I'm back from vacation (having driven most of the morning to get from Northern California back to my home in Southern California). It was an interesting trip and one that brought up a few issues that I'll be tackling here in the next few days. But to start off I wanted to bring up something that happened today.
When I was a kid I spent a lot of summers in Sacramento, CA and one of my favorite radio stations was Y92 a.k.a. KGBY Sacramento (Yes, I liked Soft Rock as a kid, sue me). This morning, as I headed home at 6am, I got to hear Y92 go off the air for the last time as it switched formats and was replaced by My925 FM moving from "Adult Contemporary" to "Adult Hits" (Goodbye Elton John, Hello Foo Fighters).
The change wasn't just skin deep as the station fired all of its on site talent (some of which had been on the air for 20+ years) and decided to go with a JackFM-esque automated format. Matthew of radiomatthew.com (which I read regularly) has the official blurb on his blog. To quote from there...
Introducing: My92.5. As speculated, My92.5 will feature harder alternative styles from bands like Led Zeppelin (perfect in time for their comeback), Red Hot Chili Peppers, No Doubt, and Santana. There will be no jocks or on-air talent; instead, the station will deliver a playlist driven by station listeners. My92.5 will become one of the first stations in Sacramento to utilize the Internet and the social networking atmosphere to create on-air music diversity.
Now as much as I loved the old Y92 I obviously love technology so as soon as I got a chance I headed over to their site to see what this new "Social Networking based Radio Station" had to offer. What I found was this...
The actual station itself is equally unimpressive with songs being played one after the other with a voice that sounds a lot like the lady you get when you dial a disconnected number announcing the title and artist after each song.
If there was ever a template for how to badly re-launch a radio station while badly launching a social site this is certainly it. The web site gives no explanation of who they are, why they need the information they're asking for or what they are going to do with it once they get it. Yet they are asking anyone wanting access to hand over all their contact information from Cell phone to IM Screen name upfront.
Beyond that they're collecting the information badly. If you want to run an automated station you probably should have some way of putting the user's songs directly into a database (like for example fields for "Artist of Song #1", "Title of Song #1", etc...) To have the user enter the songs in to a text box and then pay an actual person to transcribe them manually is a waste of time.
Anyway, Not wanting to judge the book by its cover I coughed up my personal info to see what they had (or the personal info I give sites like this at least). What did I find? The above shown site...I kid you not...is their entire web site. Once you enter your info it redirects back to the page you see in the graphic.
If this is all that Clear Channel, the largest radio station owner in the U.S., can put forward when it comes to interactive programming than it reinforces my feeling that radio is a dead medium. More over, if you are going to try to use the Internet to boost a dying property you should really find someone who knows what they are doing in the space and team with them rather than embarrassing yourself like this.
I certainly don't agree with everything a guy like Mark Cantor has to say but there's no doubt he could have done something a thousand times better than this and almost certainly done it cheaper (since there are resources he'd have available from previous projects). Rest in Peace Y92, I suspect your predecessor will be joining you on the scrap heap before too long.