Love local radio? Podcasts can be local too

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By Consultant Trent Swindells 

I love podcasts. In the car, walking the dog, doing the housework – it’s all good podcast time.  I worked in commercial radio for around 20 years and there are many, many, many things I don’t miss about it, but I still love radio and this is why I love podcasts.

When digital technology started changing radio in the ‘90s, a lot of people predicted it would kill radio. And initially it looked dicey, as more content was simulcast from capital cities in different states and regional newsrooms began to close (I distinctly remember listening to a ‘Tasmanian’ news service based on the Gold Coast, diligently reporting only the NRL scores). After all, in a world where you can stream the best broadcasters from anywhere, at any time, on any device, why waste your time listening to a local radio station?

The answer, of course, is because it’s local. Amid all the noise of modern media, high quality local content always cuts through. This is why ABC Local Radio has consistently won radio surveys for decades. It’s also why Tasmanian Broadcasters has just launched Tasmania Talks with Brian Carlton, broadcasting solely to Tasmania’s north (for the moment).

So where do podcasts fit in? If you don’t already know, a podcast is one or usually a series of digital audio or video files, downloadable for portable media players and computers. Podcasts emerged in the early 2000s and their audience has only gotten bigger each year. Some of the most notable podcasts include:

  • Rickey Gervais’s timeless podcast series which is literally some of the funniest stuff you’ll ever hear
  • the science show RadioLab, offering some of the most well-produced storytelling you’ll ever hear
  • Hamish and Andy’s podcast of their drive time radio show, a perennial favourite for many.

Podcasts really hit the zeitgeist in 2014 with NPR’s riveting true crime Serial, which has had over 100 million downloads. And you know something is happening with podcasting when President Obama sat down for a long-form interview on Mark Maron’s comedy podcast, WTF a few months back.

Podcasts are a communication channel you cannot ignore. It’s portable, shareable, on demand and creator controlled. It’s a chance to speak uninterrupted to an audience and while you probably won’t get 100 million downloads on your first try, with a little work you can find a local, national or international audience.

Some locals have already figures this out. In fact, former Premier, David Bartlett was a ahead of the curve by releasing his own podcast on behalf of the Tasmanian Government back in the early 2000s, before most Tasmanians even knew what a podcast was! The Advocate has been offering a daily 90-second news summary on video, tailored for portable devices and social media. And ABC Hobart produces a vast amount of podcast content, both nationally and locally (I can occasionally be heard on episodes of Nerdzilla, but only when they’re desperate).

Tasmania’s community radio stations, like City Park Radio and Edge Radio, also offer opportunities for people to create their own programs, from which they can edit together a podcast. There is also a local wine-making podcast, hosted by ‘Vineyard Paul’ which will hopefully be returning to a regular schedule soon.

It is so incredibly cheap and easy to buy a few decent microphones, rig up some sound proofing and download some audio editing software, like Audacity. Make sure your sound quality is good and commit to providing interesting content on a regular basis, and your audience will find you amid all the noise.


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