Thursday, November 15, 2018

LIFE IMITATES SATIRE: “THE PODDYS” & “iHEART PODCAST AWARDS” • HEAR UNIVERSITY OFFICIALS IN ILLINOIS VIOLATE THE STATE’S OPEN MEDIA ACT


Perhaps it was coincidence but you have to wonder if iHeartRadio’s upcoming Podcast Awards [link] inspired the writers of Saturday Night Live to do a parody of a podcast awards ceremony called The Poddy's.


The SNL segment (link on yesterday's post) was eerily true to reality, or stereotypes of reality, of the actual podcasting world. The hosts for The Poddy’s were imitations of A-list podcast heroes: Michael Barbaro (played by Liev Schreiber) and Sarah Koenig (played by Cecily Strong). The award categories on SNL -- Most Unnecessary Podcast and Best Nervous White Girl In A Place She Doesn’t Belong – skewered the “too hip” vibe of actual podcasters

While virtually everyone found humor in The Poddy's, some industry observers felt the SNL sketch brought attention to aspects of podcasting that may need improving.

Steve Goldstein, a consultant an blogger who has written extensively about the podcast industry, wrote on his AmplifiMedia blog [link]:

Steve Goldstein
Did SNL just set podcasting back? This past weekend Saturday Night Live parodied the podcast business in a clever send up of a podcast awards show, The Poddy’s, live from the “Me Undies Theater.”  

And while it was fun to watch, it was also disconcerting and may help explain the slow growth of podcasting. In many ways, the SNL bit reinforces what lots of people already think about podcasts.

In many ways, the SNL bit reinforces what lots of people already think about podcasts — an elite niche with self-important story tellers telling oddly obscure stories.   

Edison Research’s Tom Webster pointed out this past summer at Podcast Movement, 83% of Americans are not yet listening to podcasts.  64% know about them, and yet only 17% are listening.

That means three quarters of the people who know about podcasts are not listening. Not impressive. Not a good conversion.

Blogger and media consultant Fred Jacobs wrote on the Jacobs Media Strategy blog [link]:

Fred Jacobs
Podcasters have been fighting for their share of respectability in the audio marketplace for more than a decade – with mixed results.  While many media pundits (myself included) believe audio on-demand programming could be “the next big thing,” growth has been slow.  

We discussed the large share of “podcast nevers” – those who never listen to podcasts – earlier this month in a blog post.  Many people simply have not connected with podcasts for myriad reasons.

[The SNL skit] depicted a podcasting system that is self-indulgent, tedious, cliché, and unprofessional in a skit that was reminiscent of the “Schweddy Balls” send-up of public radio/NPR way back in 1998. 

[The SNL skit is] a spot-on parody of many in the podcasting community that might serve as an early warning to iHeartRadio's first annual live “Podcast Award Show” in L.A. this January about what not to do.

MEANWHILE IN LOS ANGELES, THE SHOW WILL GO ON

In an ironic twist, iHeartRadio chose NPR to receive the first-ever iHeartRadio Podcast Pioneer Award

It will be presented at the inaugural iHeartRadio Podcast Awards, Jan. 18, 2019, at the iHeartTheater in Los Angeles.

According to a press release from iHeart, NPR is being recognized for being a “driving, innovative force in the creation of the podcasting industry.” iHeart cited NPR’s unparalleled impact on how millions of listeners consume audio content.

Nominees for iHeartRadio Podcast Awards span 22 categories, including 17 where listeners are deciding the winners by voting online and on Twitter and Instagram, through Jan. 6, 2019. You can see more here

GREAT REPORTING: CLOSED-DOOR MEETING AT WESTERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY VIOLATES OPEN MEETING RULES

Tri States Public Radio coverage area
Over the past few months we haves written extensively about Western Illinois University’s (WIU) decision to cut almost all university funding for Tri States Public Radio (TSPR) as of March 1, 2019.

