How to double your radio show’s podcast numbers overnight

Almost daily in my Business Development role at Omny Studio, I get asked by radio stations how they can improve their podcast download numbers, search-ability and share-ability. 

I want to share a simple idea that will help with the above questions, and also set your station’s on-demand offering up for the growing popularity of smart speakers and “augmented live” radio apps. The idea is simple: split your podcast into separate pieces.

Currently, radio shows release a daily 45 minute or 2-hour big blob of audio with all of the show’s segments butted up against each other as their podcast offering. As an audio producer for many radio shows over the years, I was actually the one doing this. As the shows went to air, I would label each segment and save it to a hard drive for archiving purposes. Then I would get all of my nicely labelled segments, consolidate them into one long podcast episode and hit publish. It seemed crazy then, and it still seems crazy to me now, that you would strip all of the searchable, shareable metadata out of the podcast and then publish it.

There is more than one incentive to change your podcasting habits. Not least of which is that if your radio show is currently releasing daily blobs and starts splitting the podcast up, your download numbers will double overnight. I’ve seen it first-hand. I promise you it won’t create much extra work as someone who spent over five years building the podcast for many radio shows daily.

Here are some of the other advantages of releasing your podcast in segments.

Set your show up for future listening devices

Radio Futurologist, James Cridland describes the idea of splitting a radio show into multiple segments as “atomisation”. By atomising your show, you’re setting it up for the on-demand listening devices and apps of the future like NPR One, Otto Radio and, of course, the smart speaker.

Smart speaker popularity is exploding in the US right now with 7% of all Americans already owning either an Amazon Alexa or Google Home device (around 23 million). These kinds of devices are being touted as the future of on-demand audio consumption.

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Source: Edison

American serial entrepreneur, investor and podcaster, Gary Vaynerchuck believes that “the novelty of being able to use natural language to communicate with your device is going to change the world.” Link.

In the not too distant future, on-demand listeners will want to be able to command their smart speakers to play the latest content from their favourite show.

“Hey Alexa, play me the Breakfast with John show’s interview with Justin Bieber from today”

In fact, Google recently reported that that one in five queries made by search are now through voice. Seems to me that this is a very clear sign that audio and voice are on the rise and that smart speaker devices will play a large role in this.

The point is, smart speakers and “augmented live” apps ingest RSS feeds and if your RSS feed only has a two-hour chunk of daily audio, you’re dramatically limiting your offering. There’s a huge opportunity here for radio content makers to take advantage of this coming wave of on-demand audio consumers.

Improve your shows search/share-ability online

Putting smart speakers aside for a second, let’s say that a listener wants to find an interview from your show online from last week that only exists in your full podcast. The only way that the listener can do that is to maybe get lucky with Google or search on your website, and that’s only if the audio producer wrote an itemised list of every segment. Then they’ll have to skip through over an hour of audio to find the exact moment. In other words, it’s not going to happen.

This actually happened to me the other day in a group Whatsapp chat, a mate of mine Deano interviewed Tom Cruise on his radio show and everyone wanted to hear it:

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After someone asked for a link to the audio at 8:22 am, eventually at 3:19 pm we got a 20 second Instagram link.

It was worth the wait, but if this was released as a separate piece of audio, we probably would have found it with a few keywords on Google.

An obvious byproduct of making your show more searchable is that it then becomes easier to share on social media, email, Whatsapp etc. It at least gives your listeners a fighting chance of being able to share content from your show.

Increase your download numbers

The metric that the IAB, Podtrac and advertisers use to measure a podcast’s popularity is how many total downloads it’s getting. Not how long people are listening for.

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Source: Podtrac.com

The idea is simple: if you release more episodes, you’ll get more downloads from your RSS subscribers and fans.

There are so many advantages to releasing your on-demand audio in a segmented or “atomised” RSS feed, I can’t understand why we all don’t…

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Check out omnystudio.com for more information on how Omny Studio can help you with your on-demand audio strategy or contact me directly at mitch@omnystudio.com.

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Recent comments (6)
Joshua Sanders
12 Jun 2017 - 10:51 pm

While it may not create more effort for a producer on a show, it makes life so much harder for an actual podcast listener. From first hand experience I spend more time sorting what audio I have listened to and what I haven’t and deleting the stupid small blobs of audio that I don’t want to listen to. Stop the ‘hacks’ and give me a simple podcast that just has everything in it! Radio is radio and podcasts are podcasts and this trick is like taking a trick that works in one format and trying to transfer it to another.

