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7 Podcasts Helping to Make Great Radio

rs134cvrI love radio. I love making it, making it better, making it relevant and accessible, making it meaningful and making it informative. I love listening to radio and being entertained, amazed, challenged and surprised. I also love talking about it. That’s why I’ve relaunched a new season of the Radio Stuff Podcast. (You should listen, subscribe, share and rate it on iTunes.)

In making episode 134 of Radio Stuff sponsored by Promo Suite, I realized my podcast has been influenced by many others. Some are about radio and making great audio, some are storytelling focused and others are interviews about the business.

Here are seven podcasts I’m listening to for insight, information, context and entertainment. All of these are available on iTunes in addition to other platforms.

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Bob Schieffer’s “About the News” – The CBS news veteran talks to journalists, bureau chiefs, editors, and executives about the news. It’s a behind the scenes chat with names you know and with people who lead the news industry.

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James Cridland Radio Futurologist – Londoner turned Aussie, James brings his written words  to life with 3 to 5 minute podcast shots. Great international perspective on our industry.  howsound_social_medium

HowSound – This is a master’s class in audio storytelling. It’s a bi-weekly podcast produced for PRX and Transom and dives into technique, storytelling formulas and structure with lots of examples.

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Radio Today – the great Trevor Dann consistently delivers this weekly listen about radio in the U.K. And Europe. He talks to the news makers and icons. Plus, David Lloyd Radio Moments.  sound-off

Sound Off Podcast – Canadian and radio pro Matt Cundill shows off production value and a great sense of curiosity in this weekly podcast about radio. I’m featured in the next episode.

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Barrett Sports Media Podcast – this is a newly launched podcast by veteran sports radio programmer turned consultant Jason Barrett. He’s talking to talent and management about how they do what they do and addressing the big headlines in radio each week.

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Under the Influence – this is a marketing podcast that’s also a radio show on CBC. It’s a great listen, well researched and highly produced. A good example of how to take seamingly disparate stories and connect them through a show theme.

What podcasts are you listening to for inspiration, instruction or example?

My Favorite Blog Posts of 2015

As a guy who has been blogging over the course of the last five years it is heartening to see stats rise from 1,500 views in 2010 to over 33,000 in 2015. But, and I presume my fellow bloggers will concur, the most popular blog posts arent neccessarily the ones the writer loves, adores or sweated over. So I give you my favorite posts of the year, even if they didn’t get the attention I wished they did.

snl40It’s Time For Your SNL Moment – Love it or hate it Saturday Night Live’s 40thanniversary show can serve as inspiration for your next radio event.

Curse of Subjective Adjectives – This is a phenomenal blog post; it’s fun, insightful, sensational, great, super, terrific, and awesome. Depending on who you are.

Paul KayeAirchecks. Dreaded Airchecks. – One of the issues that I hear from talent quite a bit is how airchecks suck. They dread them. Talent feel like they’ve been slimed by negativity afterwards when they just want some support, strategy and a plan to improve. They know what sucked. How do you fix it?

Secrets to Podcasting Success – In May 2014, Anna Sale launched the podcast “Death, Sex & Money” from the studios of WNYC. In the 10 months that has followed, Anna’s podcast has hit #1 on iTunes and she’s learned a ton about producing a successful podcast. Lucky for us she shared her revelations at Radiodays Europe and with the Radio Stuff Podcast.

What Do You Do With An Idea? – In recent weeks, clients have been sharing with me the anxieties associated with following their gut or executing on an idea.

RS 100 coverInside Radio Stuff #100 – How I landed the interview with Jonathon Brandmeier and how it all came together.

Broadcast Interview Scruples – The relationship between a broadcaster and an interview subject has triggered my curiosity. Let me tell you why.

Cirque du Radio – I was at the show Kooza last night and saw this awesome assembly of remarkable talent. It’s a really, really talented troupe. A couple things struck me as it relates to radio

One Thing Radio Has That Everybody Else Wants

liveEvery day radio DJs and talk hosts do something that strikes fear into others…

They crack a mic and talk to thousands of people at one time “live.”

That’s right, “live!” and without a net (other than a 7-second delay for dumping curse words.)

