It’s on!

Purpose:  Out with the old-school approach to sharing strong opinions and enjoyable musings – in with the new.  This new century has brought with it a growing sense of having to set yourself apart from the best of the rest, and the only adventurous way to do that is be good from the start of a great idea: New life on the web.

Flash from the Past eyeing the Future

Audience:  Established fan bases in four major markets – from Cleveland to Minneapolis/St. Paul to Pittsburgh to Seattle – is a good start.  Especially in the Upper Midwest, there would be thousands of possible site visitors who listened to my anchoring of the Minnesota Vikings Radio Network on any of 68 affiliate stations across seven states.

A second target audience will be potential employers.  In a perfect world, I would work full-time in broadcasting and podcasting while freelancing on my website.

A third target audience could be sports fans – particularly women who statistically don’t prefer statistics (and who love humor in sportscasting more than men) – who trend from early 20s all the way up through the elderly.  Yet today in a more fiercely competitive and “white noise”-filled media universe, I recognize that constantly refreshing the content of a site is of paramount importance.

Design for Success

Aesthetics:  Colorful characters aren’t the only ones who need bright colors on their websites, but sharp contrasts between those colors can bring even the dullest knife in the drawer to the fore.

The clarity of my message can be subliminally reflected in clearly defined borders, just as cleverness of approach may be distinguished through unpredictable images featured in clutter-free areas.

Conceding the apple versus orange nature of my TV news, entertainment and radio sports history compared to a commercial pitchman and former director, Craig Burnett’s site is an approximate gold standard of where I’d like to take my site:

However, when it comes to pure simplicity of presentation, there is also a more practical approach:

Or, if you’d rather feel like you do when you’ve had too much to drink the night before, there’s this dizzying anesthetic, er, aesthetic:

I’d enjoy gathering some folks into a focus group to share their thoughts and impressions on the site’s composition and easiness on the eyes. Eventually tracking number of site visitors would be a natural graduation to the next level, complemented by interactive opportunities for them to participate.

Simple is as Simple does

Functionality:  Easy to navigate with very practical, unmistakable headers over which to scroll.

Key menu tabs:

  1. Home page
  2. Thor’s bio
  3. Air checks
  4. Thor’s blog
  5. LinkedIn / Twitter / Facebook
  6. Contact Thor

Widgets would not only allow for the updating of news headlines from a fluid news perspective, but also avoid the technological run-around of taming a template in favor of HTML (or Javascript) code.

Picturing a Word Cloud is pretty cool as it connects the bridge between the end of the “glory days” of overpaid TV & radio personalities and the beginning of “Hey, everybody can be an online personality” – if only (or perhaps especially) as a creative, trusted blogger.

May the best Broadcaster win!

Competition:  The tension of a dream to go national versus “staying Seattle” is the constant internal debate as I prepare to launch my new site. If the idea is to “go local,” this alters who the competition will be when compared to going national with sponsorship help.

With that in mind, total clutter is a total turn-off to me:

Shoot me or sue me if my website ever becomes an ocean of ridiculousness like the one above.  Just glancing at it, I’m not sure whether to fix the fence, wind my watch, or walk our dog. It actually looks busier than a head of lettuce at a rabbit convention. But I will say this, I do love the camouflaged letters atop the page and the cool photo of the co-hosts in the upper right corner.  At least there are two ideas to use.

On the other hand, former Evening Magazine host John Curley would be my stiffest local competition:

Although he makes a mint nowadays working more than 40 weekends a year as a celebrity auctioneer and emcee instead of a broadcaster for KING-5, the cosmetic appeal of his homepage and the beautiful video production of his commercial pitches cross over to television and radio promotion for a personal website like mine.

A guy I admire for his easygoing demeanor is Ichabod Caine, who starred with his wife on radio for years around here:

Ichabod’s page of videos is easier on the eyes than many – plus he’s a man of substance with a whole lot to say about all things Seattle. He lives in West Seattle, which affords him an opportunity to provide two large community perspectives. Contrary to the Quinn & Rose page above, he could probably use a bit more pizzaz to liven up his site even further. Yet, if given a choice between the two, I’ll go light over heavy.

One thing strikes me as clever-by-half: Any couple named Ichabod and Scallops need not come up with a name like “Wild Boar”, especially when the Caine name is already such a well-recognized radio franchise.

Whereas many national show hosts like Rush Limbaugh have overstated, albeit visually attractive websites through which to attract new fans, thankfully there are those like Laura Ingraham’s which seem to strike just the right chord:

In my opinion, Ingraham’s is the cleanest, clearest, most color-contrasted and content rich site of any national radio host in the country.

Conclusions I draw from all these screenshots include (A) simplicity is splendor; (B) absence of color kills; and (C) the best way to make folks forget or ignore terrific content is to splash what amounts to spam all over your homepage until it saturates your strategy into oblivion.


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About Thor Tolo

Thor came to Seattle in 2004 after seven years anchoring sports and hosting an evening talk show once honored as Pennsylvania’s best at the world’s first radio station KDKA. He covered his fourth Super Bowl as host of "Live From Seattle" before anchoring news for Seattle's KOMO Newsradio. Thor enjoyed an Emmy award winning TV career in Cleveland before hosting mornings on Twin Cities sports station KFAN - the flagship station of the Minnesota Vikings Radio Network he anchored in the mid-1990s. Thor lives in Belltown and is pursuing his Master of Communication in Digital Media (exp. 2012) at the University of Washington.

2 responses to “ It’s on!”

  1. Kathy E. Gill says :

    Thor, you’ve clearly given this a lot of thought. Have you looked at themes that can move you towards the polished look you’re striving for?

    Craig’s site has a polished home page but there is little thought to the “inside” — the navigation is uni-directional (home to a page back to home).

    RE John Curley – don’t auto-start! And have more content!

  2. Thor Tolo says :

    Your critique of my competitive analysis rings truer than ever, Kathy, as I’m excited about the “film strip” idea for my homepage (to answer your first question above) along with the realization I missed the boat with premature praise for Craig’s site. Good to learn about auto-start avoidance, too. Thanks!

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