By Gale Parmelee, Futuri Partner Success Team
You likely started off 2020 with much optimism both personally and professionally. I don’t think any of us planned to be in the midst of a global pandemic by the second quarter but nonetheless that’s what happened and here we are. COVID-19 disrupted everything from the toilet paper supply chain thanks to “panic buying” to how people consumed media on a daily basis. But with every challenge, there is opportunity!
Long before the Coronavirus was a household name, the term podcasting had already cemented its place in modern media consumption. According to the Infinite Dial 2020 study from Edison Research and Triton, an estimated 212 million people 12+ were clearly familiar with the term podcasting and an estimated 155 million people 12+ had actually listened to podcast content. Then the quarantine and lockdown orders hit. What happened next? Share of Ear data shows us that podcasting’s share of listening jumped 26% from first-quarter reports. At the same time, there’s no question that COVID-19 disrupted the listening habits of traditional AM/FM radio across the country. Some stations benefited tremendously from this shift while others found themselves in uncharted waters.
The big takeaway is this, there’s never been a more perfect time to take the on-air content you already produce daily and instantly turn it into “on-demand” listening to meet the needs of your audience. We’ve seen many radio stations in markets of all sizes across the country adjust their dayparts to accommodate new listening habits brought about by the pandemic, like working from home and no longer commuting in the car, being laid off or not shuttling kids to school or daycare, just to name a few. I’ve had several air talent and programmers over the past few months share stories of listeners who would call in or message them saying things like “I miss hearing you guys in the morning” or siting a specific benchmark they loved to listen to but because their life changed they were not tuning in at the same time anymore and missing their favorite segments. That’s a great example of how “on-demand” or “podcasting” can be your best friend right now and in the future!
Let’s look at a morning show for example. Everyone has those strong benchmarks that speak to appointment listening. You put in many hours of prep, and in some cases production, each week to make those moments stand out on the air. Then 7:20 am comes, you knock it out of the park in two and a half minutes, and then it’s all over. Gone. But does it have to be? The good news is no! Grab that audio and repackage it into a podcast. Two things immediately happen that will impact your ratings and digital numbers.
One, for PPM markets, Nielsen will give your station credit for PPM encoded timeshifted listening over the next 24 hours. Not a PPM market? There’s still a strong reason to share your content in podcast form, brand recall. For diary markets that rely on listeners writing down your brand, podcast, and on-demand content aid in the recall of your radio station.
Two, digital growth. Pushing those full segments to your website and highlighting the best snippets from those segments on your social media channels, will extend your brand and garner more clicks from your station’s fan base. In the vein of extending your brand, the current situation we’re in has also opened the door of opportunity when it comes to custom podcasts beyond what you’ve done over the air. If you’re a news station, you could create a special in-depth podcast series on business recovery as we slowly emerge from the pandemic. Music stations could help local musicians and venues who have been hit hard by the lack of live performances and miss their audiences by creating music podcasts that highlight a different artist each week. This could be a combination of live performance/interview segment.
Matter of fact, if you use a system like Futuri’s POST, you’ll have the ability to add a video component to that as well that will shine when it hits your social channels and website. Talk about bringing together your station’s fanbase with that of the local/regional music scene! Of course, in addition to the audience engagement you get from these efforts, there is a monetary component your GSM or digital sales team will love.
We’ve all become accustomed to the phrase “the new normal.” It doesn’t have to be a negative term when it comes to radio and overall media in general. You can turn that into an opportunity today! Keep in mind too that Smart Speakers have essentially placed “radios” back into homes that have not had actual radios for years, hitting a new record high in share, increasing 40%. The best part is, they are not only perfect for streaming, but for listening to podcasts as well. I recently heard an interview with a restaurant owner who said: “forget thinking out of the box, it’s time for a whole new box!” Like broadcasting, the hospitality industry has been faced with big challenges since March. This particular restaurateur was spending less time on the “doom and gloom” angle and more time on what opportunities have presented themselves for his business. Perhaps we should do the same? Toss out that old box, and start fresh. Pay attention to our consumers, where are they? What do they crave? How have their lives changed and how can we deliver content to them on their own schedule? I think it’s safe to say that we are never going back to the normal we knew in January 2020. So let’s get excited, blaze new trails, adapt to change, and continue to enhance the lives of millions that are informed, entertained, laugh, and cry with us every day. What segment did you do on the air today that will become a podcast right now? It all starts with one. Deliver awesome, on-demand content that is ready to be enjoyed when your fans are ready to enjoy it, with Futuri. They’ll thank you for it.