He Just Wants To Create Great Content

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At the age of 14, Dave Beasing would fill in for his dad on KTNC-AM in Falls City, Nebraska. He reported the farm markets. When he was old enough to make a living in radio, he took a job on the Cornhuskers’ flagship, KLIN in Lincoln, then Dick Ferguson’s KRMG in Tulsa and Bill Figenshu’s Viacom radio group in Detroit and LA. Beasing gave Ryan Seacrest his first full-time job at Star 98.7 in LA (for $50K per year). After spending 12 years consulting stations for Jacobs Media, Greg Solk hired Beasing to program 100.3 The Sound in LA. He was there for 9 1/2 years before the Entercom/CBS merger put an end to the station.
In November of last year, Beasing launched his new company called Sound That Brands which focuses on creating great content. Today you are more likely to see Beasing at a podcasting conference than you are at a radio conference. That appears to be where a lot of the new and compelling content is coming from. Following Podcast Movement in Philadelphia last week, we spoke to Beasing about the event, the radio turnout at PM, and the excitement around the podcasting medium.
Radio Ink: How many Podcast Movements have you been to now and what was your overall impression of the 2018 show?
Dave Beasing: This was only my second, and I loved it, again. When Mark Ramsey was onstage he called podcasting the “independent film of audio,” and that helps explain the vibe at Podcast Movement. There’s lots of youth, energy, and creativity. Frankly, it reminds me of radio conventions I attended in the ‘80s and ‘90s.
Radio Ink: What were your big takeaways?
Dave Beasing: Both years, it’s been about the people — specifically, their passion and intelligence. Was it Howard Stern who said, “Radio is a business of C students”? I’m not sure I agree, but — believe me — podcasters are head of their class.
Radio Ink: Any big surprises?
Dave Beasing: I moderated a panel of broadcasters, and the Q&A was almost entirely radio salespeople asking about revenue. Radio is starting to think of podcasting as a business, not a hobby.
Radio Ink: Were you surprised by the radio turnout?
Dave Beasing: I was surprised… and also thought there should be more. Jacobs Media has done a great service for radio by creating the “Broadcasters Meet Podcasters” track at Podcast Movement, and it’s helping blur the line between the two groups. It’s encouraging to see some positive signs — Ginny Morris and Greg Strassell bringing 12 people from Hubbard, the Beasley team actively recruiting podcasters, Westwood One providing a “pitch pod” to share ideas, and a presence for iHeart, Entercom/cadence13, and others. To use a metaphor, some people in radio are starting to understand that they’re not in the stagecoach business but the transportation business.
Radio Ink: Should radio be invading podcasters’ space?
Dave Beasing: There was some concern among podcasters about that. Radio is sending exploratory missions, but I think the natives are safe. There’s still a lot of unclaimed territory, plenty for everybody. What commercial radio programmers bring to the table is not only the “megaphone,” but they know how to target diverse audiences. They’ve designed audio products for a wide range of demographics,  genders, ethnicities, and interests. People with radio backgrounds have a lot to learn about the differences between broadcast and podcast, but they’re good at targeting and branding.
Radio Ink: What are the three biggest challengers podcasters face?
Dave Beasing: 1. Discovery — There’s such an abundance of content (some of it bad), it can be hard to find the good stuff in the topic categories you like. Google is now taking a bigger interest in podcasting, and that’s starting to improve distribution and search.
2. Measurement  — Advertisers feeling confident about who is actually hearing their messages will be a game changer.
3. Ease of Use — More accurately, the challenge is informing people how easy it already is. I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with bright people that end in me saying, “Here, give me your phone. Push this, then that. You’re now listening to a podcast.” They look like I’ve pulled a rabbit out of my hat.
Radio Ink: What are three elements to a great podcast?  
