LCR expands with social mediaPosted: December 5, 2011
By Rebecca Gooch and Kevin Paul
1844 Commonwealth Avenue has been the address for Lasell College for almost 160 years. Starting out as the first two-year college for women in the country, Lasell has come a long way through the college’s many accomplishments, developments and continuously growing student body.
Lasell College is a private, co-ed institution with rolling admissions holding an undergraduate enrollment of 1,630 students. Gender distribution is not as even as other institutions with 65.2 percent female students and 34.8 percent male students, however, the student-faculty ration of 15:1 at Lasell College provides for most classes enrolling fewer than 20 students. Almost eighty percent of students live in on-campus housing at this fifty acre suburban style campus. Lasell is located only about twelve miles from the City of Boston. Majors branching out of the Fashion Department at Lasell College are the most popular among students. Fashion Merchandising, Fashion Design and Apparel Design hold the most graduates, sited in 2010 by U.S. News and World Report.
In 1989, Lasell became chartered as a four-year institution following their acceptance of men to the college in 1997. Lasell College Radio established a studio with a mission, “to bring real-world experiences into the college from outside of the classroom.” Their first on-air broadcast was on November 17th, 2004.
Offering a wide variety of, student clubs and organizations, LCR may be one of the college’s main student groups reaching the largest audience. LCR aims “to serve Lasell College students, employees, families and friends with relevant information and entertainment that reflects the needs of academia and community,” as defined by their website. LCR reaches listeners through a variety of broadcasts, covering sporting events, promoting Lasell events or activities and creating and airing PSA’s of all kinds.
LCR PSA’s are one of the main ways that LCR connects with the community. Lasell College as a whole actively participates in supporting important charities; however, LCR makes this a daily goal through airing PSA’s to inspire students to become more involved and aware about a specific charity or how to participate with them. To name a few, LCR has supported the Tsunami Relief Fund, Adopt a Highway, CHOICE, Make a Wish Foundation, the Jimmy Fund and the Red Cross.
Over the years, LCR has also helped promote and hold many successful events as well. LCR’s most successful event was the Lily Holbrook Coffeehouse performance. Singer and song writer Lily Holbrook is known for performing her music to commuters in the Boston Park Street Subway Station and to people of the Boston Area passing through Harvard Square or Newbury Street. Lily Holbrook’s talent brought the largest group of Lasers ever observed to a coffeehouse performance.
LCR is a student run free college radio that also offers free podcasts. The first major requirement to becoming a part of the LCR team is being a Lasell College Student. By being an active member of LCR students receive one of the college’s main goals, a Connected Learning experience.
To maintain LCR functioning, a staff team consisting of six departments, news and sports, promotions, programming, production, management and website, all work together. Lasell Students are included in each of the LCR departments, many specified as Event DJs or Sports Announcers.
Currently Lasell College Radio’s main use of social media is through their online webpage. The radio station’s General Manager, Program Director and Webmaster is Brian J. Wardyga.
“I designed the webpage pretty much from the beginning when I knew we were going to be an online station. I felt that we needed an online website, not just a single page that says click here to stream,” said Wardyga, webpage designer since 1997.
The purpose of LCR’s webpage is for listeners to not only stream radio shows but to also find information about the station. LCR’s webpage is filled with the station history, its features, radio show schedule and themes as well as radio staff information.
Audience interaction resources are a factor that seems to be prominent on LCR’s webpage. However, the question of whether resources are utilized properly and effectively or not arises. The website lists ways to connect with the station via social media in their “contact” page, from MySpace to Facebook.
Audience interaction resources are a factor that seems to be prominent on LCR’s webpage. However, the question of whether resources are utilized properly and effectively or not arises. The website lists ways to connect with the station via social media in their “contact” page, from MySpace and Facebook to LCR’s BlogSpot.
Wardyga commented that although these social media tools are available as an LCR resource, DJ’s are not required to use these tools to interact with their listeners. DJ’s often tend to stray away from using social media to connect with their audience, and instead connect using phone calls and text messages.
“I would say more than half of the DJ’s… will solicit phone calls and text messages constantly asking the audience to communicate with them on a regular basis, but, there are other DJs as well that don’t” explained Wardyga.
Wardyga commented that LCR had a Facebook as well as a MySpace Page in 2004, but he was unsure if they were being kept up-to-date. After looking at the social media sites listed on LCR’s webpage – Facebook, MySpace and BlogSpot, Wardyga’s uncertainty became a reality. LCR’s MySpace and BlogSpot, although each webpage has an effective setup for social interaction and displays accurate information, are outdated.
“Our whole social media profiles do need to be updated,” said LCR Station Manager Jay Gildea, “our use of social media thus far has been ineffective.”
This may be why LCR DJ’s mainly turn to the phone during radio shows instead of turning to the various social media tools out there, simply because their social media tools are ineffective.
Facebook is LCR’s most up-to-date social media tool. Although at times there are significant gaps between posts, during the academic year LCR’s Facebook page is informative through promoting upcoming events. One great observation noted from visiting LCR’s Facebook page were the connections being made with other radio stations in the area.
The ineffectiveness of LCR’s Facebook page is understood after looking at the scarce content of the info section, the low number of likes on posts and photos, few reactions to poll and opinion questions initiated and their small number of Facebook page fans.
