Stepping Out in Style…Consistently?

Do you know how many ways there are to spell “Drive-thru”? I didn’t, until I started trying to build some print collateral for our stations’ Drive-thru Difference promotions.

  • Drive thru
  • Drive-thru
  • Drive through
  • Drive-Thru

And the list continued.

As more and more voices speak into our station websites, emails, social media posts, and printed projects it became difficult to be consistent. But consistent treatment of terms and grammar can help us provide a better user experience for our digital users.

Your station may have a style guide for the big things. Logos, fonts, and colors are probably well spelled out with the right rules of use. But you may find some value in creating some rules for even the most basic elements of your written communication.

Here are a few first-steps

1 – Start with a master style guide

There isn’t a need to start from scratch. We start with the AP Stylebook (https://www.apstylebook.com/). From there we clarify items that are specific to our brand, items where we’ve decided to differ from AP, and items of frequent use. AP also has a great Twitter account for their stylebook that can help you address current events. https://twitter.com/APStylebook

2 – Think through the terms that are specific to your brand

For our Drive-thru Difference promotions (encouraging someone to pay for the car behind them at the drive-thru), we settled on that specific capitalization, spelling, and punctuation. It isn’t more right or wrong than any other treatment of the title. It’s just one that we settled on as “our” way. Think through each of your station’s initiatives and consider ways you can be consistent in how they are presented.

3 – Think about the time

Dates and times are some of the easiest places to be inconsistent.

  • 7pm, 7:00PM, 7 pm
  • November 8, Nov 8, November 8th, 11/8

This is a place where we diverged from the AP stylebook, and just went for quick readability. Again, there isn’t a wrong treatment… just a consistent one.

4 – Assign ownership of the style guide

Give someone in your organization ownership of the style guide. This person doesn’t need to be an enforcer. In our organization we never want fear of breaking style to prevent a content creator from… well… creating. On occasion we help coach. But we have one individual who (often silently) will follow our on-air team and edit their posts to bring them into alignment with our style guide. This person can also identify elements that need clarification or editing in the style guide.

5 – Keep your style guide fluid

Things change. We keep our style guide in a “wiki” format to allow it to be edited often. Sometimes we need to address specific confusing issues. Other times, we need to address trends in written communication. Don’t be afraid to change your guide often (but in a way that is accessible, and trackable for those who need to use it).

In our style guide, we address:

  • Brand specific terms
  • Times and dates
  • Punctuation
  • Use of photos and images (licensing)
  • Capitalization of titles and headlines
  • Image quality and resolution

If you are looking for a place to start, you are welcome to use ours as a template.

Many of the references are very specific to our systems and terms. But perhaps it can give you an idea of items you can address in your style guide.

I’d love to know what your station uses. Feel free to reach out to me.

Carl E Bliss
Director of Interactive Media
Northwestern Media

Carl serves as Director of Interactive Media at Northwestern Media’s network of radio stations. You can keep up with his adventures at carlbliss.com, and twitter.com/ckbliss.

 

Related posts

The team at 94.9 KLTY has served the Dallas/Fort Worth community for over 35 years. In 2020, the need was never greater. Through their local campaigns, Christmas Wish and Speak Love, they were able to assist many families who were impacted by not only the pandemic, but by hard times in general. The Speak Lovecampaign helped first responders, teachers, servers, food service staff, and many more within the community throughout the year. In 2020 94.9 KLTY’s Christmas Wish campaign brought Christmas joy to hundreds of families in the DFW area. They provided vehicles, food, toys, and other forms of relief to families in their community. They could not have reached any of these needs if not for their listeners and their generous donations to 94.9 KLTY’s nonprofit programs. In total, Speak Love and Christmas Wish raised more than $160,000 for those in need in Dallas/Fort Worth. They also recognized those sacrificial front-line workers and first responders who keep our community safe. Each week, 94.9 KLTY honored them, raised funds throughout the summer, and then presented each first responder with a check as a token of their gratitude. With countless families in need because of the pandemic, 94.9 KLTY also helped the Tarrant Area Food Bank distribute food essentials on multiple occasions in September, October, November. It is 94.9 KLTY’s sincere honor to serve our listeners in Dallas/Fort Worth.

×

LIFE 96.5 seeks to empower and serve the Sioux Falls area by reaching out in faith to help make it a better place to live and work. They want to lead their listeners to Jesus and help them grow in their faith through opportunities to love and serve others. In January 2020, LIFE 96.5 listeners donated over 950 brand new baby items during the Sioux Empire’s Largest Baby Shower. The Baby Shower grows every year, demonstrating their community’s love and support of the couples who are choosing life for their unborn children. LIFE 96.5 listeners, in partnership with Dacotah Bank, provided gift cards and cash donations to the Sioux Falls School District social workers to meet the needs of 1,000 homeless students. LIFE 96.5 also invited listeners to participate in a city-wide prayer parade, where they prayed for health care and government officials while driving past hospitals, schools, and city government offices. During the months of September and October 2020, LIFE 96.5 listeners provided over 250 twin sheet sets and 100 mattresses to the Sioux Falls Sleep in Heavenly Peace organization for children who are sleeping on floors. Through LIFE 96.5, listeners also made a difference in the lives of patients spending Christmas at Avera Behavioral Health Hospital. Each patient received a Christmas stocking filled with gifts and a note of encouragement. In addition, each Saturday morning LIFE 96.5 staff host Life Connection, a program featuring community leaders and discussing the needs and concerns of the Sioux Falls Community.

