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To Podcast or Not to Podcast

One of the issues some radio stations have about podcasting is this:

Where’s the line between introducing new folks to our station by sprinkling samples of it online and substituting listening to our station by removing current and/or potential listeners from it?

That is, will folks listen to the podcast AND the station or the podcast INSTEAD OF the station.

Good question. And the answer is…

It depends.

If the podcast is FREE and your show is LONG (e.g., a few hours long) and DAILY (or so)…

If you podcast highlights or bits or interviews of your show as online bonuses or delay the podcast for a reasonable time, I believe this will ADD to your on-air audience, i.e., “I can listen to the podcast, but to hear the REST of the content I need to listen to the station.”

If you podcast your entire show online on the same day it runs live, I believe you will SUBTRACT from your audience, i.e., “I can listen to the podcast, I don’t need to listen to the station.” And for those who don’t already listen to the station, they may be reluctant to sample such a large slice of your show’s pie. Tidbits, that’s what they need.

If the podcast is FREE and your content is SHORT, ALWAYS REPEATING and UPDATING (e.g., newscasts)…

If you podcast the entire newscast you have the ability to sell other elements of your station. Meanwhile the news always changes and is stale as soon as the mp3 player leaves its computer. Thus you will ADD to your on-air audience.

If the podcast is FREE and your show is SHORT (e.g., a public radio show) and WEEKLY (or so)…

If you podcast the whole show you will certainly substitute the online audience for an iPod one. That’s because finding one half-hour or one hour during an entire broadcast week is infinitely harder than synching your iPod to your computer on a daily basis. The more your station is about programs than about audiences, the worse off you are in podcasting those programs in their entirety in near-real time (assuming your goal is to increase listenership to the station).

In the Public Radio world, for example, many of the weekly programs are podcast in their entirety. As much as I appreciate this, it absolutely reduces the listening for many would-be listeners.

Yet what is not podcast (so far as I know) is a daily sampling of Morning Edition or ATC or Fresh Air – just a sample, not the whole show. And this type of podcasting would absolutely send more listeners to their radio stations because of what’s NOT on the podcast and what IS on the radio on a regular, daily basis.

This is what we mean by the term “tease.” But tease with substance.

There are lots of other cases and scenarios. But they have to do with combinations of TIME, CURRENCY, BREVITY, PROGRAM POPULARITY, COST, and SCHEDULING.

Not to mention your purpose in podcasting in the first place.

Why does YOUR station podcast? What are your goals? Are you achieving them?

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