Streaming & Podcasting

computers streaming & podcastingI’ve been thinking about these two forms of audio for some time now. With each new article published about streaming, we see how more and more people are listening to music in this way. The smart speaker has certainly contributed to the growth of music listening via streams, and the smart speaker growth is exploding.

I know with my own experience by getting my first smart speaker as a gift, to now owning three of them, how it’s totally changed how I listen to music.

And then there’s podcasting, a way for the spoken word to be communicated.

Radio versus Streaming & Podcasting

Radio for most of my life was a way to hear both music and the spoken word. It was curated and delivered in fresh and exciting ways by a variety of radio stations across the country.

Unfortunately, radio delivered programming on its timetable, not the listeners.

As VCRs came into the television world, I remember hearing, why isn’t there a device like that for radio? There actually was, I owned one, but it never really caught on like the video devices did.

The VCRs and DVRs changed how people consumed their television programs, and essentially did away with the concept of “Must See TV” turning it into “must record TV.”

Netflix

Then along comes Netflix, and the concept of On Demand TV viewing was born.

One might argue that Blockbuster started it with video rentals, but it still really didn’t impact American viewing habits like streaming video did.

Again, Netflix disrupted people’s viewing habits when it would release an entire season of a TV series all at once. Gone was the need to come back week-after-week to see a program. Now, a new type of TV consumption was created, the binge-watch.

Broadcast versus Streaming

What’s really changed in our consumption of TV and radio is our ability to control what we see and hear, and when we want to see and hear it. In other words, On Demand is the media consumption process of the 21st Century.

I stream 100% of my television viewing. I can watch a program live, or start the show from the beginning if I arrive late, or just view it whenever I want, at another time through On Demand viewing.

Streaming TV has trained us, and now the smart speaker is taking our new media consumption habit and making audio listening just as easy to consume in this manner.

Alexa is ready, willing and able to play any genre of music that I want to hear, on a moment’s notice. She has more song selections than my own personal CD library and it’s so much easier to ask Alexa to play a song for me than try and find the CD that a song is on, and then load it into my CD player.

Podcasts

Complete honesty here, I’m not a fan of podcasts. I don’t know why, I’m just not. The only one I ever listened to in its entirety was the first season of the podcast Serial, and that was mainly due to a long 13-hour car drive, and my ability to download all the episodes onto my iPod to play in my car.

However, I do know that younger folks are really getting into podcasts and this segment will only grow as the spoken word genre finds a way to promote its wares.

The Looming Audio Battle

What I do see on the horizon is radio being drawn and quartered by streaming audio for music, and podcast audio for the spoken word. Both types of audio programming are easily called up via smart speakers and available On Demand.

Curated programming, as has been the staple of broadcast radio, will be challenged to compete.

Professional Radio & Amateur Radio

Radio won’t die, it has a future, but I see it bifurcating in the following ways:

  • There will be professional broadcasters and amateur broadcasters.
  • I see the future of radio looking something like the difference between professional and amateur theater. For example, the difference between Broadway and community theater; where the former are professional paid actors, and the latter is made up of talented volunteer locals with an insatiable love of theater.
  • The advent of low power FM radio stations is the first toe-in-the-water that points in this direction for amateur radio personalities who volunteer their time and energy.
  • Some of these volunteers will come from the ranks of retired or “dislocated” professional radio personalities and some will be members of the community that always thought it would be fun to be on-the-air.
  • What seems to be disappearing are local radio stations in the middle, ones that used to be ad-supported by local businesses, who now find themselves displaced by big box stores and online shopping.
  • The newspaper industry is the canary in the coal shaft for ad-supported media. Berkshire Hathaway Vice Chairman Charles Munger points out that, “Technological change is destroying the daily newspapers in America. The revenue goes away and the expenses remain and they’re all dying.” However, Munger does feel that papers like The Wall Street Journal and New York Times will most likely survive.
  • Newspapers have been cutting staff like crazy but it’s done little to turn things around. Radio is following in print industry’s footsteps as “employee dislocations” are occurring at all the major broadcasting companies.

Does any of this make sense to you?

I’d love to hear what your thoughts are.

Please post your thoughts on comments section of this blog article, so that others may read them and hear different opinions.

35 Comments

Filed under Education, Mentor, Radio, Sales

35 responses to “Streaming & Podcasting

  1. Nice one. I agree with you about radio future, and I assume that podcasts will have the same – both amateur and professional categories. The technology for production is cheaper every day, but good content, top production will never be cheap. The differentiation between amateur and professional will be directly connected to sustainability.

