Monday, June 23, 2008

WJMA and the RSS Morning Shows, Part 2

Friday I shared some thoughts on Jerry Del Colliano's idea of a station serving niche audiences with RSS morning shows (or podcasts, if you will). Over the weekend I spent some more time thinking about the idea, and how the average station with limited resources could produce such programming.

The great thing about podcasts is that they can be anything you want them to be. And because they're not live, a podcast morning show has many more options than a live show. For example:

Topical programming -- just because its canned doesn't mean it has to be stale. A local issues/news podcast could work very well. Just produce it in the afternoon working off of the morning news. Listeners could call or text with their comments (calls going to a dedicated voice mail box). Mix commentary with call playbacks, and/or text commentary. Naturally, all the text messages would be shown on the show's website page.

Music programming -- there's more to indie music than shoe-gazers and sullen post-punkers. There artists making great music in all genres from jazz, folk, country and bluegrass to rap, heavy metal and electronica -- and everything inbetween. Pick the genre you want the music morning show to be in, and go to it. Many indie artists make their music readily available for podcasts. And all of the earmarks of a music show -- artist interviews, listener requests, battle of of the bands, even in-studio performances -- could all be part of the mix.

Themed programming -- just mix the appropriate elements from all of the above. If, for example, a station decided to produce a local morning show for females 25-34, then it could be a mix of news, features and music all of interest to that audience. Work with a local hospital to provide an expert for women's health issues, for example, answering text and voice mail questions. Feature the music of Alice Peacock, Gum, and other appropriate indie artists (with interviews, etc.). Talk with organizers of the Breast Cancer Walk and highlight other local events and issues that would be of interest to that audience.

And remember -- it's not live. The expert for the women's health segement could come in once a week (or perhaps every other week) and record all of her segments in one sitting. The same is true for interview subjects. Have a day scheduled for back-to-back interviews. And take those finished interviews and spread them over a couple of shows (if appropriate).

Most indie bands do their own recording, so if you can't get them on the phone, send them an MP3 of your questions, and let them record their answers. Then mix it down for a seamless interview.

And here's another advantage of this kind of format -- segments can be stretched. Here's an example from the Chris Moyle's Show podcast from BBC Radio 1. Now this is a weekly "best of" podcast, but the concept still applies.

The Moyle's Show team brought a male massusse into the studio to work on Chris' back. Live, this would have been just one long segment. But in the podcast, it's broken up into smaller chunks, which do two things. It maintains interest with its brevity, and because the segement ends unresolved, it compells the listener to keep going to hear the next part.

In the excerpt, we hear part 1 of the massage, followed by something different, then we get part 2. And two other members of the Moyles team get massages as well, interspersed with other bits from the show.

This is a golden opportunity for stations to unlease their creative talent. And if they already haven't fired them all, now would be a good time to start.

- Ralph

Day 12 of the WJMA Web Watch.

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