Storytelling, Babymaking, And Podcasting: Podcast Movement 2016 Rocks Chicago
July 7, 2016 at 3:20 PM (PT)
PODCAST MOVEMENT 2016 began THURSDAY's session with a trio of keynotes by prominent podcast personalities before a sellout crowd at the HYATT REGENCY CHICAGO.
Passion For Storytelling
"I don't care about podcasting," "SNAP JUDGMENT" host GLYNN WASHINGTON insisted in his presentation, which opened the day's festivities. "What I care about is storytelling, and passion, and magic." He noted that "there's not enough money here yet" to care about, and it's the passion, he said, that brings podcasters to the conference. His keynote, stressing the value of storytelling, discussed the genesis of his podcasting career, and included several video and audio clips as illustration; he pointed at the need to trust people to tell their own stories rather than using "experts" or following up their stories with additional material to "put it in context."
Giving Birth To A Podcast
ANNA SALE, host of WNYC STUDIOS' "DEATH, SEX AND MONEY," used her talk to show "how podcasting is like having a baby" (she recently gave birth), from an "inexplicable urge" and factors beyond one's control conspiring, to the need to pay attention to feedback and that "it's really fun!" and grows and changes.
Kevin Smith Being Kevin Smith
Director, actor, and podcast host/network creator KEVIN SMITH, focusing on the joys of being able to do what you want and get paid for it, took note that, unlike other talks he gives on podcasting, he didn't have to pitch this audience on the wisdom of doing podcasts, imagining that everyone at the conference had the same moment while watching or listening to a show. thinking "I can do this." SMITH, whose talk was his typical mix of self-deprecation, profanity, and comedy, celebrated the change in society in which children are now being instructed to find what they love to do and only then figure out how to make money doing it; he credited HOWARD STERN's on-air honesty with influencing his podcasting sensibility. He related how, when he started almost 10 years ago, podcasting was "just me, LEO LAPORTE, and the HAPPY TREE FRIENDS" ("MARC MARON was somewhere being sad," he joked), and how his producing/podcasting partner SCOT MOSIER's suggestion that SMITH listen to the then-current RICKY GERVAIS' podcast (he never listened to it, he said, but the idea alone set him off on the podcasting road), and the fact that there was no gatekeeper to prevent anyone from posting a show and doing anything, got SMITH started on what became his "SMODCAST" network. He credited podcasting for "saving my soul," rescuing him from a period in which he had stopped doing anything that didn't pay him money.
SMITH also related the genesis of the "HOLLYWOOD BABBLE-ON" podcast, partnering with CBS RADIO Alternative KROQ/LOS ANGELES "KEVIN AND BEAN" sidekick RALPH GARMAN to pitch KROQ on a SATURDAY morning show business show only to be told listeners "don't want to hear people talking to people anymore," leading the two to do the show as a podcast instead.
Panels, Sessions, Research
The afternoon's sessions- 39 of them, eight at a time- covered topics like listener data, monetization, radio's place in the podcast world, interviewing, and audio quality.
LARRY ROSIN brought the podcasting-related portions of EDISON RESEARCH's Infinite Dial and Share of Ear data to his presentation, while AUDIBLE's ERIC NUZUM tacked the dilemma of the dichotomy between awareness of podcasting and actual usage, pointing at the problems of gathering more advanced data than a mere download figure (he noted that he has 271 downloaded shows that he hasn't yet listened to, but added that these are included in those shows' download totals anyway) and the difficulty and limited range of discovery via cross-promotions, recommendations, and advertising ("I don't see how this is going to be fixed... this is a roadblock for many, many people").
NUZUM said that in research, his listeners describe the podcast world as a "flea market" through which "you have to search through a lot of junk" to find gems. He added that a third problem for podcasting is content, saying that "the variations we see" in podcast content are invisible to potential listeners, who see it all as "the same thing" (he termed it "Inward-Facing Media," too heavily weighted towards the sensibilites of those in NEW YORK and LOS ANGELES). NUZUM said that AUDIBLE's Channels feature in its app has been taken out of beta as of this morning (see separate story) and attempts to curate and deliver podcasts "in a magazine-like experience" with options for ad-free paid versions of top podcasts; the feature is accompanied by the first of AUDIBLE's long-awaited original podcasts, coming out of its field of 40 shows in production, witl six unveiled TODAY and debuts coming every 1-2 weeks.
