Moving Beyond Traditional Broadcast
Commercial radio is dying, if it’s not already dead. But college radio still has a very important role. The airwaves are an oligopoly, but independent stations like WSBU – St. Bonaventure University’s student-run station – provide an independent voice.
WSBU is currently facing a problem overshadowing many college stations across the country: waning student interest. Students, like most others, listen to the radio less, so college stations’ already small audiences are shrinking even more. Many college stations even are being sold. WSBU isn’t facing sale or any other immediate threat but is looking to increase support, even if listenership decreases.
Building a Presence
WSBU is the only campus organization at St. Bonaventure that runs 365 days a year. But market research showed that the station had a weak presence on campus. Except for a few events a semester and the broadcasts, WSBU had nothing to keep it in the forefront of the consumers’ minds.
The station had Facebook and Twitter accounts, but still lacked a web presence. These accounts were infrequently updated and not utilized to their full potential. It also had recently redone its website, which prominently displayed a sparsely updated blog.
The first step to creating a serious presence for WSBU was to build a digital presence. The blog on wsbufm.net was updated every weekday. Each post featured a music review. After the updates, an excerpt from the review was used to make unique posts on Twitter and Facebook. These social media sites were also used to make announcements, hold contests and communicate with WSBU’s audience.
WSBU’s web visits have increased by fifty percent. The tweets and blog posts have earned recognition from music bloggers, record labels and bands – adding credibility. The station plans on continuing to build its digital brand presence. Currently, WSBU is in the process of researching to expand its broadcasts to mobile devices.
This plan to establish WSBU’s digital presence became a large part of my graduate thesis — an integrated marketing communications plan for the station. Pieces of the plan were implemented in the fall of 2010 and spring of 2011, which invigorated the student population. As a result, WSBU reached the top 10 for mtvU’s College Radio Woodie — a contest decided by votes — and was ranked the No. 1 college radio station in the country by The Princeton Review.