Radio stations have a remarkable opportunity to increase listening by making its best content available at a more convenient time in podcast form.
The Wall Street Journal reports that New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has stepped up his use of local radio interviews. The mayor has conducted 30 interviews in the past three months with several New York stations of various formats and with different types of personalities, all with an eye toward improving his sagging popularity ratings. The mayor seeks banter that doesn't come easily in a news environment to let his personality come out.
We have seen national politicians make tactical use of the late night shows such as Jimmy Fallon for years, and so it makes great sense for local politicians to appear on radio stations. "Old-fashioned radio provides an almost perfect platform for a mayor" says Stu Lesser, Mayor Michael Bloomberg's former press secretary. The interviews are not only good for the Mayor, but can help build the profile of radio personalities.
If the interview can only be listened to in real-time however, then it will only be heard by a small portion of a station's audience. That seems pretty ludicrous in today's on-demand world, doesn't it?
This is where a time-shifted podcast of the interview can draw additional audience. Listeners should be able to go to the station's website, app or be able to organically search for the interview.
So after reading the WSJ article, I did my own search of the NY station's websites so I could listen to the interviews. Mostly, this was met with friction and disappointment. Some were not dated or effectively labeled, a few were in a big stack of podcasts, others didn't exist at all. I searched Bill de Blasio on one station site and it turned up a myriad of Google style mentions but no station reference. The Mayor's office published a transcript, but that's all I found on one site. My best experience finding the interview was on the site of the local public station, WNYC.
Audio is radio's DNA and whether it comes from the transmitter or a website or app, it needs to be easy to find and access. Today's listener has vastly different expectations than years ago. They expect to be able to listen to content at a time of their choosing. Failing to offer that squanders a basic opportunity to connect with the audience and worse, over time erodes a station's relevance.
As TV continues its rapid evolution to an on-demand medium, it has made tremendous strides in removing the friction and making it easy to find content. Radio needs to do the same.
Every station has a "listen live" button. They should also have an easy to find "podcast" button with well curated choices. Coke comes in big bottles and small cans to meet customer needs. Radio needs to move beyond one-size-fits-all thinking of "yesteryear" and make their content easy to find and listen to.