Our Podcasts are a Mess – Here’s how to Make Them Better

Most broadcasters get the logic for providing audio content online by streaming and on-demand.

We focus a lot on streaming because it’s most analogous to what we do on the air, but we don’t focus much on the function of people searching for audio content they want and consuming it on their own timetable.  Whether we call this “podcasting” or something else, it doesn’t matter.  It remains something that many stations do, but very few do particularly well.

Why do so many stations do this so poorly?  Because they don’t know what it takes to do it well.  They don’t know the best practices.  They don’t know how to envision “success.”  So instead, they envision an audio archive, a library of morning shows or talk shows.  A library that is tough to discover, tough to search for, tough to consume, tough to take mobile, and tough to share.

Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln….

There’s a lot to learn from the way consumers use video.  So says Gil Edwards, and he should know.

Gil is a former program director and now the VP Content for Quaker Media, which owns (among other things) video clipping and sharing site RedLasso, where Gil learned firsthand what it takes to bring audiences to online content en masse.

I talked with Gil about the opportunities for radio to get a ton more attention from their online audio content (even if that means making it online video content).

This is a really important conversation about a topic that should be near and dear to the broadcaster’s heart:  Maximizing the value of our over-the-air content on a digital on-demand platform.

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  • Mark – when I do my talk at Podcamp about keeping podcast listeners – I often talk about both good and band radio podcasts.  Here’s the context in which I talk about it:

    I bring up how it takes listeners a lot of effort to figure out how to get podcasts.  So as an example (name of the station not revealed to protect the guilty) – 44 year old guy who listens to a classic rock station hears that they have a podcast of their “get the Led out” on air segment.  SO he figures out how to go into iTunes, search for it, subscribe to it, download it and sync it to his iPod.  For him – as a relatively non-techie guy this might be no small feat.

    He has it synced so he figures he’ll go to the gym, and when he gets on the treadmill – he’s all set to “get the Led out!” 20 minutes of Led Zep playing on his iPod, while he’s working out. He’s pumped.  He’s ready! And he starts the podcast when he gets there……

    …..and is surprised and disappointed that it is the host of Get the Led Out on the station, doing 2 minutes of Led Zep history……and that’s all….

    SO that tarnishes the station’s reputation.  IT doesn’t match the on air product. AND sends the guy not just away from that station’s podcasts….BUT FROM ALL PODCASTS.  It takes EFFORT to get them.  He went to ALL THAT EFFORT, and was hugely disappointed. He may not come back to podcasts for a while, or ever.  Why not ever?  Because if you can’t get one good one from a brand you trust, why would you go to all that effort for podcasts from brands you may never have heard of? 

    Addendum:  OF COURSE there’s no music.  The RIAA has ensured that stations can’t MAKE podcasts with songs.  The BMI and ASCAP podcast licenses are bizarre and require odd record keeping.

  • Oh – and that Get The Led Out Podcast?  It still exists. Google it. 😉

  • If we invest some attention we will be repaid with attention.

    If we don’t, we won’t.

    Consumers can smell “lazy”

  • Streaming video’s cost structure has kept all but a handful of mostly large organizations from developing new business models around the technology.The costs of bandwidth, storage, and transcoding are falling rapidly. Radio stations could put themselves in a position to benefit from this next wave of massive change by experimenting with streaming video, more so than VOD.

  • Amen to that Mark!  That podcast didn’t even have imaging opening the podcast with a short sweeper or anything. It launched right into the jock giving two minutes from history.  I emailed the station and asked them why it didn’t even have basic imaging and two weeks later the podcast had imaging on it.  Hmmmm…

    Radio needs to step up its game to compete in the world of “audio entertainment.”

  • That’s the thing. Sometimes you just need to ask!

  • Pingback: Motivate Your Audience to Share your Content | Mark Ramsey Media LLC()

  • Howard Price

    The beauty of the digital domain — and the its ever-improving technologies and economies — means that radio can extend and enhance its content beyond its traditional realm. I work in television – so does my wife — and we have a teen and a tween at home. And none of us regularly seek out audio-only content online from any source. When we do, usually it’s something archival that resonates with us in some way. But as part of our daily routine? No way – save, of course, for iTunes. Why? Because most of it is not compelling. Now, any radio broadcaster can become a TV broadcaster, and add value for listeners and advertisers alike – by “taking them” to that promotion, concert, studio or special event, or even bringing them into a sponsor’s place of business — through video. Sadly, most radio people don’t know squat about good video production — but the good news is that the downsizing of the traditional TV industry has sparked the growth of a large number of entrepreneurial production houses that can teach radio people how to master video as well. One such production house is FieldVision Productions, outside Washington, DC, run by my friend and colleague, Andy Field (andyfield@mindspring.com), an award-winning veteran of both radio and TV. These days you need more than just a webcam, and a working knowledge of iMovie to create compelling visual web content for radio. Smartphones alone offer us a treasure trove of untapped potential. And radio people should not be shy about seeking out and learning from TV pros who know more than they do about resonant visual storytelling. — Howard Price, MediaDisasterPrep.com

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