Panel Focuses on the Business of Podcasting

‘Pimp Your Podcast’ Panel – October 22, 2012 from CUNY Grad School of Journalism on Vimeo.

By Erin Horan
Class of 2012

The CUNY Graduate School of Journalism’s radio program, directed by Tina Pamintuan, recently hosted a panel on the future of the podcasting business. The discussion focused on the two-way street between online audio and broadcast radio and how to pitch podcasts to non-profit organizations and private companies.

Panelists included moderator Amanda Aronczyk, a public radio reporter; Jim Colgan of SoundCloud; Adam Davidson of NPR’s Planet Money; Mia Lobel, an independent radio and podcast producer, and Ashley Milne-Tyte a New York-based writer and radio reporter.

Aronczyk started the discussion by pointing out the drastic changes in listening habits, “More and more people are not turning on a physical radio,” she said.

NPR’s Davidson agreed, predicting audio-on-demand is the new future of podcasting.

Davidson pointed out that automotive corporations are hedging new enterprises on the idea that listening will become more digital and customizable in cars.

“We’re being told to think the download world is over,” he said explaining that on demand audio in cars is “the turning point.”

It’s not just about tuning in your radio dial or your iPod through an adapter. The car’s internal audio could be pre-programmed to your favorite podcasts.

Davidson believes that radio is “leaving the world of shows” and moving into a space where consumers select their audio news.

Colgan of SoundCloud, an audio hosting site, spoke about the tools and technologies that bring a podcast to life. He said the company also projects that an online environment where audio is sharable or curated, will be a simple and cost-effective way to cultivate home-grown podcasts.

“We offer a way for people to spread their audio in an easy way,” he said.

On the topic of how to create a podcast and attract a significant audience, Milne-Tyte emphasized the importance of identifying a key demographic to pursue with issues that affect them directly.

Milne-Tyte produces a podcast about women and the workplace called, The Broad Experience. The site launched early in 2012. Her approach has been to package her podcasts for broadcast outlets. WLRN, a public radio station in Miami, recently began airing her show.

However, one key question on everyone’s minds was how to create a profit from podcasting? Many journalists face paying out-of-pocket for their stories, and production costs for equipment, travel, and time can outweigh the return of investment.

One solution recommended by the panelists was to seek out an organization or company that already has a podcast, and sell them on the idea of doing it better.

Lobel, an independent journalist, did just that for The Chemical Foundation. For the past five years, she’s been the senior producer of the science podcast, Distillations.

Before she took on the job, Lobel said the organization recorded conference calls and long meetings for their podcast. Now, the podcasts are full of lively stories, which draw from Lobel’s experiences as a public radio producer and reporter at KQED in San Francisco.

“I wanted a high bar of quality,” she said “Any organization has this desire [to be competitive in the market] and it’s convincing them that audio is the way to do it,” she advised.