Interview With Rob Greenlee, Head Of Content For Spreaker
February 9, 2016
Rob Greenlee is the Head of Content at Spreaker, the former CTO at PodcastOne and the former Content and Business Manager of Podcasts at Microsoft's Xbox Live. Currently, he hosts the Spreaker Live Show every Wednesday at 3pm PST and the New Media Show every Saturday at 9am PST. He is also the former lead host of WebTalk World Radio Show, which is recognized as the first radio program in the world to be podcast.
1. You've been involved in podcasting for a long time. Give us a brief overview of your career.
I have a traditional marketing and sales background. In 1999, I created a show about the internet at a Seattle radio station. I was doing search engine optimization and online marketing at that time and I was looking to grow my client base. I figured doing a local radio show would expand my knowledge and reach.
This increased my influence in the rapidly growing technology industry. On September 15th, 2004, my show was the first radio show in the world to become a podcast. It was also syndicated on 15 radio stations and XM satellite radio. This enabled me to start a new career as an online radio syndication consultant and a streaming audio hosting platform for other radio shows.
I spent a year growing my radio show's distribution. In 2005, after 6 years of building the show up to approximately 1.3 million monthly listeners, I took a job with a venture-funded startup called Melodeo Mobilcast that was building mobile phone apps for streaming audio podcasts.
I left to take a new role at Microsoft Zune, building and managing its podcast content platform. I worked with various Microsoft teams; I managed podcast content on the Xbox team, and supported the Windows Phone. I also managed the Zune video podcast content area of Windows Media Center.
In early 2014, I left Microsoft for a new position as EVP/CTO of PodcastOne. Here, I managed the technology tool vendors, IT infrastructure, and on-boarding of podcasts like the Rich Eisen Show, Snooki's podcast, Larry King's show, and many others. In early 2015, I became the Head of Content for Spreaker.
2. What is Spreaker? What is your role there?
Spreaker is a five year-old live and on-demand audio creation, hosting, and distribution platform. It currently has 26,000 podcast shows and over 5 million monthly unique users. Spreaker creates audio recording and live audio streaming apps for iOS, Android, Windows, and OSX. It also produces live streaming and on-demand audio listening apps for iOS, Android, the Windows Phone, and the web.
My role as Head of Content focuses on attracting podcasts with large audiences and high quality content to the Spreaker platform. I am also working with the team to build an advertising business on Spreaker and the Adore.fm podcast network.
3. How has podcasting evolved in the time that you've been involved with it?
The areas that have changed the most are the listening technology, the advertising, and the distribution. The content has not changed as much as many would have you believe, though the quality has improved.
Mobile technology has turned every smartphone into a personalized, portable, on-demand radio. In the beginning, podcast listening on portable media players was challenging. Podcast consumption was a very geeky, complicated process. Now that it's easier, more people are focusing on the quality of content. Today, podcasts can be discovered through a keyword search in any free or paid mobile app. They are accessible anywhere and anytime.
Podcasting has become more appealing to advertisers as the quality of content has improved and standardized metrics have begun to emerge.
The distribution side has also improved. Creating digital media and publishing it to podcast platforms is easier than ever today. The costs of delivering a digital media file to a listener have decreased as more and more listener apps have emerged.
4. For radio professionals looking to enter the world of podcasting, where should they begin?
First, I would be a student of the existing podcasting space. Listen to several successful podcast shows from a variety of content genres in iTunes' Top 100 Most Popular Podcasts chart. But don't just listen to those top shows. Listen to smaller, less popular podcasts that may focus on a niche topic like podcasting itself. Learn the history of podcasting from the earliest podcasters and study the way public radio has supported podcasting.
Commercial radio can drive support for original podcasts by using their radio station to promote original podcasts. Monetizing these original podcasts, along with redistributed on-air programs, should be a priority.
5. Is there a common mistake that new podcasters often make? How can they avoid it?
The most common mistake is thinking that a podcast show is a radio show and needs to be recorded and produced like a radio show. Podcasts are quite different from radio and need to use more of a natural, conversational style. Yet they should still offer high quality audio production. The commonality with radio is that you need to tell stories, give information, and offer entertainment value to attract and keep an audience.