ESPN's "PodCenter"

ESPN is a phenomenal operation in many ways.

The company that made a franchise out of "Sports Center" -- not to mention many innovations in sports broadcasting -- is about to do it again in podcasting.

Those of you who read me every day know that I believe podcasting will replace radio for the next generation.

It cooperates with their attention spans -- or lack, thereof -- as well as their need to be in control of starting, stopping, time-delaying or deleting their programming.

What ESPN did was to shift its KSPN, Los Angeles afternoon personality Dave Dameshek from on-air to on-demand.

This is the future and worth watching very closely because there are similar situations begging for other radio broadcasters to resurrect their brand personalities online before they decline with terrestrial radio.

ESPN in a gutsy move is creating a daily 30-minute on-demand podcast featuring Dameshek, who often ranks as the top local podcast of all ESPN O&O stations and even makes it to the top of all ESPN podcasts.

This is very cool. And cool works with the next generation.

From now on -- as ESPN most certainly knows -- their promotion department doesn't get to do all the work. The viral network known as the Internet will also continue to spread the word on Dameshek's show.

In a public appearance recently I told content providers including traditional radio operators that they need to get into this business. I am planning to lead brainstorming sessions in Scottsdale for individual content providers on this topic -- I'm telling you, this is the future.

Radio broadcasters stand to make the most mistakes when they switch to podcasting so let me share some insights for those of you who are interested:

1. The radio personality should not be doing a podcast if he or she is still broadcasting over the air. I've raised a lot of eyebrows with this, but now apparently ESPN agrees with me. It's rather simple. A podcast is not a broadcast -- at least to the next generation and even though radio operators insist on repurposing their radio talent through podcasts -- it will fail miserably.

2. Content for podcasts comes from places radio people don't know very well, but their employees (even their off-air employees) do know. So eventually you will have to learn how to identify these folks, develop content, work around copyright issues and deal with distribution. Again, it's not a matter of repackaging on-air content. It's a different mindset.

3. An entire new operation (and not a costly one at that) will need to be built around production values. This is where radio can shine. No one can produce quality programming on a current basis better than radio broadcasters. They are unfortunately wasting their time doing it for syndicators.

4. Then, brainstorm with sales people because radio companies looking to get an early jump on podcasting cannot run commercials. Sorry. You've been warned. At least you can't run agency commercials or production that would run on a radio station. There are other alternatives. You'll need one of them to monetize this great new business.

5. Merchandising. That's all I'm going to say because radio people aren't real good at this and in the world I see as the future -- merchandising is at the top of the money chain. Podcasting, like the Internet, realizes its greatest profit from ancillary forms of income. It's not going to be like radio -- create the content, sell commercials in that content.

I try to use this space to share my insights on traditional media, new media and what I call generational media.

May I be blunt?

is becoming a poor imitation of its former self. They need to get into podcasting.

The record industry's arrogant attitude toward its customers is "let them eat vinyl" (or plastic, or something). Labels should podcast their own content and cut out the middleman (radio).

Satellite radio could be a major podcaster if it could get its eyes out of the skies long enough.

Newspapers? Dead on arrival -- unless you believe Randy Michaels and Sam Zell are going to reinvent printed newspapers for Tribune.

The Internet?
Of course, it will be major, but not in the ways lots of people think. The Internet isn't the message. It's the delivery system and there's lots to do to develop content for that system.


From my experience working with young people regarding new and traditional media -- this is the one to start watching. Or, if you're not the type to sit and watch, take action.

There is a huge generation raised with iPods in their hands. Let's think -- what do you suspect they want to hear after they've played their favorite MP3s for the umpteenth time?

New Content -- that they can control.

And that's where we in the radio industry should come in.

Podcasting will be the new radio for Generation Y. But podcasting is not broadcasting.

Far from it.

Which is why it's time to get the skills necessary to get into a growth business.

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