So … thinking about a podcast? You and something like 750,000 other organizations (so far—the list grows by about 3,000 a week—not episodes but new podcasts!). Like you, our eye is on the horizon and, with our shared mission (ministries and stations alike) to utilize technology for the end objective of sharing the greatest news man would ever receive, none of us want to miss out on any way to accomplish that.
The good news is that podcasts are “easy” to produce. The bad news is that they’re easy to produce—and far too many people do so as a result. Organizations will logically view it as an inexpensive way to share content and develop new audience. But, frankly, that someone can do a podcast doesn’t necessarily mean they should.
Here are a few basics that are, in our view, points to consider carefully before setting the course.
Bottom line … “by any means winning some” is a motivator that makes podcasting at least worth a second, informed, look!
By Jim Sanders
Marking three decades in the Christian radio industry, I’ve seen a lot of changes -reel to satellite distribution, the advent of the internet and, the impact of Social Media.
Thirty years later and the changes are also seen in the audio sector as the modes of delivery in the U.S. are split: traditional terrestrial (AM/FM) radio and digital formats, such as online radio and podcasting.
As podcasting continues to proliferate, many of us in the traditional radio industry are watching closely. As such, I was glad to attend the largest podcast gathering in the nation – the Podcasting Movement Conference in Orlando in August to learn the “latest” about the growing platform.
In a key note conference address, Tom Webster, Edison Research Senior VP, shared that there are over 750,000 podcasts today. This year’s Infinite Dial report showed continued growth for podcasting. Most notable, according to Edison Research and Triton Digital, listening to podcasts became a majority behavior with 51% of respondents 12 and over. That would project out to about 144 million nationwide!
As podcast listening numbers boast such high figures, many in our industry may begin to wonder, “is podcasting the new radio?”
Radio listenership numbers are just as impressive. American adults who tune into radio each week is 92%. That’s more than any other platform measured by Nielsen (Source: Nielsen Total Audience Reports; Q1 2019 Report)!
As the comparison between the two platforms was a point of dialogue on session panels, it was the topic on their differences that seemed to be more the notable convention buzz.
Consider these three ways the platforms differ:
For the most part, the objective of radio shows is to hit on a wide range of mass appeal topics – this could be anything from sports, celebrity news, and general interest topics. I remember from my time on the team of the Rick Dee’s morning show on KIIS FM, our format included a handful of hosts discussing popular subjects ranging from working moms to Monday night football scores. Our listening audience ranged in age and interest so, our on-air content had to do the same.
On the other hand, podcasts try to appeal to a more niche audience, due to their focus on individual topics. As Seth Resler, Online Strategist for Broadcasters and Digital Dot Connector for Jacobs Media, has noted, podcasts are not limited by station format or geographic reach as radio is, (automatically limiting audience reach by two factors), so they can focus on specific niches.
Tim Street, Authentic, VP of Influence and Production, shared about podcast content, in his session, Grow Your Audience,
“Create content your listeners can’t get anywhere else.”
While theoretically this is an important goal on either platform, podcasting does give way to more freedom to share more unique content than the radio platform . . . one key factor in this equation is the clock.
Unlike a radio show, a podcast doesn’t have to time out to a specific length nor does it have to meet breaks at specified times.
Phil Becker, Alpha Media, Executive Vice President of Content noted in the Podcast Movement session, Radio Leaders on their Podcasting Strategies, that with a podcast, you can make your episodes as long as short as you want,
“So, if you have tons of compelling content, you don’t have to worry about not being able to include it all.”
In the same session, Sheryl Worsley, KSL Podcasts/Bonneville, Director of Audience Development reflected on how podcasts provide an opportunity to do a story arc over several episodes. She also noted an added value to the podcasting platform is that
“Relationship building is stronger because you have more time.”
Podcasts, as accessed by most consumers, are things that listeners “opt in” to.
Unlike radio “surfing” and searching for content you want to hear, podcast listeners are intentional about seeking out and finding content they want. Once they find it, they commit to the podcasts by subscribing. Opting-in results in a different relationship between the content creator and the audience . . . you know the content you want is waiting for you when you’re ready to hear it and, it’s exactly what you wanted.
Steve Goldstein, CEO, Amplifi Media, says it best,
“Radio is lean back. Podcasts are lean forward.”
He notes that radio is great at curation – putting together a sportscast, sequencing music, generating newscasts with correspondents from all over the world. Push the button and radio does it all. Podcasts, on the other hand, are “opt-in.” Consumers must find and then choose to download a podcast. The intent is very different.
Podcasting and traditional radio share similar characteristics and yet, are unique in each of their platforms and, those differences go beyond the fact that they are different distribution technologies. Goldstein refers to the differences between the two as “unique idiosyncrasies.”
Here’s what the Podcast Movement conference sessions confirmed: both mediums are reaching audiences with a trajectory pointing to continued growth.
Is podcasting the new radio? The better question for those of us in the traditional radio industry actually is, “Are we using podcasting to extend our reach and engage the potential audience we might be missing on radio?”
By Lee Ann Jackson
Don’t just take our word for it. Here are some additional posts that provide helpful insight into podcasting. And watch this space — we’re always updating the list of resources.
The Best Podcasting Equipment for Beginners, According to Experts (July 28, 2021) – the essential tools for making a high-quality podcast right out of the gate.
Why a Podcast Without a Strategy is Likely to Fail (February 2, 2021) – shares with readers the reality podcasting and three building blocks for standing out.
5 Keys to Creating a Killer Podcast Opening: Lessons from Podcast Movement 2020 (November 17, 2020) – based on the panel experts, readers find five keys to developing a captivating podcast opening.
They Thought U.S. Listeners Wanted Podcasts in Spanish. Nine Years Later, the Data Proves Them Right (August 25, 2020) – charts the growth in listeners and community engagement of Spanish language podcasts in the US from a recent Latino Podcast Listener Report (Edison Research).
Start Your Podcast With These Two Questions (September 4, 2019) – reminds readers of their most important focal point: their target audience. The article gives helpful tips on how to best reach and serve key communities.
What Is A Podcast? New Research Reveals The Answer Is Getting Murky (August 15, 2019) – backed by statistics, this article correctly defines industry terms and makes important distinctions to provide a better understanding of this elusive trend.
Questions I’m Often Asked about My Podcast (July 26, 2019) – in her blog, Gretchen Rubin answers frequently asked questions regarding podcasts and why “nothing makes her happier than a great podcast.”
So You Want To Start A Podcast? (July 25, 2019) – this article walks you through the step by step process of starting a podcast.
Top Two Hours (July 10, 2019) – Statistics and findings regarding podcast listeners.
For more details on any of these, contact LeeAnn@ambaa.com; while not intended for broadcast, we are always delighted to hear creative ways to utilize outstanding content!
Keep checking this page for updates … it’s a fast-moving Podcasting world!