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Talking Of Radio... 31 January 2002 Edition
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Million $ Ideas
At last, the contents of Aardvark's "million-dollar ideas" notebook are revealed for all to see!
Click To See
Earlier this week, NewsTalk ZB, slipped its new website onto the Net.

Given that so many Net users are compulsive addicts of chat-rooms, newsgroups and mailing list-based discussions, Newstalk ZB's arrival is perhaps more significant than it might first appear.

This site has been an awfully long time coming and I could never figure out why the broadcaster hadn't already tapped into the growing Internet audience.

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As NZ's longest-running online commentator, I'm looking for extra syndication opportunities for this daily publication -- or I'm happy to write casual or regular material specifically to order for print or Net-based publications. If you're interested, drop me a line

So just how good a job have they done of bringing talk radio to the Net?

Well it's surely a whole lot better than competitor Radio Pacific's site.

Readers Say
(updated hourly)
From Yesterday...
  • Online tutorial... - David
  • ISP tutorial... - Peter
  • Caller ID... - Michael
  • Have Your Say

    Since I'm getting tired of pointing out the growing list of sites that balk at my Netscape 4.x browser, I won't mention the incompatibilities I found -- but take it as read that there are some.

    My initial impressions are that this site is pretty damned good.

    The designers have kept the layout pretty clean, fairly light on unnecessary graphics and, most importantly, it's loaded with good information.

    If you're looking for a soundbyte-sized summary of national news (just the thing to stimulate discussion), the site's front page has a handful of headlines near the bottom which deliver a brief story in a pop-up window. Given that the page seems to load quite quickly, and (I assume) these stories are updated at least hourly, it might be one of the most painless places to get your regular newsfix.

    Of course the essential streaming audio facility is there so that you can listen live to the station's radio broadcast -- although I couldn't get it to work with either IE or Netscape -- despite downloading the very latest version of Microsoft's media player. In this regard the site is simply too smart.

    I hate sites (like NZoom and others which feel it necessary to embed their media players in small pop-up windows with lots of other "pretty" -- but useless dross.

    What's wrong with offering a "raw" link that pops up the familiar media-player or Realplayer itself -- thus allowing the use of a familiar interface and greater control over its operation?

    One really cool feature of the site is the ability to listen to archived material from the week. Well it would be cool if that material was there. Unfortunately I kept getting "HTTP Error 400 -- Bad Request" errors when I tried to access some stuff from earlier this week. Maybe it's simply that the archives don't go back that far -- but a more friendly message might be nice.

    In keeping with the theme of user-generated discussion on which talkback radio was founded, there is an debate board -- but it seems decidedly lacking in support -- seemingly attracting only two or three messages per day.

    So, in summary, this site is quite nicely designed and has huge potential to bridge the gap between online and broadcast audiences -- but it still needs some attention to detail.

    It will be very interesting to see (and easy to gauge by monitoring the "debate board") just how many of the station's listeners and callers are also avid Internet users.

    I suspect it might be a good idea to focus on some issues close to the heart of the Net audience if they're going to kick-start more interest in the website.

    Some online promotion might help too. Chances are that many Net users are quite happy using usenet and existing online discussion forums. They're going to have to be enticed away from these by some pretty smart marketing and an awareness campaign.

    How long before "hello, I'm a first time poster..." becomes a common intro to messages posted to the Newstalk ZB website I wonder?

    I wonder if the guys at Newstalk ZB have read idea number three on my Million Dollar Ideas page? If not, they ought to do so and drop me a line -- I've got something which is right up their alley.

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