Identity crisis.

We’ve had a bit of an identity crisis here for a long time and from time to time we dive head first into looking for some solutions.  We are in one of those dives right now, sorting through many options for presenting ourselves to the public.

We don’t worry too much about those of you who are already hooked on public radio. You’ll find us whether we tag ourselves as WBOI, WBNI, 89.1fm, Northeast Indiana Public Radio, or whatever.  You know where and how to tap into what you want each day.  But we’d like to grow our audience and strengthen the ties we have with the community and raise awareness of the fact that public radio is an important resource.  So sometimes we act like a radio station and sometimes we act like a not for profit community organization and we do a chameleon thing with our name as we move back and forth between those two roles.

Several of us had a great meeting a couple of weeks ago with Jeff Britton and Jack Patton of Britton Marketing and Design Group and those meetings with wildly creative people always get our juices flowing again. Jeff and Jack are both great friends of the station and it’s always good to talk with people who really get what’s at the heart of the organization — and care deeply about its success.  They were both quick to point out that we’ve got some branding issues, some identity lapses, and it’s all the more important as we talk about beefing up our web presence, our social media portfolio, and our offering of electronic listening options.  We need to be able to clearly show – graphically – who we are.

I love this stuff.  It forces us to get to the core of the matter.  Who are we and how do we want to relate to this community?

For a very long time, this organization was WBNI, classical music, locally hosted, but as most of you know who follow us, the time when that is our core offering has come and gone.  Our recent member/listener survey, while still being processed, shows us that our core listeners now come to us for news and information.  Changes our identity some.  Or, perhaps, complicates it as we move from what we were to what we are and as we look to what we will be,what the community needs us to be.

How do you think of us?  WBOI?  89.1fm, a specific place on your radio? NPR?  NIPR (the nipper!), a media organization?  NIPR, a not for profit organization? Phil Shaull’s radio playground (just kidding, just kidding)?

When you tell people about us, what do you call us?

I’d love to hear from you.  Names matter, seems to me.




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3 responses to “Identity crisis.

  1. We’ve done mood boards, but we think mood rings offer a more immediate and emotionally satisfying experience.
    Actually, NIPR, needs the listening tribe to gather round and do a kind of magic dance… plus send money. The amount of content and the quality of the content is unsurpassed. It may be that the model being used by NPR stations around the country needs to be changed somehow? The current leadership of NPR comes from the business world (NY Times) perhaps they will rethink the model.
    One thing for Sure is that news is considered a commodity. It is hard to get people to pay for news, and most of the daily news comes from the web. So maybe an active web experience is about the only way to attract people under say… oh 30.. no wait, 40… say what? 50? Oh you’re 60? Excuse me.
    But how to get the web to pay? It could happen.

    That’s not to say people will stop listening on the way to and from work, but there is that XM satellite thing, and a IPod jack in the console and they’re taking up what space is let behind our ears. But, I wake up to NPR on my clock radio… so I still have that. Yeah. Web. Plus there aren’t as many restrictions on commercial activities on the web.

    Yeah Yeah, Commercial activities. Sell outs. Says the kid who never pays for content, and can’t find a job anywhere because nobody pays for content. We won’t stop being culture-cannibals anytime soon but pretty soon we’ve cut down all the trees to help move those big stone heads (Easter Island) and there’s no trees left for to build a boat to get off the bare island. (I heard about this on NPR)

    Anywoozle, The problems of getting local support are laid bare in a smaller market, that has been hit with a crummy economy and a general weariness from disasters to the right and to the left. If we can figure it out now, while there is no illusion, then it can be figured out for the next 25 years and Joan can keep her feet up on the desk and instead of thinking so hard, can (think about) smoke(ing) a big fat media mogul cigar.

  2. Like Leo, I really like Northeast Indiana Public Radio as a name as well. Granted, my perspective is not that of the typical listener — I’ve interacted with NIPR as a nonprofit community partner and within the organization as a community advisory board member. But NIPR (the nipper! LOL) is perfect. It really tells the listener what it is, what sets it apart from, say, WMEE or Rock 104. Sure, WBOI are the call letters, but it blends in with all the other ones out there, like WMEE, and WAJI, and WLDE, etc. And since you don’t have cool other acronyms built into the call letters like KQED, WNYC, or WFYI, I think that NIPR is your strongest and clearest name. Northeast Indiana Public Radio stands apart in the community, and it stands taller than the rest. It imparts the mission behind it, and the philosophy public radio represents.

    I’ve been thinking about the relationship between NPR and NIPR for a long time, because I hear a lot of people talk about 89.1 as NPR. And sure, while I understand the relationship between NPR national and a local affiliate station, I don’t often have a chance to correct and educate. I think there’s a lot of brand reputation that comes with the affiliation, but there’s a heck of a lot of room to develop your own brand.

    I have no doubt you are in capable hands with Jack and Jeff, but I wanted to ask you — have you ever made a mood board? It’s a really great (and cheap!) way to begin to explore your brand and message it conveys. Plus, its a fun process for staff and board members, and gets you to think abstractly (in images, colors, designs, and single words) about the organization.

    Good luck — you have your work cut out for you! I do hope I can be involved if any step of this process is opened to the community or the CAB!

  3. Leo

    Not to sound too critical, since I hope you know I think WBOI is fantastic*, and I know times are tough right now, but it really sounds like you need a dedicated marketing person. Someone who can help solidify your brand, develop a clear, concise message and apply it consistently, across the board.

    As for names, I can’t help but feel a little bit of pride every time I hear, “this is Northeast Indiana Public Radio.” I think it suits you just fine.

    *I can’t imagine mornings without the BBC and noontime without Midday Matters. Little Brother Radio and the Burnt Toast Show are awesome too.

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