I can hear your sarcastic mumbling from here, “Woo hoo! Wowzers. Big deal, buddy. Why’s that something to write about?”

Well, it turns out people like “live” and radio has it in droves. However, for some reason we are taking this huge attribute and for the most part scuttling it.

Meantime, others are scrambling to capitlize on “live.”

knock-knock-liveRyan Seacrest is building an empire on “live.” He has “live” voting on American Idol and “live” performances, a “live” radio show (sometimes replayed and repackaged), a “live” countdown to New Year’s Eve and tonight he launches a new TV show called, “Knock! Knock! Live.” It’s billed by Fox TV as “the show where anything can and will happen.” They can say that because it is “live.”

“Live” is more thrilling. It makes it more dangerous, more daring, and more exciting. Though somehow radio doesn’t feel that way. We no longer view “live” as special, so our listeners don’t either and I believe that’s a mistake.

But even more than how it feels, “live” creates an instant community of people experiencing something at the same time. It makes it more special because we aren’t just watching or listening to something, we are bearing witness to it. There is something powerful to having a shared experience. Media companies of all shapes and sizes get that and are trying their best to capture it.

It is in fact one of the cornerstones of Apple Music’s Beats1 channel. It’s a shared, global, listening experience. It’s “live” from London, New York, and L.A. and you are listening “live” wherever you are anywhere and everywhere in the world.

After a successful and funny “live” show in the spring, NBC renewed the fairly average sit-com “Undateable” for 13 episodes this fall with the caveat that all the episodes are broadcast “live.” Let us not forget the enduring success of Saturday Night Live.

TV and radio networks also spend hundreds of millions of dollars for the rights to “live” sporting events, because historically those are the most watched and listened to events – ever.

Tom Leykis has a bit called “Be Funny Live” on his New Normal Network internet radio show and it is so successful he created a sold-out event at a comedy club around the premise.

You can listen to your favorite band or artist on your device as often as you want, but seeing them “live” is light years better.

What’s the attraction to Periscope? It’s “live” video that you can interact with in real-time.

“Live” tweeting events and pre-recorded shows is almost more entertaining and enjoyable than the actual event or show.

I could go on…

At this very moment in time when “authenticity” is one of radio’s buzzy buzz words, the industry has a real opportunity to own the “where anything can happen” moniker. Unfortunately, we seem so restricted by our companies, brands, managers, and stock holders that rarely anything does. And the audience doesn’t anticipate that it will.

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Subscribe to the Larry Gifford Media “Radio Stuff” email and each Tuesday you’ll receive an email with all sorts of stuff about radio. Sign up here.

It’s Not Beats1’s Fault, Blame Steve Jobs

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Click image to listen to my review of Beats1.

Beats1 is on the air!

I’m underwhelmed thus far and I blame Steve Jobs. He taught me to expect the unexpected. He created products that at first blush seemingly made no sense (an iPad? I have an iPhone. Why do I want something bigger?), but were nearly instantaneous culture changing innovations. He created a brand expectation that sadly Apple can no longer live up to.

In my mind I was really hoping Beats1 was going to be revolutionary, be a paradigm shift for radio, inspire a new generation of broadcasters and push the industry back on it’s heels a bit. I imagined that they would figure out a way to integrate a song an hour from everyone’s personal iTunes collection weaving it seamlessly into the fabric of the radio station making it a truly personalized experience. I envisioned a XAPP Media type vocal recognition program which would allow you to say out loud, “buy this song” and it would instantly download to your iTunes account. I counted on Apple to create the fully integrated, connected, social savvy, second screen radio has been struggling to create. My expectations were too high.

Instead, so far, the bigger impact of Beats1 is for rising artists who get a global spin and ideally, for them, an instant international fan base. (Also, Pandora founder Tim Westergren’s dream. AUDIO)

As it impacts radio, Beats1 seems more of a blast of the past than a quantum leap into the future:

Shouting city names over records.. Radio does this.

Live reads. Radio does this.

Pre-Recorded outdated promos. Radio’s got those in droves!

DJs that talk too much. Radio’s got ‘em.

DJs in multiple locations. Yep..

Dead Air. Sure.

