I’ve been building websites for community radio since 2007 (back before WordPress even had native functionality for menus). That first website lacked live streaming, and featured a scrolling marquee in the header. It was glorious. By 2010, it filled in a lot of feature (and design!) gaps and is something I’m still pretty proud of.

The very first radio website I build, back in 2007.
By 2010, the website had podcasts, a dynamic program guide, and live streaming. For a sub-metro community station, I thought it was pretty neat.

But since then, I’ve built quite a few radio websites, consulted on some others, written a few articles on the topic, and even released off-the-shelf tools to help stations build players, program guides, and donation pages.

But with 350+ community radio stations in Australia, and the budget constraints that stations often face, it’s impractical for me to build sites individually for every station. If you choose to rely on generalist web firms to build out radio websites, you also run into situations where key functionality (such as a player, donation page, program guide, on-demand audio, etc.) is missed, misunderstood, or mis-implemented.

This is why Media Realm has partnered with the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia (CBAA) to roll out the next generation of their Radio Website Services platform.

This platform is a best-in-class platform for radio stations to build out a website. We’ve bundled about $60k of development & UI work (thanks to Brand Meet Design) into a platform that sells for $1500 (+ GST), then just $50/month for hosting & maintenance. This platform is available to any Community Radio station in Australia, and you can contact CBAA today to get started.

The first website, 4EB, has already launched – you can have a play around this live site. We’ve also got a demo site, and quite a few more sites in the pipeline and ‘launching soon’.

Features & Blocks

We’ve targeted a wide range of features in the off-the-shelf package, including:

  • Global audio player allows you to listen to live or on-demand audio, even while navigating between pages
  • Program Guide, including integration with AMRAP Pages
  • Now Playing Data (courtesy of MetaRadio – a license is included with every site)
  • Multi-station support
  • Donation Page, including Stripe, EWay, SecurePay, and Profiler integration
  • On-Demand Audio (via Omny Studio or Nucleus)
  • Banner Advertising, via a simple in-built scheduling system, or Google Ad Manager integration
  • MailChimp and MailerLite subscription form integration
  • Simple E-Commerce & Resource Booking systems
  • Social media feed integration
  • Community events directory
  • Business/sponsor directory
  • User permissions – assign users to only edit specific pages (e.g. allow particular users to edit just their own Show Page)
  • Google Analytics
  • Google Tag Manager
  • Facebook Pixel
  • Yoast SEO plugin
  • Gravity Forms
The On Air Guide, in Avatar Mode

The platform uses the WordPress Block Editor (Gutenburg) to create all pages. At the time of writing, we have created fifteen bespoke blocks to make it really easy for anyone to build custom pages. These blocks include:

  • Ad placement
  • AMRAP Pages Show Description
  • Banner
  • Biography
  • Card
  • Curator.io
  • Child Pages Grid
  • Guide Now/Next
  • Guide (Cards, Circles or Table layout)
  • On Demand audio (Omny Studio or Nucleus)
  • Playlist (AMRAP Pages)
  • Post Grid
  • Product Listing
  • Sponsor Logos
  • Try Booking

Under the Hood

These sites have been built to be robust and easily maintainable over the long term. Every piece of code that makes its way into this platform is scrutinised to make sure it helps meet our overall goals, rather than create a nightmare for us all.

Each site is created using a custom workflow system I built, using WordPress CLI to orchestrate the setup. Every site is first created on our staging server, with all standard pages and features pre-configured based on the details you provide in the workflow.

Already, this automation saves hours of work usually invested into setting up a WordPress site, deciding on the structure, adding plugins, importing forms, etc.

Play On Demand audio anywhere on the website, in the ‘Global Player’

The WordPress Customizer allows you to adjust the logo, colours & typography. Under the hood, this compiles a CSS stylesheet from the LESS source files.

Thanks to our integration with AMRAP Pages, all existing shows, show pages, and images are created and populated.

We have some tools to help run bulk-migration of content (depending on how your existing site has been setup), but key pages are best populated manually to make sure you’re taking advantage of all the features this platform has to offer. Unless you have a huge amount of bespoke content, this process is usually pretty quick – we can complete an average content migration in a couple of hours.

When it comes time to launch the site, we partner with Synergy Wholesale to delivery robust hosting. Our system has a single button to export the entire staging site and send it to Synergy. Our deployment system even re-writes all the URLs (including in the serialised data fields), to make sure we don’t accidentally link someone back to the staging site once you’ve gone live. Couple this with a robust test plan, and website launches have been systematised to run very smoothly.

This solution is delivered as a platform, and the monthly fee includes the testing and roll out of all WordPress updates, as well as the deployment of any updates to the platform itself (including the theme and other plugins). We use MainWP to help manage all sites, and stay on top of the test & update cycle.

Lots of ways to show off your new posts & pages

Because we provide this as a managed platform, we don’t allow access to the underlying hosting platform – every account gets consistent software and settings. We also don’t allow access to the full ‘Administrator’ level in WordPress – but rest assured, a special ‘Almost Administrator’ role allows access to everything except editing Plugins and Themes (and the ability to create new ‘Administrator’ accounts). You don’t have access to the hosting admin accounts for Squarespace or Wix, so we think this is fair.

Stations with very complex requirements or a desire for lots of custom design work may not be well suited by what we have built, but we believe the vast majority of community radio stations will see this platform as an upgrade over their current website solutions.

If you’re interested in this platform for your station, contact the CBAA. If this technology interests you for another industry, contact me directly.