This week’s biggest podcasting news is that WFMU has found a suitable personality to take over The Best Show’s soon-to-be-vacant timeslot, but there’s more for the podcast enthusiast and producer alike.
Scharpling Passes the Best Torch to Hill
It’s a changing of the guard at New Jersey’s freeform WFMU. Last month Best Show host Tom Scharpling announced he is ending his popular community radio show and podcast on December 17. Current reports that comedian Dave Hill will take over Scharpling’s Tuesday 9 PM to midnight slot with a yet-unnamed program. Hill hosts his own podcast, the Dave Hill Podcasting Incident, as has appeared on public radio’s Wits and This American Life.
By all accounts the transition is amicable, with Scharpling telling Current, “I’ll support him however I can. My goal is to finish up these shows and take a break.”
Like Scharpling, and all other WFMU air staff, Hill will be a volunteer at the community station. So, the concerns I raised upon hearing of Scharpling’s departure are still valid: how do we sustain independent media along with the independent media makers, who often work for free?
This is as true for podcasting as it is for community radio as it is for blogging and independent journalism. These questions are not just for the stations, the podcasters and the bloggers. It’s a question for listeners, viewers and readers–the people who are informed and entertained by this labor. How do we better support the work we enjoy?
Radio Consultant’s Advice for Podcasters
Headlines like “Whatever happened to podcasting?” get awfully stale after reading ones just like it for the last six months (um, podcasting has been here all along). Still, radio consultant Mark Ramsey’s piece still offers some useful advice and observations for the medium. Importantly, he observes that the “metrics are few and far between.” Sure a producer knows about the number of downloads and referrals, but little is known about what happens after that download. Who listens, and for how long? Ramsey rightly points out that this is the kind of data a sponsor, in particular, wants to see.
He also faults podcasters for hewing too closely to the established models set by broadcast radio, and for going on too long. “While motivated fans will tune in their podcast content no matter how long it is,” Ramsey argues, “skimming a podcast is really difficult, and the longer it is, the harder it is to skim. And ‘hard’ translates to ‘work’ — something consumers like to avoid when it comes to their audio entertainment and information resources.”
Stitcher To Host 2nd Annual Awards
Podcasting app and platform Stitcher has announced that it will hold its 2nd Stitcher Awards this coming January. Podcaster and comedian Marc Maron hosted the first Stitcher Awards in December, 2012, where pure-play, non-broadcast podcasts took home 14 out of 20 awards, as voted on by 160,000 Stitcher users. Stitcher promises that the nominations for the 2nd annual awards will open in the next few weeks.
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