Hubbard Radio’s All-News WTOP-FM Washington, DC announced a reorganization and expansion of its newsroom to emphasize its growing digital efforts. Former WABC-AM New York PD Laurie Cantillo (pictured) has been hired as the new Program Director, along with other staffing changes under Vice President of News and Programming Jim Farley.
WTOP’s announcement says the goal is to unify the digital and broadcast staff to become a true multi-platform news operation. Farley will oversee the entire operation, with Cantillo helping to orchestrate the expansion. Current Director of Digital Operations John Meyer moves into the newsroom as the architect of the social and digital strategy as it comes together with the current broadcast operation.
“Laurie is one of the best, most-admired and well-liked Program Directors in America. She has solid news credentials, a great track record of rating success in major markets and a great understanding of the power and potential of digital and social media,” Farley said of the new PD. Before WABC Cantillo was PD for Oprah & Friends Radio on Sirius XM and had been an on-air anchor and/or reporter at a number of radio stations.
One of the primary reasons for the new structure is to redefine the news workflow. Instead of the traditional model which takes broadcast content and tries to fit it into a digital hole, WTOP’s new strategy will focus on the creation of news stories at the beginning of a process. A story’s execution will be determined at its origin; it will then be optimized for all the distribution platforms WTOP offers: radio, web, Facebook, Twitter, and mobile.
“We will now have both a Digital Editor and a Radio Editor working together 24/7. No other radio station in America does this,” said Farley. “And we are not just talking the talk; we are hiring more people, reevaluating everything we do and making the necessary changes no matter how sacred or ingrained. The future is digital and WTOP will be the leader heading into that future. ”
Other personnel changes include the promotion of current News Director Mike McMearty to Senior News Director, Assistant News Director Mitchell Miller to News Director, Mike Gartell to Managing Editor, Gary Emerling to Senior Digital Editor and Darci Marchese becomes Executive Producer.
“We are extremely excited about this. While most radio stations in the country are cutting, WTOP is growing. This all began a year and a half ago when we had brainstorm sessions with everybody from the station. 400+ ideas came out of that process. The grassroots message boiled down to this: ‘Go Digital and Go Large.’ We are doing just that,” said Hubbard Senior Regional Vice President Joel Oxley.
The station said the new newsroom configuration will be operational by the end of January 2012, and an expanded WTOP Traffic Center will be constructed in the first quarter of 2012. (Job postings for available positions are listed at wtop.com.)
RBR-TVBR observation: It is hardly a coincidence that we have a story the same day about NPR expanding digital training for public radio journalists. The multi-platform media world is not in the future. It is here now.