Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
September 4, 2009 8:34 PM

Attention Radio DJs: There Is Still Hope

If you think that the newspaper and magazine industry are in trouble, terrestrial radio is hurting pretty badly too.

If you even bother to spin the radio dial while in your car or at home, you'll note a severe lack of voice talent, shows being repeated multiple times throughout the week and highly annoying (and long) commercial breaks. In order to adjust to the new realities,  many radio stations are shifting formats, moving people around and doing anything and everything to save the media channel, which - in the end - is only making whatever listeners they have left even more confused. Media pundits proclaimed the death of radio years ago. Even the bigger names have moved on (Howard Stern went to satellite radio in 2004).

So, what's a Radio DJ to do? 

For twenty years, Peter Anthony Holder had his own show on the Montreal talk radio airwaves. It's one of those shows that was around for so long, that you didn't pay that much attention to it (cause it was always there), but when it's gone, you realized that you probably should have paid more attention to it. Holder is a good guy (I had the pleasure of being a guest on his show a few times over the years). A little over a month after his sudden termination, he tells his story in a Blog posting titled, It Was Fun While It Lasted:

"People who do live radio do not and should not get a chance to say goodbye. With 50,000 watts of raw power on two radio stations beaming across all of eastern Canada, into three Border States and beyond, no broadcast outlet in their right mind would give a talk show host who is about to be shown the door a chance to vent their spleen. That would be tantamount to being let go from a major corporation in a major metropolitan area and right after they escort you to the curb of their shiny high rise at high noon, they hand you a bull horn.

As I said in the newspaper article (the link to which you can find above) broadcasters are like professional sports coaches - they are hired to be fired. And firing is all they can do. They can't kill you. About the only thing I've been surprised about, as this whole situation unfolded, is just how other people who are in the business seemed to be... surprised! You'd think after seeing this type of thing happen time and time again, they'd realize, it's just radio!"

In a world of Intertubes, connectivity and Podcasting, there is no reason not to keep on going.

Here's my message to Peter (and any other person on the talent side of the radio industry):

You do not need a radio station or any other mass media channel to give you permission to broadcast your talk-radio show to the world. It is called, "Podcasting" and you can do it for free (or close to it), and your loyal audience can now (finally) extend well beyond the borders of your previous employers limitations.

If you love what you do, and you do not know what your next professional move is, there is no reason not to keep your show going in Podcast format (people like Adam Corolla and Kevin Pollak are doing it). You'll suddenly have a global audience, you can do your show for as long as you like and release it as frequently as you wish. All of the content you will now create will be findable, searchable and listenable... forever (unlike radio where what you say is forever lost in the ether the moment it comes out of your mouth).

It's also pretty cheap.

Many Radio DJs already have studio-type scenarios set-up in their homes and have the skill-sets to produce something pretty advanced (when compared to Podcasts like mine - Six Pixels of Separation and Media Hacks). Then again, a decent computer, a Blog, a good microphone and programs like Audacity and CastBlaster can take you 100% of the way there. All you need is a free (and simple) link to iTunes Podcasting section (which takes about 5 seconds).

The show must go on.

People like Holder have an audience that cares. Many of them have moved away from Montreal and either listened online or looked forward to trips home to hear his familiar voice. Now - with a Podcast - they can get fresh and new content from Holder (and own his own terms). No, people like Holder will not make the same kind of money they made in radio from Podcasting, but they will be keeping their name in the public's eye and be able to build their personal brand while keeping their chops up. On top of that, "you never know" what kind of work and projects will come their way because of the fact that they didn't disappear into the ether (like many of their peers).

If I were Peter Anthony Holder, I would keep the show going online. People can listen in live, stream it from the Web, download it via iTunes, listen to it how they want and when they want. Holder can also say whatever he wants - it's his show.

Why don't more Radio DJs turn their talents over to Podcasting?

(by the way, for those interested in learning more about Podcasting, PodCamp Montreal is happening September 19th - 20th. It's free. It's Social. It's fun.)

