Will Podcasting Save Radio?



In a few short weeks, broadcast executives will make their way to the National Association of Broadcasters show in Las Vegas. For the first time, NAB has a dedicated Podcasting Pavilion that will feature a dozen or so vendors that work in the podcasting space, and RawVoice/Blubrry will be there to talk with radio executives, creators and any attendee looking to launch a show or build a powerful network. 

Why has NAB sanctioned a Podcast Pavilion? Simple: podcasting is hot, and continues on an upward trajectory.

If you have young adults, you’ve likely noticed they are not listening to much radio. And with the proliferation of smartphones, consumers of audio content have a huge opportunity to listen to content from a variety of sources that continue to grow their podcasting catalogs, whether it be Spotify, Pandora, or Apple. Podcasts are everywhere now.

Radio can withstand another 20 years, solely because listening on your car drive is still important to some. And radio is still largely regional, which can serve an important purpose. But that won’t be enough to sustain the medium without some forward-thinking intervention. With apps like Waze eliminating the need for local traffic reporting and a large selection of music apps, radio stations will need to work harder and harder to stay relevant as more and more people discover alternative services with music you’d never hear on the airwaves. Even iHeart Radio, known for years as a frontrunner in streaming audio, filed for bankruptcy just a few days ago. 

The radio industry truly does have some brilliant creators out there that — if given a chance and budget — would likely make a huge impact and garner millions of listeners if allowed to do what they do best. And in theory, radio professionals are already at an advantage when it comes to podcasting success. “Broadcasters are already producing content every single day in studios and with equipment that most podcasters would kill to have,” suggests Zack East, Brand and Station Manager at Midwest Family Broadcasting in Benton Harbor, MI, and also a Blubrry customer.

At Blubrry, we don’t care how people listen to audio content – so long as they listen! We have extensive experience working with radio groups across the U.S. and globally – and we make it easy to make the transition. “To offset the very reasonable cost of Blubrry’s services, we started charging our clients a very low per-podcast sponsorship fee to have their name and billboard mentioned in each podcast,” explains East. “In just 6 months, we’ve sold roughly 25% of our nearly 60+ podcasts – new money from the same production already hitting the air, in most cases. We’ve also created new podcasts on behalf of our clients. Those are new podcasts that didn’t exist and are completely client-focused, but hosted by our on-air staff, and hosted on our station website. So, the station benefits from the exposure to the client’s customers, and the client benefits from the promotion of the podcast being hyper-locally focused to the area.”

This forward-thinking approach to making top-notch content available on-demand is what will keep radio relevant in the years to come. Not only does it give younger generations – used to having complete control over their personal entertainment – a reason to keep checking in to what the station is doing, but podcast content can support radio content and vice versa, reminding radio listeners who aren’t yet avid podcast listeners that podcasting is another great option, while reminding die-hard podcast listeners that there is still value in radio.

Time will tell how long it takes radio executives to determine when it is time to add podcasting to their programming mix. Public Radio figured it out a long time ago, but it will take a little longer for the commercial radio space to fully embrace podcasting. But to us at Blubrry it’s a no-brainer: while radio is local, podcasting is global, and we live in a global world.

There are opportunities to serve both and open revenue streams only dreamed about by local stations. Catch the Blubrry team at NAB to discuss those opportunities: we may not be radio insiders, but we are podcasting masters and can provide tools, service, consulting and simple advice to become radio’s savior. Take it from the forward-thinking East: “A year ago, when we first ventured in to serious podcasting, we didn’t know what it could produce for us in terms of new revenue and bringing people to our stations. Now I’m not sure where we’d be without it!”

Get an exhibit pass to visit the Blubrry team at NAB.

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