Podcasting viewed thru old media lens

August 21, 2006

Mark Ramsey’s Hear 2.0 tackles the obvious resistance radio broadcasters have about podcasting – namely – if I put my “content” online – why would anyone listen to my radio station?

One issue I have with Mark’s post (and I think it’s really with Mark’s articulation of the broadcasters point of view) is his use of the word “audience”. For example –

If you podcast highlights or bits or interviews of your show as online bonuses or delay the podcast for a reasonable time, I believe this will ADD to your on-air audience, ….

If you podcast your entire show online on the same day it runs live, I believe you will SUBTRACT from your audience.

The implication here is the only “audience” worth having is the one listening to your content on the AM/FM device.

To me – audience is audience whether listening online or on an ipod. That’s the leap broadcasters are going to have to get their heads around.

By maintaining this dividing line between online and on-air it enforces the broadcasters view as ” if I refrain offering my content online I FORCE people to listen to my station to hear it”

This – is old school. And it’s also bullshit.

The future is not going to be kind or supportive to systems that put limits on users. Phone carriers are going to start figuring this out too.

Worrying about keeping in use, or forcing people to use certain devices ONLY at certain times to get certain content is increasingly becoming out dated and intolerable.

Radio thinks it can keep that system intact by using the new mediums to put out morsels – or as Mark calls them “teasers” that seek to FORCE people back to the radio at prescribed dates and times.

That’s a nice transitional move to get reluctant broadcasters USED to these new ideas of making content float freely between devices- but ultimately it’s not going to matter.

If you’re not on-demand – you are probably not going to be IN demand.

Scarcity – manufactured or otherwise (as in “appointment” based listening) is an Industrial Age mechanism that is vastly outdated in a digital era.

One of the larger points I think Mark misses here is that of the USER’s perspective. For them it’s increasingly a question of “if your not making your content available to me when I want it to be available – I’m not going to use it.”

Mark uses an example of not listening to the public radio station itself because he can get the shows online.

In the Public Radio world, for example, many of the weekly programs are podcast in their entirety. As much as I appreciate this, it absolutely reduces the listening for many would-be listeners.

Reduces listening to the CONTENT – or the AM/FM device?

My own experience offers the opposite example of Mark’s point.

I love KQED’s Forum – and yet I can’t listen when it’s on the radio in real time. So – I’m NOT a listener.

But once they started podcasting the FULL SHOW – not only did I go from being a NON-LISTENER to a REGULAR listener of the show – I also have a way to tell friends about the show (or specific shows) – some of whom live overseas – and they have a way to use the content at their own convenience.

This is true of many programs. KCRW is now on my radar and I’m a fan of some of their shows because they are podcast. Not only do I NOT have to be FORCED to listen at specific times – I don’t even have to be in the same CITY.

I know this frightens broadcasters in much the same the way selling SINGLES on iTunes frightens record labels.

Letting people get ONLY what they want – and not FORCING them to listen to or PAY for the stuff they don’t want is how it’s ALL going to be.

That’s where things are trending.

I can relate a story from a recent listener panel. A listener asked why we don’t play more world music on KFOG. When we told them we have a world music show they asked when they could hear it. When we said it was on Sunday Mornings at 6am – the room literally burst into laughter.

Its absurd and everyone knows it. If we could – we’d podcast that show (and others) today.
Smart broadcasters – with good content – know that podcasting doesn’t drive audiences DOWN – it expands them. Potentially exponentially.

But we have to let go of the notion that we’re in the AM/FM DEVICE USAGE business.

Sorry – that’s the new game EVERYONE involved is going to have to learn how to play.

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Blinks = more clutter?

August 21, 2006

FMQB is reporting that Fox Broadcasting is trying Clear Channel’s “blink” concept with a few of it’s hit shows.

Listen to audio examples at the FMQB link in Real Player format (are those guys still in business?)   They’re quick :02 shouts that pop up between songs (where stations normally ID themselves)

The example for the Simpsons is pretty basic (Homer: DOH!  VO; Simpsons tonight at 8 on FOX)  It happens in a . . . blink!  it’s the radio equivalent to the TV Bug (the little logo in the corner of the tv screen)

Also – more and more TV shows are putting promos in the bottom left hand corner of the shows for :05 after the show comes back after commercial.  I don’t know if anyone else has noticed but the shows are actually being cut to make room for these over-lays so they don’t take too much attention away from essential show content.  In other words – you think the show has started again (got your attention) but they really aren’t starting anything important yet because you’re supposed to be watching the little over-lay promo in the lower left hand corner.   In effect – they’ve REDUCED the show but a few second.
Clear Channel’s BLINK idea is very similar.  Clients WANT to be IN THE PROGRAMMING – not sectioned off in commerical internment camps know as stop sets.

The thing is – these BLINKS will never REPLACE the stop set or even reduce stop set frequency or length  – it will happen IN ADDITION to the stop sets.  So radio will still have 12-15 minutes an hour of mixed :30s and :60s –  PLUS another ___ BLINKS per hour.

I can’t really see how listeners won’t hear this as MORE clutter.


HD Explosion = Job growth?

August 21, 2006

With the recent announcements of even more HD Multicasting Stations popping up across the nation – Audio Graphics blog scanned the “Help Wanted” listings of radio companies websites to determine how much new talent and staff the groups are hiring to get all these new stations off the ground.

The summary – 218 total job listings (mostly sales) and they conclude:

You’d think that radio stations nationwide would be in the process of hiring individuals for programming and talent if it were on the road to improving itself with the gusto it claims, especially with the launch of HD Radio. But, glancing over the positions being advertised, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of supporting evidence that this is the case.

Insiders know there will be NO hiring of additional staff to run these multicasts for the foreseeable future.

If these side channels aren’t being farmed out to consultants or done at the centralized corporate level, existing staff at stations are being asked to put together the side channel offering in addition to their jobs running main station(s).

Eventually, the radio companies think HD can make money. But they won’t pay anyone to create content for it until it does throw off some cash. Even then my instinct tells me the investment in “content” will be minimal.

So without getting a stake in the eventual profitability of these additional radio stations (and that’s what they are) the people being “asked” to put them together are essentially expected to do it for free.  That’s radio.