(By Jeff McHugh) When is the last time you attended a convention with over 2,000 attendees? At Podcast Movement 2018 in Philadelphia last week, my hand cramped from writing down pages and pages of new ideas. Here are the most interesting things I learned.
Wanted: Podcast talent
Cumulus, Hubbard, Beasley, and iHeart were all soliciting to hear podcasts and talent. Westwood One set up a “pitch pod” booth for performers to record and submit a pitch for their show on the spot.
As companies explore podcasting, they are finding some radio veterans are naturally suited for podcasting and some are not. Sometimes they develop a minor player into a major podcast host or bring in someone completely outside the industry.
Get over it: Your podcast will not steal listeners from your radio show
Bobby Bones was blunt: “If they are going to listen to podcasts, why not have them listen to you? Cannibalization was also the concern when streaming started. It’s 1950s radio thinking.”
Bobby said many fans enjoy hearing part of The Bobby Bones Show in the morning, and listen more on-demand in the afternoon. Then they listen even more with The Bobbycast.
NPR CEO Jarl Mohn follows the “Grateful Dead” theory of marketing: “Make it available to everyone, everywhere.”
Jarl says young listeners who would never listen to NPR listen voraciously to their podcasts and that NPR’s total audience has grown, not shrunk.
Beware of ignoring listener expectations
Radio shows bring general topic, mass audience content. Many podcasts become popular discussing a niche topic that draws passionate fans.
If your podcast is a niche, stay with that. John Boyne and Sam Milkman of Coleman Insights displayed research from The Ben and Ashley I Almost Famous Podcast [sic], which is focused on discussing ABC’s The Bachelor.
A listener-response graph showed positive spikes for discussions of The Bachelor’s finale. But when Ben veered into a story about taking his father to The Masters golf tournament, the graph cratered. Takeaway: Stay on topic.
Coleman’s research also showed host-read commercials holding interest well for about the first 30-60 seconds. After that it was not good. Takeaway: Set a stopwatch and keep spots short.
Nobody is getting paid — at first
A podcast about national security from WTOP Washington went unsold for three years, but now has major sponsorship from Northrup/Grumman. Several podcast hosts I spoke to said they began with a first-year revenue goal of zero.
Bobby Bones said podcasts are a slow build. “If you are trying to get into this to sell lots of ads right away, don’t get into this.” Now Bobby’s podcast has millions of downloads.
At a panel of radio company VPs, someone in the audience asked if radio personalities were being paid for the additional work on podcasts.
The VPs responded with vague statements like, “We’re looking at everything,” and “Every situation is different” –- which probably means “no.” But many hosts and shows are seeing benefits today from the investment they made in years past.
Jeff McHugh is known for developing remarkable talent for both morning and afternoon drive. He brings an uncommon mix of positivity, creativity, and strategy to the shows that he coaches. He is a member of the team at the Randy Lane Company.