Celebrity DJs. Requests. Listen call-ins. Social media engagement. Radio does all that too.

What exactly is the innovation here?

It’s week one, so we’ll give them time to get settled and check back in next month or so. Meantime, if you hear something truly unique let me know.

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Subscribe to the Larry Gifford Media “Radio Stuff” email and each Tuesday you’ll receive an email with all sorts of stuff about radio. Sign up here.

6 Seconds

2015-04-16 10.03.05There is a new app called “6 Seconds” created by digital music pioneer Michael Robinson. I’ve blogged about his DAR.FM service before. This new app turns thousands of digital radio streams from around the world into an instant Spotify or Pandora with one advantage – unlimited skipping.

“It’s a free app for Android and IOS that takes a totally new approach to internet radio,” Robinson tells the Radio Stuff Podcast. “We put the artist and song first, let users indicate what style of music, artist or even specific song they want and then we go find the station’s that match that.”

Essentially, “6 seconds” allows people to listen to the music they want while discovering new radio stations around the globe. When the song ends, the listener hears the next song or commercials or whatever the radio station is playing until they “left swipe” to skip to the next song that relates to your initial search.

In my test of the app (see screenshots below),  I searched for The Beatles and was given a list of about 20 stations currently playing Beatles songs.

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I chose “Come Together” on KVRW (a Lawton, Oklahoma station I would never have listened to otherwise) and then tested the skip feature.

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Next came, “Do You Want to Know a Secret.”

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That was followed by “Sister Golden Hair” by America (not the Beatles but same genre).

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Next up was “Jumping Jack Flash” by the Rolling Stones.

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So far, so good. And then the Beach Boys. On the surface it seems to fit until I realized it was a Christmas tune, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”

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Perfect? No. Clever? Indeed. I love that I’m not only discovering new music, but new radio stations (many seemingly online stations) and I like can favorite stations I like to return whenever I want. Go ahead and download it and try it out.

Looking for an anoter review? Radio futurologist James Cridland test drives the app too.

Radiodays Europe 2015 – Day Three

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Dennis Clark & Larry Gifford

Day three of Radiodays Europe in Milan, Italy kicked off with super insightful presentation by Dennis Clark, VP of Talent Development for iHeartMedia.

“These are the good ole’ days,” he started. Afterward I asked him for the Radio Stuff Podcast why he believes that. “Because if you’re good and you have an audience and listeners are connecting to you that is a product and they’ll follow you.” Clark referenced Howard Stern’s successful move to SiriusXM and Chris Evan’s jumps from BBC Radio 1 to Virgin Radio to Radio 2.

On stage, Clark offered a road map to building a successful radio show.

 

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He talked about the importance of defining roles and shared the initial roles outlined for Ryan Seacrest’s Show in 2005. He suggests revisiting personality profiles two times a year because life changes and you need to be able to reflect those changes on air. For instance, you might get engaged, divorced, lose a lot of weight, or your young child starts going to school.

 

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Clark made it clear there can only be one captain on the show and that is the host. “Every time you open the mic you have a new listener. Like a good party only one person opens the door to welcome the new people to the party. (On radio) that is the host. Introducing the around. Make them feel included.”

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It’s also important to Clark for shows to identify what they do as either “branding” or “humanity.” In the slide below, the bigger the cloud the more dominant of a role it plays on the show.

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There were great presentations throughout. Even I got a chuckle from the big room on Tuesday when I reimagined opening lines of famous novels to make a point about the power of a declarative sentence vs. asking a question.

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Here is a link to a blog written by Steve Martin (Just as funny and talented, but this one blogs) for Earshot Creative summarizing the “30 Ideas in 45  Minutes” session. Thanks to James Cridland for snapping the photo (really you should sign up for his newsletter: JamesCridland.net — you know it’s a smart piece because it ends in .net) and loads of appreciation to Nik Goodman for having me on his session. You can check out his fine company BOUNCE, right here.

Some of my takeaways… 

You can’t innovate without action.

To do social media well you need to invest in people and technology. And you need to do social well. (Sidebar: Snapchat is where it is at right now. Though that trend could vanish in the next six seconds.)