The info section does not provide any information about LCR, only a link to the radio’s page. The number of people that have liked the page, meaning they are in a sense trying to keep up to date or follow LCR’s activities, is only eighty-eight. Under the picture section, LCR has two photos which both advertise for the annual Creeps N Ghouls ball. The question section, which if used effectively would be a great interactive way to connect with LCR’s audience, has only one question posted with five responses.
LCR did recently elect a Social Media Manager Bruce Martin to update and maintain the radio station Facebook page.
Their still activated MySpace page does have more information and followers when compared to LCR’s Facebook page. LCR’s MySpace page contains 246 friends, twenty-eight page comments, a streaming section, blog section to make requests and two photo albums of LCR sponsored and hosted events. The set-up of this site is ideal for connecting with listeners, but again, the site is not completely up-to-date.
Although LCR’s MySpace page is still available for public access and linked to the radio station’s webpage, Gildea commented that the site is defunct and the retrieval of the password is being worked on.
Also linked on LCR’s web page is the radio’s BlogSpot. This blog seems to have not been updated since 2005; a year after Lasell College Radio was established and started broadcasting. Here you can find a limited number of outdated posts and an incomplete overall LCR profile. Gildea commented that the retrieval of this password is in process and that the blog page is also defunct although it is still liked to the LCR web page.
Lasell College Radio reaches listeners effectively through live-broadcasts and podcasts. What needs to be worked on so LCR can attract more listeners and fans as well as become better known and understood through their social media sites, is to keep them up-to-date.
“The major improvement to our use of social media would be consistency,” recognizes Gildea.
We encourage LCR to take this action as this will allow listeners to use their social media resources as interactive tools as well as continuously keep fans informed about LCR. We believe that there are a number of ways to fix the problems found within LCR’s use of social media.
Starting with Facebook, LCR needs to put more information and effort into creating an organization profile that provides detailed information about who LCR is and what they do. There needs to be pictures of what the radio station looks like, as well as pictures of their events. The questions section could be utilized to attract outside-of-school audiences – if more questions are asked and listeners provide feedback this could be a positive tool for LCR to use when changes need to be made that will affect their audiences, too. The final factor to improving LCR’s Facebook page would be to gain more followers of their page. This could be done by simply sending out invitations through Facebook asking students to like their page. LCR could also connect with other on campus organizations like CAB to promote and encourage students to visit LCR social media sites.
LCR’s MySpace has a great set-up and detailed profile. Although this tool is more outdated now that Facebook is more prominent, we think that LCR could simply update information, pictures, and posts and continue using this tool.
Blogs are a great way to interact with various audiences by providing a topic to discuss and getting reactions from those who follow you. LCR’s blog does not do this strictly because it has been outdated since 2005. We believe that LCR should remove this link from their Website contact because it is the tool that is most ineffectively used. In addition, it is easier and faster to update a profile on Facebook, for example, than write blog entries in a continuous basis.
Lasell College Radio connects with their listeners most effectively through online streaming and currently their text line.
“I want to say that about 90 percent of all requests made come in through the text line,” commented Wardyga.
In efforts to keeping up with technological advances in society, LCR’s effort to use the most prominent social media tools today is seen, but the effectiveness and upkeep of these tools is not. LCR’s text line proves to be the most successful way to interact with listeners, which was previously upgraded from Instant Messenger; this was a step in the right direction. Although LCR’s social media sites do have their flaws, the station is putting efforts into improving their resources so they can more effectively connect with their audiences.
“LCR is strictly online stream, meaning we do not Broadcast on an AM or FM wave, what better way to reach our audience than Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr etc. The majority of our audience comes from family and friends of our DJ’s but we really want to break that mold. With our new focus on expanding our presence on social media platforms we can really hope to expand our audience extensively,” explained Gildea.
College radio stations use social media tools to connect with their listeners no matter how big or small the school or their radio station. Although the college radio stations typically recognized for rankings are FM radio stations, the different social media tools each college radio station uses seem to overlap. North Central College, for example, holds the most awards over the past ten years a college radio station has ever won. Although North Central College’s radio station, WONC-FM 889.1, is an FM station they must be doing something right to be where they are today.
When looking at WONC’s webpage, it is very interactive, not only with social media tools, but all information is presented in a way that is easy to read and navigate with lots of links to connect you to different resources. Going back to WOMC’s social media, under quick links on their homepage, you can find a link to send a message via AIM. WOMC also has a Twitter that is updated regularly and has 259 followers with their comparable 161 that they are following. This fact alone proves that WOMC is using social media effectively because they are connecting with their audience enough to have a higher amount of followers than people they are following.
Whether FM radio or simply just online streaming, the use of social media is important in college radio stations no matter the size. Social media is a way to interactively connect with your audience. It keeps people interested and engaged. It gives the audience a chance to give their input. Social Media tools are an essential and easy way to creating an image and get exposed. With that said, social media tools are not effective unless used correctly. This means sites must be maintained, being kept up-to-date at all times so followers can effectively use various social media like Facebook and Twitter to connect with college radio station’s personal and hosted events. Keeping your social media resources updated will keep your network of people engaged and interested.
A piece of advice from social media guru Peter Shankman, “You are only as strong as the person you last talked to in your network.” This does not mean that you have to specifically direct a personal message to each and every person your social media tools intend to reach, but speaking to your audience through recent and engaging information. This will overall improve your station’s way to connect with others and social media resources effectively.