Over the last several years, I've worked with a lot of radio broadcasters who have become podcasters, but I haven't worked with many podcasters who have become broadcasters. So I was excited to learn that Clay Groves, who had his Fish Nerds podcast airchecked by broadcasting professionals live on stage at Podcast Movement as part of my Podcast Makeover panel a few years ago, had landed himself a bona fide radio gig at his hometown station.
It was clear from the moment that I first met Clay that he has a fantastic personality for radio — his enthusiasm is infectious. Of course, it takes more than just personality to become a successful broadcaster. I have often told DJs that while some of their radio skills are transferrable to podcasting, there are important differences in the mediums that you need to learn. I wanted to know if Clay felt the same way as he migrated in the opposite direction. So I invited him to write this guest blogpost about the differences between broadcasting and podcasting as he's made the shift. –Seth Resler
A couple weeks ago, I was having coffee with friends and my phone rang. It was the station manager from the local radio station, Mark. I figured I won some sort of sweepstakes or something cool. Welp, it turns out, their weekend morning drive disc jockey had just quit and they needed a new weekend voice. They asked me if I would come down and give it a shot. I guess in a way I felt like I did win! Of course I said yes, and went on down.
You may be asking yourself “Why did they call Clay Groves, Chief Executive Fish Nerd of the Fish Nerds Podcast?” Was it because they were fans of my show? Were they scouring the internet for local talent and stumbled across my fishing show? The answer is NOPE! The truth is I have been a listener of their station for 15 years, I have been a regular caller on their call-in shows and often have won contests. In addition — and likely a bigger reason they called — is that I have been doing some work with them over the last few years. Here is an abbreviated list of what I did with them:
- I worked with a local bait shop and recorded a series of one minute Fish Nerds podcasts that was aired on their station and paid for by the bait shop. (I also did this for TV.)
- In my day job I work at a non-profit and I would come on the radio frequently to promote community events.
- I took the news team ice fishing and helped them record a story that helped them win a New Hampshire Broadcasting Award.
- I got lucky! They were having a meeting and my name came up as a possible replacement.
So I took the job, as of the writing of this essay, I have been on air a total of four times and learned very quickly that radio is very different than podcasting. Here are 5 ways radio is different than podcasting:
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1. It’s live.
This was and is the hardest thing to get used to. When you make a podcast, you can take your time in a low-pressure condition and make the show. With a live show, you need to be in the game the whole time. There is no room for taking a breath, break, or nap and coming back to it later.
2. Mistakes disappear as soon as you make them.
Let’s face it, we all make mistakes. In a podcast, we can edit it out and it goes away and nobody ever hears it. OR if we don’t catch it the mistake gets into a few hundred ears. The mistake lives on. On radio, if you mess up — and I did — the mistake happens but the show just keeps on going. In training they said, “Make your mistakes, remember your mistakes, but don’t tell the audience about them. The listeners are making breakfast, cleaning their house or occupied with other work. Once you make a mistake, it’s gone and the train keeps going.”
3. People are listening.
This is the weirdest thing. After my first live show I went to my local bar and they were playing the radio station I work for over their speakers. The weather came on and it was my voice. Everyone at this “locals” bar recognized my voice. Thanks for the free beer! Then I went to run some errands and everywhere I went I kept hearing from listeners who heard me. They were into it and loved hearing a new voice on the radio. In addition, while live I pronounced an artist’s name the way it was spelled — “Bruce Cockburn.” The phone immediately rang and I was informed of the correct pronunciation: “Coleburn.” Imagine my embarrassment! I ended up receiving four calls about that one. In my podcast, I get feedback, but it’s rare and disconnected from when I recorded.
4. There are a lot of moving pieces.
As a DJ, at least at this station, I am also the show producer. So the sound boards, music, and live call in features all have to be run by me. Moving all of these pieces and being live on the air is incredibly hard! I knocked the radio off the air twice, read the wrong ads, played the wrong music, and failed at getting live callers on the air! On a podcast, you can experiment, take your time and make it right before the listeners hear it. I just smiled and kept going!
5. Opportunities come fast!
I have been podcasting for almost seven years and podcasting has brought me dozens of cool opportunities to speak, guest on other shows, and of course it got me on radio. I have been on radio for only a couple weeks and already I am getting asked to be on other radio stations, I have been asked to train to be the morning news guy’s substitute, and I have been training to be the fill in weekday drivetime DJ — the most listened to timeslot!
I am quite sure that if I get asked in a month how podcasting and broadcasting is different I will have some very different answers. In the meantime, I am really enjoying the learning and growth of my skills as I learn to work the boards, record news, and run the shows. I keep thanking the station manager for taking a shot with me and, of course, I appreciate all the listeners who have been listening along as I muddle through.
Oh, I just thought of one more important difference between radio and podcasting: I get paid!