Amplifi Introduces New Joint Venture With Jacobs Media - SONICAi

For the past few years, I have been immersed in the world of on-demand audio.  The proliferation of the smartphone and great new audio content have been the catalysts to sharp growth in podcast consumption.  Today, 67 million people listen to podcasts each month, and among 18-34-year-olds, the growth and penetration is impressive and points the way to systemic change.   

While listening to podcasts is getting easier, there is still plenty of friction in selecting, downloading and playing them.  What if that process was reduced simply to asking for a program and it magically started playing? 

That is the promise and potential of voice assistants.  According to data from Jacob Media’s latest Tech Survey report, 11% of households already have access to one of these devices. That is crazy fast.

Amazon’s Echo, in particular, has become a juggernaut in a short period of time.  Along with Goggle Home, sales are projected to hit 27 million units this year.  Gartner predicts that 75% of U.S. homes will have one by 2020.  That’s less than three years away.    

The implications for podcasting and radio are huge.

All of this is the catalyst to a new and exciting partnership we are announcing today:

Amplifi Media is joining forces with Jacobs Media’s Mobile App Development unit, Jacapps. 

Today we are debuting a new joint venture, SONICAi.”  This new company develops “skills” for voice command devices.  We strategize, design and create spoken word software for voice assistants.

Our partners in this new startup are two longtime friends and business associates, Fred and Paul Jacobs.  We have a long history. Fred and I worked together at ABC Radio in the 70’s and later when I lived in Detroit, there were countless excursions to a rib place nearby. Jacobs Media was a valued partner during my time with Saga Communications.  In addition, Robert Kernen, who heads Jacapps, is a longtime colleague.  All of this creates a perfect environment for the development of solutions and strategies for broadcast and podcast. 

Joining us is Lee Davis.  Lee is a top-flight media manager, having run WFAN, and WINS in New York and headed national sales at Univision Radio.

We are not the first to this space.  But we’re positioned as the company where a team of strategic programmers will attack radio’s opportunities to accurately access radio streams and go beyond to create “skills” that we believe will drive ratings, revenue, and brands.

We also see voice assistants as a leveler on the playing field for podcasts.  On these devices, it is just as easy to access a podcast as Spotify.  Just ask. 

Radio continues to be challenged in the home.  With some imagination, these devices open pathways to engagement with listeners which go way beyond a station stream.  Our vision includes audio clips, features, podcasts and services which are designed for time shifting, retention and growth. 

For podcasters, discovery, ease of navigation and easy to recall utterances will be key growth factors. 

Here is a video which describes what SONICAi – or Sai – is all about:

The website is

We are very excited about this new venture and the possibilities and solutions ahead with voice assistants.  

I am looking forward to speaking about podcasting at Canadian Music Week on Wednesday (4/19) of this week in Toronto.  

I am looking forward to speaking about podcasting at Canadian Music Week on Wednesday (4/19) of this week in Toronto.  



How Stephen Colbert Went From Worst to First

Producer Chris Licht conferring during a taping. Chad Batka for The New York Times

Producer Chris Licht conferring during a taping. Chad Batka for The New York Times

Stephen Colbert’s late night show was essentially on life support.  Since the program’s debut, ratings significantly trailed Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel. CBS Chief Les Moonves was worried and brought in a new show producer.  Today, Colbert is the leader in late night. 

The difference was a deep rethink of the role the program filled versus their late night competition, combined with pivoting to the strength of its talent.  Today’s Colbert "Late Show" is far more political; certainly benefiting from the Trump resistance.  Beyond that, the show plays more closely to Colbert's origins with The Daily Show and his character on the Colbert Report.

For programmers producers and talent, whether broadcast or podcast, the lessons in Colbert’s ascension are plentiful as chronicled in this New York Times article. "How Stephen Colbert finally found his elusive groove."

Without a strategy of differentiation, many shows and podcasts will tread water or disappear. 

In radio, there are far too many indistinguishable “Biff and Bonnie” type morning shows.  They all do the same trivia contests and have the same take on entertainment news.  Programmers scratch their heads wondering why the program is not growing.  While sometimes it is a lack of talent, which will certainly doom a show, often it is the dearth of a differentiating strategy.