Dave Beasing: It’s simple really…
1. A Great Story — The story of a middle-aged Orange County woman who gradually, painfully realizes she’s the latest mark of a ruthless romantic grifter began as a fascinating LA Times newspaper story. Then it became one of the most successful podcasts, “Dirty John.” Soon, it’ll be a two-season (or more) series on Bravo TV. That’s why “True Crime” has become such a popular podcast category. Current events podcasts — about news, politics, sports — tell great stories about what’s happening now in the world around us.  Interview podcasts help guests tell their stories. The branded podcast that I co-produced for Trader Joe’s tells the story behind that much-admired brand. Comedy podcasts tell funny stories.  Some radio talent may think that simply leaving the microphones on longer — what program directors won’t allow them to do — can make a good podcast. Even improv actors begin a scene with a story to tell.  Every great podcast starts with a great story, and there is no substitute.
2. Great Storytelling — Obvious, I know, but it’s exciting that this matters so much. Let’s face it: most radio has been reduced to fill-in-the-blank formats. “Insert call letters here.” I was so fortunate to be given license to create an original version of Classic Rock at 100.3 The Sound in Los Angeles. We had to, because there wasn’t a hole for a standard issue station. But even programming The Sound, I’d say 20% of my time was spent writing, figuring out how to tell the brand’s story. That’s a lot. In podcasting, the percentages are flipped, and I’m writing and creating 80% of the time. Malcolm Gladwell, Dan Carlin, Mark Ramsey, and Alex Blumberg spend hours and hours crafting their stories. Adam Carolla may sound spontaneous and work without notes, but a mind like his writes 24/7. Public radio people have generally been quicker to jump into podcasting partly because their bosses saw the opportunity, but also because they already tell stories for a living.
3. An Audience — Could a podcast be great without an audience? “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” Madonna can’t sing, but she was an influential artist because of her ability to get attention. Does Kim Kardashian have any other talent? Throughout creative history, marketing has played a huge role in art and culture. Apple reports they have posted 550,000 podcasts. Not episodes, podcasts — most with many episodes. Cutting through the clutter is its own art form. We’d all love to have a big marketing budget, but that money would be wasted if your content isn’t compelling and easily shareable.
Radio Ink: You transitioned out of radio into everything audio. Why?
Dave Beasing: I hope I’m not “transitioning out of” radio but playing a role in radio’s transition. Radio has reigned supreme in the auto dashboard, but that’s changing. Although that’s scary to people who own transmitters, it’s exciting for content guys like me. In the old days, TV producers only had about four places to distribute their work. Now there’s Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, YouTube, you name it.
Heritage TV networks have had to invest more in content to meet the challenge, and what’s resulted is a new “Golden Age of Television.” Audio’s next “Golden Age” is on the horizon, too.
Radio Ink: What is SoundThatBrands.com?
Dave Beasing: That’s my new company! Our slogan is, “Be the content, not the interruption,” and that was always my goal in radio, too. My core skill is as a writer, positioning a product without talking about the product. I love finding what customers care about and then associating my brand with their values and interests. Radio sales managers felt welcome in my office, because I enjoyed creating content for their clients’ brands. That not only got results for them, it also made their sponsorships more welcomed by my listeners.
Radio Ink: How did you and Steve Goldstein get into Trader Joe’s to create a podcast for them?
Dave Beasing: Who doesn’t love to shop at Trader Joe’s? So Steve Goldstein and I were thrilled when they asked us to help create that same environment in podcast form. To get in the mood, our sound designer Jeff Schmidt wore a Hawaiian shirt while editing, too (Kidding!). I encourage any radio people who see branded podcasts as a revenue opportunity to listen to Season 1 of “Inside Trader Joe’s.” It might be, but not by just interviewing a client then uploading. That gets no listens, no renewals, and could actually damage a brand. Good content requires time, creativity, and talent, regardless of the subject matter. Steve used to be one of the smartest guys in radio. Now he’s the smartest guy in podcasting, so I hope that his company Amplifi Media and Sound That Brands can partner on some more cool projects.
Pictured here is Beasing’s new studio being built in his backyard. “Construction of a first class studio. I’ll have the best commute in LA.”

When he’s not hammering nails into his new studio walls, Dave can be reached at [email protected]
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