Since I started traveling to radio conventions a few years ago never have I seen a group as energized for the audio medium as those here at the 2016 Podcast Movement in Chicago.
The group of aspiring and established podcasters, marketers and network sales are all here for one thing. Their love of creating audio content regardless of format. That’s not to say they’re not looking to be commercial operations. The most packed rooms were those directed towards growing and monetizing your audience.
The morning started with three keynote addresses. Two of the speakers came from the public radio podcasting space: Snap Judgment’s Glynn Washington and Death, Sex and Money’s Anna Sale. Washington’s first words were clear about his motives, “I don’t care about podcasting!”. He said there’s not enough money in podcasting yet for him to care about it as a medium. He dedicated his keynote to storytelling and how the burgeoning podcast space needs to allow trust people to tell their own stories as opposed to relying simply on experts.
Sale used her keynote to compare the ten steps of starting a podcast to having a baby. However, both she and Washington working for WNYC Studios focused much of their speeches on the ability to work and iterate development with co-workers and production team members, something that many of the independent creators in the room do not have access to.
— LoveCanberraPodcast (@LoveCBRpodcast) July 7, 2016
They were followed up by filmmaker and prolific podcaster Kevin Smith. Smith had the room enthralled with stories of how he came to podcasting, fell into his first sponsorship deal with Fleshlight, and how telling a close friend to podcast not only saved him from wanting to kill himself but then led to the creation and starring in AMC’s Comic Book Men TV show.
Kevin Smith first speaker this morning to focus on self-expression. You don’t need to have radio production to be viable. #PM16
— Podcasting Insight (@PodcastInsight) July 7, 2016
— Jenna (@bite4size) July 7, 2016
After a lunch break, I sat in on two radio industry targeted panels. Edison Media’s Larry Rosin went over the most recent Infinite Dial research. As a refresher on the data, Rosin stated that 150 million people (or 55%) of people 12 and over are aware of the term podcasting. Of those 98 million have listened to a podcast, 57 million in the past month, 35 million in the past week. The average podcast listener listens to 5 podcasts per week totaling four hours and ten minutes. While podcasting has only 2% of total share of ear listening, among those that have listened to a podcast that number jumps to 32%.
At the AM/FM/Podcasting panel led by Amplify Media’s Steven Goldstein, Rosin summed up the problems facing commercial radio in the podcasting space, “Podcasting is a show, while radio programs a format. Public Radio meshes well with that as they are used to creating diverse content.” That’s not to say there isn’t hope on the horizon. Hubbard Media’s Greg Stassell said that while radio is still mass appeal, it should find reasons to develop podcasts meaningful to the audience. Programmers should be receptive to ideas from the local podcast community to find programs that fit with their target demographics and brands.
The energy on the first day of the panel is full of people looking to share ideas. Nobody has a sense of dread or entitlement that I’ve seen at recent radio conventions. These are people that want to bring new ideas to the audio landscape and are here to fill the niches that radio has long forsaken. The radio community has a lot to offer to podcasters and vice versa. They are not our enemy, they are the next generation of radio.