The same holds true in a sea of 350,000 podcasts. No matter the subject, there are plenty of choices – there are 27 podcasts about crocheting.  How can one show stand out from the pack?  What is measurably better or different? Those questions remain elusive for too many programs.  

Without a thoughtful strategy of differentiation, many shows and podcasts will tread water or disappear. 

In the case of Colbert, his cast and crew are the same, but there is now great clarity regarding content selection, direction and presentation.  Colbert’s new producer, Chris Licht’s focus was not on how to be good – Colbert is good - but how to be different.  His scouting report; "this is all over the place. This doesn't seem cohesive." By focusing on viewer (or listener) needs, expectations and seizing on hot topics, they have captured the moment and built a show for the times we live in, thus filling a void.  

There is a lot of content out there.  There is a lot of talent out there.  

The win is the combination of talent + strategy.  

The article is a great read for content creators and talent.  

I will be moderating a great podcast panel at Canadian Music week, Wednesday April 19 in Toronto.  

I will be moderating a great podcast panel at Canadian Music week, Wednesday April 19 in Toronto.  



You Call That a Morning Show?

Ensconsed near the top of Apple’s podcast chart since February is a daily juggernaut "morning show."  It is not, however, from a traditional broadcast source or a podcast aggregator. Rather, “The Daily” is from the New York Times, and is posted each day in time to be heard during the morning commute.

"The Daily" is a highly produced 20-minute show which looks at a few big stories in the news using the resources of the NY Times reporting staff. They use the phrase, "this is how the news should sound."  The show's host is well regarded New York Times political reporter Michael Barbaro. 

This week, NPR joined The New York Times with its own Monday-Friday morning podcast, “Up First.”  The new podcast, available weekdays by 6am is a 10-minute conversation between NPR journalists getting listeners up to speed on two of the day’s top stories.  Morning Edition Executive Producer Sarah Gilbert calls it a “hybrid of on-demand and live broadcast news” using segments from the 5am hour of Morning Edition.

NPR opted for the short 10-minute length based on listening patterns to its popular terrestrial show "Morning Edition" and its mobile app, NPR One. 

NPR’s hope is to reach a younger audience, many who are current podcast listeners but may not be NPR broadcast listeners. Gilbert says, “we see this as a way to create the NPR loyalists of the future.”  

It is always tough to review a show in its first few days.  Everything new evolves. "Up First" is really interesting. In some ways it seems like a cross- promotional tool for the "Morning Edition" radio show, but at the same time, an entry point to invite their large, and more youthful, podcast-only following to sample NPR's news product. 

We will see how it evolves.   

NPR has aggressively developed a robust podcast platform. Its CEO, former commercial radio executive Jarl Mohn, talks often about the importance of innovation on all devices and platforms. This is clearly another step to make NPR content available beyond the transmitter. 

Most certainly, "The Daily" and "Up First" will not be the only podcast content produced for the lucrative morning hours., for one, has prepared a daily rundown of their top stories in podcast form for some time.  

There will be more.  

With linear radio, people tune-in to a show always in progress.  

It is empowering for listeners to have content available for on-demand consumption at a time that fits busy personal morning schedules. It fits the larger arc of listener control and the pivot to smartphone listening.

Also significant, in these cases, the innovation comes from a newspaper experimenting and mastering content on multiple platforms and public radio pushing its own boundaries.  

With podcasting on the rise, now a "morning show" need not come via transmitter.  

I will be moderating the podcast panel at Canadian Music Week in Toronto, April 19

I will be moderating the podcast panel at Canadian Music Week in Toronto, April 19



Why Many Radio Station Podcasts Underperform

One of the reasons commercial radio stations seem to have difficulty leveraging successful podcasts is because of basic architectural differences between podcasts and broadcasts.

Radio programmers have been schooled to maximize ratings with formatics designed to keep people engaged for multiple quarter hours of listening, while podcasts are generally built for longer listening and deeper-dives.

For the most part, commercial radio is format-based. People join their Top 40, Classic Rock or Talk station in progress. The show is always on and people join in and drop out all day.

