I was at a picnic recently and was talking to an attorney about my podcast. He asked me how long I’ve had it, and when I told him more than seven years (since late 2009), he called me a “pioneer” because now podcasts are a lot more common and easier to create than they were when I started.
I’m glad that a non-radio person appreciated my efforts, because it seems that when I put my project on my resume, some people don’t seem to care or understand just how difficult it is to produce one and attract listeners.
Luckily, radio people understand what I’m doing and what an achievement it is to get attention even on just a niche level. So this post isn’t really in reaction to the wonderful radio-related people I’ve met over the years. This is more a reaction to the apathy I’ve encountered in other areas.
Actually, what prompted this post was a failed attempt to get a gig with a major company that’s trying to expand in the digital realm. I’m not going to get into the details, but I’m pretty sure the people in charge didn’t understand that when I say I’ve gotten thousands of hits over the years, it means something because I’m doing this alone. I don’t have a company behind me, or a team of marketers, or even a co-creator. Some people who work in larger companies where a podcast or blog or whatever are part of a larger mix don’t understand the struggle of solo work. I’ve even met radio management who shared their podcast numbers, and some of their stats didn’t exceed mine. But this is nothing against them, and it’s not a criticism of media professionals, because I’m pretty sure they understand. This is for the other people–I’m posting this information and my feelings publicly so they know that when I say I’m doing this, it means something and it’s worth something. I don’t like the feeling of being dismissed, and I don’t think anyone does.
A while ago, I wrote a two-part article for The Publicity Hound giving advice for creating a podcast. And as radio people know, I only covered the basics: 1 – equipment and 2 – producing and publishing. Creating a podcast involves a lot of steps, trial-and-error, and acceptance from listeners and even search engines. There was no IT department for me to go to–I had to figure a lot of stuff out on my own, and in the early days there wasn’t a lot of information out there, either (now there is because podcasts are more popular and more people are creating them). Unfortunately, some people in larger companies don’t seem to value the fact that industrious people like me have figured things out, especially on a technical level. They judge us on superficial qualities, such as age (because they assume only a certain generation understands digital since they’re able to press buttons and likes) or a lack of predictable parameters because we have various pursuits that can’t be summed up in a clever elevator speech. (For instance, one of my projects is my blog, which got thousands of hits from more than 100 countries before I spent more time on this podcast. I also ended up getting paid work based on what people read–so thanks to those people, too).
Today’s very popular podcasts are created by people who are already well-known in other media, or they have salacious content, or they have powerful people supporting them and promoting them, or they’ve nailed an important niche. My podcast has done pretty well (by my standards) despite such lack. Here are some examples of my stats which I checked recently. If I were to spend more time combing through the numbers, I would probably have a more precise list. So far:
Bill Leff, who’s on the air at WGN, has gotten around 7,500 hits. Terri Hemmert, who’s on the air at WXRT, has received more than 6,000. Craig Roberts has surpassed 13,000 hits. (He was so happy with the interview, he sent it to several TV executives he does voice-overs for. Maybe they shared it, and so on and so on? Or maybe people landed on it when they were searching for someone else with the same name?) Another guy in LA has gotten almost 7,000 hits, probably because he hadn’t been interviewed before and was busy in the movie business.
The late Kevin Metheny has racked up about 9,000 hits (though the stats came in above 10,000 back then; maybe my host changed their procedure?). What helped in that case was the extra media attention I got from columnist Robert Feder: when Metheny died and when I first interviewed him, which eventually led to exposure on Howard Stern’s show. (As a side note: I met Feder early on in my radio pursuits, and he was super-nice. I’m sure he noticed that I was trying to hold it together as I struggled to not reveal challenges I was facing. In retrospect, I should have let him know because I encountered his support and encouragement since then, so I should have been honest…oh well :/ )
Some podcasts get a few hundred hits, and some a few thousand; from the most recent podcasts, Scott Miller has gotten more than 2,600 so far and Ryan Arnold, who’s on the air at WXRT, has eclipsed 3,700. They are rare because they promoted the interviews on social media. Amazingly, many people don’t–even the people who are very active on social media post nothing. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I’m not as prominent as CNN or the former Big Three? So thanks to Ryan and Scott (he also did a great job tagging people, etc.)!
So the picture I’m painting is this: in spite of me being alone, with not much social media support from my “subjects,” I’ve managed to get numbers in the thousands, not once but several times (various other interviews have exceeded 1,000 or 2,000). Yet people who think they know digital overlook this–why? The media landscape is crowded–whether it’s broadcasting or digital. But I’ve created a niche that people have paid attention to, and even respect. That should be worth something (it’s worth it to me, but I’m saying this for the benefit of the oblivious doubters).
In conclusion (sounds academic but feels right to use that at this moment), I would like to give a huge thanks to the outlet that has consistently mentioned my interviews and supported me from the very beginning: Chicagoland Radio and Media. Unfortunately, he’s taking a brief, indefinite, or lifelong break. I gave it some thought, ran the idea past some people, and finally decided to create a news section on this site: Radiogirl Media News.
Check it out and let me know if you have any news to share. And thanks to everyone for your support! Too bad some people don’t “get it.”