Monday Memo: Your Podcast Isn’t a Broadcast

By Holland Cooke


BLOCK ISLAND, RI — Be there or be square. Legacy media are scrambling to follow eyes and ears beyond old towers and deliver the on-demand options users now favor. NBC’s got Peacock; CBS touts its Paramount+ and invites us to watch the rest of “60 Minutes” interviews online; and CNN sure stubbed its toe scrambling to catch-up.
Radio stations archive reruns of on-air shows, though typically little more.

“Names,” of all sorts, are there

Ex-presidents, movie and sports stars, everyone-who’s-anyone is podcasting. And – like Howard Stern migrating to satellite radio – their content is growing the platform. And thousands and thousands and thousands of hobbyists are podcasting, some doing quite well, though many sound amateurish compared to the more polished way we professional broadcasters can execute.

I am still tasked to review AM/FM airchecks, though fewer since consolidation/automation/syndication thinned the herd. Increasingly now, podcasters are asking for coaching; and I help them with fundamentals that are second nature to us. How to hold listeners’ attention (“AQH maintenance” in radio parlance), and how to turn listeners into subscribers, and subscribers into evangelists. Said less-diplomatically, how not-to suck.

But for all their rough edges, podcasters are better than broadcasters at one thing podcasts do well.

It’s narrowcasting, not broadcasting

What’s in a name? An invitation, ideally self-explanatory and useful-sounding.

Because they are, my client stations consistently and relentlessly brand with five words: “Your Only Local News Radio.” In 1970, legendary genius WDRC-AM/FM PD Charlie Parker called his FM “Connecticut’s Non-Stop Stereo Rock.” Get it?

Even that-focused, radio is a shotgun compared to the lasers podcasters are shooting. Want to do a podcast about food? You’ll starve. But thin slices like “Food Allergy and Your Kiddo,” “Food Labels Revealed,” and “Therapeutic Food Solutions” – actual podcast titles – click with those specifically interested. These topics wouldn’t fly as local on-air programming. But it’s a Worldwide Web.

Weed is legal in many states now; and where it isn’t “High on Home Grown” and “Grow Bud Yourself!” and “To Be Blunt” will get clicked. But more-specialized “Cannabis Equipment News” and “Cannabis Tech Talks” and “Seed to CEO: Stories from Cannabis Business” and “The Conversation, Cannabis & Christianity” speak to very defined audiences.

“Real Estate?” Lotsa luck. But “Hawaii Real Estate Investing News” and “The Southern Belle of the ATL Real Estate” stake-out specific territory.

“Money Isn’t Scary…”

…at least not to that podcast’s subscribers. “What the Finance” hitch-hikes on the common expression “WTF.” The “Martinis and Your Money Podcast” sounds like fun; and “The Motherhood & Money Show” extends a relatable invitation.

After COVID cabin fever, travel is again en vogue. “The Brewery Travels Podcast” speaks to as defined an aficionado as “The China Travel Podcast.” Shows like “Black Girl World Traveler,” “Black Women Travel Podcast,” “Gay Travel with Sagitravel,” and “Solo Travel Woman Podcast” are inherently relevant. “Travel Horror Stories Podcast” implies that you’ll avoid others’ mistakes. “Through Inspired Eyes: Travel Can Heal” is intriguing; and “The Home Based Travel Agent Show” is the sort of B-to-B topic popular in this gig economy.

What do YOU find more interesting than your day job? Better yet, which TWO topics can you marry like some of the examples above?

Holland Cooke is author of the E-book “Multiply Your Podcast Subscribers, Without Buying Clicks,” available from Talkers books; and “Spot-On: Commercial Copy Points That Earned The Benjamins,” a FREE download here. HC is a consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet. Follow him on Twitter @HollandCooke