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From Analog to APIs: WESA and WYEP Power Membership Drives with Twilio


RussWho knew that donations could be so expensive? Pittsburgh NPR affiliate radio stations WESA and WYEP, wanted to launch a call-based membership drive but quickly hit a roadblock. Their old analog phones were outdated and too expensive to use for a large scale membership drive.

WESA and WYEP used Twilio to power the campaign, and quickly built a new way to reach out to listeners via SMS. We talked to Russ Loyd (pictured above),  the Director of Technology for WYEP, WESA about their successful membership drive, bringing music and news to Pittsburgh and what’s next for the station.

1. What type of channel is WYEP and WESA and when was the station founded?

WYEP is the leading independent media organization in Pittsburgh building community around compelling music and information content and sustained through public support.  WYEP has been broadcasting on the FM dial (91.3) since 1974.

WESA is Pittsburgh’s NPR News Station and southwestern Pennsylvania’s only independent public radio news and information station, we give voice to provocative ideas that foster a vibrant, informed, diverse and caring community.

2. How did the Twilio integration and membership drive go?

The integrations was seamless. Twilio allowed us to route membership / donation calls between our studio (where we had volunteers answering calls and accepting donations) and the call center that handled overflow and times when we were not staffed with volunteers at the studio.  Pete Brumm was able to create a simple web page to let the Membership Director set the number of calls that route to the studio, with all other calls being sent to the call center.

The results of the campaign were super.  We were able to save money by eliminating the expensive analog lines that we used to forward the calls previously. Plus we were able to minimize the calls sent to the call center which in turn saved more money.

3.  What did members and callers think of the integration?

The members / callers had a wonderful experience in that they could not tell any difference.  Some volunteers raved about the ease of use at the studio answering phones, but the entire idea was for the end user to be unaware of any changes made to the phone system.  It worked. Twilio delivered high quality audio and forwarding that we expected.

4. Anything you’d like to add?

Pete and I have used Twilio in the past and were very confident in its reliability.  We had to convince some skeptical directors to use the cloud to handle our main revenue stream.  They were elated with the results and we now route all of our member relations calls through Twilio.

Plus we have just implemented the SMS feature that Twilio offers for membership acquisitions and tied it into our Mailchimp account when we are on site at our community events to sign people up for our newsletters, etc.

Pete Brumm developed the system designed by Russ Loyd.  Pete is located in Nashville, TN. To learn more about WESA and WYEP, visit their website here

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