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Chris Miller

Programming For The Eyes


Websites, social media, emails to listeners, even outbound texting you gotta use your eyes. Too many of us radio folk are still thrown by that concept. We know about how people react to what they hear more than we know about how they react to what they see. So, I talked with one PD who also happens to have a background in visual design. Rob Sidney is Director of Programming and Operations for Lincoln Financial Media in Miami. He literally learned design at his fathers knee. His dad, Douglas Sidney, was a graphic designer who owned a firm that handled major accounts like the Maryland Lottery.

Aside from wanting a nice looking website, Rob says there are sound business reasons for insisting on good design. Just like you want to have a consistent (but not predictable) sound to your station, you want the visual representation of your station to be consistent, he explains. Online, were all not just competing with other radio stations. Were competing with everything on the internet. In this more focused competitive environment, its important to communicate the key stuff about your brand with the impression that your look has on your listeners and advertisers. Rob recommends having established color standards, so that your web folks and sales assistants are always working with a particular palette of colors. Picking the right fonts to communicate with is crucial, too. Choose those colors and fonts that tell your fans the right things about your brand.

101.5 Lite FM knows that anything that ends up in print with their logo on it could end up in front of an ad agency. Theres a link between having good-looking, brand-related design pieces and station revenue, as Rob explains. If what you put in front of a client is slipshod and poorly produced, it reflects poorly on your abilities as a marketer. This includes your digital platforms, too, since those who are considering placing a buy often pull up and examine what youve got on your website and in your social media.

Setting your sights high and not just borrowing from other radio stations is one way to keep improving your website. At brands like Coca-Cola, Rob explains, there are people whose job it is to be ruthless about consistency. Huge, successful mega-brands are very protective about the look and feel of what they do graphically. This is evident from their websites. Rob points out that radio stations can learn from these big brands. If you see an online feature or element you like, you can assume major brands test everything they do online.

In addition, an important tool to create a usable, organized, big-brand-style website is white space. Dont crowd the room, Rob says. In other words, dont fill up every single square inch of the page or the website with content; leave room for the human eye to make sense of it.

You can see Rob Sidneys work with the 101.5 Lite FM website at

Chris Miller has been a major-market PD in Atlanta, Portland and Cleveland. He now operates Chris Miller Digital, which he launched. Visit his website at
Contact Chris via e-mail, or 216-236-3955.