News Generation conducted a survey this summer of top news and talk radio stations in the top-25 markets to dig a little deeper into the implementation of podcasting technologies. It found: 100 percent of stations stream their content and 96 percent of them are currently offering podcast downloads of programming. Select stations WCBS-AM in New York, WBZ-AM in Boston, KTRH-AM in Houston, KXL-AM in Portland, and KMOX-AM in St. Louis were interviewed in depth for a closer look at how these particular stations utilize podcasting and the value it brings to a station.

This group of stations launched podcasting on their websites about one and a half to two years ago with a large proportion of their talk show and news programming available almost instantaneously on the web. These stations see podcasting as an important business investment. Kris Fay, Internet director for KXL in Portland, Oregon says, “Because it doesn’t cost much to do, the ROI is great when it comes to what we can sell the podcasts for. Being able to show advertisers’ downloads and subscriptions is a great way to give them tangible stats.”

Captive and interactive radio listeners, turned site users, appeal to advertisers who place their ads preceding every podcast. Travis Lusk, new media manager at WCBS in New York illustrates this potential impact citing that 50 to 70 podcast clips are offered every day with his station, which translates into 700 to 800 thousand downloads a month, creating tremendous ad revenue.
Podcasting is not only financially valuable for stations, it also serves as an opportunity to honor a station’s unique and loyal listenership. Jon Sullivan webmaster at KTRH in Houston suggests, “[Podcasting is] an excellent way for listeners to time-shift and it offers them an opportunity to share special segments with friends who might have missed something they deem worthy of attention. Those are values to the listener, and a value to the listener is always a value to the station.”

The stations we spoke with most often make on-air material available into podcasts, but web-only podcasts are becoming more popular as well. KTRH posts local high school football games and KXL posts local horse racing and golf programs. WCBS strengthened its video platform recently by offering a web only reporter who followed the Democratic and Republican National Conventions.

When asked the final question, “What technologies do you see revolutionizing radio?” our sample stations mentioned that incorporating video into an audio format is the direction most stations are heading. Right now WBZ in Boston uses YouTube to imbed videos and post on the radio station’s website but will soon be able to utilize a technology of its own called World Now. Through the exclusive partnership between AOL radio and CBS, WCBS will soon roll out ways to download audio programs onto iPhones. And Jackie Paulus, marketing and events director for KMOX in St. Louis, revealed that in the near future consumers will have the ability to create and publish their own radio station with the use of a website called ‘play it’. We look forward to uncovering these new technologies and watching how they transform radio broadcasting and how radio broadcasting stays ahead of the wave in implementing these technologies.

posted by Megan Heffernan