The Future Radio Morning Show

I am expanding my private practice to include advising new media and broadcasting on future content models that could reap financial benefits.

And here's why.

One of the many concepts that I believe passes the litmus test with the next generation – a group that will be necessary to build a lasting franchise – is that of a morning show that is not the one presently on your air and not available on a terrestrial signal.

As many of you know I have spent some considerable time for nearly the last five years working in generational media as part of my teaching sabbatical. I wanted to share with you the concept of a different kind of podcasting by broadcasters beyond simply putting existing air talent on a podcast.

If you're as excited as I am about this business, you'll see why it's important to brainstorm about your future beyond the terrestrial signal, the Internet stream or the few mobile things that most broadcasters do.

Here we go:

1. Start ten morning shows (other than the one that is airing on your terrestrial station). The content should aim at one demographic that is desirable to sell. Example: women 25-54. Ten shows that don’t air on the radio.

2. Each show should be the duration of the average commute in your metro area. So, if the average commute to work is 45 minutes in your market, your morning show podcasts will be 45 minutes in length.

3. Each podcast should be delivered from your “source” to subscribers' mobile devices just in time for their morning commute.

4. You’ll need legal help to negotiate music shows because of the unfortunate rights muddle podcasting faces. If you cannot secure the rights to the music every other terrestrial station carries, include music that independent artists allow you to use rights free. Believe me, the youth audience would rather hear this than the same old songs on radio’s tight playlist.

5. Come up with content ideas by brainstorming. We used a very disciplined and creative approach with students at USC or you might develop one of your own. Remember, content for these ten shows must all target the same sales demographic. More later.

6. Use broadcast production values on these podcasts. So, if one of your 25-54 year old podcasts is – Love and Money™ -- and includes the freshest new music aimed at this demographic as well as help in career, family and fun – you’ve got the format.

7. Hire the right person(s) to host this 45-minute show – not, I repeat, not anyone from your airstaff. Podcasting is not to be confused with broadcasting. You may be a professional broadcaster but it is not in your best interest to make these podcasts son of what is already on your air. Give the host a piece of the show and lock him or her into it for the long term. As it develops it will be a moneymaker for you and for your talent.

8. Do not include traditional spots in the podcast. Commercials have seen there better days. Young people don’t listen – but consider the “live read” approach that goes over very well with young people. If they are hooked on a podcast then they will listen to a “live read” by the host(s) if it is sincere and keeping with the overall approach of the show.

9. Open a podcast store online. This is where you will sell merchandise from clients directly to your listeners. You get a piece of this commerce. Also a good place to tell subscribers about the other shows you are making available.

10. Once you have ten morning shows up and running that have found a following, take them to an advertiser interested in reaching a specific demographic – in this example, 25-54 year old women. Bring them all ten shows. And while you’re pitching your reach and response (the new term your sales staff will use), start developing another ten morning podcasts.

Terrestrial radio can still be a good cash flow business for several years. There are many challenges. BIA says radio won’t see a return to profitability until 2010 and I am not even that optimistic.

I would never throw away terrestrial audiences, but I’d also never rely on getting Gen Y back to radio.

It isn’t going to happen -- at least from what I've come to learn about the next generation.

They went through childhood without a love for radio, unlike baby boomers or Gen X.

They are attached to their iPods and smart phones – their new radio.

If you still want to be in the content business when the last baby boomer passes into The Hall of Fame, learn about the new radio – podcasting.

No one is more able and ready to build this business than radio broadcasters who have the resources and talents to succeed.

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