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I've been judging you...
Insights, but no spoilers, from my marathon audio judging
The last week or so, I’ve been wading through awards entries… for the IMRO Irish Radio Awards and for the Irish Podcast Awards
I had a spectacular 71 entries to do in total across 3 different categories, with entries ranging between 10 and 20 minutes each. I’ve heard a lot of audio and it got me thinking about the difference between radio and podcast, particularly when it comes to those behind the mic.
I can’t give away any spoilers, so the exact categories I was judging will have to remain anonymous, but some pretty clear differences between radio and podcast did emerge.
It’s partly one of tone. The radio entries are all bright and polished, speaking largely to a crowd, while the podcast entries are either like eavesdropping on a conversation between friends, or a direct conversation with the host.
There just seems to be more creativity and a wider range of content in podcasting too, a lot of the radio entries I heard were from popular mass appeal stations, but when taken together, it can all sound very much the same.
It’s also getting harder and harder to hear unique and different voices coming through, in radio at least, whereas in the podcast entries, I encountered a wide range of different voices, accents and stories.
I worry that as radio becomes increasingly Big Brand and smaller stations fade out, or are bought by giant companies, that there’s a little bit of the magic and pirate energy missing from what we find on the radio dial.
The Pirate Spirit
The podcasting side has more of that individualist spirit and even “big shows” still have a wildness to them, maybe partly because of the swearing and partly because of a sense of freedom.
I saw someone describe podcasting as an “opt in” medium, which is quite a dull technical way of saying that people choose podcasts, they have to search them out and therefore you tend to find an audience that likes you.
In radio, it’s become more and more about the brand, the format, the music research, and it’s all lead to a consistent but less exciting trip up and down the dial in the car.
I’d love to hear more accents, more diversity of voices, more random but compelling moments on the radio dial…
The downside from my podcast judging is that the world of podcasting can still suffer from truly shocking audio quality. It’s one thing that radio does that seems effortless, clear audio from all the speakers, no echo, no room sound. But that is not the case in podcasting… shows with multiple guests can descend into audio hell very quickly…
Oh, and if you’re using music beds, please, please, buy more than one!
Who you speak to…
It’s something I’ve said a few times while coaching presenters, you really need to think about who you’re speaking to when you open any mic – whether in a radio studio or on a podcast.
The most revealing question you can ask a presenter is who do they imagine they’re speaking to when they start a link?
Any answer other than a single person, ideally someone that they know well, is probably the wrong answer, certainly if you’re imagining a group of people, or worse, one of those generic profile listeners that were all the rage not so long ago, then your tone isn’t going to work.
I like to give the example of a conversation in a pub… If you stood up on a table and started shouting to the room, you’d get a pretty odd reaction, in most pubs anyway. It’s the same if you’re shouting at your listener.
What you want is, to have people gathered around your table, leaning in to hear every word you say… that sense of intimacy and conversation is what makes for great audio, whether it’s radio or podcasting.
While we’re talking about podcasting and Audio…
Global Ad Agency Dentsu just released an industry wide US study which looked in detail at audio advertising and it comes at a good time, as the global ad recession continues to bite on summer ad spending.
Many media owners and publishers probably have their fingers crossed for a strong Q4, but if they want to seal the deal, then slides from this study need to make into your Sales pack.
The study looked at podcast, radio and music streaming and the key finding?
Audio drives attention from the audience far better than other media.
Dentsu have created a concept called the Attention Economy, with a measure called Average Attentive Seconds (shortened to APM). It’s complicated, but simply put, audio outperforms other media by about 40%
And when it comes to brand awareness, audio can produce an uplift of 10% - compared to the 6% average for other media.
There’s lot of other good stuff in the study too – radio proved to be ten times more cost effective than online video, podcast generated the most attention and strongest brand recall and interestingly music streamed through Alexa had higher recall for ads
Streaming on Smart speakers is a crucial piece of the audio armoury that we maybe don’t pay enough attention to, but more about that next time.
More on Dentsu’s Audio Economy research here - https://www.dentsu.com/us/en/attention%20economy
This has been the 8th official edition of the RAudio Newsletter
Just to recap, each week I’ll be taking a look at big stories in radio, podcasting and audio.
Any feedback, questions or potential topics are welcome – you can get me on Linkedin https://www.linkedin.com/in/liamthompsonconsulting/ or on Twitter @Maxliam