A second market has become an on-air laboratory for whether an all-podcast lineup is a viable format for AM radio. After launching a podcast-based station in the Allentown-Bethlehem, PA market earlier this year, iHeartMedia has rolled out a similar format in Albuquerque. “Progressive Talk 1350” KABQ has become “iHeart Podcast 1350.” The move is relatively low-risk for iHeart since, according to the latest Nielsen ratings, KABQ was pulling only a 0.7 share (12+) in the Albuquerque market.
The station now airs a lineup of iHeartPodcast Network-produced shows, including the morning news show The Daily Dive and the popular Stuff You Should Know podcast which gets several airings. The schedule also includes Stuff Media’s Obscured, Omnibus and Invention. And at night, iHeart’s Monster gets an airing.
In March WSAN become iHeart’s first all-podcast station when it began billing itself as “The iHeartPodcast Channel on AM 1470” and later switching its on-air branding to “iHeart Podcast 1470.” Because Allentown-Bethlehem, PA is a four-book per year diary-based market, no Nielsen ratings data is available yet on whether the format is capturing listener attention. The station had been airing the Spanish-language sports network ESPN Deportes since May 2016 and had failed to show in previous books.
The idea of putting podcasts on broadcast radio is nearly as old as podcasting itself. In May 2005 CBS Radio flipped KYCY San Francisco (1550) into what at the time was American’s first-ever podcast station. Billed as “K-Your Radio,” the station allowed listeners to contribute—for free—their podcast for airplay, and at its launch programmers said they had more than 400 podcasts submitted. As Inside Radio reported at the time, KYCY typically ran about 1,200 podcasts per week, rotating the playlist to fill the hours. Yet with low ratings and podcasting remaining a niche medium, CBS decided to pull the plug on “K-Your Radio” in 2007. It has had a number of formats in past decade and since May 2018 the signal is known as “1550 The Game” KGMZ under new owner Entercom.