Creating Waves of Online Change at Max Radio of the Carolinas

Jody O’Donnell and Mike ‘Moose’ Smith, the duo who make up ‘Moose & Jody in the Morning’ on Beach 104 WCXL-FM in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina

The Outer Banks of North Carolina might as well be my second home. Ever since I can remember, my family would take an annual vacation to Corolla or Duck on the northern beaches. Dotted with beach houses and quaint restaurants, it’s one of the last stretches of shoreline on the East Coast that isn’t lined with jarring hotels and other heavy commercial development. There are few places I’d rather be.

I’ve also always had a love for and deep interest in local radio. Every year we went down to OBX, the whole family would listen to Beach 104. It became one of my favorite stations of the years. One summer in high school right before my family and I came down, I called and asked one of the morning show hosts, Jody, one half of ‘Moose & Jody in the Morning’ if I could come into the studio to see how everything works. They happily agreed, and ever since then, we’ve kept in touch and I’ve made drop-in appearances on the morning show when I’m in town and was dubbed the ‘International Observer.’

Last year, I reached out to Moose, who also happens to be the Regional Vice President of the cluster of stations Beach 104 is part of (which is owned by Max Media) after noticing the previous Beach 104 website had been taken down in favor of a very basic WordPress site.

I asked if he’d like some help with a new website. After a few discussions, we came to the conclusion it might be a good time to go ahead and redesign the entire cluster, which consisted of Beach 104 (Hot AC format), Water Country 94.5 (Country), 99.1 The Sound (Adult Album Alternative) and Classic Rock 104.9 & 92.3 (Classic Rock).

The Problem

Two out of the four stations whose websites were slated for redesign were recently acquired from another company and had either out of date designs or were rarely updated because of the lack of an easy way to do so. None of the existing websites shared any characteristics that tied them together as one cluster of radio stations either.

Being that the Outer Banks is a strip of barrier islands that are vulnerable to hurricanes, nor’easters and other extreme weather, Max Media’s cluster of radio stations are of extreme community importance, sometimes providing the only lifeline to residents after major storms.

Following Hurricane Irene in 2011, Beach 104 simulcasted their signal on each of their radio stations and provided around the clock team news coverage for the following week to thousands without power. The information they provided was especially important to those stranded on Hatteras Island following the washout of Highway 12–the only access road to the island.

Their dedication to the public and dissemination of lifesaving information in times of crisis such as these has been recognized both locally and regionally through numerous public service awards. Max Media needed an easy way to update their websites as a secondary source of information (and to provide live streaming capabilities) in these times of local distress.

The cluster of stations had also become more engaged on social media, which is utilized as a third tier to disseminate critical information, but links to these profiles were somewhat cumbersome to find, depending on the station.

Our Approach

We utilized clean, responsive WordPress templates to put the focus on content and allow for air staff to more easily post to their respective websites, and ensure that content looked good on any platform or device. We wanted to make sure each station retained its own unique look and character, but we were able to achieve a level of brand cohesiveness by implementing several features on each site:

  • Live streaming capability – We implemented a uniform widget on each site that allows visitors to stream each station online via Max Media’s streaming partner, Crystal Media Networks.
  • Outer Banks news and information – Max Media owns a stake in popular online news website The Outer Banks Voice. We leveraged the company’s partnership and pulled an RSS feed of the latest Outer Banks news from the site into each station’s home page. This enabled us to visibly strengthen the partnership between Max Media’s radio and online news brands, not to mention provide a singular content source across the board.
  • Events calendar – Each station website includes a uniform events calendar plugin that allows staff to easily add upcoming events and concerts relevant to each station’s audience and demographic.
  • Tight social media integration – Each site features prominent Facebook and Twitter links to increase audience interaction and engagement on multiple platforms.
  • Unified comment system – By creating a company-wide Disqus account, employees are able to moderate visitor comments across all four websites from one page, saving time and unifying the moderation process.

To view each of the sites, click the respective logos below.

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About Trevor Dickerson

Trevor Dickerson is the Director of Client Services at VANCE, a social media addict, and lover of all things RVA.