As more radio hosts launch podcasts, they could learn some things from Sarah Clark and Vinnie Hasson, morning hosts on CBS Radio hot AC “Alice @97.3” KLLC San Francisco. Since 2009, the duo has extended their conversation and tackles racier topics with listeners through their podcast, “The Secret Show.”
Clark and Hasson spoke to Inside Radio about what they gain from podcasting, their idea to launch a subscription app and how the podcast could benefit from the proposed CBS Radio-Entercom merger.
What attracted you to podcasting and what can you do with a podcast that you can’t accomplish on-air?
Vinnie Hasson: We started it in early 2009. The idea was that we could do a show off the air, and whether we put in random guests or whatever we decide to do, if it didn’t turn out well, we don’t have to air it. That’s one of the beauties. It is our option. We’ve never had to not air one. I think it’s more content for our listeners and it’s a way to super serve your audience.
Sarah Clark: It’s nice to feel free to say whatever you want.
Hasson: That’s other thing. With on-air broadcasts, the rules have tightened up. On the podcast, we can do a little racier version or you could say a version like we used to do.
How do you raise awareness for your podcast? Do you talk about it on-air and on social media?
Clark: The main way we would ever promote this or anything is on the main show. We mention that we do an additional hour or half-hour, whatever it turns out to be, of content for 18 and up. We always say it’s a grown-up show and don’t let the kids listen.
Hasson: From its very beginning, the podcast was meant to be something that we would also take out on the road. We toured the podcast and we do it live. We have to cover from Napa to San Jose and into the East Bay, and we’ve taken the podcast pretty much everywhere in order to bring it to the audience and do it with them.
Do you think the audiences are your regular radio fans or some unique podcast listeners?
Clark: Some are definitely exclusive podcast listeners. We have heard from tons of people who found us by searching through podcasts and gave us a try. I would say probably the bulk, though, are our radio listeners. Especially if you spend a lot of time in your car, or if you go running or whatever it is, do house work, that’s when you might listen to a podcast.
As local radio hosts, do you create your podcast for your market or do you think anyone can listen and relate to it?
Clark: We actually think it’s for us. We all can break down anything we’ve been talking about and there’s no holds barred. For us, it’s always been an outlet. If people listen to it, that’s great. I do think of it as being more of a locally based thing, but having heard that people all over the world are listening to it, it’s clearly got a wider feel. We do it because we love it and you can tell we’re having fun. I think that’s the big appeal of it.
Hasson: Ideally, we’d like to see the show be bigger and have even more success. Podcasting has grown so much, but it’s still not necessarily the most legit form of broadcast. Our company, CBS, has a long way to go to really I think do any kind of justice for podcasting. Hopefully, the new company [Entercom] will have some kind of way to step up that show that we’re doing. We’ve done 1,300 podcasts and would love to do more of them. We do feel like it’s something that needs more attention.
What kind of resources do you think you need to grow the podcast further? Do you need more production capabilities? More promotion? More sponsors?
Hasson: I think it’s about the delivery system. We’ve looked into an app. Someone could buy the app and they could get the show unedited. Right now we gotta really edit the show for language and for content. Could we do a show that is more R-rated? Yeah. We’d love to do that, but right now we have no way of doing that, we don’t have any way of getting the show to anyone other than through our website so it’s usually heavily edited.
Clark: If we had an app or a delivery system where certainly they could sell advertising on that platform as well and actually make people pay to get the unedited show, there are people who I think would go for that.
Hasson: It would be great for someone to come to us and say, let us solve your problem for you. I’d love someone to say, you can charge per show or you charge per monthly subscription rate, or we’ve got the advertising network set up, and you don’t have to think twice about it. Plug the show in and we’ll take care of it. Hopefully someone else has that figured out.
What kind of data do you get on your audience and how does that help inform the podcast?
Clark: We only recently found out what the unique users were. We really don’t know that much about how many people are listening or what the demographics are of that. I’d love to see more data.
Hasson: For the longest time, we couldn’t get any info, and then very recently our company was able to get numbers and they were astonished. We really saw a change of attitude towards the podcast and our show. I think that it’s making all companies who get this feedback start to realize they have to figure out the best possible way to deliver this podcast content to people. We’re in that transition period right now.
Hasson: Data’s fantastic during contract negotiations, you know?
How do you integrate advertisers into your show? Do you do live reads?
Clark: We’re fine with advertising if that’s the way that the company can make money off of it. We do live reads for Harry’s Razors. Well, they are prerecorded to sound live. We both use them.
Hasson: That’s been slowly changing here and now there is the pending merger. Then Entercom bought a podcast network. If we can look forward to more, I think that would be great. We’ll do the conent, we just want someone to know how to best monetize it. And the winner is the audience, really.
Where does the podcast fit into your hierarchy at the station?
Clark: I think for us, our priority is always our main radio show.
Hasson: Yeah, it’s always about what comes through the speakers on the FM dial, for right now. Don’t get me wrong, though, the podcast, we’re trying just as hard for that as we do when we’re on the main air. It’s something we’ve had to build and it’s something we’ve had to explain to people that it has value. I should say it’s something we’ve had to prove has value. We’ve done live shows where we had to turn away 200 people because the line was down the street, for that show at the Fairmont in San Jose…
Clark: That was a 420-person room.
Hasson: That’s not an ideal promotion, turning away that many people, but it does show the power of the event and that it’s got some value.