Fort Hood internet radio making strides to reach out to military community
February 14, 2013
FORT HOOD, Texas (Feb. 14, 2013) -- FortHoodRadio.com will sign on with a new live morning show here, Feb. 19.
Staff Sgt. Julie Wallace-Myles will host the show, set to air each weekday morning from 9 a.m. to noon on the installation's internet-based radio station.
"We're trying to reach out to our Soldiers and family members in the Fort Hood community," explained John Miller, broadcast operations officer, III Corps and Fort Hood Public Affairs Office. "Radio, even through the internet, works because we can reach out through mobile devices like a smartphone or tablets. Internet radio may not be in your car, but it's in your pocket."
Miller, who oversaw the radio station's construction in the III Corps Headquarters' first floor and manages the Phantom Warrior TV Studio operations, as well, saw his broadcast section shrink from a high-water mark in the summer of 2009 of nine broadcasters down to three full-time staff members today. Despite staffing challenges, the radio station's biggest challenge remains building an audience.
"Our biggest challenge is to get people to click on and tune into the site, and get used to listening to us," he said. "We're the voice of Fort Hood, and we'd like to become your radio station. I'd like people to call in and tell us what they want to hear. We'd like to see more interaction with our target audience."
That target audience is young troops and their families in Central Texas.
"Our primary demographic is 30 and under," Miller said. "We're playing what's popular now. We're not programming for folks like me. I'm 46, and when I listen to the radio, it's generally talk radio and some old school stuff. That doesn't resonate, normally, with a younger audience."
To reach out to a younger crowd, Fort Hood Radio has changed its overall sound since August 2012, when Wallace-Myles and Staff Sgt. James Tapin joined the staff, replacing temporary civilian hires who founded the effort.
Tapin, the station's noncommissioned officer-in-charge, implemented a shift -- and not a subtle one -- in music programming.
"We went from playing anything you could imagine to starting to focus on a unique opportunity: bringing the newest music to our listeners first," Tapin said. "When I say first, I mean that we're generally a couple of months ahead of mainstream radio stations."
The shift from a complete music mix -- which included pop, urban, country and rock -- also paired down the music genres highlighted by the station.
"Our focus has switched to a more rock and urban playlist," Tapin said, though he noted that other music genres, like country, are programmed throughout the day in a block format. "With that being said, if you tune in at the top of each hour, you'll hear the newest music on the market."
The music is the vehicle to draw listeners, but the goal of the station is to provide timely, accurate command information to the Fort Hood community.
"One of the great things about our Army is that we take care of our own, and we have so many programs out there to do that," Tapin said. "We highlight those programs. The flip-side of that is Fort Hood is so huge, and we have so many events throughout the year. We're one of the best tools for the military community to stay on top of all the goings-on here at the 'Great Place.'"
Besides producing 30-second radio spot announcements, the station has several on-going feature programs to inform the community: "Fort Hood Focus," "Spotlight" and "Fort Hood Community Update," a weekly TV spot airing on KCEN-TV, which provides insight into upcoming events on the installation.
While Spotlight and Fort Hood Focus are staples on the internet radio station, they also air on 15 area commercial stations, expanding the reach of the installation's command information efforts.
"The partnership is huge," Tapin said. "The fact that these companies give us free air time to let the outlying Fort Hood community know about events and programs is immeasurable. The great thing about it is that a lot of times we're not just promoting events open only to Soldiers, but also to the general public. It emphasizes the great relationship Fort Hood has with its surrounding communities."
Since Fort Hood Radio is internet-based, its reach can go far beyond a typical FM station. For example, Tapin said, it's a great vehicle to reach out to deployed service members of the Fort Hood community, as well.
"Anybody that has been stationed at Fort Hood, it holds a special place in their heart," he said. "With Fort Hood Radio, we're still only a click away, for everyone."
Tapin said he's hoping to energize community family readiness groups of deployed units, as well as deployed units themselves to use his internet radio station to keep in touch and stay informed on both ends.
"We'll never turn down a shout out," he said.
With a live presence returning to the station, Tapin said he's hoping to hear from his listeners through the radio studio request line.
"The number is (254) 286-5151," he said. "We're here for you, so we want to hear from you."
Wallace-Myles has been focusing much of her efforts with Fort Hood Radio as the voice of Spotlight, a weekly radio feature highlighting the people, events and programs of Fort Hood. She's also the face of Community Update on KCEN-TV.
Her next challenge is a live morning show.
"J-Dub in the Morning" is the name of the new show set to air Feb. 19.
"I'm really excited," Wallace-Myles said, "about the opportunity, mainly because it's more difficult to share my personality in a pre-recorded interview. Going live gives it more energy."
Wallace-Myles said the three-hour show will feature interaction with the people who make Fort Hood great.
"We'll be focusing on what's available, what you can do and I might even share some quick, home recipes for those on the go," Wallace-Myles said, noting that as a dual-military mother of a teenage daughter and 2-year-old son, she's constantly on the go.
The music featured will still be targeting the under 30 crowd.
"It'll be everything that's charting now, especially upbeat music," Wallace-Myles said. "It's the morning. You've got to get up and go. I can't put you to sleep at work."
Maintaining a 24/7 presence at www.forthoodradio.com is no easy task, especially if it was being done by just two people. Wallace-Myles said the station has been lucky enough to get additional help from other Army broadcasters on the installation.
"We're able to showcase other broadcasters and give them a platform to exhibit their craft," Wallace-Myles said, noting that broadcast journalists from several public affairs detachments on the installation have assisted in the production effort ramping up to her first live show, Feb. 19.
"We've also been airing a new segment recently, provided by broadcasters from the 1st Cavalry Division," she said. "Stable Call is a news feature letting people know what's happening in 'CAV Country.'"
The station is always looking for news tidbits and organizations on the installation hosting events to come in and talk about it. Wallace-Myles said the best way to reach the station management is to email Forthoodradio@yahoo.com with details.