The secret’s out, and now every content creator is trying to cash in on the audio on-demand phenomenon. As we will show in Techsurvey12, there is bona fide podcasting growth from last year’s study, making the growth of on-demand audio one of the key findings. As more and more consumers discover a world of exciting content they can access wherever and whenever they like, there will be even more great programming to choose from. It's happening right before our eyes.
A case in point occurred last week when a Nieman Labs’ email touting a podcasting twofer ended up in my email box. Their lead story talked about how The New York Times is launching its own podcast division (joining The Wall Street Journal and Guardian). Not surprisingly, their head of innovation and strategy is Kinsey Wilson, former head of content at NPR. He’s a guy who combines careers in journalism, broadcast, and digital media – a potent mix. Kinsey didn't just see podcasting coming – he was an early believer.
The Times has been dabbling in the space. Their Modern Love podcast is a crowd-sourced creation about the pains and joys of love and romance – not exactly the type of effort you’d expect from this venerable newspaper. And that’s the point. This experiment proves the podcast model allows brands to expand their defined content silos, creating exciting new possibilities, opening up revenue generation from non-traditional sources, and increasing the ability to broaden their audience appeal.
Why wouldn’t any established media outlet want to get in on this opportunity? For radio, however, the podcast revolution has been a story of fits and starts. To provide clarity about podcasting for radio, Techsurvey12 will feature extended information about audience podcast desires and usage, right down to determining which categories are most appealing by format – and for stakeholder stations, by their discreet audiences.
We isolated more than 11,000 consumers who listen to podcasts and on-demand audio monthly or more often. Across the entire sample – we learned the most preferred category is podcasts that repurpose previously aired radio shows. That’s not real exciting news, and it struck me in reading the Neiman Labs article that Wilson went out of his way to note that the new division’s podcast efforts will shy away from simply creating podcast versions of New York Times news stories and features:
“I want to make clear that the idea is not to take The New York Times as it is today and simply render an audio version. Modern Love is probably the exception, where we’re able to take the printed word as it was published in the newspaper and create a really engaging listening experience. In most cases, we’re going to have to do things that are creative and original to the medium.”
And that's the challenge facing radio in the podcasting space. Many stations and shows are simply repurposing content rather than create truly new content. There's room to do so much more. When you drill down our podcasting preferences into subgroups – generations and format fans – you see on-demand audio in a whole new light. Like Alternative fans.Among these core fans of bands like X Ambassadors and Foo Fighters, for example, there’s considerable interest in podcasts that have nothing to do with music , like comedy, TV, film, and pop culture, and even news events and politics. Note how these topics trump music themes, strongly suggesting that format audiences are far from myopic, looking for content that goes beyond recapping concert festivals or showcasing local bands:
Kinsey Wilson also noted something we’ve been saying for some time – The Times has incredible talent that is capable of coming up with ideas that go well beyond what we’re accustomed to reading on the printed page or at nytimes.com.
And so it is in the radio business where content ideas must go well beyond the typical confines. The magic is in creating podcasts that are innovative, different, and a step beyond what listeners are used to hearing on their favorite Classic Rock or Sports Radio station.
And as Wilson is challenging his journalistic colleagues to step up and bring big new ideas to the table, so should his counterparts in the radio broadcast industry. For The Times staff, there will be a learning curve because creating great podcasts out of the box isn’t something that is simple to intuit for staffers who have excelled in the printed word.
For radio professionals, however, podcasting is a first cousin to a skill set they've been practicing and honing their entire careers. A key difference is how traditional radio limitations – time, topic, regularity, PPM-friendly content, and commercial load – are suspended or even non-existent. For those who have complained about radio's restrictiveness, a lack of risk-taking, and top-down dictates, podcasting provides a means of creating audio that combines professional experience with the excitement of experimentation. And by the way, ratings be damned.
The range of podcasting potential is unlimited. In the same Nieman Labs update, NPR announced a new podcast of its own, Embedded. Featuring the talented journalist Kelly McEvers, this effort takes listeners on a deeper dive behind-the-scenes, offering a perspective on news stories that simply isn’t available from traditional news media outlets.
Why was it so important for her to expand her role at NPR into the podcast space? As McEvers told Neiman Labs’ Shan Wang, “I wanted to figure out how doing a podcast could make me sound better on the radio, and how doing radio could make me sound better on a podcast.”
Podcasting isn’t just a burgeoning audio content category that's this year's digital fad. It is a chance to expand – a career, a role, a revenue base, and an audience.
And as McEvers so clearly pointed out in this story:
“If you’ve been working in audio in the last couple of years and you don’t want to start a podcast, you’re kind of crazy!”
Next week, Seth Resler will moderate an exciting session at the Worldwide Radio Conference: “Broadcasters Meet Podcasters – How Radio Stations Can Enter the Mobile World of On-Demand Audio.” It features Panoply’s Andy Bowers, WNYC’s Dean Cappello, Audible’s Eric Nuzum, Libsyn’s Rob Walch, and Blubrry’s Todd Cochrane. They don’t get better than this. Registration info for WWRS16 is here.
Jacobs Media has consistently walked the walk in the digital space, providing insights and guidance through its well-read national Techsurveys.
In 2008, jacapps was launched - a mobile apps company that has designed and built more than 1,200 apps for both the Apple and Android platforms. In 2013, the DASH Conference was created - a mashup of radio and automotive, designed to foster better understanding of the "connected car" and its impact.
Along with providing the creative and intellectual direction for the company, Fred consults many of Jacobs Media's commercial and public radio clients, in addition to media brands looking to thrive in the rapidly changing tech environment.
Fred was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2018.
Latest posts by Fred Jacobs (see all)
- Common Sense Observations About Teens And Radio News - August 21, 2019
- It's National Radio Day!(Give A DJ A Hug) - August 20, 2019
- Women In Radio: The Next Chapter Or The Same Old Story? - August 19, 2019