Peak Audio, or 25/7
October 9, 2015
Call it the Twizzler effect. You eat one Twizzler and it's good. You eat a second, and it's also good. You then proceed to eat an entire Costco-sized bag of Twizzlers and end up groaning on the couch.v
This is what it feels like to try and keep up with the incredible amount of great talk content these days. There's never been more and better spoken-word audio content. Yes, we're talking podcasts, but also talk radio, sports radio, public radio, news radio, streaming... there's all kinds of great material out there waiting for you. Add to that the explosion of music options, from "regular" radio to customizable streaming and all-you-can-eat music services and downloads, and there's way more to which one can listen than one has time to consume, the same problem John Landgraf of FX Networks alluded to when he said we're reaching "peak TV" with more good TV than we can watch in our lifetime.
"Peak audio." We're there.
Or, at least, I'm there. Granted, it's my job to listen to a ton of podcasts as well as radio shows, both local and streamed in from distant cities. And I'm far from alone -- the number of must-listen shows has exceeded anyone's ability to fit it all in. Even using the 2x speed on the iOS Podcasts app doesn't get me close to catching up. That means I'm always scrambling to try to find time for new shows, and listening while doing other things, and... But it's my job to listen to as many shows as possible. Most listeners don't need to do that. All they want is something that will consistently amuse them.
Your job, whether you do a traditional radio show or a podcast or streaming or shout at cars passing by your house, is to offer entertainment that will earn you a primary place amidst all the noise. There are roughly 47,328,294,101 choices out there, although 96% are podcasts about "Game of Thrones,' and in any radio market you can figure on several options for every demographic other than yours, so your work is cut out for you.
And there's the other point: The most valuable commodity listeners need and don't have is time. (And money, which is why they're working so many hours, which is why free time is so valuable.) You want to get their attention for as much time as possible, but you also should consider marketing to address their lack of free time. Contest prizes should help them manage time: pay their baby-sitting or day care bills for a month, pay to arrange an extra week off work for them, give away dog walking and pet sitting services, give away free groceries including home delivery so they don't have to waste time at the supermarket, have a contest for free Uber rides to work for a month or six months or a year (with your station on the car radio, of course), free handyman services to take care of the little nagging projects everyone has but puts off until they have the spare time and energy to do them... anything that might help your listeners squeeze out a few more minutes of freedom. That's worth more than straight cash for a lot of people.
Me, I'd love to be able to hit a button and freeze everyone and everything but myself so I could catch up on my work, on my listening, on my watching every episode of "Bob's Burgers" on Netflix. That's never going to happen, so time remains the most precious resource to me. Unless I can listen to four radio shows or podcasts at once, I'm always going to be straggling behind. But like with "peak TV," too much quality audio programming is a pretty nice problem to have.
Need to save time preparing for your show? Try All Access News-Talk-Sports' Talk Topics, where you'll find hundreds of items and ideas and bad jokes for your show prep needs, all up-to-date and conveniently available now by clicking here. And there's the Talk Topics Twitter feed at @talktopics with every story individually linked to the appropriate item. This week, we have a timely "10 Questions With..." Heidi Harris, who coincidentally rejoined the lineup at KXNT/Las Vegas the day before the interview posted. She also's dipping into the podcast waters with a very cool series of interviews called "Vegas Characters."
Full Disclosure: I also serve as Director of Programming for Nerdist Industries, which includes the Nerdist Podcast Network, one of your major podcast entities. We can fill up your week with our shows alone.
Speaking of time, while I have none to spare, I managed to take on even more work, because I can't say no and because I'm insane. I'll tell you more about it next week. Right now, I have no time for that.