Bento Nation: MPT Appreciates Bento
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Welcome to our latest installment in the Bento Nation Series. The series returns with Bob Wilson, Executive Producer of Interactive Media for Maryland Public Television. You can follow him on Twitter at @eatonplace — and yes, he'll happily volunteer that he's an original Upstairs, Downstairs fan. Bob's been working in public media since 2005, and, last September, he updated MPT's website through Bento. Today, he graciously shared his station's Bento experience with us.

Why Bento?
What’s not to like about a web-based CMS that is geared specifically for public television stations…and is free? It has ease of use, reliability, and access to tons of content that can be presented in a few clicks, plus no burden of maintaining a technical back-end, and flexibility—if there isn’t a snippet that suits your need, the system is open to take those you can make yourself.

How did you start using Bento? Did your station attend Bento training?
PBS approached MPT to attend a user focus group session, which I did, and it was there that I was introduced to the concept of Bento and how it could help with improving our web presence. Not long after that, a slot opened up for initial Bento training, and I gladly signed up. I was convinced Bento was right for us within minutes.

What are your thoughts on the product? Has this changed since you first started working on it?
My thoughts really haven’t changed much. I’ve been a big Bento fan from the start. We converted from a site that had become a giant technical back-end headache. My relief and gratitude for Bento and how it solved that problem has remained steadfast! I’m also very pleased to see the on-going efforts at PBS to grow and develop Bento, as seen with the Open Bento initiative. One lucky thing about our waiting a little while to implement Bento was we could take advantage of the responsive version (“Explorer”), which had not been available at the start of Bento.

What are your favorite features in Bento now?
I like any snippets that provide access to content/Merlin. I also enjoy Bentomatic pages—PBS Food, for example, is a great content source with year-round seasonal applications. Finally, I appreciate the responsive design.

What would you like to see from the tool in the coming months?
I'd like to see the ability to pop open new URL windows from links in all smart snippets, along with access to ALL national content in Merlin without having to ask specifically for it. Quicker live page refreshing would also be nice.

If you could give one piece of advice to stations thinking of a site migration, what would it be?
Use this opportunity to re-imagine what your site is about and how its content can be supported by all the great PBS material that is available. Rather than assume you have to move your entire current site over as it is currently, just start with your core needs, then perhaps build out in a new direction with all the content that is now at your fingertips. Leverage all of your third party content sources.

If you had to describe Bento in 140 characters what would you say?
Easy to use. Low maintenance. Great results. What more do you want?

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

If you wish to use Bento for your site, please visit for more information.