Last weekend was simply beautiful in many parts of the country, a full baseball schedule, the U.S. Open on TV, and it was Father’s Day.
And in the middle of it all came the announcement that “The Big Man” – Clarence Clemons – passed away. While Bruce Springsteen isn’t the staple he was back in the ‘80s and ‘90s in Classic Rock, there is no denying the E Street Band’s importance to the musical roots of thousands of radio stations across America. And Clarence was an icon to many of us who grew up with Bruce’s music.
Former Classic Rock PD, Paul Ingles, hit my email box first with a 30-minute moving musical tribute to Clarence. Paul is an independent producer whose material frequently is heard on NPR, and has always been passionate about Classic Rock music.
So we got to thinking – how are Classic Rock stations around the country and other key music-oriented go-to websites acknowledging the passing of “The Big Man?”
Sadly, most were not able - or didn’t bother – to make the necessary website content changes to let fans know about Clarence’s passing. For local radio, this was a chance to reflect a momentous and sad moment in rock history.
But because it was the weekend, web efforts were often pathetically dated and out of touch. One notable exception was NPR Music which put Clarence front and center. If you wonder why public radio matters to its fan, this is yet another piece of evidence.
As you might expect, RollingStone.com was all over it:
Clear Channel stations sites showed it as a news item with no other involvement. However, “Military Babes” was a much bigger feature on many of their sites. Clarence was a footnote.
And that was the case pretty much everywhere you looked – dated sites, and content that was almost always filled with advertisements and station promotions. If you were a fan of the E Street Band, radio websites were not a great destination.
Neither was Pandora – here’s how their site looked when I pulled it up on Sunday:
Not exactly how you’d picture a site that is supposedly dedicated to music lovers.
The best radio website feature came from a station that never misses the moment, 97Rock in Buffalo. You name the event and the moment – and 97Rock consistently connects its audience in a meaningful and timely basis:
Yes, this is a Citadel template site, but the station always manages to be current and relevant. 97Rock also fired out an email to their large database on Saturday night - making sure their loyal listeners were in the know about the passing of Clarence Clemons.
Facebook was the place where many stations did a better job handling this sad piece of news in rock history. Q104.3 in New York City and The Sound in L.A. both opened up their pages to listener comments. Most stations, however, missed the chance to connect with their own fans, even on Facebook. This speaks volumes about radio’s challenge to engage with audiences via social media in a meaningful, real-time way.
The best that I ran across, however, was on WMGK in Philadelphia. They not only did a great job on Facebook, but morning legend John DeBella actually participated in the conversation with a poignant, timely comment. This is why people come to radio’s social pages – not just to post links or to win stuff – but to engage in dialogue with the station in a relevant way:
It’s not that hard. But it requires time, commitment, and a 24/7 attitude toward providing a great consumer experience – CX – to an audience that will find this material elsewhere if local radio doesn’t step up to the plate.
Even over the weekend.
P.S. If I missed your station's fine efforts, please comment below. We didn't check them all.