Here's Why Your Radio Station Should Be Podcasting
October 28, 2014
If you are unfamiliar with podcasts, they are simply on-demand audio (or video) programs. Some podcasts are audio versions of existing radio or television programs, like NPR's This American Life or NBC's Meet the Press. Others, like Marc Maron's WTF or This Week in Tech, are programs created first and foremost for the web.
Terrestrial radio should invest heavily in both types of podcasting; it should make its current shows (such as the morning show or current affairs program) available in podcast form, and it should create original podcasts that are never broadcast through the transmitter (such as an interview series or holiday specials).
Podcasting's Biggest Challenges
I have been podcasting for three years (and broadcasting for nearly 20). Last month, I published my 100th podcast episode. Along the way, I was also enlisted by TuneIn, the mobile app company, to do a research project with podcasters. On my journey, I discovered the two biggest challenges for podcasters: building an audience, and generating revenue.
However, radio stations already have an audience, and they already have existing relationships that allow them to monetize podcasts. This means that they are well positioned to overcome the two challenges that most podcasters face. Let's take a closer look…
1. Building an Audience
The first challenge most podcasters face is building an audience. This is a bigger hurdle for podcasters than most other online content creators because listening to a podcast is a little more difficult than it should be. It's not difficult, just a little more difficult than it should be. Walk up to the average person and tell them you have an app, or a blog, or a YouTube channel, and they will have no problem finding it on their own. Tell them that you have a podcast, and they won't know where to start.
Unfortunately, aside from the mysterious "New and Noteworthy" section of iTunes, they are very few promotional channels specifically for podcasts. This means that podcasters must rely on the same promotional tactics as everybody else: social media, advertising, search engine optimization, etc. Most up-and-coming podcasters don't have a budget to build an audience, so they rely primarily on word of mouth.
But radio doesn't have this problem.
Radio stations already have an audience, so they can easily drive people to the podcasts they create. It's very simple for a radio station to promote its podcasts, both through live reads ("you can download today's entire show at WKRP.com") or prerecorded spots ("Here's a taste of our interview with Bono. Hear the entire thing at WKRP.com"). In short, radio stations have a major leg up on the average podcaster, and they should embrace the format while this advantage still exists.
2. Monetizing Podcasts
The second major challenge for podcasters is how to earn money from their work. While many podcasters are hobbyists who are not trying to earn a buck, there are also a number of podcasters who have successfully turned it into a profitable enterprise. (Even in the best case scenario, we are talking about good money for an individual income, but not the type of money that will make a significant difference in a corporation's bottom line….yet.)
There are a number of different revenue models for podcasts: ad insertion, live sponsorship reads, affiliate sales program (such as those run by audible.com), premium content, merchandise, and event ticket sales. While many podcasters are using a combination of these methods, podcasters seem to have the most success by using their show as part of a content marketing strategy. In other words, they make their podcast available for free as a way to spread the word about their other products or services. For example, a business coach might host a podcast about business strategies to build his reputation.
This revenue model doesn't make sense for radio, but that's okay because stations are well-equipped to monetize podcasts with ad insertions and sponsorship reads (just like they do with their terrestrial programming). The reason most podcasters are unable to generate significant revenue doing this is because they can't deliver a large enough audience. But radio stations shouldn't have that problem. Moreover, stations already have existing relationships with clients. Essentially, creating a podcast adds inventory to your station by adding more sponsorship opportunities.
In short, podcasts are an ideal opportunity for radio stations to do what they already do best: create compelling audio content. If your station isn't podcasting, it should start.
NEXT STEP: Eight Things I Learned from Podcasting.