What’s Happening Behind-The-Scenes At QuadCities.com?
Saturday in the Arts is a weekly feature covering a trend, subject, event or personality of local interest. It runs every Saturday morning on your site for the best entertainment and arts coverage in the area, QuadCities.com!
Usually in this space, we look outward at the local arts scene, to present an in-depth feature on what’s impactful around the Quad-Cities. However, while thinking about what I was going to write about this week, I found myself inundated with work on the various aspects of QuadCities.com, and instead of rowing against the stream, I figured, why not write about that?
Why not give you a look behind-the-scenes at all of the things we’ve been working on, what we’ve got planned, and what the future holds for our site, and how it’s going to potentially impact the local arts and
Why not indeed.
Let’s get started…
Looking back, looking forward
When I first started with QuadCities.com in January 2016, I had a definitive plan of where we were looking to go. Arts and entertainment coverage had long been on the decline in the mainstream media. Television stations usually didn’t offer much coverage other than for really big events, and newspapers were cutting their coverage to the point where they were on the same path. Aside from a calendar and your token write-ups of big happenings like the Bix Fest or Paul McCartney at the TaxSlayer Center, a LOT of local arts and entertainment news was being ignored.
It was our mission to be the local media site for that news. Sure, we would cover the big events, we would be remiss in our duties as a media site if we ignored them. But we would also be dedicated to covering the smaller events and happenings that were being ignored — the local comedy scene, local bands, area theater, artists, smaller events at venues that typically flew under the radar, like Rozz-Tox.
In addition, we would cover them in a variety of ways that fully explored the online medium. Of course we’d have stories and photos, but we’d also feature podcasts and digital shows and live streaming and social media campaigns, fully utilizing the digital landscape to truly be a digital media company.
Also, we wanted to maintain a positive news focus on our site. All too often, I feel the negative
aspect of life and bad actions by people are given a lot of attention in the media, while good deeds and positive people are ignored, and I wanted our site to cover that positive news. The other news media perform a valuable function in informing people about politics and world news and the like, which is often contentious, but we wanted to go in a different direction and offer coverage of the events and people that often didn’t show up in the mainstream.
Over the past five-plus years, we’ve always tried to live up to this standard, constantly innovating, constantly changing and evolving to adapt to the needs of our readers and provide you with the best content in positive news, arts and entertainment, and more. And since we’ve got a lot going on behind-the-scenes that we thought you might find interesting, we thought we’d give you a look at features we’ve recently debuted and others coming soon.
Oscars Contest, Mockingbird On Main, And More
Having a Predict the Oscar Winners contest is not a new idea. In fact, when I was with the Dispatch/Argus over a decade ago, I ran an annual
contest. But they got cut from newspapers, and there hasn’t been a local contest in years, until 2021. This year, QuadCities.com was proud to present their first annual Predict the Oscar Winners contest, in conjunction with Harris Pizza. Our winner walked away with some free pizza, and the bragging rights of picking the most winners.
In addition, 2021 has brought another new feature to the site — our partnership with a new live venue, Mockingbird on Main, opening in downtown Davenport.
Our partnership with Mockingbird won’t just allow us to expand our coverage of the local arts scene, it will allow us to be a bigger part of that scene, allowing us to sponsor live theater, live music, comedy, live podcasts, and more, on the Mockingbird stage. It’ll help us expand the reach and range of the scene in addition to covering it extensively. The Mockingbird partnership is an evolution of what we’ve been doing the past five years in building partnerships and sponsorships of local events, from Taste Of Quad-Cities Art, to Midwest Monster Fest, to the Quad City Storm.
Along those same lines, we’re continuing to partner up with our friends at KWQC-TV6’s “Paula Sands Live” show and are looking to expand that partnership to their new show, “Quad Cities Live.” Stay tuned for more announcements in regard to that, as well as other show and event sponsorships and partnerships.
In addition, we added a new feature — Today’s Most Popular Articles — which gives you a glimpse into what’s currently trending on our site. Most of the articles are what’s hot and breaking, but there are also some interesting oddballs that pop up. For example, a column I wrote about an alleged time traveler communicating through TikTok has gotten over 250,000 views since its debut last fall, and every day it gets hundreds, sometimes thousands, of hits. It’s just one of those quirky things which adds an amusing twist to the most popular list.
We’ve also added a new feature, Artists In Conversation, in which we go in-depth with a particular creator in the area, talking about their work and their inspiration and methods of creation. That runs every Wednesday morning.
Evolving And Expanded Health Coverage
When covid began to hit early 2020, we had to pivot in our coverage, since so many of the things we usually covered — concerts, theater, etc.
— were going away as places closed. As the pandemic continued, we began to cover more virtual events and livestreams. Then, when we noticed that some local media were pushing pseudoscience and false information, and other media weren’t giving adequate coverage to what was happening with the pandemic, we began covering it on a regular basis.
