To podcast or broadcast?

Via Georgia Public Broadcasting’s Tanya Ott we get an interesting topic, Why the push to launch podcasts is missing the point:

The conventional wisdom is that public radio stations that aren’t doing podcasts are making a big mistake. Podcasts are where it’s at, and if you aren’t producing them you are a dinosaur on the brink of extinction.

But hang on. I’m not anti-podcast, but I believe we are thinking way too small. True, podcasts are the shiny objects that sponsors are falling all over themselves for. Yet the percentage of the U.S. population that is listening to podcasts on a monthly basis has only grown from 9 percent to 17 percent over the past seven years, according to the Pew Research Center. I worry we are putting too much of our creative energies into this one platform.

As I see them, podcasts are just a distribution technology. Listeners sought out Serial because it was great content, not because it was a podcast per se. Two questions get at the real things we need to be talking about as we consider how to build on its success: “Are we creating great, innovative content?” And “Do we have a strategy to engage audiences with it?” We need to be asking both questions and working on both fronts at both the network and the station levels.

My first professional media roles were in radio news and I was fortunate to create some of the early podcasts (the first time they were popular). From those experiences I can tell you, the best part of this that both sides of the debate – and a useful one it is – can be correct.

What do you think?


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