A friend in Public Radio reached out to me the other day.
He was looking for talent.
For a major broadcast client who wanted some original voices that speak to a younger demographic than the one Public Radio (and News/Talk) is most famous for.
And I got to thinking….
How many times have I been asked for new “spoken word” talent by commercial broadcasters?
This fellow realizes what most of my commercial peers do not: The new talent is all around us but rarely do we seek it out. It’s on the podcasts and in the spaces between media forms. It’s on YouTube and the Huffington Post. It’s everywhere.
But the new talent will not necessarily fit the old radio paradigm. That is, a three or four hour show five days a week is not necessarily the best use of the new talent. Comic actress Aisha Tyler has a terrific podcast, but you won’t find twenty hours of it every week.
And that’s just as well because there’s nothing easy to discover or share or consume about twenty hours of content every week. Twenty minutes – maybe. Twenty seconds – sure. But not twenty hours.
After all, how much of Rush Limbaugh’s audience listens to his entire show every weekday? I’m guessing not much. We are not filling demand with so much content, we are filling time. If the average person listens to 30 minutes of a News/Talk show, then the demand is full at the 30-minute mark. The rest of the show is about convenience and filling somebody else’s demand. And more often than not there’s no need to download (and actually listen to) a three-hour podcast – who has that much time? Besides, there’s another carbon copy of today’s show on tomorrow at this time – and ditto the day after that.
Even broadcasters tend to perceive that every day is a carbon copy of every other day. Look at SiriusXM’s Howard Stern show where any given repeat episode or segment could be from 1989!
In an on-demand world we don’t need to fill time. We just need to fill demand. Because time belongs to me, the consumer. That means more content, shorter content, easier to share content, fresh content.
If we limit our vision to “who can do twenty hours a week for us?” we are asking the wrong question in a digitally-driven, consumer-powered world.
Instead we should ask: “What content do we want to be famous for across platforms? And how easy is it to discover and share that content?”
We need to ask “What talents already have a following and how can we leverage and monetize that for our brands and our clients?”
We need to ask not “How do we fill twenty hours?” but “How do we fill the demand, however long or short it is?”
We need to stop seeking the same old talent that is ever-present and can fit our extraordinary time demands and our limited audiences and start seeking talent that can delight consumers in fresh ways and solve problems for advertisers and consumers alike.
In whatever form, whatever place, and whatever duration makes the most sense.