Podcasting and radio have some obvious parallels. And even though podcast pundits quote Buggles lyrics and radio pros try to exert their birthright, it’s a shared future both are in for.
Podcast Pontifications | Making Podcasting Better, Not Just Easier
Podcasting needs to be made better, not just easier. Because after 15 years, less than a quarter of the population…
This week, we’re talking about podcasts encroaching into other forms of media and other forms of media encroaching into podcasting. Yesterday was about TV, so today we might as well take on radio.
One thing podcasters need to remember: There are more people listening to the radio than listen to podcasts. That bears repeating: All around the world, more people listen to radio programs than listen to podcasts. More advertising dollars are spent on radio programs than are spent in podcasting.
Many people have been predicting that podcasting would be the death-blow for radio. Heck, I bet if you dug back in the archives of shows I was on 15 years ago (please do not dig in the archives of what I said 15 years ago), you’d probably find me saying that.
Surprise. Radio is still around 15 years later, and probably not going away any time soon.
I think it’s important that we working podcasters find ways to work together with radio. What can we podcasters learn from radio? One thing that every podcaster needs to understand is that “radio” is a lot more expansive than what may be available on your local radio dial.
Unless you started out in or have extensively studied radio, you probably think of radio as “commercial radio”. Talk shows, music programming, news, and sports. That’s it. Because that’s what’s on your radio dial.
(Note: This is heavily weighted toward an American audience for obvious reasons. So if this doesn’t hold true in local markets in your country, keep reading and let me know in the comments.)
Except there’s probably one other option, or perhaps more than that depending on the size of your market. I’m talking about public radio, which sometimes resembles commercial radio. But public radio can, and often does, take a very different approach to radio storytelling. But you may not hear those differences in your local market, because there’s only a certain number of stations that can broadcast from a stick on the mountain (or in a cornfield if you live in Iowa) that your radio can pick up. (Yes, I’m ignoring both internet and satellite radio.)
Unlike podcasting, radio stations can’t just broadcast whatever they want. FCC regulations and a handful of avant-garde stations aside, radio tends to be a lot less varied than podcasting because of commercial interests. Radio has to appeal to the maximum number of people in their coverage area, because commercial radio survives mainly on ad revenue.
Of course, some radio stations and personalities have been playing in the podcasting space since the beginning. Some just repurpose their radio shows into podcast episodes. Sometimes that works, but more often it doesn’t. Programmed radio ad spots are going to the wrong audience, and radio tropes like “hey, we’re back!” feel odd (it’s the listener, not the host, that chooses to go away in podcasting).
I get jazzed by the more creative radio people of the PRX variety. Some of them have really adapted to the podcasting medium. Partly because they don’t have to fight for air time. Others find ways to create their radio show as well as create amazing podcast content. And why wouldn’t they? These creative radio pros don’t suffer from the “crisis of definition” that far too many podcasters fall into. These creative radio pros are not concerned about the true definition of “radio waves”. To them, good radio means the good audio content they want to and have the ability to make, and who cares how it’s distributed?
But it’s not always radio pros coming into podcasting. The reverse is also true. There are opportunities for podcasters to get on radio stations. I did that originally. We approached a local radio station with our syndication-ready podcast. The program director passed on our content but did want our voices on the air every week. And that was more than a dozen years ago. It’s probably a lot easier to get your local station interested in your voice today. Your current podcast will prove to the program director that you already know what you’re doing behind a microphone. Maybe they offer you some weird timeslot on Sunday morning. Hey, as long as you can wake up for it, I say go for it!
Podcasting and radio can live in harmony with one another for the foreseeable future. There are advantages to both. Turn the radio on it plays. Podcasting has more content than fits on a radio dial. So let’s not worry about one killing the other. No claims of birthright matter. Both can and will work side by side.
Do you think radio and podcasting will keep working together hand-in-hand, like chocolate and peanut butter? Or do you think I’m missing a key point? Tell me right here in the comments if you like. Or go to Flick.group/podcastpontifications and get the free app where we can communicate.
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This article started life as a podcast episode. The 232nd episode of my four-times-a-week short-form podcast called, oddly enough, Podcast Pontifications. It’s a podcast for working podcasters that’s focused on trends in our growing industry and ideas on ways to make podcasting not just easier, but better. Yes, you should listen. Here’s an easy way: 👇
Evo Terra (hey, that’s me!) has been podcasting since 2004, is the author of Podcasting For Dummies and Expert Podcasting Practices for Dummies, and is the CEO and founder of Simpler Media Productions, a strategic podcast consultancy working with businesses, brands, and professional service providers all around the world.