Swipe this program guide!

WGBH puts listings on an iPad

By Steve Behrens

WGBH has begun distributing its monthly program guide, Explore!, in a package that brings video and audio promos along with it to iPad tablets. It can also use Wi-Fi to pull in updated “live listings” from the Web even after it’s in the viewers’ hands.

Tap the “play” icon in the new WGBH program guide for the iPad, and it’ll play you a video promo. (Photo: Current.)

Also, the guide doesn’t have to go to the printer a month and a half before broadcast, as printed guides do, says Ben Godley, WGBH chief operating officer.

Starting in December WGBH members could view the guide only if they had iPads. Editions for Android tablets and computers will be developed later, says Steve Baker, senior director of creative projects.

[As this article was being prepared, the program guide was named best publication of the year by Boston’s Ad Club. See sidebar.]

The guide is a free but hefty download from the Apple iTunes Store.

It’s not exactly an “app,” Baker says. It’s a digital publication — more in the nature of a huge PDF document with built-in videos.

WGBH is the first nonprofit to try the beta version of the high-end Adobe Digital Publishing Suite previously used only by magazines such as The New Yorker, he says. The ultra-precise pages are composed like those of print magazines, largely in Adobe’s InDesign software. Several pages in the January issue were paid ads.

For the first time, enthusiastic viewers will be able to see all the dozens of promos made every month for PBS programs  — more than any station can run, Baker observes.

He expects tablets to become the second screen that offers supplementary material while a TV program is airing.

After almost a year of work on the project, WGBH is still focusing on its local guide, Baker says, but it’s open to helping other stations if they’re interested.    

Comments, questions, tips? behrens@current.org
Copyright 2012 American University

EARLIER STORIES

Before the iPad came out, Steve Robinson of Chicago’s WFMT-FM imagines what a music station could publish on a tablet, 2009.

AWARD FOR THE GUIDE

Boston’s Ad Club named WGBH’s Explore! program guide the “best publication or brochure” in its awards announced Jan. 12, 2012. The judges said: “Their innovative work on The WGBH Explore! Magazine for iPad, the first monthly non-profit digital magazine in the market was truly a success. Their marketing challenge was two-fold: to reinvent the classic printed member’s guide by incorporating technology and to create a more focused marketing and member acquisition tool. The soft launch in December was only promoted through member email and already received over one thousand downloads!”

RELATED LINKS

Download the free WGBH program guide from Apple’s App Store.

Managing Editor Inc., in Jenkintown, Pa., worked with Rolling Stone on a Beatles app and with WGBH on its program guide.

Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite is tightly integrated with the company’s familiar Creative Suite software.

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