Give Podcamp A Chance

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • Posted by Kevin Richard
    Mitch Joel

    Perhaps because its not as widely accepted as radio yet? While podcasting is about 5 years old its still not used by mainstream audiences yet. In my personal experience I took a podcasting class at the beginning of this year and the majority of my class had never really listened to podcasts before. So a big step for Djs like Peter would be to educate his fans about podcasting and what they can expect from a show compared to a radio broadcast.

    I would say for music Dj's podcasting would be a big challenge as the copyright issues for playing music are complicated and expensive (unless you get independent artists). Otherwise I think it would be interesting to see where radio djs would take podcasting.Without the advertising breaks and the sponsored content they have a lot of choice and freedom to broadcast themselves however they want. For some I think it would scare them but for those who would be up for the challenge it would be a great opportunity to get creative.

    Reply
  • Posted by Ryan McMahon
    Mitch Joel

    AMEN MITCH.

    I'm a comedian/writer (it's rare, but, yes, a working, professional comedian here in canada) and I decided to start a podcast (The Clarence Two Toes Radio Show) from my home studio (homemade studio) and the success of the podcast has changed my world. I created a format, a character, and a killer comedy premise around a fictional First Nations community (loosely based on the one that I'm from) and people couldn't get enough of it - EVERYONE OWNS AN iPOD.

    After reaching what I felt the end of the story I was telling, I started a second podcast (Life According to Clarence Two Toes), based on the character I created in the first podcast. After 5 episodes of the second podcast I now sit with a webseries in dev't, a sitcom in dev't, and I'm doing live comedy all over North America. Podcasting changed my life in the most unexpected way possible.

    I also work at a big radio station here in Manitoba (provincial network) and I've heard horror stories from "old time radio guys" that HATE podcasting. They give me the "anyone can buy a mic and open their mouths," or the, "everyone's a radio jock now, who cares, you have an opinion." I'm not sure most radio people understand the power of podcasting. I feel podcasting is still relatively new, and the potential is limitless.

    Some successful shows I've seen online are the ones you mentioned in the article, The Kevin Pollock Show, The Adam Corolla Podcast, but now we see big name comics like Marc Maron with a podcast, Tom Sharpling at WFMU, and Tom Green with his show from his home studio.

    The internet is the wild west for comedy. ALOT of internet comedy content is bad, but the cream rises to the top.

    Reply
  • Posted by Chris
    Mitch Joel

    Maybe b/c no one listens to podcasts?

    Reply
  • Posted by Santiago~
    Santiago~

    I'm actually surprised more DJs haven't moved to podcasts, especially if they already have a large base to leverage. Podcasts explode your addressable market by making your content a) global b) time-insensitive (i.e. your market is now bigger than people who listen to the radio from 3.30-5pm).

    From an advertisers perspective you get exposure to a more focused market. Rather than having access to a heterogenous mix of people that keep NPR in the background all day. You have certainty that people listening The Car Hour are interested in cars. I'm not sure if advertisers have fully grasped this, because you hear a lot of the same ones advertising on very different (subject matter) podcasts.

    Interesting information in the comment by Mark McCrery on this Mashable article:
    http://mashable.com/2008/04/24/podcast-advertising/

    (I'm not affiliated with either, just googled podcast advertising)

    Reply
  • I agree 100% Mitch.

    Podcasting is essentially radio programming on demand. Adult Contemporary Radio (arguably the most popular format globally) is formula driven, so one radio station essentially play the same music as the other. The differentiating fact is the content around the music - competitions, interviews, DJ links.

    It's the last one that's most important.

    People like to engage with people. I worked for a radio station (at the time it was the biggest AC station i.t.o listeners in the province) where they cherished station identity of DJ personality. Cookie-cutter radio, right? So the formula worked for a while, but at the last listener stat-check, the numbers were dropping. Not because of the music...but because of the lack of personality.

