Podcasting: Radio’s Answer to On-Demand Programming

If you want to join the ever-increasing ranks of those producing radio’s version of on-demand programming, read this
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Though podcasting isn't new, it's become the rage.

An example of Securenet's Cirrus player custom podcast skin.

An example of Securenet's Cirrus player custom podcast skin.

According to Triton Digital and Edison Research's Infinite Dial Study for 2017, 40% of Americans aged 12+ say they have listened to a podcast, while 24% say they have listened to one in the past month. This is a 21% increase over a year before. Sixty percent of Americans are now familiar with the term "podcasting" — a number that has risen 22% over the last two years. This is a growing medium.

If these numbers have gotten your attention, and you want to join the ever-increasing ranks of those producing radio's version of on-demand programming, then read on.

BASIC ASPECTS OF THE PODCAST

Clearly, you begin the generation of a podcast by recording the program. Every radio station has the capacity to do that, and many people have the ability to do that at home as well.

The next step is the uploading of the file of the program just recorded to a location from which is can be accessed by potential listeners. As a producer of the podcast, your choice in service provider is an important one. In this article we'll look at several companies that provide this service.

Your listeners and potential listeners need to be made aware that your program (now a podcast, ready to download and listen to) is available, and of course, it should be easy to retrieve. This is another key feature provided by whichever company you chose.

And finally, you'll want to know who is downloading and listening to your podcast. Everyone is curious as to whether or not the show is popular. But from a more practical standpoint, if you want to monetize the show in some fashion, it's necessary you have information about the audience.

There are innumerable podcast hosts and sites — we can't look at every one. However, we can look at some of the more well-known ones, hopefully to help get you started.

Liberated Syndication (libsyn) is one of many podcast hosting services. Their network has (according to their website) delivered over 1.4 billion downloads since 2009. They host both audio and video podcasts; and they offer "unmetered bandwidth and flexible storage space that grows over time."

Libsyn provides users with the means to publish their podcast, along with an associated website that facilitates cross-promotion through social media — including Facebook, Twitter, Blogger and WordPress. Libsyn also offers up custom smartphone apps for Apple and Android.

An example of SGrecast podcast player skin.

An example of SGrecast podcast player skin.

StreamGuys provides a service known as SGrecast, which enables broadcasters to record live streams into archives of any length, making them available as on-demand content or as iTunes compatible podcasts. It includes a full suite of tools for scheduling and automated delivery.

SGrecast is a hardware-free, software-as-a-service that is available to any number of users, from any networked location. Some of its salient features are:

  • Single event and recurring schedule, with dashboard calendar for review
  • 24/7 recording and segmentation of live content
  • Automated generation of iTunes compliant podcast feeds from recorded content
  • Customizable audio podcast player for embedding into web pages
The scheduling dashboard associated with SGrecast.

The scheduling dashboard associated with SGrecast.

SGrecast also supports the recording and repurposing of HLS and RTMP video feeds. You can publish your video podcasts using the same platform as used for on-demand audio.

Embedded within the SGrecast system for podcast creation are AdsWizz-enabled, server-side ad insertion tools that enable publishers to deliver dynamic advertising to listeners across a wide array of playback platforms. "The service takes advantage of ongoing improvements in location accuracy, such as the latitude and longitude now available through mobile apps and modern web browsers, to target ads by country, state, metropolitan area or even more granularly," according to StreamGuys.

Tunein makes it easy for potential listeners to find podcasts of interest.

Tunein makes it easy for potential listeners to find podcasts of interest.

Tunein is a bit more of a hands-on podcasting site geared to the convenience of the podcast listener. If you were to browse this page: http://tinyurl.com/ychhucmp you would immediately take note of what is effectively an invitation to promote your podcast on their podcast portal. After you've done so, the presumption is that it will be accessible through their podcast portal.

Tunein has apps available for a very wide range of devices: naturally, Apple and Android mobile phones. However, in addition, they have apps for Kindle; Samsung and Panasonic TVs; Roku; Sonos; and Xbox One.

The Futuri Post workstation, for in-studio use.

The Futuri Post workstation, for in-studio use.