In describing radio station usage, someone once told me, it is like a train which people board and leave at stops along the way. Some ride for just a stop or two, some stay on longer.

Podcasts are constructed and listened to differently. The most significant variance from its radio cousin; everyone starts listening to a podcast at the beginning. In that sense, podcasts are more like TV shows with a distinct beginning, middle and end. Many are story-based, or interview or topic-driven. No matter which form, the expectation of a podcast listener is relatively clear about what they will hear as they have chosen to download and play a specific podcast. 

Currently, most podcast audio from radio stations is time-shifted from on-air, and while this makes sense, it is where broadcasters often get stuck. They take a four-hour radio show, strip out the music and commercials and post several hours of audio, leaving it to listeners to do their own curation.

Generally, "seek-stop-seek-stop" is a bad experience and too much work for anyone but the most enthusiastic fan. In this instant gratification world, it is a lot of work and almost always an unrewarding quest.

Don't misread. There is an important and viable market for time-shifted content. The average radio listener misses 80% of their favorite morning or talk show each day. But lazily slapping it up on the internet in long-form ignores the intrinsic difference between podcasts and commercial radio.

Just as show clips have become a vital tool for late night TV hosts, short, curated audio segments can do the same for radio.

Do the work for the listener.

This post originally ran on All Access as part of my AM/FM/PODCAST series.  
I will be moderating the podcast panel at Canadian Music Week

I will be moderating the podcast panel at Canadian Music Week



Do People Listen To An Entire Podcast?

The duration of a podcast is a touchy subject among many legacy podcasters.  Some producers run hour and longer podcasts with pride.  Most are confident that their "fans" are on board for the full ride. Indeed some are.  

However, producers coming from commercial and non-commercial radio tend to be more wary of program length and watch the clock more closely. This is often the result of years of experience with PPM meters and viewing other listening metrics, which for broadcasters, means recognition of the tyranny of radio buttons and for podcasters the stop and delete buttons.  

Radio broadcasters know the average time spent listening per occasion to a station is 10 minutes. TV producers run short segments during news broadcasts.  The average length of a YouTube video is 4 minutes 20 seconds.  People graze, lose attention and change content sources.  

Holding attention is ever more challenging even when people are self-selecting a topic of interest as they do with podcasts.  

My daughter listens to a great food podcast and when her commute is done, so is her time with the podcast.

Many years of radio programming has conditioned me to urge efficient content packaging - regardless of length - and always respectful of self indulgence.  

The item below from RAIN NEWS Chief Brad Hill includes a quote from me - thanks Brad -  but more significantly it focuses on some of the science of podcast length. The recently released Infinite Dial study, which is self-reported data, indicates high completion rates for podcasts. That's great news and indeed it is likely that podcasts have longer "time-spent" than most audio media.  It is also true, however, that not all podcasts are created equal. NPR, which includes some of the best crafted podcasts in the business has evidence to show how tough it really is to engage and hold an audience for a long period of time.  

My advice will always be; go on as long as you need, then stop.  And, if you don't edit, the audience will do it for you.  Everyone's time is a precious commodity.

The article below originally appeared in RAIN NEWS.  

The Download on Podcasts: Podcast completion rate — it’s still about length

One of the most interesting, revealing, and uplifting results of The Infinite Dial consumer survey revealed last week by Edison Research and Triton Digital is the podcast completion metric. To the surprise of many in the industry, 40% of listeners stick through entire podcast episodes, and another 45% listen to “most” of their shows. So, 85% of podcast listeners hear pre-roll and mid-roll advertisements (if they don’t skip through them), and nearly half of those people could hear a post-roll too.

Obviously good news for the ad-driven podcast economy. Also, it must be mentioned, good for Edison/Triton to ask the question, cutting through a bit of black-box mystery which shrouds consumption data across podcast networks.

Individual podcast platforms, hosts, and podcatch apps do collect detailed analytics of how people listen. That’s fine for network-specific storytelling to advertisers, but having network-agnostic data across the U.S. listening population brings authority to the information like nothing else.

