Podcast bread upon the water

PodcasterWe have a lot of talented, experienced radio people where I work. What if one of the honchos called us (I’m including myself based on experience, not talent) all together and said, “I’ve been reading about these podcast things and I think we should have one. Money is no object, but I want a show that delivers 100,000 downloads a week and you have one year to deliver. Go get ’em.”

Could we do it? Where would we start?

Topic. Do we pick a topic in which we know there’s a lot of interest? Or is that space already too crowded? Does it matter if the people on our team know anything about the topic? Must we be passionate about it or will our “professionalism” carry us through?

Talent. Do we want a veteran broadcaster? Or a fresh, undiscovered talent? Should they be funny? Young? Old? Do we go with co-hosts?

Format. Do we make it slick with lots of production values? Or do we go for from-the-basement, hand-held camera realism? What about frequency/length? Daily five minute update or weekly half-hour magazine?

Promotion. Okay, we’ll submit our feed to iTunes and all the podcast directories… what else? We’ll pester all the A-list podcasters in hopes of a link or a mention. Should we buy some spots on MSM outlets?

Sheesh! So many questions. And probably not that different from what radio and TV programmers do all the time. If they can’t deliver the ratings within a reasonable time period, the show gets yanked. But they’re starting with an audience. What does it mean when you have zero listeners on Day One?

And every day there is more competition for attention. The potential audience is ever more fragmented. And if they try you once and don’t like what they hear, they never come back. In the Old Days, you listened to your local radio stations… or you didn’t listen. So we get ONE SHOT with each listener, who has HOURS of podcasts on her nano. She can’t listen to what she has, so why will she listen to our new podcast?

If I were a honcho, I think I’d approach this differently. I’d put out an open call to everyone one in the company (not just the reporters and producers and writers and “talent.”) Anyone wants to produce a podcast… we’ll provide the equipment, technical support (hosting, bandwidth, etc), and give everyone half a day every week to produce their podcast. You pick the topic but you must produce a show every week or it’s back to the cube. Then we sit back and watch what happens.

Many (most?) will give up after the first few weeks. Too much work, not as much fun as they thought it would be. Would we get any break-out hits? Don’t know. What I do know, you’d wind up with something very different than from the first model. Instead of a podcast with 100,000 downloads… maybe we wind up with 100 podcasts, with 1,000 downloads.

One thought on “Podcast bread upon the water

  1. Steve, I think you’re approaching this new media concept from a new media standpoint, while your company is approaching new media from a traditional media point of view. You’ve got it right – why not use new media in the way I see it as intended: to reach niche markets with diversified interests. Of course, you probably don’t need to be told this.

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