×

89.5 KVNE exists to glorify God by encouraging people, connecting their community, and pointing people to Jesus Christ. When their community was turned upside down by COVID, they knew they had to jump into action and mobilize their listeners to make a difference for Christ. To best serve their local community, KVNE held multiple drives to support local ministry partners and those most impacted by the pandemic. They collected 1,500 gift cards (totaling more than $15,000) to benefit those in need because of shutdowns, gathered over 12,000 diapers for foster families, and collected 150 care packages for senior citizens. They also collected 1,032 fans for the Salvation Army and over 1,000 pairs of shoes for kids heading back to school. Additionally, listeners donated 1,512 care packages for the homeless in East Texas, and KVNE hosted two blood drives to help those fighting the coronavirus. People across East Texas needed connection during the pandemic, so they organized a social media outreach, called Praise Defeats, a coordinated time where listeners shot videos of themselves singing “Raise A Hallelujah.” The videos were shared thousands of times, as they deepened their community’s connection. In addition, KVNE launched a Hispanic Christian music station (Fuzión), started a worship station (Lift Worship), and began a Bible Teaching Station (The Well) – all to help people grow in their faith. God allowed them to impact His Kingdom in profound ways and serve their local community powerfully during an unprecedented time when people needed hope like never before.

×

Since 1986, The JOY FM has made community service a hallmark of its ministry to listeners – first in Sarasota, and then expanding to Tampa, other Florida markets, and most recently to Atlanta and Middle Georgia. Even with this growth, community outreach remains hands-on, with legacy events like T-Shirts for Turkeys, which helped feed more than 28,700 families in all markets served last year. 2020 created new challenges for serving, so The JOY FM innovated several service projects to accommodate contactless delivery and social distancing. JOY Drop and Restock, a brand-new outreach, collected 30 tons of food to restock local food banks hit hard by the pandemic. Partnering with Natalie Grant and Hope for Justice, Team Freedom approached a grand total of $1,000,000 in 2020 to fight human trafficking. As listeners faced political rhetoric and serious questions about race and justice, as well as practical challenges like hybrid classrooms, The JOY FM programming (on terrestrial signals, as well as its LF Radio and JOY Worship platforms) responded with a recommitment to our mission of “Helping You Find JOY.” Resources for listeners, such as the Off Air with Carmen podcast, was provided to help listeners wrestle with big questions like Christian citizenship. Possibly The JOY FM’s most relevant community service effort for 2020 was prayer. The JOY FM’s Prayer and Crisis Referral service interacted with 620,936 listeners in need of prayer or help. Of those calls and texts, 4,949 listeners reported praying to place their faith in Jesus Christ.

×

“Hope Starts Here” is more than The Light FM’s tagline. It’s their mission. In 2020, they were intentional in regularly offering community-needed resources and hope-filled encouragement. They hosted their 5th annual Make a Difference training to encourage listeners to share God’s hope and saw 14 people begin a personal relationship with Jesus. The Light FM also visited eight local Law Enforcement agencies to share words of encouragement and care baskets. They partnered with East Tennessee Children’s Hospital and artists of Winter Jam for a private concert and time of prayer with families battling pediatric cancer. The Light FM listeners from five different cities donated 258 wheelchairs, 262 crutches, 259 walkers, 71 transport chairs, and 66 canes to Wheels for the World, which brings mobility and the hope of Christ around the world. During stay-at-home orders, The Light FM began offering free monthly virtual events, including: a graduation ceremony, featuring artists and Bible teachers; a conference with Crown Financial on how to manage finances during the pandemic; Girl Talk LIVE, a women’s event with worship and Bible study; God’s Hope in Crisis training with chaplains of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team; a pastor appreciation event for local churches, featuring Chip Ingram and Matthew West; and a Family Christmas Night with live music, games, and a devotion from The Light FM staff. Even throughout the pandemic, The Light FM also found ways to be out in the public, safely, with six drive-in events featuring movies and live music.