Your enemies and your flaws aren’t terrifying and gruesome. Think of them as future partners and your true distinctive features. Embrace them both.

Visualizing radio is unneccessary and getting less clunky and more exciting to do and do well. Make sure it enhances the on-air content and the show brand.

Up Next

The convention concluded with the announcement that Radiodays Europe 2016 will be held in Paris, France.

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Loads more Radiodays Europe talk on Thursday in this week’s Radio Stuff PodcastSubscribe to the Larry Gifford Media “Radio Stuff” email and each Tuesday you’ll receive an email with all sorts of stuff about radio. Sign up here.

Radiodays Europe: Getting Out of the Comfort Zone

radiodays_europe_mit_vorlaeufigem_programm5_evo_list_itmes_compSo, this week I’m off to Milan, Italy for Radiodays Europe. The response I’ve received from the U.S. and Canada is measured, if not skeptical, and a tad bit insulting to our radio brothers and sisters around the world.

“Radio days – what? I never heard of it.” – This is the typical response I receive followed by, “it’s cool you get to go to Italy. Enjoy it.”

Translation: This must be a way to write off a trip to Italy on your taxes. I get it.

“You know, Larry, you’re going to find Europe, the U.K. and the rest of the world are about 10 years behind us, but by all means see for yourself.”

Translation: There’s nothing for U.S. radio to learn, they’re all copying us!

The reality of it is, I’m excited to be going. Yes, I love Italy. But, frankly, I love radio more. In the past five years, I’ve met some crazy talented, creative, radio trailblazers from around the world and I anticipate nothing less at Radiodays Europe. For me, I learn loads by getting out of my comfort zone. This should do the trick.

Here is what I anticipate most:

1. Terror & Breaking News: There is a lot to be learned from people who have experienced and reported on terrorism. In one session, we will be hearing about #Je suis Charlie from two French newsrooms; Radio France and of Radio France International. As terrorism refuses to recognize borders, we must learn from our radio friends who have been faced with it becoming a local story.

2. The Royal Prank: Funny is subjective and in some cases deadly. I’ve been fascinated with what happened when 2DayFM pranked a London hospital pretending to be the Queen and Prince Charles checking up on then-pregnant Kate Middleton. Three days later one of the nurses they fooled committed suicide. The story continues to make headlines as recent as last week when an Australian court ruled the radio station violated the law and now faces huge fines. Mel Greig, the host who impersonated the Queen, will elaborates on what happened, what she’s learned through it all and what lessons the radio industry can take from it.

3. Morning Show Successes: I hope Z100’s Elvis Duran and BBC Radio 2’s Chris Evans are honest and transparent with us. These guys have hugely successful breakfast / morning shows. Both hosts will be in attendance to hopefully help us better understand what makes them work. I interviewed Evan’s assistant producer Graham Alban’s last year and I hope the host is as forthcoming and thoughtful.

4. Millennial Insights: I content kids don’t hate radio, we just haven’t made it compelling enough for them to care about it. It should be instructive to hear how others are capturing the attention of the next generations and getting them to consume (consciously or not) the radio. Presenters from Serbia, Belgium, Sweden, Germany, and the UK will all share insights.

5. The Role of the Radio DJ: This is important. In the wake of Apple plucking one of radio’s greatest DJs from the BBC, it is prescient to have a discussion of the evolution of the radio DJ and the important role curation plays in the future success of music radio.

6. Radio’s Social Media Strategy: There are a number of sessions focused on social media. I bet none of them will satisfy every GM I’ve ever met in radio who wonders, “how do we monetize twitter?” But, I look forward to hearing how others are delivering cool social media experiences for their audiences, how they’ve increased real engagement with their brand, and just listening to success stories from the front lines of radio’s internal struggle with social media.

7. People: Meeting new people and reconnecting with old friends can be inspiring. Hearing people’s “radio stories” and triumphs is a highlight of these events. Often the most interesting people are sitting with you in the audience. Get to know them. Have a drink. It’s fun to spit ball ideas with smart people who “get” radio.

SIDENOTE: Strange to me that there really is no session around sports radio; coverage, the format, play-by-play.