    I work with several stations in Balkan region which is specific (for an example smart speakers are still future, legal aspects are not yet resolved,…), but that bifurcation you’re writing about is knocking on the door.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank You for stopping by the blog today Uros and giving us a perspective from another side of the globe.

      These changes are taking place on a global scale and it’s not just something impacting American broadcasters.
      -DT

      Like

  2. Bob Harlan

    What do the younger generations want with regard to localized content that would make them think “ what am I missing today if I don’t tune in.” Tuning in can be live, on-demand or podcast. Radio has to know how to transform the basic dying model we have operated under for the past 100 years. The medium has evolved…but that evolution stopped perhaps 20 years ago, at the same time rudimentary on-line listening was just coming into being.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well said, again Dick. Young people still DO listen to radio. But, their listening is also to podcasts (such as the one Joe Rogan does) and many other on demand sources. I run an LPFM operation, too. They are, in fact, very fun to run especially when you program them professionally. I paused from writing our weekly news summaries to read your column here. The biggest issues here – LPFM NEEDS LP-250! (a power increase to 250 watts – no increase in tower height.) The NAB and Republican lawmakers are blocking this because they “assume” the stations are all left wing. There are some which are, of course, because that was the intent of the service – to be allowed to be everything under the sun as opposed to just “formatic” radio. And yet, a small town or village can be very adequately served by an LPFM that HAS a format, though perhaps one which is a bit eclectic. Ours is a hybrid oldies-classic hits station. Oldies for the seniors in the community 3 am to 3 pm, and Classic Hits 3 pm to 3 am. We have a large music library (around 1500 titles) with a “rotation” of around 550. The rest are “sprinkled in” hourly and on weekends. We have national network news 13 times a day with 5 local news summaries daily. The company for which I work, unlike some, believes in community radio because we are non profit…and gives us area news coverage voiced by our talent and weather voiced by our meteorologists. Go figure. A 100 watt FM with a staff of round the clock meteorologists with permission from said commercial operator to, in a serious weather emergency, to air their live stream of TV weather coverage!) We are no threat to ANY commercial operator, except a dumb one. Y’all should know that big signal beats little signal every time unless big signal is poorly programmed. The major thing for us is to get enough support in the community to stay on the air and that, sometimes is very difficult. There are no grants available to us for a number of reasons. (One – we “operate” a station whose license is held by a municipality…we do not hold the license). We are, though, attempting to get a 501C-3 so if a new LPFM window opens, we can establish a station one county north of our operation…in the town which is the county seat, one which has a bigger business base…and NO local radio station. I have already written my Congressmen from both parties and the Senator from the district our station is in about this. Our station is totally non-partisan. We welcome all voices on our news, just as my full time employer does on theirs. Though LP-250 would give us just a slight increase in coverage (by about 2 miles), it would give us better building penetration…and THAT is something LPFM desperately needs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hear you Kevin about the increase in power. I’ve never known a radio person yet, who didn’t wish for “more power.” We all sounded like Tim on the TV show “Home Improvement.” MORE POWER, hey-hey-hey.

      I know that the geography plays a vital role in how good an LPFM signal covers its intended area. I also know how the growth in the number of FM radio signals has caused lots of interference to the car radio listener as they travel.

      The laws of supply & demand also come into the picture when we address the sustainability of all these new radio signals.

      I would be interested in others thoughts on all you wrote in your comments today.

      Thank You.
      -DT

      Like

  4. Don Beno

    I had the opportunity to work with a variety of young people (25 and under) recently. Of course I have to quiz them on their radio listening habits. They are all aware of broadcast radio, but seldom, if ever use it. Instead telling me about Pandora, Spotify, iTunes, etc.

    My personal thoughts on OTA radio…and its future purpose, might be best utilizing the broadcast medium as a support platform for other things. Similar to how The Dave Ramsey Show operates….using the program to promote books, seminars and educational classes. Many successful morning shows also use this show model to promote their websites and live shows. I can also see religious organizations, social groups or community planners doing something similar.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Don, sounds like you’re on to something. The direction you’re headed in with your comments is the kind of fresh brainstorming needed by the radio industry.
      -DT

      Like

    • I was taking our then 21 year-old daughter to school while she had no car. It was amazing to watch her change stations the instant there was jock banter/commercial breaks. She had absolutely no allegiance to any one station. She was so quick with the button pushing, there were times the track wasn’t even over before channel surfing.

      As you mentioned, it’s now mostly Pandora and some Spotify for her.

