Podcast 375

On-demand is already a top priority for radio in 2016, and podcasting looks to be the star player. Podcasts are the hottest topic in programming, and execs say they’re increasing production this year considerably.

Podcast awareness among both listeners and advertisers is growing, and radio execs say they plan to have content ready. Experts say radio is well positioned to be a top provider. “Podcast listeners are very loyal to their hosts, just like someone is loyal to their morning hosts,” says Rob McCracken, E.W. Scripps director of digital solutions. “What has been happening in radio for years is now happening in an additional medium.”

Jacobs Media digital specialist, Seth Ressler, agrees. “Radio already has an audience to tap into and already has relationships with sponsors,” he says.

To get a boost in the space, Hubbard Broadcasting acquired a stake in the PodcastOne Network last year, while Scripps purchased Midroll podcast network, and both companies are working to integrate their partners into operations. At Hubbard, digital director Jeremy Sinon says its Minneapolis stations have launched two shows on the PodcastOne Network, and more will be added in 2016, and Hubbard stations promote the service on-air. CBS’ play.it podcast network features more than 400 podcasts, including news, lifestyle, sports and entertainment series.

While there are no hard rules on what a podcast should be, broadcasters are experimenting, with offerings ranging from a few minutes to as long as an hour. Cox Media Group stations, for example, create short-form “snackable” podcasts culled from broadcasts. “The long tail of podcasting allows that content to live on,” says Tim Clarke, Cox Media Group senior director, Digital Audience.

Greater Media-owned stations, meanwhile, are crafting long-form, original podcasts that may never be broadcast. “Podcasting provides us with freedom to super-serve niche segments of our audience while providing hyper-targeted potential for our advertisers,” says Steve Meyers, Greater Media’s director of digital operations.

In Detroit, active rock WRIF’s “Nerd Radio” podcast dishes about gaming, tech and comic books, while in Dover, NJ, WDHA-FM’s Terrie Carr hosts “Rockers,” exclusive interviews with musicians. This year, Beasley Media Group is rolling out a podcasting platform for its stations and increasing production. Beasley’s director of digital, Shannon Kelley, says podcasts are “arguably the best original content that radio can produce.” Beasley’s listeners, she says, want original content centered on popular hosts. “Radio is still personal,” says Kelley, “and listeners want to feel connected to the personalities.”