Starting this weekend, I’ll be blogging about my Radiodays Europe adventures at LarryGifford.com, live tweeting @giffordtweet and filing stories in the U.S. for Talkers.com and in Canada on Airchecker.ca. Listen for a full recap of my experience on the Radio Stuff Podcast.

 

FOR ONE DAY ONLY; ELVIS WILL BE IN THE BUILDING

elvis-duran1Elvis Duran, one of America’s most popular radio personalities, is a headliner at this year’s Radiodays Europe in Milan, Italy (March 15-17, 2015). Duran will take the stage and pull back the curtain on the Z-100 Morning Show which is based in New York and heard in 70 markets across the country.

Duran is excited for the opportunity, “I’m honored to be participating in this event. This is a great chance to show how connected we all are through the power of radio.”

Joining him on stage is the Vice President of Talent Development for iHeartMedia, Dennis Clark. Dennis’ role is to nurture the best and most talented radio people in the industry and he works directly with key radio personalities, such as Duran and Ryan Seacrest. They’ll discuss how to create a show that consistently delivers huge audiences, and will reveal the ingredients that makes Elvis Duran the most listened to Top 40 Morning Show in the states.

GIFFORD HEADS TO MILAN, TOO

In a much lower-profile billing, I will be a workshop leader on Sunday (“Fast & Furious”) and co-presenting a session on Tuesday (“30 Ideas in 45 Minutes”). In addition, I be blogging here and on Airchecker.com, filing exclusive reporters for Talkers.com, recording the Radio Stuff podcast in Milan, tweeting whenever possible @giffordtweet, @theradiostuff and facebooking on the Larry Gifford Media page.

RELATED: Radiodays Europe founder and manager Rolf Brandrud featured on the Radio Stuff Podcast

BUT, WAIT! THERE’S MORE

I’m excited that the U.S. radio industry will be well represented this year’s. Here are just some of the other notable U.S. presenters and workshop leaders making the pilgrimage to Milan March 15-17.

  • Anna Sale, producer at WNYC, is leading a session on “Death, Sex and Money; How to Start and Succeed with Podcasting.”
  • David G. Hall, media strategist, is presenting a session titled, “Five Simple Tools to Make Your Show Better.”
  • John Vorhaus, creative consultant, is leading a workshop on “Your Radio Brand” and presenting a session on “How to be Funny When You’re Not.”
  • Steve Jones, music industry veteran, is hosting the session, “Be Like a Rock Star!”
  • Larry Rosin, Edison Research, is diving deep into the “Stream Battle.”
  • Marty Garrison, VP Technology for NPR, is co-presenting “What if Technology Was Your Best Friend After All.”
  • Joel Sucherman, Sr. Dir. Digital Developments for NPR, will discuss “Mobile Apps; More Than Just Live Radio.”
  • Dennis Clark, VP Talent Development for iHeartMedia, is presenting a session on “Making Radio Personalities Relevant in 2015.”
  • Warren Kurtzman, President & COO of Coleman Insights, is discussing, “Aristotelian Dramaturgy – How to Create Compelling Personality-Driven Content.”
  • Bryce Clemmer, CEO of Vadio, is co-presenting a session on “Radio Worth Watching.”
  • Rob Green, VP of Streaming for WideOrbit, is presenting “From Linear to Digital.”

The complete list of sessions and speakers and ticket information for Radiodays Europe is available at www.radiodayseurope.com
Radiodays Europe

Launched in 2010, Radiodays Europe is the largest and most important international radio conference in the world. It is also considered to be the best with high quality content, great speakers and a huge program with over 100 speakers in 55 sessions over 2½ days. In 2014, it attracted 1300 delegates from over 60 countries.

Top 10 Posts of 2014!

Each year I find it gratifying to look back and take stock. It’s been a fun, frustrating-at-times, insightful, enlightening, empowering year thanks in a large part because of you. What I write on these pages is a reflection of what I’m experiencing in the world as it relates to radio. Here are the posts that drew the most attention this year for one reason or another.

photo 310. Stop Questioning, Start Creating. This was a talent-focused piece on how to best engage listeners and a plea for the world to stop asking so many questions. It’s an engagement device that really doesn’t work as well as you think it does.