×

2022 Membership Exclusives

January – 2022 Calendar
February – Social Series for Holy Week
March – Mediabase Webinar
April – Book
May – Virtual Radio Station Field Trip
June – Surprise at Momentum
July – Exclusive Momentum Content
August – Virtual Peer Networking Gathering
September – Fall Fun Box
October – Techsurvey Webinar
November – Noisemaker Promotions Vol 2 Book
December – Christmas Surprise 

*subject to change

×

Paul Cameron began his career in radio prior to graduating from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh in 1980, starting his first job in 1979 as part-time on-air talent at WMKC 96.7FM (an adult contemporary station). In 1980 Paul moved to part-time on-air talent for WHBY-AM 1230 (a news/talk station), and while still working there, began working part-time for WEMI 100.1FM. In 1981, he went full-time for WEMI and over the years served as program director, music director, station manager, and director of radio operations. In 2002 he assumed the role of executive director and general manager for Christian Family Radio, now known as The Family Radio Network. Since 2016 Paul has been chief operating officer and afternoon on-air host. He was part of the transition from one full power station to five full power stations and six translators, all in Wisconsin. Paul has given back to his community by serving on several local boards in various capacities, including The Emergency Shelter of Appleton, The Community Clothes Closet of Menasha, and Loaves and Fishes of the Fox Valley. He also serves on the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association Board of Directors and has been a fundraiser host with ShareMedia/Dunham+Company since 2002.

×

Rob Dempsey has been serving the HIS Radio Network listeners faithfully since 2000, currently working as operations manager and morning show co-host on the HIS Morning Crew with Rob & Lizz. Rob worked as a security guard at television studios for the Home Shopping Network before he was called into the radio ministry. Now, Rob’s personal stories of overcoming obstacles, walking through a long journey to health, and stepping out in faith and selflessness inspire his listeners. Some know him as the guy who lost 140 pounds to overcome obesity, others know him as the 16-year-old kid kicked out of his home to live in the streets, and others know him as being a foster and adoptive parent. Rob and his wife’s kids range from a 34-year-old war hero, 25-year-old social media marketing specialist, 19-year-old honors college student, a 12-year-old they adopted in November 2009, as well as many foster children throughout the last 9 years. Recently, Rob has been on a health journey which included two surgeries, one a major reconstructive surgery. These past two years have been a challenge for Rob, but he continues to show that through God, anyone can become an overcomer.

×

Since 1989, Mike Harper has faithfully impacted East Texas on-the-air at 89.5 KVNE, where he serves as VP Communications and morning show host. He began as a volunteer weekend DJ, driving from 90 miles away. Mike advanced the cause of Christian radio by serving several years on the steering committee for CMB, and he has taken part in every NCRS/CMB since 1999. According to Nielsen, Mike and Carrie in the Morning has been the #1 Morning Show for a decade (#1 Persons 12+) propelling KVNE as high as an 8.3 share and helping KVNE become the #1 rated station in the Tyler/Longview market. During that time, KVNE won 8 Station of the Year Awards (CMB & NRB). Additionally, Mike and his co-host Carrie Parsons have been awarded “Best Morning Show in East Texas” for 9 years in a row. Mike has shaved his head to reach a pledge drive goal, donned white tights and a cape “for the children,” and stood on top of a building during a remote broadcast. He has daily arrived faithfully at 5:00 am and braved ice, snow, hail, and tornados in an effort to keep his listeners safe, encourage them, and point them to Jesus.

×

Bryan O’Neal has spent a lifetime entertaining, encouraging, and spreading God’s love to millions over the airwaves, landing his first radio job in 1972 in mainstream Top 40 radio. In 1978 Bryan hosted and produced Portland’s first CCM’s 30-minute radio show on Top 40 62-KGW. He then teamed up with his good friend Bob Anthony to plan a full-time CCM station in Santa Rosa. Eventually that station became K-LOVE. After K-LOVE moved to Sacramento, Bryan became their full-time employee #13 in 1994. In 1998 Bryan worked as the program director for another CCM station, KPAM/Pamplin Media. In 2001 Bryan teamed up once again with Bob Anthony at EMF’s Air1. Bryan was instrumental in moving Air1’s entire Portland staff to the new building in Rocklin, where he worked as operations director and then program director. In 2005 Bryan worked a short stint at KTSL in Spokane, and then became the music director and afternoon host at 89.7 KSGN in Redlands, California. Bryan O’Neal has worked as the program director at KSGN and co-host with Brandi Lanai for nearly 10 years of Bryan and Brandi in the Morning. Bryan hung up his headphones for retirement in March of 2021.

×

Bill Scott is one of the founders of Vidare Creative, a fundraising consulting company which helps Christian radio stations, through their 365 plan concept, raise the funds they need to grow. Bill has been a part of Christian radio for 39 years. He’s worked at WCIE, The JOY FM, and WAY FM as a production director, on-air talent, program director, and station manager. Bill co-hosted Dawson McCallister Live, which aired on 500 radio stations each weekend. Bill began ZJAM, a syndicated show that aired on 350 stations in the USA, Canada, the UK, and Guatemala each weekend. Bill’s latest show was Xtreme Talk Live, airing each Sunday night on over 200 radio stations. Bill has hosted 700 fundraisers on Christian radio in the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Bill also runs Men of Radio, a Facebook group with over 600 men from Christian radio. For the past three years, he has hosted the Men of Radio Winter Retreat in McCall, Idaho, with the focus of getting to know other men on Christian radio so they can walk through life together. Bill Scott believes passionately in Christian radio, and he has dedicated his life to see it grow.

×