Specific network measurement deepen the story of completion rates, resulting in a fuller picture of how podcast producers can encourage listeners to stick with the program. In this week’s edition of Hot Pod, Nick Quah’s newsletter, there are pointers to two networks which emphasize that podcast length is an important predictor of how sticky the shows are.

First, Nicholas DePrey, Analytics Manager at NPR, furnished a graphic illustrating how long length encourages drop-off:

Second, an on-demand audio app called th60db corroborated that reality from its measurements:

Stickiness and length have been tied together in Steve Goldstein’s mind since he founded Amplifi Media. In a RAIN News guest column from 2015, Goldstein gathers other datasets: “Recent analysis of listening habits from the NPR One app reveals that a mere 18 words into a segment, people are deciding whether they will continue listening. Another recent and equally compelling set of data from one of the podcast aggregators, shows an attrition rate of 40% in the first 7 minutes. Longer podcasts should expect that 2/3rds of the audience is gone sometime between 20 and 60 minutes.”

Of course, some shows thrive in long form, with their loyal fans probably wishing they were longer. That level of success is usually hard-won. Steve Goldstein’s recommendation: “In a time-starved world, the empirical evidence is overwhelming; the longer the podcast, the less chance there is for completion.”



5 Key Takeaways From The Infinite Dial About Podcasting

Edison Research and Triton Digital released its 2017 edition of the Infinite Dial which is always a treasure trove of data about all audio consumption.  Here are a few observations about podcasting:

Over half of podcast listening takes place at home – 52% of all podcast listening occurs in and around the home. We have seen a drop in the number of linear radios in the home and thus listenership deteriorating for years. Go to Best Buy and try to find a radio.  Owned music, Music Choice from TV, streaming and other sources have benefited.  Add podcasts to the list. The popularity of Bluetooth speakers has likely aided the ascension of podcast listening at home.

In car listening is on the rise –  18% report listening most often in cars.  To date, in car listening has been low because of complicated connectivity issues and bad infotainment experiences. All of this is becoming easier with effortless Bluetooth and smartphone cable connections.  Streaming has also benefited greatly from improved connectivity. Look at car company commercials today for affirmation that connectivity sells autos.  The rise of in car listenership is largely before the ascension of Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto, which is on the increase.  

7% of Americans have voice assisted devices – That was fast. The Infinite Dial projects 20 million people with devices are out there today.  Estimates of how many have been sold vary greatly, but forecasters expect 24 million Amazon Echo and Google home devices will be sold this year. Voice Assistants are great for podcasting - it removes the friction of choosing and downloading.  Now all one must do is “ask.” Voice Assistants will be good for all audio.  Radio stations have high hopes it will get them back into the home, but will music streaming and podcasts be bigger beneficiaries?

Podcasting is becoming more like streaming – Podcast listening has rapidly changed from downloads to on-demand streams. In this year's Infinite Dial study, 77% report clicking on a podcast and listening right away. This is great for advertisers and potentially great for enhanced measurement.  And of course, it is a great reminder, we live in an instant gratification world.

350,000 podcasts out there and people choose 6 – On average people subscribe to 6 podcasts.  By their own reporting, 23% listen to half or fewer of their downloaded podcasts.  Mental shelf space is critical.  How will podcasters succeed in getting onto the listener's short list?  Discovery is increasingly a critical issue for podcasters.  While great content is the starting point for success, distribution and discoverability have ascended to the top of the success wish list.  Public radio stations have benefited greatly from masterful cross-promotion of their content.  

You can find the full Infinite Dial report here



Why Better Podcast Metrics Matter

At last week’s RAIN streaming audio and podcasting advertising summit in New York, Spotify and other streaming audio suppliers boasted of mining endless torrents of data with “mood booster” playlists and addressable moments for advertisers. 

It is a level of consumer understanding way beyond anything a legacy broadcaster has ever seen.  They know who is listening, what is being listened to, when it is being heard  and can profile personal habits to enable "precision" targeting of ads to runners who are running and background energy music for people in the workplace

At the Summit, I moderated a session on podcast metrics.  On that panel, there was little discussion of rich data to profile listeners and fine-tune content.  There was a certain resignation to the paucity of data from Apple, which is the platform from which most podcasts are consumed. With limited download information, there is no reliable means to even prove a podcast was heard, never mind any of the great analytics of the audio streamers. 