We offered regular reports on what was happening with the pandemic, mitigations, and ultimately, vaccinations, and created a special page for that coverage. Along the way, we won a national award for that coverage, and, more importantly, we helped educate and inform people with fact-based reporting on a free media site. We did all of this on a specific page dedicated entirely to the latest local information on covid-19. It’s become one of our most-read sections of our site, obviously displaying a need and desire for this information.
As the pandemic, thankfully, recedes, we’re going to continue offering expanded health coverage not just on issues like covid but also general health coverage and columns. Health is something that impacts us all, and offering informational and fact-based coverage of it is something our readers are interested in seeing on the site, so we’re happy to provide it.
Food And Restaurant Reviews By Doc Kaalberg
Today we’ll see the debut of a new writer on our site — Doc Kaalberg!
Doc has been a popular writer on social media for a while and we’re happy to welcome him and his fun and insightful reviews to our site. He’ll be writing about local restaurants, as well as food and beverages.
In addition, I’ll be continuing to write my Let’s Have A Drink column now that area taverns and bars are opening up again, and we’re going to be featuring even more coverage of new restaurants and interesting new items on local menus. If there’s something unusual or strange on a menu, let us know so we can check it out. Email me at Sean@QuadCities.com.
When is the last time East Moline had its own newspaper?
The last time a newspaper was in Moline was a couple years ago. The Rock Island Argus closed down over a decade ago.
There’s a lot of news, especially in the Illinois side cities, which goes uncovered.
We’re trying to rectify that.
QuadCities.com has created CityPages — individual news pages for Rock Island, Moline, East Moline, Bettendorf and Davenport. You just click on the city icons at the top of our home page, and that’ll take you to a specific page with all of the news for your city. And not just the bad stuff, the crime and shootings and whatever, but GOOD news about your city, POSITIVE happenings and events.
It’s a way for you to keep up on what’s happening in your hometown — not just the bad stuff, but the good stuff. All of our city pages feature positive news and events for your town. So, please check them out, and if you’ve got any news for us to cover for your city, by all means feel free to drop us a line.
Categories For Auditions, Comedy, LGBTQ and More!
Along those same lines, we’ve also added additional pages for a variety of subjects which we feel haven’t traditionally gotten a lot of media coverage from the mainstream over the past few years, but which we cover regularly on QuadCities.com.
Adding these pages will allow our readers to go directly to the info they want on the subject they’re interested in.
Among the categories in articles, which you can check out here, are many common interests like Music, Theater, Kids Activities, Art, Upcoming Concerts, and more.
However, in addition to those, we’re also the first media site in the Quad-Cities to dedicate pages to subjects like Comedy, LGBTQ, Auditions, and more. Those are audiences which have been underserved in the local media, and we sought to change that with not just our coverage, but also our dedication of specific pages to that coverage so people interested in it would have a specific spot to find all of those stories dedicated to those subjects.
We’ll continue to do that as time goes on and we identify subjects of interest to our readers.
Our Podcast Hub is one of our biggest projects we’ve been working on over the past year, building new software and new sites not just on QuadCities.com, but on the over 400 websites we own across North America.
The podcast hub allows local podcasters to retain ownership and complete creative control over their work, while having a spot for it to find new listeners not just locally, but nationwide. Once we have your podcast in our system, whenever you drop a new episode, it automatically posts to our sites.
This also allows for one central hub for local listeners to find area podcasts they might enjoy. Looking for something new to listen to? Check out the Podcast Hub.
There you’ll find our most popular podcasts, including Weekend in 2 Minutes (offering a weekly rundown of what’s going on over the coming weekend), QCUncut (uncut, uncensored, unedited conversations with local newsmakers), Atari Bytes (a look back on vintage Atari games), and more.
We’ll also be debuting new podcasts soon, including No Cords and the Truth (fact-based looks at trending topics), and more.
If you’ve got a podcast you’d like to get on our hub, by all means contact us at Sean@QuadCities.com.
Partnerships With RME, KALA, WVIK and More
Along those lines, soon you’ll be seeing even more podcasts on our hub as part of our partnerships with local radio stations WVIK and KALA. We’re partnering up with them to help broaden our reach to the area and provide an even bigger spotlight to the positive news events we all are interested in highlighting in the Quad-Cities.
We’re also partnering up with the new music website The Echo, River Music Experience, and the Underground Economy, to help broaden our coverage of the local scene. All of us have the same goal — to shine a spotlight on the awesome things happening in the Quad-Cities, and, working together, we can help do that with an even greater impact.
So, there you have it, a look around at a lot of the things we’ve been up to at QuadCities.com. We’re also still looking for summer interns and writers, so if you’re interested, drop me a line at Sean@QuadCities.com.
Thanks a lot for reading, and as always, for fun, free, local positive news about our area, continue to keep an eye on QuadCities.com!