As we reported on August 21st [link], WIU’s action created a nightmare situation by blindsiding listeners and staff of the three-station network covering parts of Illinois, Iowa and Missouri.

The defunding will cost TSPR around $600,000 from their $1 million budget because there is no way to replace the money. The cut will come in the middle of the current fiscal year and may cause the station to lose its funding from CPB. Worse yet, WIU has never said who made the decision or the basis on which it was made.

Since the surprise cut was announced, folks at TSPR have been doing the best they can to continue operations of TSPR. But several staff members have left for other employment and there still are no answers about who will be working at TSPR after February 2019.

Rich Eggers, Public Media Hero
TSPR’s News Department has done amazing reporting about the situation in the midst of the uncertainty. News Director Rich Eggers filed a Freedom of Information request to try to learn more about WIU’s decision. WIU responded with some, but not all, of the information.

Now an audio recording has been obtained of a closed-door meeting of WIU officials on June 28, 2018. This was the meeting when the defunding of TSPR was finalized. It turns out that the “secret” meeting violates Illinois’ Illinois Open Meetings Act. Not only should the meeting have been public, during the meeting WIU bigwigs “practice” an announcement of the cuts.

The recording is part of a news story titled Dark Days for Transparency & Shared Governance at WIU [link] includes portions of the meeting. Scroll down to the mid-point of the story to hear the audio of WIU officially and knowingly defying the law.


Wednesday, November 14, 2018

“LAUGH OUT LOUD” VIDEO: THE PODCAST AWARDS • MORE ABOUT ADS IN PODCASTS


“LAUGH OUT LOUD” VIDEO: THE PODCAST AWARDS • MORE ABOUT ADS IN PODCASTS

This video is satire of the first degree.  It is a promo tape for “The Poddy’s”—an award show for podcasters.  The segment appeared on Saturday Night Live on NBC-TV, Saturday 11/10/18. 




READER COMMENTS: MORE ABOUT COMMERCIALS IN PUBLIC MEDIA PODCASTS


Our post last week [link] about the slippery slope of ads in public radio podcasts drew a lot of readers and a wide variety of comments.

The importance of public radio’s reliance on paid advertising was underscored this week by new research showing that more than three-quarters of the Apple Top 100 podcasts contain ads. Magellan [link], a company that tracks and sells podcast advertising, conducted the study.

Magellan claims that within ten minutes of a podcast being published the company’s software downloads it and analyzes it's advertising content. Magellan offers this service to podcast advertisers who want to verify that commercials they bought are actually being played.

In addition to ad tracking, Magellan also provides audio samples of podcast commercials so customers can hear what they sound like. For instance, on the Magelin site, you can hear Ira Glass in a This American Life podcast selling Squarespace and Rocket Mortgage [link]. And, there is a pitch for Capital One credit cards in Fresh Air [link].

To hear how far ads in podcasts are going, check out this one from The Joe Rogan Experience. (Rogan is not associated with public media). The ad is a lengthy endorsement of a gambling website MyBookie [link], The company's motto is We Don’t F*ck Around. Could commercials like this be coming soon to public media podcasts? We hope not.

COMMENT ONE: OFFER LISTENERS A CHOICE

Michael Arnold, Wisconsin Public Radio Associate Director and Director of Content commented on our post via Facebook:

Michael Arnold
This is a thought provoking post, Ken. Many many years ago, there was a lot of angst in public radio about underwriting messages. The concern was high enough that it was explored in Audience '98. At that time, they didn't see any indication of "underwriting anxiety" despite the system concerns.

 Another issue involves free access to public media content. While a "Netflix of podcasts" is an exciting idea, it limits our access to people who can afford it.

A hybrid model might offer an environment where people can make a choice between the two. This would be similar to how You Tube is offering a "commercial free" feed to people who are willing to subscribe.

