To podcast or not to podcast?
February 23, 2009 11:22 AM   Subscribe

How to persuade a local radio arts and music station that they should podcast?

I'm a newbie at a radio station. I host a music channel that's one of a couple of others the station offers online. So it's available on HD and also from their web site.

The host of one of the other online channels, Alexa, offers interviews with artists and local mover-shakers. From what I can tell, the managers would like the channel to take off but it's been slow going.

We recently heard from a listener who said she loved the idea of an arts conversation channel, and was particularly interested in an interview with a certain artist. She knew the interview was in that audio somewhere, but she didn't have time to listen to the channel for hours in order to find it. Meanwhile, there was no information on the main web site regarding what time the interview would be playing on the air (or online), so she became discouraged and didn't want to keep listening.

I thought this looked like a huge red flag. Currently there is no web content at all associated with the interview channel--it's just a clickable link, with no clue to content, times of interviews or music, etc. This is an on online channel, but there's no information about it online. It seems to me that podcasting would help enormously. A list of labeled links with the names of the artists would be easy to produce. And podcasts aren't brain surgery. People expect content on demand, they're familiar with the technology, and it's just a no brainer.

So I typed out a simple email in response to the listener's question, and asked everyone: If the listener can't find the interview, why not make it available as a podcast from the main web site?

Alexa replied with a lengthy defense of why Podcasts Are Bad. People will only stay for a minute if they see a podcast link, whereas she wants to draw people in for one thing, and keep them there for all the other stuff on the channel.

I can see why that's desirable, but I don't think podcasting would prevent that result. If a person who only wants the Hot Young Star interview leaves the site after listening to it, he wasn't going to stick around anyway. And in the meantime, you've still got your regular listeners who benefit from the added, easy to find content. Plus, you've added a hit to your page count. Once people who are searching for that famous person start finding our site, it can only swell page hits, which I know they're keeping track of.

I'm a newbie and a part-timer, and maybe Alexa thinks I'm a wet-behind-the-ears jerk. I still think this is a rational suggestion. Anyway, the fate of my own channel is at stake too. If everything we offer looks good to people, they're more likely to stick around long enough to click on my section of the site.

Any suggestions on how to spin this more effectively?
posted by frosty_hut to Work & Money (12 answers total)
WFMU does it. Doesn't she want to be like them?

However, you both should be aware that the copyright laws are insanely difficult about playing music in podcasts as opposed to playing it on the radio. Good luck.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:33 AM on February 23, 2009

Explain to her that, in their situation, where they are trying to build listenership, they should look at podcasts as "tasting samples" you'd get at a winery or a bakery. Tasty nibbles given to encourage future consumption of all their offerings.

The BBC podcast for "In Our Time" ends with a little blurb for another program. The podcasts the station might offer could also end with a quick blurb about what else it offers and when to listen.

And, yeah, they ned to publish an online listener's guide.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:41 AM on February 23, 2009

Response by poster: Potomac, thanks for the link and the info.
posted by frosty_hut at 11:42 AM on February 23, 2009

Response by poster: Thorzdad -- tasty nibbles! Perfect.
posted by frosty_hut at 11:43 AM on February 23, 2009

KDHX does it too - and they're completely community supported. I know there was a bit o legal wrangling (took a couple years of on-again, off-again) but something was worked out.
posted by notsnot at 11:53 AM on February 23, 2009

Alexa is the one who is a bit wet behind the ears if she thinks that site-stickiness is still a big deal. What is to be gained by people staying on the site? Ad impressions? That is, what benefit is Alexa standing up for?

And yeah, to avoid another minefield of licensing, start with keeping these completely non-music.
posted by rhizome at 12:42 PM on February 23, 2009

If you're unsure how to deal with licensing, I strongly suggest you get in contact with a station that streams and/or podcasts, as they should have already dealt with that. As a station that actively broadcasts, you'll already be paying some fees, and depending on listenership, the fees will increase. I don't know more than that, except the local college station here decided that streaming was OK, but podcasting would be too much trouble (supposedly requiring that all labels providing statements that they're OK having their music used in podcasts or somesuch).
posted by filthy light thief at 1:30 PM on February 23, 2009

You might show her the way that NPR cross-promotes their podcasts and broadcasts.

First of all, they begin each one with an "ad" (NPR's version of one at least). A very short ad such as "this podcast brought to you by" at the beginning of a podcast is certain to be listened to. They also run short promos on each podcast about npr programs, podcasts, and website features that might be interesting to the listeners of that podcast. For instance "This week on X show, such and such is going on...)

Because of this clever cross-promotion, I have gone from listening to only two NPR podcasts to being a devotee of over a dozen, and a a regular listener to the radio broadcasts as well.
posted by raygan at 1:31 PM on February 23, 2009

Alexa should look at the best practices across the radio industry, and make her content available on whatever platform is most convenient to listeners. Explain that, for example, people might want to listen to her show when they're on the subway, and they currently can't. Or that 40% of most web sites traffic comes from search, and she's throwing away all the traffic she could potentially get from people searching for her guests' names. Or that another 25% of her traffic could be coming from inbound links -- and people want to link to specific pieces of content.
posted by YoungAmerican at 4:27 PM on February 23, 2009

Is this a commercial or non-commercial station? If commercial, you could get advertisers to exclusively sponsor the podcasts, and pitch it as revenue-generating. Actually, even if it's noncom you could probably do this too.
posted by radioamy at 7:55 PM on February 23, 2009

Best answer: People will resent being made to go to the site to get their content, and then they'll start forgetting, which is worse.

When someone starts 'podcatching', it's fine if they forget - they'll still get the content. And one day they'll be out jogging and happen across that forgotten gem, and think 'oh yes, I forgot about these guys'. In addition, their regular audience through podcasting will be a degeographicised audience - much less than website visitors, who (presumably) are constantly fed a reminder of where the station is geographically directed.

Offering 'radio content' (ie, podcasts) through a web-only interface is arrogant, ignorant and will fail to retain visitors. It will not usefully create currency of content or archival evidence of the station's value. Alexa is still thinking she's operating a sparse-spectrum station, while everyone around her is evolving into mammals and about to run rings around her.
posted by davemee at 1:17 AM on February 24, 2009

Response by poster: Great points. Thank you all so much for these!
posted by frosty_hut at 2:52 AM on February 24, 2009

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