      We have a 13 year old that I’m quite confident couldn’t name a single radio station in this market… branding, frequency or call letters…

      Liked by 1 person

      • The best way to understand how the next generations are thinking about (or not) and using radio (or not) is to observe them.

        It was Tod Storz who created the Top40 format by watching kids playing songs in a juke box.

        We can learn a lot by just keeping quiet and watching.

        Thanks for sharing what you’re observing.
        -DT

        Liked by 1 person

  5. A century ago, in the 1920s, Radio first reached into homes (later cars). Its most compelling feature, compared to day-old newspapers and week-old cinema newsreels, was that it was LIVE. Listeners marveled that they were all brought together for the first time in a real-time community forum. In those days before accurate “atomic” (radio-controlled) wall clocks and smartphones, one’s local time was conveniently announced every few minutes between local and syndicated entertainment programs, produced and curated by producers and talent attuned to their community’s listeners. [From my experience in radio beginning 1962, I “wrote the book” on now bygone local American Radio.]

    Today “on-demand” has superseded live as an audience attraction. Now with the implicit time-warping of recording and the inherent latency of IP-based podcasts, real time is meaningless re personal scheduling and multi-timezone content delivery. And the time is provided by personal devices and the digital clock display on the DVR menu page. My studio is a global podcast originator – no clock time and localism – and it’s three WWBD-controlled clocks are used only for staff getting to their next appointment within a fraction of a second.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey, Robin – As a 47 year radio vet still working the in business, it really isn’t the voice tracking today and radio not being in “real time” that is at issue. It’s how it’s being done. A voice tracked station can do correct time and temperatures on weather forecasts. The software is capable of doing it…even the tiniest LPFM software like Station Playlist ($550) can do it. What’s at issue – it takes a lot of time to record and produce those tracks and to set up the computer to do it properly. When it is done, though, it’s amazing to hear because it sounds completely live. People suggest that school closings are no longer needed because “everyone gets them on their phone”. They forget what distracted driving causes. You don’t WANT people looking at their phones when they’re driving. So radio performs a life-saving service in that area, too. Lastly, today, you don’t have to be live. You DO have to be LOCAL…and some companies don’t believe in that anymore. And that COULD be their undoing.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Robin, Thank You for all you wrote. You sound like you’re operating in the future of “radio” right now.

      Others should be watching what you’re doing.
      -DT

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Dave Mason

    I find it humorous that radio is trying to reach a younger audience. In my years in radio I’ve heard so many times that “we don’t care about teenagers anymore”. In fact radio’s still putting their eggs in the 25-54 basket (because that’s where the advertisers want to be). But the “curators” and musical presentation on broadcasting doesn’t really relate to younger listeners. Ever been at a stoplight when the car next to you is jammin’ some hip-hop? Broadcast radio has rules that prohibit many of the topics and words used in those songs. On demand services don’t have to live with those rules. Same with podcasts. In the (very) old Cole Porter song “Anything Goes” – a woman couldn’t show a “gllmpse of stocking”. Today that song title exists more than ever in the internet world. Is there a happy medium with broadcast media? We can’t be dropping “f-bombs” left and right, and there are so many taboo subjects discussed on podcasts that your head would spin. Many of the comments here are dealing with things that -frankly-the younger audience doesn’t care about. In 2020 -just like in 1955, content is key. Our parents freaked out when “Blackboard Jungle” introduced us to Rock ‘n Roll. Elvis shocked the world. The Beatles hair was a travesty. Look at the makeup on those British groups on MTV. We’ve learned a lot over the years about the differences between “young” and “seasoned” media consumers, and yet no one has been able to breach the chasm that exists. Maybe we never will if we never try. “Live and Local” is great. Left wing is great if that’s your lean. Conservative is awesome if you feel that way. Voice tracking (and now the discussion of AI with it’s 106 different characteristics of songs to help sequence them) can make an audio presentation shine. All of these comments are very well thought-out and presented. If your streaming audio-your podcast -your photo montage-your blog-doesn’t speak to me, it’s no matter. I’d suggest that in this world with its myriad choices you’ll find relating more difficult than ever. We were in this dilemma in the early 60s. The Louis Armstrong and Dean Martin songs played on “Top 40” didn’t reach the younger audience. Then on February 9th, 1064 that all changed thanks to a “seasoned” veteran TV host who somehow saw the Beatles phenomenon and its appeal to a younger audience. Maybe that won’t happen in the 21st Century. But maybe it will. The person who figures that out will forever be the one who saved media. Again. Dick, thank YOU for making us think. Don’t stop. .

