Central Ohio is a hub for businesses, nonprofit, and social enterprise organizations, large and small, all connected by the experiences we share in the stories we tell. Your BBB is excited to showcase businesses who are working every day to build trust and support our communities. BBB SparkCast is where we will learn from these local entrepreneurs firsthand.
Jordan: Hello listeners and thanks for joining us for this episode of BBB SparkCast. My name is Jordan, the Content Communications Coordinator with your BBB of Central Ohio. Today we are here with Brett Johnson the Local Sales Manager at North American Broadcasting Company Inc., the Network Sales Manager of Plant Talk Radio Network and Owner of Circle270Media Podcast Consultants, providing customized advising, development, targeting and creation for B2B podcasters. Brett actually came in and met with us when we are in the beginning stages of the BBB SparkCast and we’re happy to have him back today. How are you doing Brett?
Brett: I’m doing great. When I saw the email I was excited that we get to finally do a podcast together.
Jordan: Great well thanks for coming in. I just gave a really brief overview of some of the work you’ve done with podcasts and radio. What would you like to talk more about what you’re currently doing in the podcast world?
Brett: Sure. I am working with businesses that are looking to create podcasts as a marketing tool for their business. They see it as an opportunity to bring their blogs to life that they can control the content that they are talking about. They become the experts in their field by just opening a mic and recording themselves and talking about what their business does for themselves, for their customers, whatever their focus is. They’re seeing this as a really good marketing tool. In addition to all the other social media that they’re doing.
Jordan: So we are talking about podcasts today and a podcast episode I’ve been referring to it all week as “podcast-ception.” When we first started to do these SparkCasts it was a huge learning curve. We had this idea, and we weren’t really sure where to begin. So I would like to talk about creating and launching your own podcast which is what you do. So can we started the very beginning and talk about podcasts historically? Like when they became popular? And are they going to continue to be well received in the future?
Brett: Well, the true “podfathers” of podcasting, and this is going to go back in time but I think it sets the stage for what it is, they were Dave Weiner and Adam Curry. Weiner is a software developer and RSS, Real Simple Syndication, evangelist. Curry produces the popular No Agenda Podcast. And you may recognize him as the mid-80s former MTV veejay. Podcasting started before the term was even invented with an idea that came from a meeting in 2000. They were talking about automated media distribution. So really, the podcast idea was not more of the word podcast, it was more of getting content from one location to another that’s easy, or more easily consumed. This was 2000, of course, when that conversation happened, and that was before the World Wide leap into broadband Internet connections. So they were looking at it as how could they deliver video from one point to another. Weiner felt the internet simply had not evolved to the point where it could supply large video downloads. Curry’s idea was to look at Internet connections differently. He wanted a software solution that could download items that he subscribes to. Weiner was already working on that RSS term, Real Simple Syndication, and the RSS text file can include a dynamic content as well as static content so you can use it to distribute new content from sites back and forth. That was back in 2003. He had developed the RSS 2.0 and again this is going to get technical but it does set the stage.
Brett: Weiner also wanted to come up with a format to deliver content via a subscription system. So in 2004, Curry decided to try his hand at programming and developed the first basic podcatcher application with Apple scripts. Curry’s program read Wiener’s RSS feed and downloaded the audio file into Curry’s podcatcher program, and the program simply grabbed the file, downloaded it, and then put the file into iTunes playlists. Which then could be synced to his iPod. And podcasts were created.
Jordan: Oh wow I didn’t know any of that.
Brett: Again it came down to creating this system of delivery versus the name. The podcast name came from the iPod. iPods were used to listen to the audio content at that time. Now, we’ve grown up a lot more in regards to smartphones and such, but the name just stuck.
Brett: When did podcasts become popular? It’s really good question because there’s still a lot of debate around that. Apple added podcasts to iTunes back in 2005 so that made that access point a lot easier to listen to podcasts, at least from your desktop. 2015 is kind of that time period where people say really grew up fast. And that podcasts like Serial came into play. And that podcasts became much more widely known from that podcast.
