Ag-Telecom Final Report Award No: 2.17/98
A National Real-time Internet Web-based Radio Network for land-grant Information
First year acccomplishments:
· Established online presence
· Database specifically designed for land-grant radio news departments
· Coordinator support
· Database technical maintenance
· Web-site support
· Listserve access and participation for technical issues, updates, and questions.
· Promotional materials
· Organization to promote national exposure for member programming
As outlined in the original proposal, project goals focused on sharing resources among land grant institutions to promote agricultural extension, resident education, and
increasing distribution for research being conducted at the universities.
In the first year, substantial progress was made on the Internet Radio Project. Initially, efforts focused on conceptualizing the network and creating a name and work plan. The physical graphical interface, or "look", of the site was also developed at this time. Technical issues were investigated to effectively and appropriately coordinate the difficult issue of collaboration among universities utilizing an emerging technology (ie: digital audio) that lacked industry standardization. Our system functions as a niche portal-site. A portal-site is a type of gateway for World Wide Web access. General portals include high profile sites such as Yahoo, Excite, Netscape, Microsoft Network, and America Online's AOL.com. Niche portals are more specialized information directories that enable users to log onto one site and access information from multiple locations and vendors. The portal structure decentralizes content management, minimizing the burden of site maintenance. This supports the project's goal to provide long-term viability and availability of the information. Each member retains its own files on a server housed at within own facilities. However, all the information can be retrieved and displayed with a uniform presentation on the RadioSource.NET portal site. A central database, linked to the portal, became the most effective means by which to organize the large variety of audio content that members produced. IFAS Communication Services (ICS) developed a tailored database that sorts information in several ways. Users are able to search for information topically, geographically, or by date. A keyword search can also be used to further narrow search results. Other options were included on the site to accommodate additional services that the members provided. For example, some members posted online scripts of their audio reports while others did not. Thus instead of lowering technical requirements for inclusion to the lowest common denominator (i.e., all members have to provide a service for inclusion) the project designed a broadbased set of options for member inclusion which are available on a case-by-case basis. If a member had scripts to post they could easily do so - if they did not, a not available (n/a) graphic would appe! ! ar in place of the script link on the results page. Similar design options are available for creating a uniform audio display. Our design allows up to five formats to be entered for each posted file. By not limiting formats, we retain the ability to accept new format technologies that will appear in the future. Hence, the database can process streaming or downloadable files, or any combination thereof. First-time users are also prompted to link to the Mission page where they can download and install an audio player. Surveys were also conducted by several of the member universities within their states to help direct their specific needs from their user-base. From these surveys an additional online survey was created and placed on the Web-site to assist us with a more general assessment of user-base needs. A RadioSource.NET member listserve was also established to help disseminate technical and industry information to the group. These collaborative efforts are, and have been, instrumental in generating a body of knowledge concerning the emerging and evolving Internet and digital broadcasting technologies for the network participants. Once the portal site was built, database content was entered for a six-week period prior to the official site launch on September 1, 2000 by members contributing existing files from their archives. Data was entered online via password protected forms on the web site. The online form was created from a template used by the University of Georgia's print news department. Members were asked to notify their appropriate university departments and extension offices in order to promote awareness of the project internally within the land-grant system prior to the launch. (An internal notification strategy is recommended for each new state joining the project). Some schools also distributed press releases to announce their participation in the project. External marketing efforts for RadioSource.Net have begun as well. Goals include increasing traffic to the site and user retention (i.e. keep them coming back!). Towards this end the marketing plan incorporates several types of strategies including online promotion and traditional direct marketing. The site is registered with multiple search engines and continues to send emails to appropriate sites requesting a link to RadioSource.NET. Site Links are an important part of an online marketing strategy and require a long-term, systematic effort in order to build a presence in cyber-space. Marketing efforts have also included production of promotional items for distribution. T-shirts, pens, Rolodex cards, and brochures were created to help support marketing efforts. These items are intended for distribution at conferences, and by direct mailings. In addition, an online version of the brochure was also posted on the site to promote RadioSource via email campaigns.
Within the first year, the RadioSource project established a network that land-grant universities can join which supports their current radio programming efforts and enables them to enter the online market with minimal investment and time Applications for Internet broadcasting are still being discovered. As this technology evolves cooperative efforts can stimulate our collective learning and help our universities maximize their resources. The RadioSource portal site offers a combined value to users that is greater than the sum of its parts and the design flexibility allows the project to evolve and continue to support future efforts of members. Within the first month of operation over 250 radio spots were entered into the RadioSource database by six member universities. After six months of operation, the database contained over 1,300 files. The significant amount of material generated on the network site illustrates the enormous potential of university collaboration for this project. The ability of the site database to search the content by state, topic, or date increases the value of the information substantially.
The project achieved the goals it set out to accomplish. It did vary in one signficant manner, however, in executing how content would be distributed. Originally the proposal called for a continuous 4-6 hour news loop to run on the site. It was determined however, that a niche portal site design would offer more automony to users, by allowing them to select specific information on their own schedule. In addition, the decentralized structure helped ensure long-term viability, economically, for the project. By having members retain content at their own sites, and by allowing them to enter the material themselves, the project can operate at a low fixed cost. This decision to alter the design/distribution system maximizes the advantages Internet technology offers. Rather than simply transfering content from an old medium (ie: broadcast radio) to a new medium (Internet) in the same manner, the collaborative exploited the power that digital technology offers. As a result the project gives land grant universities an advantage for competing successfully in the future in terms of content distribution. Because information is archived, radio stations can also access the audio files for re-distribution.
This is the home page for the RadioSourc.NET site.
Also, please look at our template entry page where users enter audio files.
This is a password protected page, but you can access it by
going to the "MEMBERS" page, and clicking on the link "MEMBERS CLICK HERE TO ENTER FILE" This can be found on the left hand side at the bottom of the menu.
A password box will appear. Type in "member" for the user name, and "file" for the password.
This will allow you to see the template screen. Please be aware that this is
an active link. Do not enter
information into the screen, as entries go directly into the database.
ADEC grant award: $50,000
Matching Salary funds:
University of Florida = $60,591.74
University of Georgia = $42,850
Mississippi State University = $5,933
Texas A&M University = $7,100
Total Matching funds = $116,474.74