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Bento Nation: WMHT gives American Graduate the Bento Treatment


Mary Gribulis (left) and Stephanie
Del Belso from WMHT
WMHT, a dual-licensee station in New York, faces a challenge familiar to many public media stations—trying to maintain multiple online technologies to engage users. As a recent Bento adoptee, WMHT was looking for a solution to help them migrate to a single Content Management System.

Mary Gribulis, Online Managing Editor, and Stephanie Del Belso, Online Production Assistant, share how WMHT is approaching this challenge and why they decided to start the process with their new American Graduate website.

Read about their experience and visit the site (http://wmht.org/americangraduate) to see their great work. If you are an American Graduate station and wish to use Bento for your site, please visit http://bento.pbs.org for more information.

Tell us a bit about what you do at WMHT.

Mary Gribulis: I started with WMHT as the Online Production Assistant in November of 2011 and have been the Online Managing Editor since February of 2012. I manage our content for our websites and social media accounts. 

Stephanie Del Belso: I have been at the station part time for 6 months.  I was put in charge of building the American Graduate website in Bento. I also help to update the current website and build in Bento.



WMHT's American Graduate site built using Bento
Why did you choose Bento to build WMHT’s American Graduate site?

MG: I’ve been excited about Bento since I first learned about it. Our plan is to use Bento more and more for our online needs in the future, so building our American Graduate site with Bento was a forward-thinking, natural fit. With limited resources, stations often find themselves outsourcing, which can be inconvenient when it comes to updates and structural site tweaks. The idea that we can try new things, collaborate with other stations in the system, and build basically any template we want made it an easy sell for our American Graduate site.  

SD: We plan to build more of our online content with Bento, so our goal is to have all of our different websites living in one place. This would make things easier to update so we wouldn’t have to use several different content management systems.


What was your biggest challenge getting this site/project off the ground?

MG: The requirement to adopt the American Graduate template posed some challenges for us. First off, we already work with multiple content management systems which is a challenge in itself.  The idea of adding another management system was daunting. Second, we are a department of one and a half with limited resources and time. We didn’t want to grow another limb off the tree with no manageable way to take care of it. I asked Jen Carter from the PBS Digital team if Bento was flexible enough for re-building the American Graduate template. She said it would work perfectly and offered wonderful support for thinking through the site and how portions could be translated with pre-existing Bento features, like Smart Snippets.

SD: The biggest challenge was to sift through all of the information and code that was given to us to determine what we actually needed and what we could do differently using Bento’s capabilities.

MG: Stephanie came aboard right on time to tackle this project! 


Describe your experience building in Bento? What was your favorite part? What was the most challenging part?

SD: I enjoyed building the template in Bento. It was interesting to learn Bento’s capabilities. My favorite part was probably when I figured out how to use the one- and two-column templates that were already built and manipulate them to make them work with the base template I was building. The most challenging part was sifting through all of information and cleaning up the code at the end. I still have some cleaning up to do, but I’m proud of how far it’s come!

MG: My favorite part: Stephanie utilized Smart Snippets to make it easy for anyone at the station to update the site with text, links and images, even if they don’t have much technical experience.


How has your experience been with Bento since you have really started diving in, and what are your future plans?

SD: Since the training, I feel much more comfortable working within Bento. I had the chance to see the backend of things much more thoroughly, which has made me appreciate and understand how things work within the system. Although there’s more development going on, I feel very confident with the system because I have seen its capabilities. I look forward to building more of our web content in Bento. The system keeps making strides in the right direction! 

MG: I am thrilled with what Stephanie has accomplished using Bento. We knew from training that it was possible to build something from the ground up, but we didn’t quite know what that entailed. Once we got back, Stephanie was able to piece it all together. We know Bento is in some ways a work-in-progress, but every improvement makes us even happier with it. We are working on building out other pieces of our web presence. I have big dreams for how everything is going to flow together and be much more functional for us. Piece by piece we’re making it a reality.



Bento Nation is an on-going series that features pub media stations and the many ways they are using Bento to meet their digital needs. 

American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen is a long-term public media commitment, supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), to help local communities identify and implement solutions to the high school dropout crisis. More than 75 public radio and television stations in over 30 states have launched on-the-ground efforts to keep students on- track to high school graduation and be prepared for college and career.