Radio Strategy in a Digital Age

Do you listen to the radio?

When my uncle was getting his driver’s license in 1976, the exam administrator asked him, “What is the first thing you should do when you get into your vehicle?” Bucky replied, “Turn on the radio and plug in the cigarette lighter.” He did not pass the exam. But he had the right idea.

For most of us, listening to something – be it news or music or stories – is more than a habit, it’s a ritual. Depending on your age and tastes, radio may be a part of that ritual. But the fact is that what we listen to and how we listen to it is changing.

In the midst of that change, Louisville’s public radio remains a fiercely popular community asset. WFPL, WFPK, and WUOL provide entertainment and education for the whole region. Each station is headquartered in Louisville Public Media, a non-profit organization in the heart of Louisville’s downtown. This is a vital group. But no one knows about it.

Louisville Public Media engaged us to raise their visibility by organizing and cohering their brand through language, design, and sound. Through this growth, they’re preparing for the future of their work as their listeners continue to tune in – in any way and anywhere they can.

“This is a transformative time in our company history…The timing was perfect.”

-Layla George, Director of Development

Louisville Public Media is at a turning point in their more than 60-year history. As we speak, they’ve completed their multi-year $7 million capital campaign. They are also in the middle of a complete building remodel. And their new President, Michael Skoler, has been active since December 1. All that is to say: They’re growing. It’s an exciting time to be a part of it.

Louisville Public Media Public Radio Brand Family Combination Mark LogoLouisville Public Media Public Radio Brand Family Logo

We’re firm believers in the idea that a branding exercise is no good in a vacuum. In order for it to be successful, it must strengthen internal change within an organization. Nowhere is this more evident than in Louisville Public Media.

“It gives so much to us.”

-LPM Fundraising Drive Donor, name redacted

It’s an exciting time to be a part of public media in general. As more listening shifts from real-time to on-demand, national groups like NPR are reexamining what kind of content creates lasting relationships with listeners long-term. How can they engender the same kind of loyalty online – where there is far greater competition?

This shift is daunting, but it’s a huge opportunity – especially for groups like Louisville Public Media. LPM is primed for digital listenership, with successful podcasts in motion. In combination with their focus on the radio experience, LPM’s strategy is not strictly digital – it’s strategy in a digital age.

Louisville Public Media Brand Manual Style Guide

In addition, as public media goes through an identity crisis, Louisville Public Media remains mission-driven. While there was low parent group visibility before our engagement, campaign contributor comments from loyal listeners revealed a clear understanding of the group’s value and vision. You cannot focus group that kind of passion.

“We recognized that it was important for our long-term success to make it clear that our four entities – WFPL, WFPK, WUOL, and KyCIR – are not only related but integral partners in the success of Louisville Public Media.”

-Stephen George, Executive Editor


Louisville Public Media Brand Manual Style Guide

We reviewed listener and contributor comments, campaign materials, leadership conversations, and – best of all – we listened to their programming religiously in order to understand exactly how the LPM mission plays out in its work and audience. The quality was clear: Louisville Public Media is community-driven in every sense of the word.

But the fact is that everyone uses that word. We needed to demonstrate community. To use strong branding that unifies each station in a shared spirit shown, not told. We oriented our efforts around the tagline Gather Around.

Louisville Public Media Tagline Gather Around

“We knew how it worked within the newsroom, but it was a question of how we branded it, identified it on-air, and how we wanted the public to view it.”

-Layla George


Louisville Public Media Brand Manual Style Guide

Armed with an overall verbal tag, we worked with audio producer Brad Cassetto to create options for an overall audio tag. Brad is a Louisville resident – and an LPM enthusiast. His efforts were developed by Daniel Gilliam using a diverse selection of instruments to tailor each tag to each station. Their combined work resulted in the following audio tags:


Concept ideation for this project was challenging, but rewarding. We found a particularly valuable collaborator in Sean Cannon, Senior Digital Strategist and host/producer of the weekly interview show The Guestlist. Through our conversations with Sean – who is equipped with expertise in both design and all things LPM – we were able to create an identity that builds off the original work. Taking LPM to the next level while tightening their organization and messaging.

Louisville Public Media Public Radio Brand Family Original LogosLouisville Public Media Animated Logo

“It really changed the way we thought about our company.”

-Layla George


Formalizing naming was vital to this effort. Each member station was working to varying degrees with their call numbers, call letters, and in some cases descriptive names. We recommended applying descriptive names to each LPM property. The descriptive name needed to identify primary offering and pair with the word “Louisville.” By repeating “Louisville” in the naming, each member station is further tied to the parent brand. Louisville Public Media.

As an added wrinkle, we saw the opportunity for a naming change. WFPK was formerly called Radio Louisville. In a digital age, that name could be limiting. We worked with their team to come up with alternatives, and proposed Independent Louisville.

Louisville Public Media Public Radio Brand Family Dynamic Logo Set

“The process helped us clarify what we actually wanted as an organization as we continue growing and evolving.”

-Stephen George


The first step in the rollout was a digital makeover. We provided direction regarding LPM’s app, web, and social branding. The rest was up to their team.

Louisville Public Media Public Radio Brand Family App GUI SkinLouisville Public Media Public Radio Brand Family Social Media AvatarsLouisville Public Media Public Radio Brand Family Website

Their building renovation is in progress.

Louisville Public Media Public Radio Brand Family Glass VinylLouisville Public Media Public Radio Brand Family Wallpaper

And we created collateral to energize their employees and fans.

Louisville Public Media Public Radio Brand Family StationeryLouisville Public Media Public Radio Brand Family Toto BagsLouisville Public Media Brand Tagline

“I believe that the branding…almost gives us permission to be willing to try new things that aren’t radio…It is a forward-thinking framework that can incorporate growth. That is very important for a media company in a rapidly changing environment.”

-Layla George

Everyone at Bullhorn worked on this project in some capacity, and the whole team is proud to be a part of this incredible organization’s growth.

We worked with our new neighbors at Rockhouse Brewing to make an identity as weird as they are.

We put together a book to show off our work, culture, and people.