    DJs enjoy a wonderful relationship with their listeners, a relationship they could easily spin into a podcast. Sure, you could say radio enjoys the advantage of being "live" but then again how much interaction is possible in those live moments in this world of formulaic radio? It's not that much of an advantage. Chris Moyles of the The Chris Moyles Show on BBC1 podcasts his content (interviews, DJ links, etc) without the music and people download it religiously (I'm one of them) - in their thousands!

    The power lies with the DJ.

    But is there a viable business model for the switch to podcasts? Not yet. And there won't be as long as advertisers buy in the listener-fiction. It's that whole "we have [x] listeners so that's [x] amount of potential sales-leads for your business" line of BS. if you buy that, I have a bridge to sell you. Seriously, when last did you switch on the radio to help you make a purchasing decision?

    Anyway...

    Time, education around the tacit endorsement power of the DJ-listener relationship will change that. And I believe DJs will be able to make revenue off podcasts indirectly, over and above advertising within the podcast itself. It's a world where they can say what they want, engage even more intensely with their audience, where the spin-offs for indirect revenue are a myriad...

    DJs need to be brave about the shift and strike out, blaze that trail and make it work. It CAN work.

    Thanks for the great post.

    (Wow. I think I just blogged on your blog. LOL.)

    Reply
  • Posted by Lamonte
    Mitch Joel

    I've been producing my podcast for the last couple years at AudioLoveMagic.mypodcast.com.
    The key, if you don't have a built in audience, is to do something for a predetermined audience.
    Mine is me defying format, so mostly my friends listen.
    If you were to do a dog or yoga show, people searching for dog or yoga podcasts may come across yours.

    Reply
  • Posted by David Jacobs
    Mitch Joel

    Oh, you don't know how right you are. Ok, maybe you do.

    I fell in love with broadcasting my voice at my university at their radio station. Near graduation I discovered that radio is a terrible career in many ways so I decided to make it a hobby instead. Then you find out that traditional radio stations don't just let you walk in and exercise your hobby. Along comes podcasting and I've got everything I need for my "radio" hobby. I do podcasting today for the sheer passion and love I have for communicating with an audience. If you listen to my Connected World Media podcast and you think I'm pretty smart, maybe you'll want to do business with me, and that's not a bad thing either.

    Part of my passion for communications is my deep love for radio I developed in my youth, listening to some of the radio legends out of Los Angeles in the 80's. Now the radio I knew it is dead and that does make me sad, but thank God for podcasting.

    Reply
  • Posted by Dean Piccirillo
    Mitch Joel

    Any thoughts on Blog Talk Radio versus traditional podcasting? I've taken a look at this platform and the technology is pretty interesting. After a show is recorded, it appears that it can be syndicated similar in the way that traditional recorded podcasts can. If you ultimately build a listenership (is that a word?), you could have more interaction from your audience - call in questions, chat, etc.

    Dean

    Reply
    • We use Blog Talk Radio to record Media Hacks. I have been on several BTR shows as well. I think it's great and I love the fact that you can turn the live show into a Podcast after. I think the only challenge is being able to really build audience if you consider that that it is live and on Internet in a world of multiple time zones and lots of content. Beyond that, if something is good enough... listeners make the time :)

      Reply
  • Posted by Dave Jackson
    Mitch Joel

    I have had some people from Radio sign up at my site. They love the freedom, and the ability to be their own program director. One is actually podcasting live via ustream in a club, and then releasing it as an mp3.

    The thing I hate to see is people coming from Radio thinking they know how to podcast. In the same way I wouldn't want to fill the 6-9 shift with endless bable and endless commercials, I don't think knowing how to talk into a microphone makes you a podcaster. Radio isn't podcasting, and podcasting is not the same as radio broadcasting.

    Podcasting is time shifted conversations on a global scale. I just spoke about this on my last episode
    http://schoolofpodcasting.com/avoiding-podcast-scams/

    Reply
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