Hitting the Air Waves
TownePost.com and WZPL 99.5 FM Form Media Partnership, Tom Britt Debuts on the Smiley Morning Show
That six-page, black and white photocopied Geist Community Newsletter that started just over seven years ago is now expanding into the Indianapolis radio airwaves. Recently rebranded TownePost.com (formerly known as atGeist.net) billed as “Indy’s Networking Hub” is now the “Community Partner” for WZPL 99.5 FM radio. As a result of our partnership, TownePost.com will become the online community for WZPL.com, provide localized stories to their WZPL online Family Magazine, and give yours truly a regular segment on the popular Smiley Morning Show on Friday mornings.
“We want to get more local in our content, and no one is even close to providing localized stories, web content, and local video like Tom Britt and his TownePost.com portal,” said Denene Stewart, Director of Strategic Sales and Marketing for Entercom Indianapolis, parent company of WZPL 99.5 FM, my107.9 FM, and Newstalk 1430 WXNT AM.
Our partnership started with a phone call in early June, 2011.
“Hey Tom Britt, this is a voice from your past.”
On the other end of the phone was Denene Stewart (who I knew as Denene Durbin), a friend I grew up with in Greenwood, Indiana. Our roots go all the way back to kindergarten where we were both enrolled at Smith Valley United Methodist Church. We played on the same playground, traced ourselves on newsprint paper with crayons, and took naps on the small carpet samples that most use for doormats today.
“Have your ears been burning, because we’ve been talking about you,” she said.
Back in April of this year, our managing editor Andy Murphy and I had lunch with Will Pfaffenberger, producer of the Smiley Morning Show, to talk about the Smiley Glee Club performing at the Geist Half Marathon. They agreed and the Smiley Glee Club performed at the “Race Around the Reservoir.” At the Geist Half Marathon sponsor reception, I met Sheri Acquisto who is the Marketing Director for WZPL and a Geist resident. She is a long-time Geist Community Newsletter reader and raved about our local publication. I was equally impressed that our radio partner attended the reception.
In early June, Pat Carlini, writer for the Geist and Carmel Community Newsletters and regular on the Smiley Morning Show, was in the WZPL studios when the conversation moved to their online Family Magazine which was just launched in May. Looking to localize their family-friendly content, Pat suggested that they give me a call.
That’s when Denene Stewart burst out, “Well I know Tom Britt, we grew up together!”
Our preliminary conversations quickly blossomed as we both realized the synergies between our medias. WZPL listeners want to interact with them, and TownePost.com provides a platform for them to do that. TownePost.com was just rebranded earlier this year with the intent of being able to expand beyond Geist, Fishers, and Carmel. Timing is everything. Radio listeners will be encouraged to join TownePost.com to submit their local events, free online classifieds, photos, and blog posts. In return, the TownePost.com content will be syndicated not only through our local portals like atGeist.com and atCarmel.com, but also through WZPL.com.
“TownePost.com is an easy-to-use platform that we can seamlessly integrate into our online properties,” said Julie Reyburn, the Digital Sales Manager.
WZPL is committed to delivering an online magazine for their listeners, so localizing the content to make it more relevant and actually printing it in our publications to increase readership was a win-win for us as well. Our first story was written by Michelle Freed entitled “Back to School Headache? Family Traditions Help Ease Pain.” Not only will these monthly features appear in our print publications, they will also appear in the WZPL Family Magazine online.
Acquisto also serves as the Family Magazine editor and welcomes the local content.
“I know I always read the (Geist) Newsletter when it shows up in my mailbox. I’m excited to have stories written by local writers and partner with Tom on other community events he’s involved in.”
From our standpoint, having exposure for TownePost.com through radio spots, on-air promos, website advertising, and my new morning show gig will help drive traffic to our local portals. For WZPL, having a print, Internet, and video partner that has a good reputation for providing local community news only helps them connect better to a wider audience.
I’m anxious to see where this partnership goes and how we can work together to create something unique. Just when I think we’ve pushed the envelope as far as we can, a partnership like this comes along and takes it up to a new level.
As for the Smiley Morning Show, “yucking it up” with Smiley, KJ, and Will once a week is a dream job. Our intent is to have me talk about events happening around Indy that have been posted to TownePost.com, but if you have listened to Smiley at all in the past you know the conversation could end up just about anywhere.
As for our new partners, after working with them over the last few months it feels more like a reunion than a partnership. Denene and I have known each other for “a number of years” and the entire Entercom Indianapolis staff already feels like a big family to me.
Listen in on WZPL 99.5 FM on Friday mornings to listen to my new segment. My debut is this Friday, July 22nd sometime after 7:00 am. If you want to call in during the show, the phone number is 317-228-1099.