RAIN 12/15: WTOP, nation's top-billing station, makes digital a priority

Michael Schmitt
December 15, 2011 - 1:10pm

WTOP.comHubbard Radio's WTOP (Washington D.C., 103.5 FM) has restructuerd and expanded its workforce to "unify digital and broadcast staff." The station says its aiming to "redefine the news workflow. Instead of the traditional model which takes broadcast content and tries to fit it into a digital hole, WTOP’s strategy will focus on the creation of news stories at the beginning of a process. A story’s execution will be determined at its origin. It will then be optimized for all the distribution platforms WTOP offers: radio, web, Facebook, Twitter and mobile."

The Washington Post reports that WTOP intends to "to make online news as high a priority as radio and in some cases break news online first."

"The future is digital and WTOP will be the leader heading into that future," said VP of News and Programming Jim Farley.

One of the many changes includes having "both a digital editor and a radio editor working together 24/7," said Farley. "No other radio station in America does this."

Here's just a few of the moves WTOP has announced: John Meyer, WTOP's current director of digital operations moves to the newsroom as the new architect of the social and digital strategy. News director Mike McMearty will become senior news director, as assistant news director Mitchell Miller is promoted to news director. Digital editor Gary Emerling becomes the senior digital editor. And former WABC PD Laurie Cantillo joins WTOP to serve in the same role.

"The moves signal a growing digital role at WTOP, which already attracts 600,000 page views and 122,000 unique visitors on a typical day," writes Inside Radio.

You can find more coverage from the Washington Post hereRadio-Info here, Talkers.com here and subscribe to Inside Radio here to read their coverage.

Michael Schmitt
December 15, 2011 - 1:10pm

NPR's websiteNPR has received a $1.5 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to further develop its digital expansion. "We want to support their embrace of the Internet," said Foundation president Alberto Ibargüen.

A $1 million portion of the grant will be devoted to providing web skills training at local NPR member stations. The grant will also provide "digital coaches" for NPR journalists.

"Our expectation is that NPR will not just continue to provide quality journalism, but that it will become a model for nimbleness in the digital age, and that it will bring some stations along with it," said the Foundation's John Bracken.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation previously donated $1.5 million to NPR for web training in 2007.

You can find more coverage from Radio-Info here.

Paul Maloney
December 15, 2011 - 1:10pm

On-demand music service Spotify's will now let you try their premium plan for 30 days for free.

Spotify does have a free, ad-supported version of its service. But for subscribers, the music is ad-free and can stream to most major mobile devices (Apple, Android, Symbian, and Windows).Spotify artist radio

Just last week Spotify announced it had re-tooled its customizable Internet radio feature (RAIN coverage here), now allowing listeners to create radio streams based on favorite artists, songs or genres (a la Pandora). Read Sean Ross' "First Listen" to Spotify Radio (in which he protests that he's really not a big Nickelback fan) here.

Spotify's move may be a reaction to new on-demand startup Rara.com, which this week launched an unlimited access service boasting 10 million tracks and mobile access with a $2/month introductory price for ad-free listening (more here). 

Keep in mind that if you do decide to take Spotify up on their offer, you'll need to give them a credit card number. If you sign up, you're on the hook for regular automatic recurring payments if you don't cancel before the 30-day trial is up. You also need to register with your Facebook account.