In its first foray into video, WEEI.com today premieres a new feature. It’s based on Yahoo’s Sports Minute hosted by Ashley Russell.
For WEEI, its feature is called, “The Five” hosted by Boston University alum Kristine Leahy. According to site editor Rob Bradford, “It will highlight five things from our web site each day and be up live at 11 a.m. (every day).” A studio has been built to tape the daily feature.
WEEI’s web presence has increased dramatically since its launch last year and with writers like Michael Felger, Joe Haggerty and Fang’s Bites fave Jessica Camerato along with contributor Curt Schilling, so logically to Entercom, the next step is to bring video to the fold which starts today.
Can WEEI.com become a major force in Boston media? Thanks to the radio side, the cross-promotion for the website is helping to bring hits. With the Globe in flux, WEEI is in a good position to pick up some readers, provided people are willing to make that leap to digital from the old newsprint.
“The Five” experiment bears watching and if it becomes successful, look for more features from WEEI.com As I like to say, we’ll continue to monitor.
UPDATE, 9:30 a.m.: I did a short e-mail interview with Rob Bradford about the new feature and WEEI.com and here is what transpired.
Fang's Bites: First, why do this now? What is the reason to have an update girl? Rob Bradford: This has been in the works for some time, really almost since we launched our new venture last Fall. We felt we had to have some things in place -- including a new video studio -- before launching. The reason for the program is to obviously highlight what we have on the site each day, but also utilize some of the creativity and talents of our organization. We started with the video feature "The WEEIk That Was" using comedians, on-air talent, and others to do a weekly run-down of three events of the week, and that has worked quite well. This is the next step. FB: You're bringing in Kristine Leahy, do you think that Boston fans will be comfortable with her? RB: Kristine will be great. With any of these sorts of shows the viewer has to feel comfortable with the host, that they're being talked with, not at. Since we've been working with Kristine (she joined us at the end of May, making her on-air debut at the Whiney Awards) it's become clear she is not only very likable and knowledgeable, but has the ability to interact with the subject matter and roll with the punches better than most. She's got a lot of talent and really has an appetite for learning more each day. She's been a great addition to our group. FB:Yahoo! Sports has an update girl. Was Yahoo the model for WEEI.com? RB: It wasn't really a model, but it was definitely one of the examples we referenced when building the project. There were others, however. Our chief video guru, Wayne Partello, has done a great job in helping build out both the 'WEEIk That Was' and 'The Five', using ideas from others along with our own corner of the world. We understand we aren't breaking new ground here, but there is an element of uniqueness when it comes to executing such a project in our market. FB: Do you foresee Kristine going out in the field for WEEI.com or even making appearances to promote the site? RB: Absolutely. Entercom has put a lot of faith in our future when it comes to using video, as the new studio would attest to. We're not stopping here, and Kristine figures to be front and center for much of what is to come. FB: Does WEEI.com have any more plans to do video? A: Yes. See previous answer. Also, it should be noted that we wanted to get our feet under us when it came to integrating the written word and the audio from the station on our site before delving to far into video. That was definitely considered Phase 3. So I guess we're at Phase 3. FB: The fact that the Globe is vulnerable and other media sites in Boston aren't providing as much info as they could, does WEEI see the opportunity to fill a void among sports fans? RB: That's the hope, that we're filling voids. But, to be honest, we have to concentrate on what we're doing and not worry about others in the market. We've more than doubled are viewership since launching this project back in August, 2008, and continue to trend in the right direction. That's all we want to focus on. We've come a long way, but we also have a long way to go. FB: Do you think WEEI's brand has surpassed the Globe and Herald in the mind of the Boston sports fan? A: You would have to ask the Boston sports fan. Again, I'm proud of how far we've come in a relatively short period of time. But every day we are presented with a bunch of different challenges, so it's probably wise to concentrate on those sort of things rather than perception. One thing I've come to learn is that when you're growing and trying to leave new impressions, you can't afford to sit back and have too many bad days. FB: Will WEEI have other update girls or men for that matter in the future? RB: Like I said, we're working on some more programs to add to our video lineup and will have various personalities contributing. Our track record is already pretty solid in terms of serving as a launching ground, with our former video blogger Sean Casey getting a job at MLB Network, and another one of our contributors, Batting Stance Guy, appearing on Letterman Monday night. I guess that bodes well for Kristine.
Good stuff from Rob. I appreciate him answering some questions in regard to this matter.