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Ideas and technique to help you promote and image radio

Refreshing a heritage news station


It’s a challenge news radio brands face the world over: how to sound trusted, substantial and authoritative without being cold, corporate and distant. No station can afford to undermine the friendship between listener and station on which so much hours-building is reliant.

At WCBS Newsradio 880 in New York, the team has just completed a sonic and visual branding overhaul with exactly that task in mind.

Assistant PD Alex Silverman was clear that they didn’t want “traditional in-your-face, self-important news music” that carries the baggage of pomposity. They wanted to convey the personality of a “trusted friend”, supporting radio’s one-to-one role in many listeners’ lives.

The musical direction, under Joel Beckerman and producers Amy Crawford and Mickey Alexander, aims to reflect the heritage of the station but feel contemporary.

Joel and his team are best known for their branding work in US television where echoes of an Anchorman persona are still evident in news programming. They’ve also recently worked on a sonic expression of The Drum brand. None of that is what WCBS needed here.

Dierdre Goodwin

Casting actress Dierdre Goodwin as station voice adds to the warmth and friendliness of the new station sound, especially with voice direction that’s decidely smiley and not at all shouty.

Hard to believe perhaps, but we’re told it’s the first time in the station’s 93 year history that a female station voice has carried the top-of-hour liner.

The new station sound was accompanied by refreshed graphics. They even had the mic cubes ready in time.

WCBS newsradio 880 mic cube

Here’s how morning hosts Wayne Cabot and Paul Murnane (they have a mixing desk each!) introduced the new sound to listeners:

WCBS is owned by Entercom. If you’re in the EU you’ll need to VPN your way into their station website.