A model like that may allow public media orgs to collect data on subscribers or even offer a "commercial free" podcast experience to donors for a portfolio of podcasts (similar to the PBS Passport). As stations get more sophisticated CRM systems, this might be a good middle ground.

KEN SAYS: There are good reasons why Mike Arnold is one of the most respected programmers and strategists in the public radio system. His recommendation of a hybrid model makes sense. Plus a “commercial free” package of podcasts would be easy for stations to promote.

COMMENT TWO: PODCASTS ARE A “HORRIBLE INEFFICIENT USE OF MY TIME”

We received this comment from an anonymous reader who is a genuine "podcast avoider:"

I have zero interest in podcast listening because it's a horrible inefficient use of my time.

I can read something at least five, maybe ten times as quickly as I can listen to it. And a well-written piece of content can convey at least 80% of the meaning and emotion that any audio piece can. That's good enough.

Worse, by the standards of the media, I'm highly educated, highly informed about current events, and very well-read: the exact qualities podcasters (and advertisers) all say they want.

Obviously the plural of anecdote is not data, but I think podcasters like to overlook the inconvenient truth of the inherent inefficiency of the media
.

COMMENT THREE: “WATCH THE INNUENDO”

Mark Weston Laskowski, Digital Marketing Services Writer at WGBH, commented on Facebook:

Can you draw a straight line between any of the revenue generated from these sponsors and a compromise of editorial integrity or independent editorial decisions?

Or is that only a looming theoretical potential? Serious question. Please shed light without flames.

KEN SAYS: Thank you for your comment, Mark. We will give your serious question a serious answer. We are not aware of any current situation where there is “pay for play” between a podcast sponsor and a podcast producer.

But, we feel that it is more than a “looming theoretical potential.” We believe public media podcasters and publishers exist in a fishbowl where many outside interests are waiting for us to make a mistake. Even perceptions of breaches in the editorial firewall are fodder for political opportunists.

Then there is the question of poor taste. Ira Glass sounds sort of okay pitching Rocket Mortgage, but where do you draw the line? Podcast sponsors and messages exist in a wide-open space with no rules or guidelines. We recommend that public media entities establish best practices and closely monitor the wording and tone of sponsor messages.

COMMENT FOUR: VALERIE GELLER SAYS PODCAST COMMERCIALS SAVE DONOR DOLLARS

It is always a pleasure to hear from Valerie Geller [link], a radio talent coach, consultant and author of the book Beyond Powerful Radio: A Communicator's Guide to the Internet Age. Geller has improved the technique of thousands of broadcasters and public speakers.

Geller made this comment about our post on Facebook:

Valerie Geller
Ken, this is a great conversation topic. Here’s what we’ve seen come back in the research: When listeners become aware of high salaries of select public media executives, it becomes an issue, and they resent giving to support the huge salaries.

So companies and “commercial” sponsors become a way to pay good professionals. We need to offer people what they are worth and deserve.  [Let’s] not alienate the giving membership.

KEN SAYS: We hope Geller is not regenerating the right-wing talking point that executive salaries cause people to shun public radio. 

We have never seen any research that this notion is true, except from people who think NPR is a liberal propaganda plot.

Jessie Thorn
In her comment on Facebook, Geller recommends a recent Los Angeles Times article [link] about Jessie Thorn’s “podcast collective” Maximum Fun [link]. Thorn is well known in both the public radio and podcast world. In the Times article Thorn advises:

“When you are making content for the internet and podcast content, making something that has a powerful appeal to a small group of people is almost always better than a good appeal to a large group of people.”

Thorn (and Geller) are right when they recommend that podcasting is less about reaching a big number of listeners than it is about creating deep, personal relationships with listeners.



