The word podcasting has always annoyed me. It sounds old-school and not in an 80s pop culture Stranger Things kind of way.
Podcasting is a portmanteau of iPod (which most of us hardly remember) and broadcast (which is a cumbersome term that reminds me of how dated some media terminology really is). However once we get past my issues with the name and examine the function and purpose of podcasting, I am more than on-board and happy to shovel coal into the fires of that train hurtling along the tracks of shareable audio.
Radio has been the heart and home of the audio product since broadcasting began. Like all media, this has been disrupted and opportunistically enhanced by digital technology. The podcast was born in the digital native era. Like radio, podcasts are about telling and sharing stories. What makes them special is that they behave like brand extensions to a current radio station brand.
Anyone can create a podcast. Just like anyone can start a blog or build a website. What makes podcasting a great lever for a radio station brand to pull is that it’s an extension of what they already do; produce and share content. No matter how much Pandora or Apple Music or “listen to (insert your name here)’s podcast now” try to align their product to your tastes, radio stations know and understand how to make compelling content that brings people together. That’s a core skill much honed and practiced by radio broadcasters before everyone had a website let alone a plethora of social media communities and a bunch of hipsters in the office paid to feed them.
Packaging what has already happened on-air is the first phase of podcasting by radio. When a presenter arrives in the studio on a daily basis they have to start their content journey from scratch. There is a whole show to fill and despite ad breaks, scheduled music and features where we house specific kinds of content, there is a lot of art that has to happen on a blank canvas to create a beautiful work by the end of the show. So it makes sense to sweat your assets, take what you already do and give it a longer life after the airwaves have been handed over to the next show. Producers can top and tail content and social media does that lovely job of reminding you what you missed live on-air while you were in that meeting you had to go to or that lecture you had to attend.
The next phase of podcasting is to shift its function from a distribution channel to a content platform in and of itself. That means producing content to build a specific type of podcast community dedicated to that channel that may or may not engage with the radio on-air product. I am driving this strategy at 5FM because I agree with Danish come South African podcaster RasmusBitsch, in the future there will be very little difference between radio and podcasting, both will simply be supplying the demand for shareable experiences and audio content.
Podcasting can be monetised to provide an easy sell additional revenue stream for radio stations as brands slowly realise the value of investing marketing ZAR in digital advertising and content partnerships. Not to mention the fact that radio brands need to spend very little on creating podcast content. Everything you need you already have. It’s a simple matter of management attention and dedication.
Justine Cullinan is Station Manager for 5FM. Follow her on Twitter @shoeshanista