The panelists, Lex Freidman from Midroll and Mark McCrery of Podtrac are smart, knowledgeable and optimistic.  Indeed, the business of podcasting is growing even with Apple providing minimal data to creators and aggregators.

Some legacy podcasters fear change to the current system as it will likely reveal small audiences for many shows.  Regardless, public radio and the IAB have made great strides to establish standards, yet rich measurement remains elusive. 

That was last week.

Fast forward to this week where I attended the Borrell Local Media conference in New York. It is a large gathering where legacy media, including newspapers, TV and a few radio broadcasters combine uneasily with various data suppliers and digital firms to bang around terms like omni-platform and customer profiling. 

A few years ago, the conference was dominated by talk about whether to develop a digital sales staff.  That seems quaint. Now the conversation centers on the need to unify buys and draw traffic across websites, apps, Facebook and other platforms. 

Companies like Facebook and Google are collecting big data and have rapidly ascended to domination of the local digital ad market to the chagrin of local media companies. More buys are going digital and so the legacy companies must rapidly develop new solutions and integrate terms like platform-messaging instead of “we’ll run your ad at 8pm in Grey’s anatomy.”   

Facebook was on hand. Watching them is both remarkable and intimidating.  They know so much about their 210 million mobile users and have quickly become the Goliath of the growing local ad spend. 20% of all smartphone time is spent on their apps.  

Who will keep track and measure across platforms and devices?  Nielsen is feverishly responding with “total audience” metrics being rolled out now.  Others will certainly pursue.  

Which leads me all the way back to podcasting.

Nielsen does not yet measure podcast listening (nor does anyone else).  That’s a big issue. 
In a local, and national eco-system relentlessly focused on cross-platform metrics, can podcasting remain an outlier and still grow and capture the escalating shift to mobile phones which are quickly becoming audio entertainment hubs? 

As with all media, sales dollars chase rating points and traffic.  Podcast measurement will need to become more robust to attract the big bucks and to learn more about their listener's desires and habits.  

Or maybe the metric thing is overblown and all of this is really a lot simpler.  As Lex Friedman said on the panel, “if they would just start measuring ears, we would instantly double our audience.” 






Katie Couric video: The Power of the Podcast

Podcasting continues to be talked about in many circles and the enclosed video is a treat.  Katie Couric, who has her own podcast, put together a video published on Yahoo News. It captures some of the energy and magic of podcasting and includes interviews from some leading podcasters including Marc Maron, Alec Baldwin, Jon Favreau, Anna Faris and others . Enjoy.  

And thanks Katie.  

Read the full article "The Power of the Podcast" here.  

I will be speaking about podcasting and radio's pathway there at "Talk Show Bootcamp" in Atlanta this week.




Why Isn't Podcasting Bigger?

Often we read a blog or tweet asking “Why isn’t Podcasting bigger?”

Indeed, it is becoming bigger.  But the lens needs to be adjusted properly to see the growth.   

Music and spoken word are generally presented together as “audio.” Podcasting, is a subset of spoken word.  

So, let’s separate.  

As one might guess, Americans spend more time listening to music than spoken audio.  Music can be consumed in the background, while speech usually requires the ability to ‘lean-forward’ and listen with intent.  For the overwhelming majority of people, the available time for the involved listening that speech (Talk shows, podcasts, sports, newscasts, etc.) requires is significantly less than what is available for music. 

Edison Research’s “Share of Ear®” study measures time spent with all forms of audio. Overall, music accounts for 79% of time and speech 21%. That means spoken audio is roughly one-fifth of all audio listening time, and taking the Edison data down one more level,  the average American (age 13 and older) listens to about 48 minutes of speech-audio per day.

That’s a lot.

When one drills into the speech-audio market, where podcasting lives, we see that it has quickly made a significant mark.  Podcasting has quickly taken 10% of the speech-audio market.  

Importantly, that number rises sharply when focusing on millennial and teen listeners.  Among 13-34 year olds, fully 29% of speech goes to podcasting.  That is approaching a remarkable 1/3 of all spoken word audio among younger listeners.  This more than suggests habits are being formed now that will likely impact audio listening of all forms. 