TheT
13 Jun 2017 - 11:54 am

This is an awful idea- yes you’ll increase downloads..but you will seriously annoy the audience- who have to sort multiple blobs of content for one show?!
What about when you are driving and have to keep starting a new episodes- how irritating.
And what about if the listener misses the blob that has the joke which carried out for the rest of that daily show- therefore rendering everything else hard to understand?
You are assuming people are interested in podcasting a radio show piecemeal – listening to different segments independently of each other- and I don’t think that reflects what people want.

Mitch Secrett
13 Jun 2017 - 3:00 pm

Hi Joshua Sanders and Thet,

I appreciate your feedback and it’s a valid point that you have both brought up regarding listener experience.

In regards to this, the new Apple Podcast app update announcement for iOs 11 over the weekend may be of interest: http://podcasts.apple.com/resources/spec/ApplePodcastsSpecUpdatesiOS11.pdf

They are introducing “chapters” for easier ordering, they are also introducing consumption analytics to track how much of an episode is actually being listened to. Based off the consumption data we have, I think this new data will be an eye opener for podcast creators and re-purposed radio content. All the data points to shorter=better.

Here’s another idea, run your full feed alongside your segmented RSS feed! It doesn’t have to be one or the other.

Cheers!

Mitch

James Parkinson
13 Jun 2017 - 6:26 pm

I see your point, but in my opinion a better strategy would be to save (well edited) full length shows for your RSS feed, while only using smaller segments to share on social or embed with an audio player into articles written specifically to promote the best content. More time consuming, yes, but it would actually take advantage of search. Audio alone in an RSS feed is not searchable.

Repurposing radio shows is mainly for people who either miss the original broadcast or care only for a particular show and don’t listen to the broadcast at all. Flooding an RSS feed with multiple cuts of the same episode is not listener friendly, especially for those who want to set a show to auto download, ready for their commute.

The new features in Apple Podcasts may help but are geared more towards seasonal shows etc. Plus, not everyone uses the Apple Podcasts app – some app developers may or may not implement these features when they’re made available in the API. We will have to see it implemented first. It can’t be assumed it will be the same for everyone.

And doubling your downloads through this method really is just a trick. It may double your numbers but it won’t double your actual audience size. That is simply misleading potential advertisers in what is already a murky world of podcast stats. Just my two cents!

Mitch Secrett
14 Jun 2017 - 12:16 pm

Hi James,

Thanks for the comment – I’ve got a couple of comments inline.

“Audio alone in an RSS feed is not searchable.” – while searching audio files is still a problem to be solved, the metadata in RSS feeds is ingested in many platforms which are very searchable and shareable including the iTunes web listing, Stitcher and many others.

“Flooding an RSS feed with multiple cuts of the same episode is not listener friendly” – As I said above – you can set up multiple feeds, it doesn’t have to be one or the other.

“Some app developers may or may not implement these features when they’re made available in the API.” – According to the IAB, Apple accounts for upwards of 60% of ALL podcast listening currently. Other apps like Pocketcasts, Overcast, Podcast Addict etc… actually pull their listings from the Apple Podcast store so my bet is that they will be scrambling to reflect the new specs outlined in the new iOs update.

“That is simply misleading potential advertisers in what is already a murky world of podcast stats.” – I tried to get people to read with a snappy headline! It does what it says on the box.

Thanks again for reading and feel free to email me at mitch@omnystudio.com if you’d like to chat further!

Adam
16 Jun 2017 - 11:15 am

We’ve been using Omny Studio for The Kitchen since September 2015.

Mitch has an amazingly good point with this and we’ve noticed it first hand. Producing a 30-40 minute podcast every week (we’re only on air Fridays) used to take us ages to put together. Trim segments, decide what we wanted in the podcast, piecing it together, write a summary/list, upload then socially share.

Now all we do it trim, decide, title (and one liner description) and upload. It’s so much quicker and looks heaps more presentable on our website/socials. Plus, when we’re trying to show someone a piece of content we’re looking for, it’s just a simple search away as opposed to the search and scrub.

Just wish the station would run a 2nd bus so we could use Omny’s capturing agent and skip the trim step! (As a side on this, we used it once for our 4th Annual Pool Party because we used a mixer on-site. Absolutely incredible. We were live at an OB and we had another team member sharing clean audio in realtime to our socials)

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