9. 1,000 Miles of Radio Listening. This entry was inspired while moving my family from Seattle, WA to Atascadero, CA. It reflects my time in the role as a real radio listener. (Spoiler: Radio remains, to my dismay, mostly cliché, predictable, forgettable, and crammed full of poorly written commercials.)

8. Radio is Overloaded. I WANT to love radio, but I am increasingly dissatisfied with the return on my investment of time.  Gang, we got a spot problem. There’s way too much clutter.

PETE CARROLL LOMBARDI 27. Building a Championship Team. Sometimes we need to look beyond the four walls of the studio or station to be inspired for greatness. This entry focuses on Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and how he built a World Championship team.

6. How to Quit Your Radio Job in 10 Steps. There is going to come a time when you want out of your radio station. Here is how to do that with dignity and grace.

5. Fun Cannot Be Formatted. This was a 50% inspiration and 50% kick in the ass. A major portion of people in radio have forgotten how to have fun. The future success of the industry depends on the spontaneity of personalities and giving them permission to try new things and fail.

4. Six Tips for Co-Hosting a Radio Show or Podcast. Co-hosting a radio show or podcast seems like it should be easier because there are two of you, but that also means there are twice the problems. Here are some tips to get you started in the right direction.

3. Making Sense of Another Radio Firing. Anthony Cumia, the second half of Opie & Anthony, was fired by SiriusXM over the weekend for a series of offensive tweets he made about African-Americans after a woman physically assaulted him in New York City. I examine the firing from a radio perspective.

Leykis12. Seven Hours with Tom Leykis. This my takeaways from spending the day with former radio star turned internet radio star Tom Leykis. Tom doesn’t hate radio. He says he’s been doing it too long, made too many millions off of it and has too many friends still in it to hate it. “I love radio. NOT the appliance, but the concept.”

1. Prepare for the Pink Slip. This entry is the most viewed blog post of 2014 and it also originates from my day with Tom Leykis. It is full of advice from Tom to those of us still working in the traditional radio business.

Don’t Be a Serial Hater

serialThe Break Up

It’s not news that our society and media love to build things up and then tear them down. The latest example is the This American Life produced podcast “Serial.” As the final episode of season one is about to post, there is a ripple in the force of “Serial’s” success.

“Serial” captured magic in a bottle. It’s a podcast that investigates a 15-year old murder case and the conviction of Adnan Sayed. Millions are listening, some even waiting in anticipation for its weekly Thursday release. Personally, I’m a fan. In my house, it was a topic of conversation at Thanksgiving with friends, fodder for the weekly Skype call with the in-laws, weekly hypothesizing with radio clients in Cape Town, Los Angeles and Ithaca and one night my wife and I chose Serial over TV and listened together. It’s even beginning to influence the way I’m telling stories and using audio on my podcast Radio Stuff.

The Deal with Ramsey

Despite the early positive press, my own tongue-wagging, the very successful season two fundraiser, and the ever-growing audience for the show there are some in the media who seem to want it to go away now or pretend it’s no big deal.

I’m not sure why.

Mark Ramsey of Mark Ramsey Media is one of them. He dismisses it as “overrated” on his Facebook page with a link to an article by Variety. I rebutted in the comments of his post suggesting his comment was shortsighted and he encouraged me to read the article and listen to his podcast. I’ve done that now. It inspired this post.

The Case Against “Serial”

“The podcast is really no more or less engrossing than the countless other true whodunits common all over movies and TV. Even an average episode of a relatively low-profile TV staple like NBC newsmagazine “Dateline” routinely features cases like Syed’s; you could even argue recreating these crimes for TV is a more sophisticated form of storytelling.” 

Variety criticizes “Serial” for being unoriginal and using tried and true storytelling methods. And then later declares “Serial” irrelevant to the success of future podcasts, because it’s too unique and difficult to recreate. Oh, and there’s more.

“The problem with “Serial’s” success is that it won’t represent an inflection point for podcasts for one simple reason: Even if the hype for this show grows to a level where it brings podcasts exposure to a new audience segment perhaps even more sizable than that of current core podcast devotees, there’s little else like “Serial” for this wave to listen to that will keep them around to sample more content.”