Broadcast radio, with its hundred-year head start, is the biggest player in the space --- talk radio, news, and sports stations - and satellite radio is a factor.  But podcasting is rapidly transforming the spoken word space from its historical form as a river of content that listeners dip their cups into as it flows along, to an on-demand medium that provides the exact content they are seeking at the time they wish to listen.

In a short period of time, podcasting has grabbed a sizable portion of the speech based market.

As technology becomes easier with smartphones, voice assist devices such as Amazon's Echo become more prevalent and infotainment systems in cars become friendlier, podcasting is poised to grow more rapidly.

Thanks to Edison's Larry Rosin for the data and inspiration.  


I will be presenting at the upcoming Talk Show Bootcamp in Atlanta on March 9.

I will be presenting at the upcoming Talk Show Bootcamp in Atlanta on March 9.



Car Infotainment Systems Are in the Slow Lane

Don't do this!

Don't do this!


In spite of the onslaught of audio from a variety of sources including satellite radio, streaming radio, owned music, podcasts and new sources including devices such as Amazon's Echo, linear radio has held up rather well. 

Many in the business claim it is the high appeal programming. Certainly that is a significant factor.  

Some claim ubiquity and ease of use help keep radio in the game. That must be a factor too. Punching up the AM/FM buttons in the car is mighty easy.

It is also possible that a good deal of radio's longevity can be credited to remarkably lame infotainment technology in automobiles. These difficult to learn systems have greatly impeded growth of smartphone use and other audio sources in radio's last moat.

Largely, infotainment systems in cars have been an epic fail.  They can be weird, ugly and hard to figure out.

In today's Wall Street Journal, personal tech writer Joanna Stern says; "I’ve uncovered the world’s dumbest computer… in my car’s dashboard." 

Today, people express frustration with byzantine audio menus in cars, and annoyance with tethering their Bluetooth enabled smartphones.  However, people are more determined than ever to unlock the trove of content on their smartphones and move beyond being limited to AM and FM in their vehicles.

Stern provides a guide to replacing the car's poor voice control and moving to easier and more hospitable software including Apple's CarPlay and Google's Android Auto.  She digs into the best car mounts so people can use their smartphones safely.

Most car manufacturers have been in the slow lane when it comes to building a good audio experience. Many people have reluctantly opted out in frustration and in the short term, that's been good for traditional radio.  The car companies, however, are improving and the software is getting better so with each new car and each new smartphone, it is becoming significantly easier for people to be empowered and use the content they have curated on their phones.  

The bottom line - people want greater control of their mobile listening experience, and as the Journal article illustrates, will go to great lengths to get there. As that happens, radio's wide-moat in the car will shrink at a much faster pace. 

Watch the car ads on TV.  Ask a car dealer what sells cars these days.  Connectivity is what moves vehicles. 

Radio should be thankful that the car companies bungled the infotainment experience.  But the car companies are getting smarter.  And so are the listeners.  




Never Make A Podcast Unless .....

Richard Davies was a long time ABC Radio News anchor and recently turned podcaster. His excellent series "How Do We Fix It?" focuses on solutions to big cultural and political issues. With an endless sea of podcast introductions, his thoughts are spot-on. His post originally appeared on Medium.



I've been into audio ever since I was a little kid who slapped 45 rpm green, red, yellow and orange Disney discs onto the record player my parents gave me when I was six years old.

The stories, voices and jingles really were music to my ears.

Not long after college, to no-one's great surprise, I landed my first job in radio. I spent well over thirty years at stations and networks doing the thing I loved.

Last year, with my pal Jim Meigs and producer Miranda Shafer, I started "How Do We Fix It?"- a weekly podcast. We're having a fun ride and I feel privileged to meet a lot of great people along the way. Our 86th weekly show is currently in production.

At its best, podcasting is remarkably intimate and honest?-?without noisy distractions. Just you and another human voice in your ear.

Unlike broadcast radio or TV, listeners are the programmers, deciding exactly when and what they want to spend their time with. They give us podcasters their pure, undivided attention. In every way they are our equal?-?never to be manipulated, pandered to nor shouted at.

