Monday, May 11, 2009

WJMA's News Podcasts - Baby Steps

WJMA's news podcasts are improving -- but have they improved enough to stop the podwatch?

Well, let's see. They've added an intro to the news podcast, which helps immensely. Not only does it help identify who's talking, and from where, but it also helps with branding. Because of that intro, played five times weekly for subscribers simply reinforces that information -- which makes their news director (and the station) more valuable.

That's the plus.

But what about the rest of it. You expect a radio station to understand how audio works, but as both Mark Ramsey and Jerry Del Colliano have pointed out, a podcast isn't just recycled audio. It's a different media, which has different requirements (and different ways to be used effectively).

The WJMA podcasts still have minimal metadata. No email address; no URL; not even a graphic. All of which still shows a basic lack of understanding of how the podcast medium works -- and that could be a real problem.

Thought experiment: imagine someone with an extensive theater background who, for professional reason, has branched out into video. You view their video -- it's a stage play filmed with a single stationary camera from the center of the auditorium with no cuts. Obviously, that person's still thinking of storytelling in terms of stagecraft, which doesn't have a one-to-one correspondence to video.

Now imagine that same person positioned themselves as a professional videographer and wants to shoot your business' commercial. If they were a family friend, you might give them a chance. But if you didn't know them, you'd probably want to see their work first -- and them what would your decision be?

Piedmont Communications has received clearance to expand further into the Metro Washington market (DCRTV 4/27). And they've positioned themselves as experts in new media. So what do you think will happen when businesses in this highly competitive market start comparing WJMA's claims against their reality?

Sorry, but I'm going to be just as demanding as those potential new customers. The watch goes on.

 - Ralph

Day 37 of the WJMA Podwatch.

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