Brett: But there were others of note at that time too. There were Startup, You Must Remember This, The Grammar Girl, Snap Judgment and The Message, but Serial just seemed to catch fire. That really got it of note back in 2015. I think a lot of other factors came into play of why podcast became popular about that time period too. The native podcast player app in the Apple smartphones was there. You could press a button and boom you had, you had podcasts on your phone. Before it was a bit of a struggle to find this podcast and make it easier to listen to. So they moved from iPods to the smartphone. The culture of on-demand entertainment. Netflix changed that completely in regards to that we now can listen, can watch, when we want. Increasingly engaging and better sounding audio content quality too. Those podcasts became better and better sounding, better produced. And not necessarily from the NPR standpoint, but just the equipment has become much less expensive, free software that you use to edit the audio. All those together started to help make the content better and better sounding, whether it’s an audio drama or a business-to-business podcast. You knew the game was upped. You had to sound better to keep your audience’s attention. And it’s still free. It doesn’t cost, for the most part, doesn’t cost anything to listen to a podcast.
Jordan: Do you see podcasts going out of style anytime soon?
Brett: No, not the way it’s been growing. At last report (Edison Research), 112 million Americans have listened to a podcast. 67 million say they listen on a monthly basis. It continues to grow at double digits every year. 24 percent of the U.S. age 12 and above listen to a podcast.
Brett: And the key is that it’s the niche format. Those niche ideas out there that you can gravitate toward, that you know exactly what you’re subscribing to. Whether it’s entertainment, information, education, you know what you’re getting when you subscribe to a podcast. So it doesn’t matter what the download numbers or the subscriber numbers are for that podcast. It is popular because you can subscribe to what you want to listen to at that point in time.
Jordan: That’s very true. And that’s good news for both of us. For someone who would like to start their own podcast and let’s say all they have right now is an idea, where should they begin?
Brett: The idea is key. I’ve run into a lot of people that are just enamored by the idea of a podcast, but they don’t know what to do with it. If you don’t then you’re going to fail. You’ll ‘pod-fade’ as it’s called. You’ll begin three or four podcasts episodes and you’ll just go, “This is too much work. I’m running out of ideas.” You’ve already started it. You should have planned way back. But I think the big thing is you have the idea, research that idea. Go to iTunes and look in the categories and see what podcasts are there in that genre.
Brett: Don’t look at it as “Oh my gosh, there are 50 of them there already!” That’s okay. That’s great. That means that genre or that topic is good. Go for it. Just do something different with it. and some of those may have stopped producing already anyway. So you can take a look at it that way as well. That they’ve done their thing now you’re going to do your thing in a different spin to it. As you grasp that idea and know that you’re going to go for it, map out your episodes over a 12 month period. Whether it’s a monthly publication, where you publish once a month, every other week, weekly, whatever your goal is, map it out over 12 months. Fill out a year’s worth of content and you’re going to avoid that “pod-fading.” If you have a cohost, confirm schedules and dedication to record, or have a plan B just in case your cohost has to bail out because of family issues, or when “life happens.” And then, what is that “call-to-action?” Why are you doing it? What do you want your listeners to do, to feel, to talk about after you published that podcast?
Jordan: So say someone, as an employee, is tasked with creating a podcast. Or a business owner thinking about starting one. Would you say that podcasts are an essential marketing tool right now? Or is it really important to only get into it if you have a specific focus and theme and not just do it because you feel like it’s the new standard?
Brett: I think it’s become an essential marketing tool because of the versatility that podcasts offer. They mesh with social media so well. You’ve got the opportunities to mix in blogging with it, as well an expansion of a blog that already exists. Or you turn your podcast into a blog and you’re taking pieces of that. It’s all content that you’re reusing, reusing, reusing, and making sure it’s not just a one and done situation.
Brett: You know, through spoken word you become the expert. Bottom line you’re not paying a blogger to blog for you. With the spoken word, you can’t fake it. You are the expert when it comes down to it. There’s no more intimate form of marketing. You’re in her earbuds in the coffee shop, in the car while he’s driving to work, on her desktop computer at home or work. With podcasts, you create that “lean in” content, when your listener shuts out everything but what you’re saying. It’s not background entertainment. Your listeners deliberately subscribe. They download. And they listen to your podcast.
Jordan: Very well put. So someone has their idea. They have a cohost if they want them, and they have their editorial calendar laid out. So now they need equipment. What’s some basic equipment that you would suggest that they would need?.
