The Struggle Between Traditional Radio and Podcast


Will terrestrial radio survive a future that is increasingly assumed to be podcast? If so, how?

Two central questions in the debate on the relationship between radio and podcast, which a journalist present at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s 2018 Podcast Upfront , on September 6 in New York, has posed to Bob Pittman and Jarl Mohn, friends in life and real experts in the field : the first is the CEO and Chairman of iHeartMedia , the largest radio broadcast but also an American commercial radio podcast service ; the second CEO of National Public Radio (NPR), an expression of the US public service.

Both respondents started from the assumption that the success of a medium is largely determined by chance and luck, but that an approach that follows what the consumer prefers is fundamental.

Mohn called it “pattern recognition”: it involves doing research, collecting as much data as possible to understand what the consumer likes and packaging products based on these preferences. In this way it would be possible to build quality content, the only way – in the opinion of the exponent of NPR – to ensure that users continue to enjoy the public network, via radio, podcast and the Internet. According to the CEO of the largest independent non-profit radio network in the United States, therefore, podcasts and terrestrial radios can coexist thanks to quality. And, indeed, the podcast can provide an appeal for new advertisers who until now had not been interested in radio.

More cynical, Pittman, who does not try to deny possible cannibalization, talks about it as an opportunity: “Steve Jobs, father of the iPod, understood that the future of listening would be the telephone. Instead of trying to defend the iPod, he built the phones. Good idea, eh? ” Commented the representative of the largest US broadcast group, suggesting that probably terrestrial radios and podcasts are two forms of conflicting audio communication, but that the winning approach for companies like iHeartMedia must always be that of follow the evolution of consumer habits, to provide them with favorite content in the best way.

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