Questions from a radio broadcast student regarding Internet Radio

. . . because of my interest in BlogTalkRadio I was looking for a book about the subject and found your book, Your Show Will Go Live in 5 Seconds . . . Anyway, I am inspired by your story and how you seem to be living your passions.

The online radio format fascinates me and so I decided to take a college radio broadcasting class ~ which brings me to the main reason I am contacting you.  Our teacher has assigned us the task of interviewing someone in radio land and I thought you might be able to help me out by answering a few questions.

The above is an excerpt from an e-mail I received last week and I must admit that whenever I read notes such as these they remind me of one of the main reasons why I love to write.  After all, the true passion of any writer beyond the subject matter upon which his or her text is based, is that somewhere out there in the world the words will resonate with meaning and in the process provide a valuable service by informing and empowering the reader.

It is even more exciting when you have an opportunity to actually exchange e-mails with someone who has read either your book or articles and whose questions, which  in this instance relate to the writer’s college broadcasting course, are thoughtful and interesting.  In fact the questions were so good that I felt that those of you who are interested in the future direction of social media, and in particular Blog Talk Radio, will also enjoy this shared dialogue.

So here are the questions and my responses.  As always, your comments and questions will also be received with equal enthusiasm:

1. What do you think Internet talk radio will be like in 5 years?

Great question.  In August 2009 I wrote a series of articles including one titled “The American Football League, American Basketball Association and Blog Talk Radio?”  Taking into account the fact that traditional mediums such as radio, television and print are seeing significant drops in readership and advertising revenues (in 2009 media expert J. William Grimes predicted the demise of the daily newspaper within 5 years for this reason citing venerable franchises like the Washington Post and New York Times are losing significant amounts of money), it would be reasonable to assume that while some of the core elements of traditional media will remain, it will likely be within the context of a merger with the new media similar to when the at the time new American Football League merged with the old and established National Football League.

What this means is that the critical elements of journalistic integrity and research associated with writing a story as reflected in my coverage of the Serial Suicide Killer’s case (A Quest For Justice – A PI Window Exclusive (Weekly Series)) is likely going to merge within the framework of the new or social mediums of the Internet such as blogs, Internet Radio and TV.  In essence their will be a vetting process from which there will be what will be considered the mainstream professional media, as well as the socialized media in which people exchange the kind of subjective and community focused news along the lines of local happenings and yes, even what I had for lunch kinds of exchanges.

2. Do you see Internet radio taking away market share from air waves/commercial radio?

This has to a certain degree already happened because Internet Radio is convenient and accessible to both hosts and listeners.  Factors such as the availability of on-demand broadcasts is a huge advantage as reflected in the fact that Internet Radio usually has a higher on-demand listener base that for the live broadcasts.  Or as I like to say instead of adapting your day to our schedule, we adapt our schedule to your day.  The fact that on-demand broadcasts also create a perpetuity in terms of on-going listens to a particular show means that advertisers or sponsors also have an elongated period of impact beyond the initial broadcast.

3. Were you a fan of talk radio before starting your show?

Generally speaking, I have always had an interest, perhaps even a passion for energetically informed discussions or debates so the answer would be yes.  However, I find that being a host of a talk radio show is even more fascinating as you have the opportunity to focus on a broad range of subject material.

4. You indicated in your book that you were a successful speaker before BTR but did you have any radio experience at all? Any desires to be on radio before BTR or was the BTR show more about social networking rather than radio?

To start, I have had the privilege of addressing audiences of all sizes from 10 in a small seminar to delivering a keynote to 400 people.  So I do love speaking in public.  That being said and as I had indicated in the book, the only hosting experience I had ever had before the inaugural PI Window broadcast on March 26th, 2009, was the occasional dinner party.  So no, there certainly wasn’t a previous experience to which I can refer.  However, I have been on many occasions interviewed on both radio and television and did enjoy the experiences, so while there was a tangible absence of desire to host a radio show, looking back in hindsight it now seems like a logical progression.  In terms of social networking versus radio relative to being the impetus behind my taking to the virtual airwaves, my fond memories of the old radio days with the crackling tubes and electric fire smells as my father fired up the unit so that we could listen to a hockey game on a Saturday night was the initial attraction that led to my thinking that Internet Radio would be an ideal way to bring the articles in my blog to life.  So I guess the answer would be a little bit of both, because had I not related to radio with the same degree of reminiscent interest,I probably would not have pursued the medium as a social media vehicle.

