Academic journal article Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media

Give the People What They Want: A Content Analysis of FM Radio Station Home Pages

Academic journal article Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media

Give the People What They Want: A Content Analysis of FM Radio Station Home Pages

Article excerpt

Radio professionals have started to recognize the World Wide Web as a potential solution to recently troubling concerns. Some have identified the system of interconnected computers and servers as a way to sell more advertising without cluttering their broadcast signal (Keith, 1999). Radio advertising executives have also mentioned how the Web can overcome many of the traditional objections potential advertisers raise about radio. For example, advertisers often berate radio for its lack of visuals, its inability to provide detailed product information, and the lack of tangible coupon opportunities it provides. All of these can be addressed, however, by media campaigns that combine radio spot advertising and Internet advertising on radio station Web pages (Boehme, 1999; Keith, 1999).

Program Directors (PDs) have also recognized, at least in principle, that the Web holds promising opportunities as an outlet for programming content. The Web can be where listeners learn about, and interact with, station disc jockeys. It can also be a place to participate in contests, find out about upcoming station events, obtain local news bulletins, read biographies of musical artists, and make e-mail song requests. A few innovative PDs have started to use their station's Web presence as an outlet for artist development, with new acts or songs being given initial exposure to the Web audience when there is no room on the broadcast airwaves due to tight current music rotations (Sands, 1999). A lavish example of this is KIIS-FM in Los Angeles, a Contemporary Hit Radio (CHR) station that launched a Web site called KIIS-FMi in October of 1999. This site programs video serials, movie trailers, and out-takes from recent feature films as well as new music that has not yet received airplay on the KIIS-FM broadcast signal (Novia, 1999). Of course, looking at this single Web presence may not provide an accurate indication of the type of content found on radio station sites in general.

Recent content analyses of other media Web sites have, in fact, demonstrated that traditional media have been relatively slow to utilize the technological and interactive potential of the Web. Two studies, for example, considered the expansion of newspapers onto the Web by exploring questions of design, graphics, news content, and interactivity (Li, 1998; Massey & Levy, 1999). Li found that newspapers were failing to take "full advantage of available technology," while Massey and Levy found levels of interactivity to be "discouraging." Similarly, early research focusing on television sites indicates stations use their presence on the Web to promote specific programs, such as local newscasts or network series, but generally fail to fully utilize the interactive capabilities of the medium (Bates & King, 1996; Bates, Chambers, Embery, Jones, McClung, & Park, 1997; Rosales & Pitts, 1997; Niekamp, 1998). Even more recent research (Nitschke, 1999) shows that less than one third of the television stations responding to a mail survey reported providing streaming media, and only 27% had e-mail capability. On the other hand, a content analysis conducted by Chan-Olmsted and Park (2000) found that almost all (95.7%) of their 300 sampled television stations had e-mail links. Still, due to the lack of more advanced forms of interactivity than e-mail, they conclude that TV stations had not "capitalized on the essence of the Internet medium" when it came to interactivity between site visitors and creators (Chan-Olmsted & Park, 2000, p. 335).

Radio Stations, Radio Listeners, and the Web

There have been several studies investigating the way radio stations and listeners use the Web. Murphy and Rayho (1997) conducted a secondary analysis by collecting ratings and revenue data from stations in the top 75 markets and grouping them according to whether or not the station had a Web site. …

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