Radio Faces Podcasting
A panel hosted by AMPLIFY MEDIA founder and ALL ACCESS columnist STEVE GOLDSTEIN looked at radio's strategies in the podcasting world with the help of ROSIN, ESPN AUDIO's TRAUG KELLER, TRITON DIGITAL's JOHN ROSSO, HUBBARD RADIO's GREG STRASSELL, and ACAST's SARAH VAN MOSEL. VAN MOSEL suggested that the rise of podcasting came because it offered a place for talent to flourish without the constraint of commercial broadcasting. KELLER said that it is a "very robust time" to be in the audio business, but ROSSO noted that commercial radio is mostly about music and "what's between the songs is a) very little and b) mostly about the music," hence there is little content for commercial radio to repurpose (ROSIN pointed out that music stations' morning shows often are served up as podcasts but that radio is about formats while podcasting is about shows); he added that broadcasters are concerned about cannibalization of audience, preferring to keep the content exclusive to the broadcast product, and that podcasting's biggest challenge is monetization. STRASSELL discussed his company's investment in PODCASTONE, saying that HUBBARD is "in" on podcasting but "we already have a great business" in radio and that "there's a lot of potential in bringing the two businesses together."
ROSSO raised the issue of APPLE's dominance in distribution and unwillingness to release data about that distribution as a problem for monetizing podcasts; he said that he fears that "we might be driving podcasting.. too far, too fast to what may become a crappy digital medium." VAN MOSEL countered that there has been significant evolution in digital measurement and ad insertion, and that the buying community is slowly changing to adapt to the different measurement and opportunities; she echoed a sentiment heard at several panels, that cross-promotion on podcasts is very effective, and STRASSELL illustrated the point by noting the boost an interview on ADAM CAROLLA's podcast gave to a podcast from HUBBARD's News WTOP/WASHINGTON.
The panel also addressed the ascendance of smartphones, with ROSIN pointing out that there is still more listening on computers than on phones but calling on broadcasters to be prepared as phones take over as the leading source for audio listening (which KELLER said is already the case for his company's podcasts and streaming).
Around the corner, ADLARGE MEDIA's JAY GREEN hosted a panel on advertising and brand partnerships with an advertiser -- LOOTCRATE's DAVIN RILEY -- a podcaster -- "SO MONEY" host and CNBC personality FARNOOSH TORABI -- and an agency -- MEDIAVEST/SPARK's CHRISTOPHER YARUSSO.
The presentations and panels continued with BLUBRRY's TODD COCHRANE offering a primer on podcast metrics and how to use them, BLOGTALKRADIO's ANDY TOH reprising and updating his talk from last year about the changes being wrought by the introduction of new entrants and big businesses into the medium, author and podcaster MICHELLE Y. TALBERT offering marketing and networking advice, MIDROLL VP of Business Development ERIK DIEHN explaining new revenue streams, and "THE SPORKFUL" host DAN PASHMAN on what lessons on how to do radio people moving into podcasting should keep (and which they should jettison).
And the day's sessions concluded with MIDROLL's LEX FRIEDMAN on how podcast advertising is changing, GOLDEN SPIRAL MEDIA's DARRELL DARNELL on production tips, a panel on diversity in podcasting hosted by NIEMAN LABS' "Hot Pod" columnist NICK QUAH with "2 DOPE QUEENS" co-host PHOEBE ROBINSON, "THE HEART"'s MITRA KABOLI, and "HOMEMADE STORIES"' SHANNON CASON, a panel of PANOPLY producers talking about creating content for podcasts and how that differs from doing so for public radio, and SPREAKER's ROB GREENLEE moderating a panel on the "new players" in the field with SCRIPPS/MIDROLL/STITCHER's ROB MCCRACKEN, NIELSEN's ROB KASS, SPOTIFY's RACHEL GHIAZZA, and GOOGLE PLAY's ILIA MALKOVITCH, covering what their companies are doing in the field (MCCRACKEN said that SCRIPPS "was a media company 130 years ago, and we want to be a media company 130 years from now").
More To Come
The day will close with a "podcast therapy" session and a screening of the podcasting documentary with a Q&A with director and "COMEDY FILM NERDS" co-host GRAHAM ELWOOD.