Why audio? Why now? Two professionals’ takes.

Chris Sutcliffe from the Media Briefing

Chris is a cohost of The Media Briefing Podcast

He interviews media professionals about their career and mines them for advice.

He talked about his podcast and why podcasts are a increasingly popular platform.

Recent increases in listenership, FKA “The Serial Effect”

A recent guest on The Media Briefing podcasts argued that 2014/2015 represented a small boom in the podcasts thanks to the popularity of the true crime podcast Serial.

Sutcliffe thinks the boom is in large part thanks to Serial but that it was just that: a boom. According to Sutcliffe, the overall trend of increase has been stable for the last ten years or so.

A relic of the ca. 2014 Serial fanaticism

One theory why podcasts are popular: the intimacy

Sutcliffe and his colleagues started The Media Briefing Podcast because they felt it could breach a separation between them and their readers.

Having headphones in for podcasts versus radio where it’s out loud — this means podcasts have a particularly one-on-one dynamic.

Podcasts will take over for radio

With connected cars (internet enabled cars) podcasts will available in all dashboards.

According to Sutcliffe, there is a logical continuum: radio audiences traditionally peaked at breakfasts and “drive time.” So it scans (radio pun) that podcasts will have the most listens on commutes.

This trend is so prevalent that Slate Media tailors the length of some of their podcasts for commute times.

Siri/Alexa type function of connected cars will make searchability easier for podcasts. You won’t have to type into your phone.

Interesting things happening now: Genres > Christian podcasts are the most popular on iTunes.

And now there is a recognition that podcast is a part of the media mix even though right now the audience is relatively small.

Launching The Media Briefing Podcast

Four reasons it was easy

  1. The Media Briefing didn’t do the podcast for a while, even though they wanted to because they thought it would be too hard. But they found once they started doing podcasts that it was quite simple and economical.
  2. There are plenty of creative workarounds for cheap audio quality improvement. One example: record under the covers of your bed
  3. They have a lot of good word-of-mouth: the guests become a promotional force. With one guest they had a doubling of listeners. Word-of-mouth and the harnessing of influential guests’ media presences are frequently used ways to get the word out about podcasts.
  4. Narrative fiction and heavily researched nonfiction podcasts take a really long time to produce as opposed to a roundtable discussion that took only about the recording time to produce.

And two reasons it was hard

  1. They are trying to have a diverse (read: representative of women and black and brown people) line-up of guests.
  2. Their audience numbers have been difficult to quantify because iTunes doesn’t provide analytics immediately. So they use SoundCloud premium to learn about their listeners.

So what do they talk about?

The content of their podcast is mostly interviews with CTOs and CEOs in the media industry — just like their articles on their site–but the interviews can be more in depth

The staff chooses people for the podcast who can talk about a subject they might not have spoken or written about much on other media.

Podcasts Sutcliffe is listening to:

ReCode Media with Peter Kafka

A16Z podcast by Andreessen Horowitz(venture capitalists who invest in the media)

Like many podcast listeners, Chris likes true crime stories.

One true crime podcast he is listening to now: Case File

Brands that are targeted at millennials like advertising on podcasts

How does advertising work with podcasts?

There are big advertisers that have been advertising on a lot of podcasts such as: Casper Mattresses, SquareSpace, LootCrate.

There are typically three spots in a podcast where ads occur.

Two reasons podcasts are ideal for advertisers

  1. Podcasting is immune to adblock and ignoring adds — unless you press the button to fast-forward.
  2. The very direct engagement with the audience — podcast listeners are attentive and loyal (This is also why there’s been growth in branded podcasts)

And two alternative ways to monetize podcasts

  1. A membership program — Slate media does it this way
  2. Crowdfunding and donations — make it easy for independent podcasters to get some revenue

You can (and should) follow Chris Sutcliffe

His Twitter

His LinkedIn

Kira Hoffelmeyer, UO Alum

And associate producer for talk radio at KSL in Salt Lake City

Two of the stories she reported for KLCC in Eugene:

Invasive worm species story

Eco-friendly winemakers story

Three reasons the winemaker piece is great

  1. It opens with a description that utilizes sensory detail to activate five sense with audio.
  2. The story has five different voices. Hoffelmeyer did a lot of interviews to make the story so in-depth.
  3. Great nat (aka natural) sound: Echoing in the wine cellar, finding a bee hive at the winery to give a sense of the rural location.

Putting together the story:

First she made phone calls and did preliminary interviews.

She was wise to do a pre-interview with a source from Argentina to assess if his accented English would work in the piece.

She had to actually pitch the story AND the nat sound and the interviews when she pitched to the news director at KLCC.

She put together the story over three weeks.

Story ideas are everywhere: this one came from Hoffelmeyer’s mother’s love of wine.

Her path to a job at at radio station:

In the Summer of 2015 she interned at KSL in Salt Lake City.

Then, in Eugene, she worked at the Emerald as their engagement editor.

Then she took this Audio Storytelling Class with Professor Radcliffe.

She was chosen to be a Snowden Intern at KLCC.

And when she graduated she started working at a news talk radio show at KSL, her current gig.

Four things she wished she knew when she was a student:

  1. Any advice that anyone gives you that gets you doing something means that advice works.
  2. Peruse the perimeter: don’t be stuck in the moment of what you are hearing: pay attention to more than the sound, always be paying attention.
  3. Listen through your microphone to get a better idea of the soundscape.
  4. Be confident and share your skills.

Podcasts Kira is listening to:

“How to be amazing”


“Hidden Brain”

You can (and should) follow Kira Hoffelmeyer

Her twitter

Her website