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dave, loved the content of your comments today. There’s a lot of meat here for everyone to take to heart and digest.

      I think, in a world with a myriad of choices, the ones who focus on a particular niche and doe it extremely well will be the winners. The days of mass audiences, except for may something like the Super Bowl, are coming to an end.

      Thanks for adding your thoughts to this topic!
      -DT

      Like

  7. Paul Harvey was a professional radio podcast. Music curators are not mechanical formulas. The Magical Connection of 21st Century Full Service Radio will catch on when owners determine creativity doesn’t mean cost. News You Can Use and plenty of treasured tunes never heard on air. Love the idea of more juice to LP FM. Sad HD hasn’t caught on and Streaming isn’t as big as folks think. Thanks for The Sunday Stimulation, Prof. RT.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I remember the uproar a few months back when Bob Pitman declared, “Podcasting is radio’s birthright,” which straight up isn’t true. Podcasting is as much radio’s birthright as TikTok is television’s. It’s Minor League vs. the Majors. In the spirit of that analogy, radio definitely can and should use podcasts to scout and grow talent, like a baseball franchise. Same with college radio. A baseball franchise recruits good players at the collegiate level, puts them on a minor league team, then calls them up to, quite literally, The Show when/if they’re ready. Players also get sent back down from Majors to Minors when they need some work, or are waiting to be a right fit for a team.

    Btw, this isn’t just localized to air-talent. I work in Bowling Green, KY, home of both the Western Kentucky University Hilltoppers and the Hot Rods, a Single A farm team for the Tampa Bay Rays. Both organizations have mind-blowing staff off the field that also get called up, based on performance. Why can’t a podcasting division provide this for radio??

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great points Cameron. Thank You for sharing them today.
      -DT

      Like

    • Dave Mason

      Perhaps part of the issue is the “wild west” free-for-all formats on podcasts. Many of the topics are not suitable for “broadcasting”-and how many podcasters are willing to do 10 minutes and then stop for 8 minutes of spots? There are a few relevant talk stations around my area-and I’m bummed when they stop for the news, traffic and endless commercials. I love the Paul Harvey reference as well. Paul was a master at telling stories and including his own live spots.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. ds52

    Thank you all … I am learning as much from the comments as the post …

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Gary Burbank

    Thank you Dick. I’m an old guy pushing 80. Retired from a radio career about 15 years ago. It’s good to see there is a future for radio. I’ve been amazed at the incompetence of the Giant media conglomerates, and its good to know that there are radio people out there building a new road. Now if I could just learn to speak your language.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank You for stopping by the blog and making a contribution Gary. You are one of radio’s iconic broadcasters from The Big One – WLW.

      The unfortunate thing about America’s largest broadcasters was how their empires were built on a mountain of debt. They simply boxed themselves in and left no room to innovate at a time when the radio industry needed it most.

      A new generation is being born out of all the disruption of the internet of things.

      Much like the 1920s, the 2020s hold promise for many new and exciting things. Stay tuned.

      I hope you will visit us again here on the blog and share your thoughts and perspective.
      -DT

      Like

  11. There’s a part of the podcasting’s definition that’s never spoken of, yet it’s most important in growing audience. A podcast exists as an automatic download of new content. Known as RSS (Really Simple Syndication), automatically updating episodes is the engine behind a podcast platform.

    RSS is an old code. It is subscribed to by audience through a podcast platform. The platform may have its own form of RSS. ( To see this code, view a page I wrote over 12 years ago which is still being used: http://www.rradiomusic.com/rss/intro-rock.xml )

    I mention this because too much of what’s discussed revolves around the content, or ability to sell a data set from the content’s delivery. Too often a podcast’s potential is held back by producers not realizing the technical aspects of making their content a podcast. Or the quagmire it brings.

    On a positive note: Podcasts may hold small market share now but know that broadband internet connectivity was at only 4% in 2000. (https://www.statista.com/statistics/214668/household-adoption-rate-of-broadband-internet-access-in-the-us-since-2000/)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ken, you have always been so far ahead of the curve. Just imagine if one of the big box broadcasters had been paying attention to you, where the radio industry might be today.
      -DT

      Like

      • LAURA M CRUZ

        Most of the music that’s playing on the radio is very disappointing. Music is an art and a talent and should be showcased as such. There is so much creative and good musicians around the world and it’s a shame that radio is not a part of exposing it. I know that what airs is what is in demand by some of the listeners that is why I hardly listen to the radio. Many people need to be introduced to new music, to hear different sounds and experience a new way of listening to music when they turn on their radio in the car. I have an idea to revitalize the radio industry. Radio is free to listeners, but it’s no longer holding an audience.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Laura, thanks for stopping by the blog and leaving your thoughts on this subject.

