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Want to inspire community with your adventures in our back yard? Would you like to be inspired by photos and videos from people like you … making the most of everything Central Oregon has to offer? Then check out the new BackyardBend mobile app, downloadable at Google Play or Apple Store.
The app is an evolution of the website backyardbend.com — a favorite source for many Central Oregonians — that takes the idea of a community town square out of the square and into your Smartphone. The app was created by longtime locals and is curated by the BackyardBend community. It’s a place to post photos and videos and share with your community, and look for information about concerts, events, conditions, nonprofits and more.
BackyardBend — or “BYB” for short — is the brainchild of Jim Gross, owner of Bend Radio Group, which is home to Power 94, Fox Sports 94.9, Mix 100.7, KSJJ 102.9, 92/9 FM and Fox Sports 94.9FM. Bend Radio launched Backyardbend.com three and a half years ago; and with 64,000 posts and 66,000 users utilizing the website and related social media platforms, Gross said it became clear that it was time to create an app. “Radio has been doing exceptionally well as a traditional medium,” explained Gross. “Ninety percent of America tunes into radio two hours per day. But media has gotten more complex and competitive. Radio companies now have to be multi-platform media companies as well; and localism is everything. This includes producing concerts, events and, with the advent of BackyardBend, a unique digital-social platform. Nobody here in Central Oregon media had done this yet. We felt it was important for residents, businesses and the area … and so we had to be there.”
The inspiration behind the app originally came from his son, Gross said. “Several years ago my son, who is a skier, showed me some video of his friends who were in the Sisters backcountry skiing and building jumps in September. Charlie had their video before they returned to the trailhead and it was already going viral,” he said. “A lot of people are out there living large and chronicling their fun, but most of us don’t ever know about it. I wanted to expand this concept to incorporate the whole community,” he said. “So everyone could see what everyone else was doing. A community inspired.” The app includes a hashtag map that interfaces with a content gallery, he explained, so users can view the content, identify where it was posted, and even connect with that person directly to leave a comment or make contact individually. Bend Radio Group on-air personalities can also see what’s going on too and can even put the posting individual live on the air if appropriate. “This Millennial generation, the 22- to 38-year-olds, wants to go peer-to-peer for information,” said Gross. “They’re all about localism. They want to talk with someone who has no vested interest, just first-hand experience; this is totally opposite of the Baby Boomer mindset.
The app took a year and a half to create, Gross explained, crediting Kris Jamieson, the former head of VIP Relations for GoPro, for knowing an individual who had the algorithms needed to build it. “Creating BackyardBend was lots of work. It was completely engineered and created here,” said Gross. “We are unaware of anything in the country that’s like this. It’s the first outdoor lifestyle-oriented app for locals. We are hopeful it will be well received.”
Gross said that BYB consolidates the best of Central Oregon in a time-relevant format, is customizable and allows searches to be done in two ways: by using the hashtag map or by viewing the gallery and selecting what you want from there. There are no robotic algorithms, and no third-party content insertions. The app is local, organic and authentic. It also contains a large library of videos created by the staff at BackyardBend, a calendar of events, “positive news,” a featured artist series, and Digital Deals, “where ten percent of all revenues generated are donated to a local nonprofit.” He said the app even serves as a podcast-hosting platform, and contains a “Win it” feature, where prizes are awarded to users just for sharing.
“We go beyond just the basics. BackyardBend serves as local community in your phone, customizing the information you want and placing it at your fingertips.”