Radio Evangelist

Thoughts of a Evangelist for Radio in all its forms

Archive for October, 2009

A great radio blog – for radio geeks

Posted by Steve on October 30, 2009

Just found a radio engineering blog that is darn good. Definitely worth a read when you want to get your radio geek on…
http://www.engineeringradio.us/blog

Posted in Radio | 2 Comments »

PPM, Politics, and Reality

Posted by Steve on October 8, 2009

In today’s MediaLife, an interview by Diego Vasquez with Bernie Shimkus sheds light on much of the controversy surrounding the rollout of the PPM device. Shimkus is VP/Director of Research at Harmelin Media. Harmelin is one of the largest media buying services on the east coast. Based in Philadelphia, Harmelin’s buyers and research team have been exposed to the PPM longer than people from other markets. As a media buying service, they have no ax to grind – they just want good, accurate data so that their clients can succeed.

In his interview, Diego Vasquez asks, “Are media people still concerned about charges that the PPM undercounts minorities? How much credence do you give these claims?” Shimkus answers:

Media people would be more concerned about those charges if they were based on hard, statistical facts rather than ulterior business motives.

Agencies and advertisers want accurate numbers that represent all groups as much as stations do.

Unfortunately, most of the claims about the undercounting of minorities just aren’t true.

For example, the cume audiences for most ethnic formatted stations have increased significantly under the PPM methodology. Since by definition cume audience represents the number of different people a station reaches in a week, I don’t know how higher cumes for minority stations translates into “undercounting.”

Finally, Vasquez asks, “There have been groups and politicians trying to stop the rollout of the PPM. Do you think any of them will succeed eventually? Or do you expect the issue to eventually die down?” Mr. Shimkus answers:

For the sake of our clients, and the radio industry itself, we certainly hope not. There is a lot of misinformation out there, and even more political posturing based on that misinformation.

This is not an area that politicians should be inserting themselves.

And the radio industry would be better served to stop the bickering with Arbitron, and instead concentrate on using the wealth of new data the PPM provides to make a stronger case for why radio advertising is still an effective media channel for advertisers.

Read the entire interview here.

Posted in Radio | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Are Podcasts Dead?

Posted by Steve on October 3, 2009

On Friday, Leo Laporte, founder of the This Week in Tech network of programs, spoke at the Online News Association conference in San Francisco. His comments and the questions from the audience afterwards can be seen here.

The speech is very interesting and it exposes Laporte as a true renaissance man. One of his more controversial comments is a statement that “Podcasting is dead.” This is quite jarring, since it comes from the guy who many of us think as “Mr. Podcast” (OK, Leo, “Mr. Netcast”). He has built a very nice business by delivering 20+ podcasts weekly to an audience now in the millions worldwide. Leo goes on to say that he began to feel that podcasting was “dead” about a year ago and began building a streaming platform so that his network was prepared for the transition. Today, the TWIT Network delivers all its programming both through audio podcasts and via live streams. When there are no live programs to stream, they replay recently recorded programming on the stream.

Of course, he didn’t mean that podcasting was history and that no one is listening anymore. Podcasting has reached a plateau in its growth. Leo noted that for most veteran podcasters, growth began to flatten out about a year ago. To grow audience beyond the people who are willing to put up with podcasting’s current rather chunky user experience, a new archetype needs to emerge. Leo feels that this new archetype is a combination of live and on-demand streaming… different than podcasting’s “store and forward” approach. New dedicated devices like the Roku will provide this kind of service to consumers. In fact, Leo said that he was teaming with Mediafly to provide his network’s offerings on the Roku device.

Many people listen to podcasts right at their PC – either not realizing that they can go portable with their iPod or just not caring too. Many others take their content with them – to the gym, on the road, to work. I have found that loading up my iPod with programming that I want to listen to allows me – with minimal effort – to listen both at home and on the road. My TSL for broadcast radio dropped precipitously when I began doing this and it has not recovered. One of the reasons for this is content; however, the main one is convenience. I can listen to what I want, when I want. The broadcast radio over-the-air streaming model doesn’t allow for that, yet, although the new iPod Nano is providing a baby step in that direction with the “pause listening” feature. On-demand streaming might, but only when the technology reaches mobile platforms.

On-demand streaming is coming – Flycast and other similar services provide a rich portable mobile experience, mixing live broadcasts with some “on demand.” Until ubiquitous wireless broadband is available – and at a price that can be absorbed by the masses – this will remain a platform suffering from similar restrictions to growth that technologies like podcasting are experiencing. Some sort of local storage of content will be needed for some time to come. Many technical folks feel strongly that the wireless IP network is not yet up to the demands of delivering streaming content to portable devices. Today, with relatively few people (some subset of iPhone, Android and Blackberry users) accessing audio streams while mobile, it’s not an issue. Globally, the iPhone has sold about 20 million units. That’s just the population of New York. Imagine all 300 million Americans trying to stream audio at the same time! It’s not a scalable model yet.

So – to answer my rhetorical question – no, podcasts aren’t dead. Podcasts are just going through the same rapid evolutionary process as other delivery vehicles. Smart people, like Leo, are finding ways to augment the audience that the podcast delivery mechanism provides. Others are building alternative distribution channels to iTunes. The concept of podcasts will be with us for a while – until the practical application of technology provides a better solution.

Posted in Advertising, ipod, Podcasts, Radio, Social Media, streaming | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »