FYI Corner: Checking in on Bento

By Jen Carter, Station Products & Innovation 

A few months ago, we updated you on a project called Bento. Bento is meant to develop a product link for creating station Web sites, managing online content, and leveraging Merlin and COVE data in ways that will benefit PBS Member Stations. PBS Interactive and an Alpha Test Group (ATG) made up of six stations (WSKG; WTTW; Eight, Arizona PBS; The Nine Network; KEDT, and Rocky Mountain PBS) have been collaborating on this project for the past several months via an alpha process.

Throughout this alpha process, we have reached out to Stationland in an attempt to bolster a stronger product. Thank you to the Station Advisory Council (SAC), ATG, and everyone who participated in our webinar series and systemwide survey. The feedback from these #pubmedia outlets have been paramount in the development and implementation of a Web site solution that best serves the needs of stations.

Where we stand:

We have reached and continue to expand and improve on the following deliverables:
  • Creation of plugins and templates for use on station Web sites;
  • Creation and full vetting of a CMS solution for station implementation;
  • Development of scalable options compatible with the wide scope of stations within the system;
  • Integration with the Merlin admin tool;
  • Rollout of product documentation (detailed below).

Our goal in the release of Bento is to capitalize on lessons learned from the COVE deployment process. As such, one of the key elements for Bento will be documentation that reinforces the rapid deployment rollout of Bento to stations. Bento documentation will outline:
  • How to use the Bento tool 
  • Updates to Merlin admin tool resources, including the addition of COVE and Bento 
  • Updates to our existing Web, editorial, design, and digital strategy best practices 

Looking ahead:

As Bento continues its transition from the alpha portion to the system rollout phase, PBS Interactive and the ATG have begun discussing and evaluating how to best prepare stations for Bento. This initial process will help determine the rapid rollout schedule to the system.

Other areas of focus, over the next few months, will include:
  • Outlining scalability and technical support to be shared with stations during deployment.
  • Continued development and enhancement of audience and backend features. New features will be based on collaborative work done with the alpha stations as they prepare to launch their new sites and pages, as well as work done by other stations looking to implement Bento in the near future. 
  • Our mission is to ensure the sustainability and success of Bento. 
To help get stations moving we will be hosting several webinars and Q&A to help stations prepare for Bento (check back for updates).

Keeping in the loop:

Interested in learning more about Bento, providing feedback, or just want to stay in the know? Send us an email or leave a comment below and we’ll be sure to follow up.

Updated on May 10, 2012


  1. The call letters on the dummy Bento webpage shown in this post are in real-life used by a commercial TV station in Detroit!

    Perhaps you can replace the image with a five-letter set of call letters, since no TV or radio station in the U.S. has a five-letter call sign!

    1. Thanks so much for reaching out to us. We have updated the logo on the post to a five letter call sign as you suggested. Good catch!