Brett: Basics of basics, a smartphone, and a podcast hosting platform. It really comes down to that. A good example, and this podcast still exists, is the Running Through My Mind Podcast. It’s a mental monologue, a talking to-do list, an audio action agenda, by Don The Idea Guy. Take a listen to it. He recorded on his smartphone in his car before he stepped into his office every morning for fifty mornings, directly publishing to a podcast hosting platform. It can be as simple as that. Now to the other extreme, you can invest in broadcast quality equipment that can run thousands of dollars. Of course, there is a middle ground there. I think best options are what fits your budget. Grow into new equipment if you need it. A good place to start is looking at microphones that are USB adaptable, that you can record right into a computer or look at an outside recording, or handheld recording device. There’s a microphone, the name is ATR2100, it’s a good reliable USB adaptable microphone. You can easily record onto your computer using free recording and editing software like Audacity or Garageband, depending on the platform, Mac or PC. Headphones are necessary just to hear what’s going on. I’d suggest an ear covering headset versus earbuds so it’s sound canceling, so you can hear just what’s going on with the recording. I would suggest also a handheld digital recorder. Some brand names to look for Tascam or Zoom, so you can record at events or conferences. You may want to start interviewing people that you know. Big names at conferences. And handheld recorders are perfect for that.
Brett: Go with a podcast hosting platform to handle all the encoding work for distribution. And also a Website. Whether it’s a Website dedicated to that podcast or it’s a page on your company Website.
Jordan: Are there certain low-cost platforms you’d recommend when you’re publishing your episodes?
Brett: Well let’s start with what not to do. Soundcloud. Do not, do not, do not use Soundcloud. It’s free and you get what you pay for. It’s not the best option to go with if you are really concerned about how you control your audio. If you put all that work into the content and a recording you want to control every bit of it. And Soundcloud is not the best way to go. Peace of Mind platforms include, and these are going to be some odd sounding names and spelled strangely, Blubrry, Spreaker is another great platform, Podbean, Libsyn. These are household names in the podcast world. So when you start to do the research you’re going to see those names pop up a lot. They are all very good platforms to work with. Cost efficient. And they take care of everything for you so you record the audio, get it published. They take care of all the worries in the back end of getting and saving that audio for you so it’s there forever.
Jordan: We actually went with Blubrry. You recommended them to us. They are a local BBB accredited business. Is there any other advice or small takeaways you have for our listeners who are interested in creating their own podcast?
Brett: Don’t look at a podcast as a business. There are podcasters that use podcasts as a business. But they’ve set up the backend as affiliate marketing programming, selling products, advice and such. You’ll see those. But that’s not really the healthy way to walk into this. Podcasts help to support and grow your business. I work with my clients to create a game plan and stick to it. The reality of podcasting, as with all marketing tools, is that it’s in the long game strategy. Done strategically, podcasting does work. That’s why I suggest that you plan it out on a calendar. Where are you going with these individual topics? What do you want the first episode compared to the last episode sounds like? But it’s all in pencil. Change it as it goes along. Be flexible with it. And grow with that podcast. You never know the opportunities that are going to come up. Once you start podcasting, you can become a guest on other podcasts, as we’re doing with this, or others will want to be a part of your podcast. And it starts to grow exponentially because of one key guest that you had and vice versa. Your podcast helped them grow as well. So it has its own energy. Look at it that way. Look at it as it’s another extension of your marketing strategy. Along with all the other pieces that you do. And make sure they all work together. Working with your social media person or whoever you’re working with social media, make sure that all those pieces come together really well for you.
Jordan: Okay. So do you have any favorite podcasts?
Brett: If you’d look at my phone, I subscribe to at least 50 of them. But they range from audio dramas to business. The Tim Ferris’s of the world and such like that. My ultimate favorite, right now for audio drama, is a Britcom called Wooden Overcoats. It is just so well written and I like British comedy anyway. It’s just so witty and well written and the characters just mesh together so well. There are just so many out there that are so really good. And there were a lot of great local podcasts here of at least looking at the Columbus market. It’s All Been Done Radio has a great network of podcasts that they do. They do their live show at Madlab once a month and they record those sessions in that theatre, and put them into podcasts. Other podcasts include The Dollar Saving Divas, Affording College with Aaron Greene, Off The Record, Aging In Full Bloom, Your Gardening Questions, Business Inspires, The Successful Encore Career, Director’s Pointe of View, The Jazz Scene, The Spirit of EQ, Friday Kix Off Waudcast, and The Bang! Radio Hour. So, we have such a variety here in the Columbus market. Really search them out to get a flavor of what’s being spotlighted. For Columbus events as well as just the voice of Columbus, which is really exciting that we’re starting to really blossom with some great podcasts in the market too.
Jordan: Definitely check those out. That is really valuable information, Brett, and I just want to thank you again so much for joining us today on BBB SparkCast. Listeners, you can find out more by visiting Circle270Media.com and following Brett on social media. Be sure to subscribe to BBB SparkCasts so you don’t miss out on the conversation.
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