CompuSchmooze June 2005 (2nd column) : Podcasting Gains Support from Network Radio

CompuSchmooze June 2005 (2nd column) : Podcasting Gains Support from Network Radio
By Steven L. Lubetkin
Copyright © 2005 Steven L. Lubetkin. All rights reserved.
WORD COUNT: 688

Podcasting has gone legit. In May, the Sirius Satellite Radio Network (www.sirius.com) launched “Adam Curry’s PodShow,” a four-hour, weekday program featuring what a press release called “highlights and insights from the world of podcasting.” Curry, a former MTV veejay, is widely credited with coining the term “podcasting” after devising software to make it easier for users of portable digital music players such as Apple’s Ipod to download audio programs from the Internet onto the devices.

Then, last week, The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation announced last week that it had commissioned Tod Maffin (www.todmaffin.com), its technology correspondent, to develop a broadcast radio program about podcasting for the CBC’s national network. The program, tentatively titled “The Feed,” (www.thefeed.ca), will feature the work of Canadian podcasters as part of the content.

“Sorry Americans, for now it’s only Canadians,” Maffin writes in The Feed’s blog. He’s taking an interesting approach to development of the program, allowing listeners/readers a unique inside look at the efforts to develop the show. The blog site for The Feed includes an audio sample of theme music being considered, and even has an Acrobat PDF document containing the proposal he submitted to CBC for the program.

Maffin has written and distributed an electronic book, From Idea to Air: The Freelancer’s Field Guide to Selling to Radio, which he’s adapted into a shorter “Podcaster’s Edition.” He sells both versions of the book on his website (http://todmaffin.com/ideatoair/).

“There are some things that you don’t need to know if you’re podcasting,” he said of the podcast version of the book. “You don’t need to know how to pitch a show, or feed it to the station.”
One of the critical weaknesses of the many thousands of podcasts being distributed over the web is the lack of attention to production values and telling a story effectively in the radio format, Maffin says.

“We’re still in that early stage of learning about the media,” Maffin explained. “There are a lot of podcasts about podcasting, but increasingly, these are people going beyond that and trying to tell stories, and in that way they’re trying to replicate a lot of radio already, so with my background as a short documentary producer, here are some tips I’ve learned along the way.”
Maffin tries to help podcasters understand how to prepare programs that are entertaining for listeners.

“One of the big negatives is they are in the mindset that ‘I’m talking to a couple of my friends,’” he said. “There are far too many podcasts that go on for an hour or an hour and a half where you as the listener feel completely excluded from the conversation, they’re laughing at jokes that don’t make sense to you. You get wider audiences when you realize that there is no ‘everybody,’ and that you are talking to one person.”

Radio executives are not terribly concerned that podcasters will threaten their livelihood. At a luncheon panel of the Jersey Shore Public Relations and Advertising Association last week, Dan Finn, vice president of Greater Media, which owns several New Jersey “terrestrial” radio stations, said podcasting was “part of the new technology.”

“We opened up a digital music store at two of our radio stations’ websites,” Finn said. “We’d rather they buy the music from us. I think the bigger question when it comes to new technology is the younger listener. Are they going to grow up on radio?”

D. Carnedy, senior vice president of sales for XM Satellite Radio (www.xmradio.com), another panelist, said “We’re engaged at this point with it. It’s really about the content and how people interact with the content.”

Maffin thinks there is a valid business model for podcasting that could make them profitable.
“I think there will be a few pay-for podcasts,” he said, but he thinks most podcasts will be part of a package of benefits offered to subscribers at various sites. He noted that Rush Limbaugh is offering podcasts of his daily programs as part of a package for people who join the “24/7” subscription club through his website (www.rushlimbaugh.com).

Be sure to listen to the CompuSchmooze podcast interview with Tod Maffin.
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