On March 9, 2016, the Digital Services Inside/Out tour touched down in Troy, NY for a visit with the team from WMHT and WEXT at their studios nestled in the Rensselaer Technology Park. Rakiesha Chase-Jackson, Jackie McBride, Asli Binal, Justin Brown and Michael Fussell from the NPR Digital Services team spent a few hours with Mary Gribulis, Interactive Media Director, and Chris Wienk, Vice President of Radio, for an in-depth and informative conversation about their stations and their digital strategies.
WMHT is a joint-licensee station with a classical music radio format. WEXT, their on-site sister station, is a roots and rock radio station that emphasizes local music and live performances. Jointly operated under the umbrella of WMHT Education Telecommunications, they are the only full-service public broadcasters serving Eastern New York and Western New England. Walking the halls of WMHT’s impressive facility, there was an interesting mix of cutting-edge innovation and production resources, such as their state-of-the-art live music recording studio, where “old school” passion for music and arts makes for high engagement with listeners.
Before our tour, Mary and Chris shared interesting insights into their respective approaches to the digital landscape. For both WMHT and WEXT it’s an evolving strategic footprint that includes an integration of their websites, partnerships and social media. As they described their responsibilities and workflows, we were able to gain a helpful side-by-side perspective of the challenges faced by news and music focused stations. We also spent time discussing the Digital Services product suite, gleaning some helpful feedback as well as reviewing their wish list of features that they would love to see added to our products. Having both a DS product owner and developer as part of the conversation was mutually beneficial, helping foster a deeper understanding of how our tools help stations meet their goals and of where there is room for improvement.
We ended the day taking a photo with an antique Humpty Dumpty statue sitting, well, on his wall in their front lobby.
Many thanks to Mary Gribulis and Chris Wienk for their hospitality, feedback and passion to serve their loyal and growing community through dedicated efforts at WEXT and WMHT!