How can you turn a “network” into a “community”?

Heritage Radio Network, member-supported 501(c)3 non-profit independent radio station, was founded in 2009 by Patrick Martins and based out of two storage containers in the back of Roberta’s restaurant in Bushwick. From these humble beginnings, the network has grown exponentially and now broadcasts 40 regular weekly shows on food, drink and agriculture to over 200 countries. Programs include Cooking Issues, where chef Dave Arnold answers listener questions on the latest innovative techniques, equipment, and ingredients in the food world. On Beer Sessions, host Jimmy Carbone discusses all things beer with brewers and beer experts. Other programs have featured luminaries like Alice Waters, Michael Pollan, Steven Soderbergh and Joan Dye Gussow.

In the crowded field of digital radio and podcasts, independent radio broadcaster Heritage Radio Network needed to find a way to differentiate themselves to connect with their current and future audience.  This was an exciting challenge. HRN has created a wonderful community of food experts and enthusiasts. We wanted to create a digital space where all these people could come together, connect more and find out about other programs  and projects in the HRN world.




The main challenge at play in reimagining the HRN platform was to develop an organizational structure and content management system that was flexible, scalable and easy to update. Since its inception, the HRB team was building their online presence  manually; there was no digital infrastructure in place to automate or streamline their process. With the production of over 40 shows per week, the process of manually copying and pasting lines of code to update the platform became cumbersome and overwhelming.

Additionally, HRN wanted their new platform to be a voice for all the shows. There was no space for each host to continually engage their audience or support their show’s content. With the rise in popularity of audio content, we felt was imperative for each show to have its own voice and to have the ability to share additional media with their listeners to support their weekly episodes.




Our goal was to bring HRN’s 10,000+ pieces of content into a highly customized CMS. This meant creating a new database structure to easily organize and streamline both their archival episodes and new content moving forward, as well as tagging system to allow users to easily find content. Each show was given its own page on the HRN platform, with the ability to post not only episodic content but also supplemental show content throughout the week. The creation of these “mini-sites” gave the hosts the freedom to craft their own narrative for their audience and gave people reasons to come back to the website for additional content.

The renovated platform showcases and enhances the diverse selection of high-quality, free programs, unlike any other radio network has done before.  On the platform, listeners can listen to programs live or archival, browse recommended episodes and programs and dive deeper into supplemental content. Plus, the new platform provides ways for listeners to connect with hosts and each other via social channels and enables “conversations about food that go far beyond the boundaries of traditional media.”



Pati Jinich