Futuri has a system they call Post, which is a means by which a radio station�s content can be converted to on-demand programming. Using Post, you can access all of your station's broadcast audio, edit it and add an image from Futuri's fully-licensed library, before deploying it across Facebook, Twitter, the station's website, iTunes and more, with a rapid turnaround. Original content can run through the same system. The nature of Post allows for a rapid "speed to publish" and that, in turn, can give a station extra PPM credit (assuming it's in the top-50 markets) when listeners use it within 24 hours. Post also features a planner function that allows the station to automatically add sponsorships to on-demand audio.

Podbean is another podcasting host you might consider. Their "user-friendly interface" allows you to upload, publish, manage and promote your podcasts with just "a few clicks of your mouse." For a flat rate, you get "unlimited" bandwidth and storage, and according to their literature, you never pay more no matter how much you publish.

Perhaps the most interesting feature offered by Podbean is an app that runs on your mobile phone allowing you to record and edit (and even add background music should you like), then followed by 'one click" publishing of the recorded audio as a podcast. Users can listen to your podcast via iTunes, Google Play, the Podbean podcast app and many other podcast apps or their web browsers. Like other podcasts hosts, Podbean facilitates the sharing of your podcast to social networks because of its automatic Facebook and Twitter publishing.

WideOrbit On Demand provides the technical infrastructure to manage, monetize and measure the reach of on-demand audio content, like podcasts. Their solution "includes everything audio publishers need to distribute podcast files on any device and drive revenue," according to their literature.

Using WO On Demand, publishers can update podcast intros, promos and sponsorships across files with a single command; and they can syndicate content automatically to multiple distribution sources with unique profiles. They can also generate ad and podcast content metrics that adhere to IAB Podcast Measurement guidelines, and produce reports by time period, network, channel or episode. Ultimately this allows publishers to deliver advertising to targeted audiences across episodes and devices.

For ad-insertion in podcasts, you can automatically stitch pre-roll, mid-roll and post-roll ads into content. "...Instead of having to redo an entire podcast, let's say you have a podcast from the summer and you have a beach theme type ad going on or an opening monologue," said WideOrbit Dana Murphy said in a brief interview at the Radio Show last September. "At Christmas time, you can just change out that one sponsorship instead of recreating the whole file and have it be a Christmas theme," she said. "Just the ability to have a template and not be stuck with the same content or the same sound in old ads all the time and easily switch them in and out has become really important."

Triton Digital has partnered with Omny Studio, creators of an on-demand audio publishing platform, to provide radio broadcasters with an end-to-end podcast solution. The Omny Studio platform facilitates the recording, editing, distribution, monetization analysis of podcast content "on the fly, allowing you to spend less time on the mechanics of podcasting, and more time creating engaging, meaningful content," according to their literature. Utilizing the drag-and-drop audio editor, you can record and archive audio content to the cloud, or repurpose over-the-air content. You can then deploy episodes and playlists using Omny's native web player with sharing links optimized for both Twitter and Facebook.

In conjunction with Triton's server-side advertising technology, Tap Podcast, the Omny Studio platform enables publishers to replace static ads with dynamically inserted, targeted ads while automating key aspects of campaign management such as industry separation, frequency capping and volume normalization.

Cirrus streaming is a service of Securenet, and the company offers a podcast hosting service with a lot of features of interest to broadcasters. They offer an "easy-to-use" dashboard for uploading podcast files; and they host files in the cloud. As a publisher, you can upload an unlimited number of podcast files. Cirrus offers a dedicated podcast player in HTML5; customizable skins; and the Cirrus Wave embeddable player that allows you to feature your podcasts right on your website. You can choose to either embed one podcast or a series of them.

Publishers have control over the advertising associated with the podcasts; for example, banner ads can be synchronized to specific podcasts. Cirrus also features full advertising analytics and custom audience targeting.

Cirrus also offers a custom podcast XML feed so that search engines can easily find your program. It's iTunes Podcasts-Connect format compliant, and Podcatchers compatible — meaning other podcast sites and/or directories automatically pull the XML feed from iTunes Podcast.

Radio is following in the steps of television: On-demand programming in TV has become at least as important as shows that are scheduled. Giving viewers the option of when to watch their favorite program has been a boon to the medium.

Radio is now catching up, using the same idea, but for audio: Listeners shouldn't be compelled to enjoy a "morning show" just because it's on in the morning. Podcasting technology is changing audio, just as on-demand has changed TV. It presents a new way to super-serve listeners while providing a new revenue stream, and that's a benefit for our industry.

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