5. What were your goals and objectives when you started your BTR show? Are they the same today? (Besides a great audience experience, which I know you are always striving to do – I am wondering more if you were looking to promote your website, generate a certain amount of revenue from advertising, use the show as a way of providing other products to your listeners etc.)?

You know I have been asked this question many times within the context of where we are today (re 10 plus blogs, 2 Internet Radio Shows and a new Internet TV Channel), and my answer has always been the same . . . I did not plan for it to go this way.  It in fact took on a life of its own.

When I published my first blog in May 2007 (Procurement Insights), I did so more as a convenience than being part of a overall social media strategy.  Basically, I was at the time writing for a number of traditional and electronic publications, all with different editors and deadlines.  Managing this diverse schedule became challenging and it was suggested that by starting a blog I could post 2 to 4 articles a week and along the lines of a article buffet, editors could then access what I had written that week and decide what articles would suit their readership’s interests.  It was a simple as that.  The Blog Talk radio Show was simply an extension of the original concept behind the creation of the blog in that I could then make the subject matter of the articles available to a much broader audience.

Within a few months of the show’s launch, and based on the caliber of the programs and audience response, BTR made me a featured host across the network, which opened the door to the creation of the PI Window on Business  Blog and with it the expansion of our Sponsorship Program that was a vehicle for funding the publication of the Procurement Insights Blog.  The rest as they say is history, in that the PI Window on Business Blog saw its unique reads/visits increase from a humble 217 in the month of June 2009 when it was launched to more than 35,000 unique reads/visits for the single month of August 2010.

Needless to say, the growing popularity of the blogs and show created additional avenues of revenue beyond blog sponsorship to include Internet Radio and TV advertising, blog creation and content management services etc.  In fact, here is the link to an overview of the two distinct service models we provide to our clients in the About Us section of our central blog.

With a growing audience reach, the sky is of course the limit as to where we will go from here.

6. I noticed that your subject matter has seemed to evolve over the last couple of years from business/procurement issues to more social event type issues. Was this something you intended? If not, what caused the shift? Were you adapting to the market or to your own passions?

Another great question.  The evolution came about largely driven by a combination of my insatiable interest in everything and, my passion for delivering useful, informative and entertaining content to the listening audience.  As I began to realize the enormous power to reach out and connect with people through the emerging social mediums it seemed limiting to focus on just one area or topic.  Think of it in the context of an audience echo in that if you create quality content that is delivered over the virtual airwaves in a passionate and engaging manner, you wait to hear the echo that comes back in the form of audience interest re do they respond to a particular topic through which you can building a core base of listeners who then tune in because they like you and the show versus just because of the subject about which you happen to be talking about that particular segment or episode.  I call this scalable retention.

What’s interesting however, is that I do not produce and air shows based on trying to guess what will or will not attract an audience.  That is a losing proposition as you are then chasing an audience versus attracting them  Or to put it another way, the shows I do air are shows that I would do regardless of whether there is 1 listener or 1 million listeners.  I think this is why the audience base has grown the way it has because it is an integrity of purpose versus mere3ly chasing the equivalent of “Likes” within a social network.

Conversely, the audience appreciates this being true to thyself as the shows are real versus being contrived in the same manner that people try to use Search Engine Optimization to drive traffic.  In short, the audience can spot authenticity of interest versus an unctuous ploy to gain their attention.