Tuesday, November 13, 2018

PUBLIC MEDIA GROWS IN “VALLEY OF THE SUN”


Desert sunrise in suburban Chandler, Arizona
Today’s post is set in Phoenix, Arizona a/k/a The Valley of the Sun. Millions of people have moved there since the invention and proliferation of air conditioning. One hundred years ago there were around 29,000 people living in The Valley. By 1970 the population of the city grew to 582,000. Today it is estimated that over 1.5 million people live in the city and 4.7 million live in the metropolitan area.

ASU’S CRONKITE SCHOOL & CPB COLLABORATE TO GROW PUBLIC MEDIA NEWS CAPABILITY

ASU's Cronkite School in downtown Phoenix
Arizona State University’s (ASU) Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication [link] and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) have announced a new initiative that will provide training for 100 editors to strengthen leadership of public media’s growing newsrooms and collaborations. 

CPB is making a $1.1 grant to the Cronkite School to develop and manage the Editorial Integrity and Leadership Initiative. The two-year initiative is yet another major investment by CPB in public media journalism. In October, Spark News reported [link] that CPB has awarded $32 million for 34 public media journalism collaborations in recent years.

The goal of the Editorial Integrity and Leadership Initiative is to provide mid-career training for 100 editors to strengthen their leadership skills while upholding the highest editorial standards.

The Cronkite School will implement the training onsite and online. The initiative will provide each chosen journalist with a customized curriculum that includes editorial integrity, strategic partnerships, multi-platform editing, data reporting, audience-first engagement as well as metrics. Cronkite School faculty and coaches will conduct the training and provide ongoing mentoring.

Participating journalists will spend a week at the Cronkite School in an interactive learning environment. After that, participants work with a personal leadership coach for 100 days, developing your leadership style. Then participants will return to the Cronkite School to reflect on what they have learned.

Now the initiative needs applicants. This should be no problem because the initiative is offering fully paid hotel and travel expenses. The application window opens on November 15, 2018 through January 1, 2019.

Successful applicants for the first round will be notified before February 1, 2019. Complete information is available here.

[Disclosure: Ken Mills was awarded a Master of Mass Communication degree from the Cronkite School in December, 1986.]

KJZZ & KBAQ ARE LOOKING FOR A NEW GENERAL MANAGER


As Phoenix has grown, NPR News/Talk station KJZZ [link] and full-time Classical music station KBAQ [link] have also expanded. 



The station that is now KJZZ signed on in February 1951, as KFCA, a 10-watt “distance learning” facility licensed to what is now the Maricopa County Community College District.  It was the first FM station in Arizona.

In 1971 and 1972, KFCA joined NPR, moved to 91.5 FM, increased its power to 100,000-watts and changed its call letters to KMCR. The call letters changed to KJZZ in 1985.

KBAQ a/k/a K-Bach signed on at full power in 2006 after a lengthy battle for the license by the Community College District and Arizona State University. KBAQ’s license is now owned by the Community College District and is collocated with KJZZ in Tempe.

KJZZ and KBAQ had combined revenue in FY 2017 $12.3 million. Of that amount, KJZZ brought in over $9.8 million and KBAQ brought in around $2.5 million. Listener-sensitive income (underwriting, pledging and major donors), comprised 88% of the revenue.

The search is being handled exclusively by Livingston Associates. Complete information is available here.

KJZZ IS CLOSING IN ON KTAR-FM AS THE TOP RADIO NEWS/TALK STATION IN PHOENIX











In the October Nielsen Audio PPM ratings, NPR News/Talk KJZZ got closer to commercial News/Talk giant KTAR-FM. 

Less than a 1.0 AQH Share separate the two stations. 

KJZZ also has a substantial lead over conservative talker KFYI.












In the noncommercial station ratings for October both KJZZ and KBAQ either gained or held steady.

Phoenix is one of the most competitive Christian pop music markets in the nation with four rated stations. Only Dallas and Houston have more Christian pop music stations competing.

Out-of-town chains own all four stations. KFLR is owned by Family Life Communications, based in Tucson. KLVK, KLVA and KZAI are owned by Educational Media Foundation (EMF).