seeing a return on digital, so they know the value.  Small market station heads might see the need and have the money to invest in a website, but they don’t think they can see a return on it.

The key is seeing where it fits into the overall equation.  A website should not be considered something separate from on-air product.  It should be an addition to the on-air product.  Just like your on-air programming, you have content, advertising positions and features that can be sponsored.  That can be difficult for “old-schoolers” to visualize, but it really is as simple as that.  It’s just up to you or at least one go-getting person in your station to plug in those content items and sponsorships.

Choose a Provider Carefully
This might take some time but research to find the one that offers ease of use and easily-sellable website features.  Having a pretty website is fine but fresh content and features are what draw listeners back and attracts new advertisers.

Ensure that you find a website provider you can trust.  Reach out via e-mail and start a conversation with someone willing to help you regardless of the sale.  Ask lots of questions like how many listeners can be on the site at once, what happens if the site goes viral, what kind of support is offered, and can we call you on the weekend if there’s a problem.  Examine their blog feed.  Are they simply pitching websites or are they providing information that you and your staff can use whether or not you choose them?

I should also note to red flag providers with very low prices. Low prices are easy entry points that draw you in. Once you’re invested and discover the service doesn’t provide the features you thought it did, this is where they will hit you with custom hardware and/or programming costs.


It’s really not hard to overcome the fear of digital.  You just have to see how the station website fits into how you do business and realize the goal is making more money.  Skyrocket Radio wants to help you get to that “ah-ha” moment.

Any successful website requires effort.  If you think a brochure website or a website on auto-pilot is the answer, then you are spending money you don’t have to.  It’s better to have nothing online than display something that will hurt the soul and branding of your station.  Listeners will judge your station by what they experience online.

Here’s one last bit of “food for thought”.  Deaf people cannot hear your radio station, but they can read.  A website will give these people an opportunity to interact with your radio station like they cannot with your signal.  A brochure website that talks about your on-air features will not benefit them.

If you are on the line between choosing Skyrocket Radio and another radio station website provider, please reach out to us and we’ll help you compare apples to apples.  Seriously.  We’ll help you identify things you won’t think to ask.  We are fellow radio people first and we don’t like “blown smoke” anymore than you do.  So rest assured that if another product is better for your radio station, we’ll honestly tell you that (and then get to work on beating them next time).

Jim Sherwood serves as the chief creative, brand strategist, lead developer, meticulous project manager, and station collaborator for all Skyrocket Radio sites and projects. Jim is a 30+ year radio veteran with a resume spanning several small, medium, and large markets including roles as Digital Content Manager, Program Director, Production Manager, and Morning Show Host.