Well, the first day of voting on the Nappie Awards in our new runoff format had one dramatic outcome for us — it broke our Internet.

Those of you who were champing at the bit to start voting for Nappie finalists last week probably noticed things got off to a bit of a rough start. First our original link was messed up, which delayed things going live until about 10 a.m. last Thursday. Then, when it went really live, the voting simply overwhelmed our website host around 3 p.m. and caused our site to crash for almost 24 hours.

Voters were still able to continue voting by going straight to the site hosting the ballots, but lagniappemobile.com was down and our hosts wouldn’t turn us back on because of worries it would happen again. Long story short, we ended up having to migrate the site to a different host with more server space.

Frankly, we never would have thought the voting would be so intense. During the three-week nomination phase of the awards this year, we had about 100,000 total votes — print and online — which seemed like a tremendous amount compared to previous years. As I write this, just about six days after voting on this round began, there have been more than 385,000 online votes already. Saying the competition is fierce for a Nappie Award this year is an understatement.

We’ve been surprised to see the number of people who have taken to social media to urge their friends, customers and supporters to vote. They were even talking about the Nappies on the syndicated “Lex and Terry” radio show Tuesday morning.

We need to apologize for the bumps in getting this up and running last week, but hope most of our readers and advertisers are enjoying it. After all, the Nappie Awards are about having some fun competition. So keep on voting until July 13 — just don’t break the Internet again.

Cuts coming after NOLA.com/al.com merger
Just hours after it was announced Advance Publications was merging the management of NOLA.com and al.com and placing them both under the leadership of former Mobile Press-Register Publisher Ricky Mathews, news organizations in The Big Easy began reporting that a new round of cuts is on the way.

Gambit Weekly said the formation of the Southeast Regional Media Group (SRMG) was quickly followed at the Times-Picayune by a meeting to tell reporters the newsroom would be whittled down again. Thus far no such cutbacks have been announced at the Press-Register, Birmingham News or Huntsville Times — which along with The Mississippi Press make up SRMG’s print outlets.

When the merger was announced last week, many former P-R employees expressed concerns it wouldn’t be long before more cutbacks come to the Alabama newspapers. SRMG has not officially taken over yet. The cuts in New Orleans are expected through the latter part of this year and early next.

The company has not announced a headquarters, but some have speculated Mobile could serve in that capacity, as Mathews has a long history on the coast, has worked here before and The Times-Picayune is scheduled to begin printing in Mobile sometime later this year.

USA radio prowling forward?
Efforts to bring a terrestrial college radio station to life at the University of South Alabama are moving forward, according to Department of Communications Chairman Jim Aucoin.

Aucoin says there is now a formal proposal for funds to get the station on the air and it has been taken to the university’s budget committee by Vice President for Student Affairs Mike Mitchell.

“We need about $54,000 to get the station on the air. That plus a promise of $20,000 from the athletic department covers equipment needs and construction of a shelter for the transmitter and installation of the broadcasting antenna,” Aucoin said. “I have no idea whether we will get the funds this fall. However, I believe the administration is interested in getting the funding for the station, but funds may not be available this fall. We have three years to get the station on air or we lose the license.”

The university acquired the license for a low-power FM station last year in an effort to take its Internet-only station to the airwaves. The station will have a maximum power of 28 watts and run on the frequency of 97.1 FM. It will have the call letters WGJR-LP, but go by the name “The Prowl.”

Aucoin has said it’s expected the station would serve a five-mile area around the university, although repeaters could be added around town to improve coverage. The Prowl will be a mixture of music, talk shows and sports broadcasts. It will become part of the Jaguar Sports Network.

School system wins PR awards
For the second consecutive year the public relations staff at the Mobile County Public School System has received a Golden Achievement Award from the National School Public Relations Association.

The system also received an Award of Excellence for a special publication entitled “It Starts With Us.” In addition there were two Awards of Merit for in-house videos, one about the Golden Spoon cooking competition and another about a JROTC training camp. The show “Homeroom with Nancy Pierce” also received an honorable mention.

“We are very proud of the work we have been able to do in the Department of Communication to promote the positive things that are happening in our schools every day,” Rena Philips, MCPSS supervisor of communication and marketing, wrote in a press release.

The Golden Achievement award was for hosting two tours of schools, called “Get on the Bus.”