In their podcast “Media Unplugged,” Mark Ramsey and Tom Asacker decided to rebuke one article’s claim that on the heels of “Serial’s” success this is the golden age of podcasting. Here are some of their arguments. (My comments are italicized and in parenthesis.)

  • “I was met with a splash page asking for donations to fund a second season.” (Crowd sourcing worked! Not sure why that is a negative. If pop ads bother you I might suggest exiting the internet altogether.) 
  • “Only 15% of Americans are listening to podcasts, it’s not a dramatic change from before “Serial.”” (That’s 47 million people and growing. The golden age of TV was the late 1940’s and 50’s but there are far more people watching TV today than then. This seems irrelevant to “Serial’s” success or the argument against being a golden age of podcasts.)
  • “Being #1 on iTunes doesn’t mean it’s popular. The iTunes ranker is not a reflection of popularity it’s an algorithm – momentum and comments rather than raw popularity. Plus, the iTunes ranker is not the sum total of podcast consumption.” (For some reason this seems like a personal issue with Ramsey. I’m guessing if “Media Unplugged” became #1 on iTunes he wouldn’t parse popularity versus momentum and comments, which also seem like perfectly fine factors of popularity.)
  • “”Serial” has 18 million exposures less than an average episode of NCIS on CBS.” (NCIS is the #1 drama on TV. “Dateline,” which is probably more appropriate to compare, maxes out at 7 million viewers. But, since when are we judging radio/audio content success versus TV? We never have. It’s a ridiculous comparison.)
  • “There is an orgins story to this podcast: This American Life launched it. It’s a platform and all these distribution points called public radio stations.” (So, this is the old “don’t try this at home, kids” warning. I think most smart people in the radio/audio space realize the impact that had, but that shouldn’t keep them from trying or also launching podcasts on the backs of established brands)
  • “They used the “what happens next” method of storytelling, the genre “murder mystery” is as old as Agatha Christie, and the style as old as Dickens. Somehow in the world of podcasts it’s fresh.” (Excellent. We should be using every trick in the book. There’s no need to recreate the wheel. Good storytelling is good storytelling.)
  • “Most podcasts are like most blogs, most books, and most music; if they’re hitting maybe tens of thousands of downloads then they are lucky.” (This only further proves the growing success of podcasts. Two years ago experts like Mark and Tom wouldn’t have uttered podcasts and blogs in the same sentence as books and music. Now they’re putting them on equal ground. Either books and music have failed horribly or podcasts have risen in the ranks.)

The Opposite of Prosecution

Maybe I’m a glass half-full guy, but “Serial” makes me excited. And not just for podcasting, but for radio. I can hear a whole new wave of personal journalism on news-talk radio stations right around the corner. I can imagine newscasts with that familiar, intimate tone, personal asides and anecdotes (or “folksy” as Variety called it) that sucks you into the “Serial” narrative.

As a news-talk PD I was passionate and supportive of enterprise reporting and in-depth investigations and I believe “Serial” has cleared the way for commercial radio stations to move forward in that direction with gusto. Yes, there’s a risk it won’t work. Which means there’s a chance it will work. Go for it.

The model of launching a podcast off the success of a radio show is one that any radio station in the country could duplicate with varying degrees of success depending on the strength of the brands involved. You could also launch podcasts off of non-media brands or TV partners or local celebrities. Be creative. Use this as an idea starter.

I’m not sure why it’s a negative to borrow successful story-telling techniques. Regardless if it’s from CBS, Agatha Christie or Dickens, it all seems like good company to keep. Look at cable news. They built 90% of their programming on the models talk radio created. I guess my point is sometimes we get so concerned with being original and unique or “innovative” that we forget about “cultivation” and “ideation” which allows you gather all available assets, ideas and thoughts and repurpose them to greater success. We should do more of this.

And finally, with all due respect to the naysayers, I think anytime any audio content captures the imagination of people or the media, we should celebrate it. Far too often radio and audio creators crossover onto print, digital and TV for all the wrong reasons. “Serial” seems like just the lightning rod our industry needed to regain our swagger and expand our personal definitions of what’s possible in this space as it pertains to content creation, monetization and our definitions of success.