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What’s Wrong with your Podcasts, Radio?

This is what radio looks like in a podcast.  Hooray.

One of radio’s great opportunities is to get our communal heads and hands around the form and manner in which we post audio online.  Yes, I’m talking about the dreaded podcasts, people!

If you’re a radio broadcaster then chances are you have a section of your website devoted to show podcasts (assuming you have a show worthy enough to warrant on-demand listening).

Some stations refer to that page as an audio “archive.”  I refer to it as an audio dungeon.  Because only someone held captive against their will would possibly want to spend much time or effort there.

Here are just a few of the problems associated with many radio station podcasts.  Solve these if you have an eye (or ear) to the future:

  1. They are too long.  Okay, long podcasts are fine, but excerpt the bite-sized chunks for me, too.

  2. You don’t know what’s on them.  The tagging is either poor or, more likely, nonexistent.

  3. They are anti-social.  You can’t generally share the audio – only (if you’re lucky) the page the audio lives on.

  4. It takes a thousand words to make one picture.  Podcast tools should be built to enable images to be attached to the audio.  That way, users could scan the images as a shorthand to what’s on the audio.  Consider the fact that YouTube fans commonly upload audio content to YouTube and build a slide show around it.  Is this a poor way to use YouTube?  Or a better way to display audio?

  5. They’re locked away in “archives.”  In a search-friendly world, everything’s an archive.

  6. They are labeled by air date.  How often do Internet browsers Google for “something posted yesterday”?  No, they Google for what’s IN the post, not when the content was posted.

  7. They are not searchable.  If I want to find that moment when your morning show interviewed Joan Rivers, can Google allow me to find it?

  8. They are not easily “scrubbed.”  If your audio is long and contains a gem I’m looking for, can I easily “scrub” to it, like I can in a video?

  9. They are not easily discovered (thanks to many of the reasons noted on this list)

  10. Listeners can comment on the whole audio (sometimes) but not on any part of it.

  11. They are not easily customized.  Can your fans find, trim, and share your audio to their own social networks of friends?

  12. The “hits” aren’t treated differently from the “misses.”  Is every show podcasted in its entirety, or do you pluck out the “hits” to showcase?

  13. It takes a lot of clicks to get to the audio.

  14. Many stations don’t have content worth podcasting, suggesting that nothing on the air is worth being listened to on-demand or shared amongst my friends.  Really?  Is that a feature or a strategy?

And those are the items just off the top of my head.

It’s important to understand that the Internet amounts to something better than free advertising for your brands.  It’s free and easy distribution for every tasty morsel of content made to be discovered, shared, and enjoyed.  That’s exactly the kind of bridge that will lead consumers back to your station, your stream, your content, and ultimately your ratings.

Who else in the radio (or audio) space is doing a great job solving these problems?  Post them in the comments here.

(Note: The image at the top of this post is what I stared at while a 34-minute podcast played on one News/Talk station’s site.  It was archived by date and tagged as “hour 3”).

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