Podcast Day

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Chrissy Brand reports from the Radiodays Europe Podcast Day, which was held in Copenhagen on June 12th.

 

Chrissy Brand reports from the Radiodays Europe Podcast Day, which was held in Copenhagen on June 12th. New podcasts were unveiled while the industry is about to get a game-changing boost through Google’s search engine.

 

I'm writing this month's column in Copenhagen, where I was one of three hundred people attending the second annual Radiodays Europe Podcast Day. In a busy day of almost thirty sessions, delegates from 22 countries heard speakers discussing the big questions surrounding the growing medium of podcasts, addressing editorial, advertorial and technological matters (Figs. 1 and 2).

 

Monetising

One of the workshops at Podcast Day examined more effective ways to create podcast content from a radio breakfast show. It was stated that simply putting a whole show online as a podcast was not enough. Suggestions included the addition of extra material. This could help to reorder the best parts of the programme and enable providers to monetise content outside of the regular programme sponsors.

Andy Bowers (Chief Content Officer and Co-Founder, Panaply Media, USA), gave examples of how he has seen this work. He stated that ‘hard-core’ fans of a programme would be prepared to pay a subscription fee, giving them access to preview and bonus features, members-only forums and opportunities to meet and discuss ideas.

Andy also spoke of Panaply Media software that enables advertisers to slot highly-tailored advertisement content into podcasts. For example, a listener in his 60s in rural Scotland would have different interests from those of a twenty-something woman living in a city. When podcasts started, in circa 2004, any adverts were just ‘baked’ into the programme. Adverts can now be more targeted, making them a more attractive revenue stream for sponsors and podcasters. Andy’s parting message to delegates was to “take chances”.

 

BBC Podcasts

Ben Chapman (Head of Digital for Radio, BBC) recently announced the appointment of the BBC's first commissioning editor for podcasts. He also spoke of how podcasts break rules that linear radio programmes are bound by, such as the length of the broadcasts and the depth of the subject matter (Fig. 3). The BBC already has an audience of 2.3 million people who listen to podcasts but never tune into BBC radio.

Ben outlined four opportunities that podcasts present for the BBC. One is the chance to create genre-bending material, covering topics that are funny, quirky and odd. A second one is dramatic storytelling in ways different to mainstream radio. The third opportunity enables discovering and explaining any range of subject matter, while the fourth can explore pop culture and subcultures.

In their presentation on how under 35s listen to podcasts, George Mullen (Research Manager, Podcast and Radio, BBC) and Pete Zezulka (Head of Audience Planning for Radio, BBC) agreed that podcasts are becoming much more mainstream.

There are 5.9 million weekly podcasts listeners in the UK, which is 10.9% of the population; these listeners are the ones ‘chipping away’ at traditional radio, especially in the expanding digital space. Moreover, half of these podcast listeners are aged under 35.

 

Winning Formulas

Griefcast was a winner at the British Podcast Awards in May (Fig. 4). Comedian and actor Cariad Lloyd was, understandably, greatly affected by her father’s death when she was a teenager. She started a podcast in 2016, which consisted of interviews with comedians (and sometimes with producers and grief psychotherapists) about the peculiar human experience of death.

In the early stages, she covered all the programme costs and edited the programmes, using Audacity software. Cariad admitted that finding sponsors for a programme about death was difficult, However, podcasts give far more flexibility than the constraints of a radio series, where you would be commissioned to make a series of six programmes of 28 minutes each. Each podcast can be as long or as short as it needs to be and there is no finite number.

There were many other fascinating tales of successful podcasts, from Denmark, France and Sweden but I’ll refer to those another time.

ABC’s Audio Studios was set up a year ago by Kellie Riordan in Australia. She was hooked on podcasts back in 2005 but it took over a decade for ABC to give birth to a specific audio production company for them. Kellie emphasised that, although radio is still ‘king’, it is in decline and it is important to remember the, “audience who have never had a radio in their kitchen but have one in their pocket, a phone.” (Fig. 5).

Sharon Taylor (CEO, Omny Studios, Australia) made several interesting points. Today’s 13-year olds think that radio is Spotify and that television is Netflix. They neither want – nor relate to – a whole day of network programming.

Like most of the western world, live radio still dominates the audio landscape in Australia, with 74% of the population listening on a regular basis. However, podcasts are a growth market and cannot be ignored.

 

The Future

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Steve Pratt (Co-Founder, Pacific Content, Canada) highlighted news of a game-changing development for podcasts, which brought a feverish excitement to Podcast Day. Google will include an audio option in its search engine which will enable people to listen directly to podcasts. Previously, it was hard to find podcasts via Google and other search engines unless you knew the specific name or type of the podcast you were looking for.

Steve noted that, currently, 26% of the US population listen to a podcast at least once a month. He also reminded the audience of the growth of smart speakers as the way that millions of people globally now consume audio, by means of both radio and podcasts (Fig. 6). An estimated 56.3 million smart speakers will be shipped in 2018, with Amazon Alexa dominating, Google increasing its share and a small range of others on the market. This figure is up from around seven million in 2016 and around 33 million in 2017.

Steve concluded with a message for podcasters, “The voice assistant will be everywhere, it’s on your phone, it will be in your headphones and in your car. Is your show set up by name to be able to be found and recognised by a smart speaker? You want to be super-discoverable. Creative bravery is the secret to podcast success plus commitment.”

You can read and watch more from this year’s Podcast Day online. The Radiodays Europe website also includes interviews with some of the speakers and notes from the sessions.

www.radiodayseuropepodcastday.com

 

How to Listen

Podcast apps vary but it's a case of finding one or two that suit you best. The apps I consider to be the most user- friendly and to have the best search facilities might not appeal to everyone. Podcast apps I've used over the years include Audioboom, Castro, Overcast and Stitcher. Among these, Spotify is probably the most well-known platform. Canny podcast producers and presenters also ensure that they have a presence on audio channels such as SoundCloud or Pandora and some can be heard on YouTube too.

Tom Webster (Vice President of Strategy and Marketing, Edison Research, USA) bemoaned the very term podcast. It came about through the ubiquity of the Apple iPod player at the dawn of the podcast era. Personally, I have no problems with the term ‘podcast’ as a word or phrase.

Once upon a time, back in the wireless era, the word ‘broadcast’ might have seemed unusual to describe programmes across the airwaves. There are moments in history when a word comes into common usage and its lack of accuracy or appropriateness are simply accepted by society.

There are about half a million podcasts available, with almost every genre catered for. I’ve chosen a selection of the many podcasts talked about during Podcast Day (Table 1).

 

Table 1: Pick of the Podcasts

 

Podcast Name

Organisation or Presenter(s)

30 For 30

ESPN

Death in Ice Valley

NRK and BBC

Griefcast

Cariad Lloyd

How Do You Sleep at Night?

ABC

Modern Love

Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman

No Country for Young Women

BBC

Revisionist History

Malcolm Gladwell

The Heart on Radiotopia

Kaitlin Prest

The Message

General Electric

Troll Play

ABC

Welcome to Night Vale

Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor

Wolverine, the Long Night

Marvel

 

Selection of Forthcoming Radio Events

International Radio Festival, October 24th to November 4th, Malta.

www.internationalradiofestival.com

World DAB General Assembly, November 6th and 7th, Berlin.

www.worlddab.org

Radio TechCon, November 26th, London.

www.radiotechcon.com

 

This article was featured in the August 2018 issue of Radio User