        I was just talking with a radio friend who went to CRS 2020 and said that listeners say they stream their music because it’s FREE. That was always one of radio’s big reasons for listening and using the OTA radio service.

        The problem today is radio is still playing for the masses and streaming is fully customize-able for the niches, on a mass scale.

        I remember hearing a personality introduce “On Broadway” by Al Jarreau. It was a song I’d heard too many times on so many different formats of radio stations I’d managed over the years.

        However, this personality told me things about this song I never knew and gave me a brand new reason to listen. I did. I thoroughly enjoyed it with this new knowledge.

        That’s the power of a real personality curating the music we hear on the radio.

        Radio doesn’t do that kind of thing anymore.

        Thank you for sharing your perspective. You stirred up my brain cells with that Al Jarreau memory.
        -DT

        Like

  12. Aaron Read

    FWIW, the cuts in newspapers are working just great from the owners’ perspective. They keep the stock price high, and the expenses low. Which means lots of money for the ownership.

    As we have seen from certain leaked documents, even the most gutted DFM/Alden newspapers are making quite a lot of money. They’re just doing so in a way that guarantees the eventual death of the newspaper. These owners don’t care about that; they have a business plan to squeeze every last drop of blood from the stone, and then walk away from the carnage.

    Like

    • Aaron, that business plan is what gave the Venture Capitalist Vultures, their reputation. Acquire, Grow & Harvest in a 5-year period is their business plan and they don’t really care what happens when they leave.

      The wring out the value, make lots of money in fees, use other people’s money to get what they want and care little who gets hurt in the process.

      For people who love a particular business, this is gut wrenching.
      -DT

      Like

      • aaronread1

        Yup. Agree on all points, but it’s the reality we face. And I have little doubt something like that is coming for radio before long, too. We often rail about ownership consolidation but the reality is that even a behemoth like iHeart only owns a relatively small number of the total amount of radio stations out there. That’s why there’s so many forces fighting tooth and nail for further ownership deregulation; they see what’s happening in newspapers and want to get in on that.

        In a way, we shouldn’t be surprised. If this approach wasn’t very profitable, outfits like Alden/DFM and Gannett/GateHouse wouldn’t be doing it.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. aaronread1

    If you want to see the future of radio, just look at EMF/K-Love. Clearly iHeart has; did you hear that prior to the most recent bloodbath, all the engineers were required to thoroughly document their physical plants?

    I don’t think iHeart is quite planning on doing a national-only content feed for each genre, with zero local staff and a handful of regional engineers…the way K-Love does it. But I’m pretty damn sure they’re trying to pick best practices from that model and implement them as much as possible.

    Eventually it’ll be where all content creation is regionalized, if not national, and there are no local facilities. Each transmitter site will have a satellite dish downlink and one rack of ancillary equipment in a standardized layout to make maintenance easier.

    The wild card here is that K-Love has two advantages that – AFAIK – iHeart does not. First, K-Love has some truly amazing tools to measure and quantify the number of donors and size of donations from any given area in the country. Public radio should be begging to get their hands on those systems. I don’t think iHeart has those tools and I’m not sure they’re smart enough to tailor their content and their operations to properly utilize them even if they did have them. It’s not fully compatible with a “maximize the stock price for the next quarter only” mentality that Wall Street demands.

    Second, K-Love isn’t terribly hard-core “Godcasting” but it is still a religious outlet and therefore it attracts a certain listener who is predisposed to donating more money than your average music listener is. I don’t know how, or if, you can translate that difference to still make the overall content & content delivery model work for what’s typically thought of as “commercial radio”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • EMF is also enjoying its status as a non profit. They were able to get around the main studio rule before the FCC eliminated it, for the most part, to build out their national radio model.

      EMF has a really successful business model and I’m sure commercial broadcasters are envious.

      I’ve written about this in previous blog articles. I have asked commercial broadcasters if their listeners would pay money to hear their programs like NPR and EMF listeners do.

      Crickets.

      Radio, all radio, used to have passionate listeners. NPR & EMF proves those kinds of people are out there when you’re thinking of the listener first and your own pocket last.

      Thanks for this well thought-out comment Aaron.
      -DT

      Liked by 1 person

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