7. What made you decide to start the 49th Parallel Forum?

There were a number of reasons including the fact that I quite frankly enjoy sharing the virtual airwaves with Jim Bouchard and Alex Armstrong.  There are of course other reasons including such as the open, spontaneous forum in which the shows take on a life of their own versus the coordinated focus of the programs on the PI Window on Business.  Think of it this way . . . the PI Window on Business is an organized game of football in which there is a set framework relative to how the events on the field are covered.  While the game itself can be full of unexpected surprises – as have many of the PI Window on Business Shows, you know that it will be within a certain and consisted context.

The 49th Parallel Forum would be the equivalent of a pick-up game of football in which the only consistency is the contentiousness of the subject matter being covered during the 60 minute broadcast.  Do not get me wrong, the show truly does provide an intelligent, well researched understanding of the topic that is being debated but, you have absolutely no idea as to what defined format it will follow.  Nor do can you anticipate the spillover effect relative to other mediums.  For example, on the last segment we had the Founder of the 911 Hard Hat Pledge movement protesting the building of the Ground Zero Mosque.  The contentiousness of the debate during the broadcast spilled over into a Facerbook comment stream that had more than 120 comments within a 12 hour period.  It truly is a forum reflective of the spirit of the old Gladiator coliseums of Rome.

8. Your ability to have such quality shows while managing other projects, like your blog and speaking – I wonder, how much time per week do you spend working on one of your radio shows? How much help do you have?

I know that this may sound like a shameless plug for my book but, your question is the basis for my writing Your Show Will Go Live In 5 Seconds in the first place.  Specifically, in the time it took me to produce a single 30 minute segment which aired once per week when I originally launched the show in March 2009, I can now produce and air 3 to 5 shows.  There are many reasons for this including the benefit of understanding the BTR platform and beyond the technical aspects of airing a show, understanding how to reach an audience through what I refer to as the cross pollination effect associated with effectively leveraging the various social mediums such as blogs and social networks like LinkedIn, Ecademy and Facebook to create audience interest.  This is a key point by the way in that stimulating audience interest is an important part of the show production process.  It is not a separate function.  This is one of the reasons why I talk extensively about both pre and post show promotion in the book.

In terms of establishing a tangible time commitment, in a 40 hour week I write for 10 blogs, produce or participate in the production of twp radio shows and now a Internet TV channel (The PI Inquisitive Eye).

As for help, and with the exception of the 409th Parallel Forum, it is a me, myself and I situation.

9. Are there any pointers that you wished you had put in your book that you could share with me?

Actually no, as the book was written as a first in what will become a social media development series.  For example my second book (The Unsociable Business About Social Networking) while focusing on the So Act social network, presents critical principles such as the aforementioned cross pollination effect that compliments the subject matter of the first book.  In essence, the second book looks at social media from a social networking perspective.  The next book in the series will focus on creating and broadcasting an Internet television show.

10. If you were speaking to freshman college students about Internet radio as a format, what would you share? (Needless to say, most of the other students in my class are young enough to be my kids! I love them, though, and want to share any insight you might have with them as they are starting out. Many of them are more interested in being music DJs, but a couple are interested in talk radio and sports announcing. I am wondering if there is a place for them on BTR and how that might look. I would love to encourage them to give it a try!)

There are to be certain various differences and market changes that inevitably take place when a new medium appears on the scene. For example, when radio became a ubiquitous part of the American home, many record companies forbade their stars from performing on the radio because they felt that it would negatively impact record sales.  Eventually, the radio came to be viewed as an important part of a sound marketing strategy in the record industry.

At the end of the day the technology or broadcast platforms are always going to be in a state of evolution . . . remember the transition from radio to television?  The key lesson or insight to take away from the emergence of social media is to realize that the quality of content is and will continue to be the consistent element for success.  Sorry Marshall McLuhan, while the medium is important, over time it is not necessarily the message.

11. Finally, if you were interviewing yourself, what questions would you ask that I have neglected to ask?

Besides what I had for lunch . . . I would be hard pressed to add anything in the way of questions to what you have already asked me.

Remember to tune in to the PI Window on Business on the Blog Talk Radio Network throughout the week at either 12:30 PM EDT or 9:00 PM EDT.


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