Podcasts: What, Why & When

By Wayne Clouten, BPR

The strategic role of podcasts within a radio/audio group or a specific station’s strategy can differ and fulfil multiple purposes.  Ideally podcasts contribute to revenue if possible but that does not mean that without revenue they cannot play an important role within an audio/broadcast business.  A lot depends on your point of leverage, whether it be as a creator, distributor, host or seller.

When considering Podcast we must also include Vodcast (Video-On-Demand-Cast) which in simple terms means adding visual content to compliment your Podcast audio. Vodcast is likely to overtake Podcast in the fullness of time however for the purpose of this article I will refer to Podcast.

From a broadcaster’s perspective there are a number of strategic reasons for podcasts:



Most network platforms use podcasts to create traffic through their apps and without a podcast component an audio platform is not considered complete nowadays.  I’ll side-step the issue of whether podcasts actually contribute to profit because that is a vexed question with a lot of broadcasters however podcast certainly creates traffic and promotability.  So if your strategy is about creating traffic and driving usage statistics then podcast is a highly valuable component.  Whether a radio station can make serious money from offering podcasts depends very much on a station’s resources and audience target. Radio Tok, a News /Talk radio station in Warsaw is an example of a station with a significant commitment to podcast offering thousands of on-demand audio choices driven by around 40 Journalists.



Podcasts can be very useful in giving listeners somewhere to go if they are particularly passionate about a subject the station cannot otherwise devote more linear airtime to.  A Typical example of this being the “full” version of a celebrity interview being offered as a podcast following the broadcast of the edited highlights.



Using podcasts for listeners to catch up with the “best of the breakfast show” if they miss the show live.  In a typical western market around 20% of adult breakfast radio listeners use catchup podcasts in some shape or form, albeit most breakfast listeners currently prefer to listen to their favourite radio breakfast show live.



This is where a station puts resources into offering a podcast on a particular subject.  In the case of a small to medium station with limited resources, making some money from this sort of effort is highly desirable.  An area of specific topic podcast which is under-utilized is what I call the “extended commercial” where someone who hears the 30 second ad for the new Ford Bronco can link out to the 5-minute detailed review of the vehicle offered as a podcast or vodcast.  A very good example of targeted content offered by a radio station is the recently launched “Breaking Ground” Vodcast from Nova Entertainment which is sponsored by Fitbit.



This is an area which radio stations are yet to truly embrace. This is where a business offers targeted podcast content to send a message about what the brand stands for. At present a lot of corporations are jumping on climate change related content in order to position themselves as “green friendly”.  Equally a radio station wanting to cement an image of being “local” should seek to corner the market on podcast content about things and topics within the listening footprint of the station.



The podcast narrative is very broad ranging from vested interest acolytes who will tell you podcast will create a usage vortex of such magnitude that terrestrial radio stations will be literally sucked out of existence to people who think podcast is nothing more than a highly fragmented money-pit.

As with all things, the truth is somewhere in the middle.  Podcast is certainly here to stay and will thrive for the foreseeable future whether radio is involved or not.  There is danger in not addressing a podcast strategy for your audio/broadcast business and there is risk in rushing in, throwing money at the wall for the sake of being seen to be in “the game”.

A good place to start in developing a podcast strategy is asking the question “what do my listeners want?” closely followed by “of what my listeners want, what can I do really well, consistently?”

There are several other questions you should ask but for that you can call me.

What-ever you decide to do with podcast, it should not come at the expense of your ability to make great linear radio.  If anyone tells you otherwise, lock the door and call security.


Happy Podcasting



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