Sounds like the perfect environment for a content producer.

But let's face it: many podcasts are crap?-?weeds in the ever growing audio jungle.

And not just the two-guys-in-a-garage kind of spontaneous podcasts. Even well-made, sophisticated shows are often way too long, self-indulgent and without a clear purpose.

Your audience is busy and has a vast array of audio offerings to pick from. Many of us listen on the go?-?in the car or at the gym. The average American commute time is about 25 minutes. Most podcasts last at least half an hour. Mistake.

The first "don't" of podcasting is: Never waste their time. Make a show with purpose that doesn't last quite as long as you?-?the podcaster?-?want it to. Don't be afraid to slice out a few minutes.

Leave your listeners wanting more after each episode. Also answer this question: "Who is your audience?"

The second "don't:" Forget about making podcasts unless your brand, company or cause already has followers or subscribers. This medium is a great way to forge deep, authentic connections with your people, but on its own?-?without a website, blogs and other forms of content?- you won't make a splash. The only exception is if you're already famous. Anderson Cooper, Alec Baldwin, Snoop Dogg or Shaq can operate by their own rules.

Podcasting is special?-?different from radio and certainly not merely the audio track of a You Tube video. Respect your audience.

Third "don't:" making a podcast "live" or on the fly is rarely a good idea. Edit it and listen with a critical ear.

The fourth "don't" is about lack of commitment. While podcast equipment is cheap and the launch costs are small, the process can be surprisingly time consuming. Unless you are prepared to go long and deep with your podcast project, don't start.

A weekly show may not be necessary. You could release a new series every few months. But whatever the plan of action, successful podcasts require follow through.

Google "how to make a successful podcast" and you'll get lots of enthusiastic ideas about equipment, theme music, social media and the need for passion. Much of the advice is helpful. But be wary of those who only explain the "do's" and not the "don'ts" of podcasting.

Learn more about Richard Davies at



Forecast: Podcast Ad Spend To Hit $500m in 2020

This originally appeared in Inside Radio 1/10/17

Podcast ad spending will grow over the next four years at a considerably faster clip than originally expected, according to new projections to be released Thursday by Bridge Ratings. The firm’s updated Podcasting Audit Study says on-demand audio will bill $243 million in 2017, 17% higher than forecast in March 2016 when it called for $207 million.

In fact, the firm has raised its projections sequentially higher for each year through 2020. For 2018, Bridge expects podcast revenue to hit $316 million, 23% above its original estimate of $256 million. And by 2020 podcasting will cross the half-billion dollar mark ($534 million), 35% more than the original forecast’s projection of $395 million.

The revised numbers are based on a combination of the firm’s projected audience growth and interviews conducted in December with ad buyers at 25 national and regional agencies that Bridge shared its updated growth data with, Bridge president Dave Van Dyke told Inside Radio.

What’s driving podcasting’s swift revenue growth? “There is a lot of momentum in the sector,” Amplifi Media CEO Steven Goldstein says. “Anecdotally, many advertisers are looking for new platforms and fresh ideas. The ‘live reads’ and limited commercial loads are attractive.” Goldstein also sees more experiments with branded podcasts attracting new content ideas and new dollars.

But while radio has the “megaphone” to drive traffic to podcasts, giving it a distinct advantage in “a sea of podcasts,” to grow its share of podcast dollars requires a clearer understanding of the sector. “It’s like bagels and donuts – they mostly look the same but they’re different,” Goldstein says. “Fresh content will make the most impact, but a better job repurposing current shows would go a long way.”

Ismar Santa Cruz, VP and managing director of Radio Strategy at Univision, agrees that it comes down to the content. That involves “ensuring we are providing compelling and engaging content that will appeal to our listeners and, therefore, advertisers, regardless of platform,” he says. “Podcasting provides a concentrated avenue for great content, on the users’ terms.”

Original posting here

Steven Goldstein is CEO of Amplifi Media, LLC, an advisor in strategy and content development for media companies and podcasters. Steve can be reached directly at (203) 221-1400 or Twitter @sjgoldstein