Podcast or Radio?

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Author: Matt Roberts, Community Production Manager

There are more than 700,000 active podcasts according  to a great article and info-graphic at Musicoomph.com. That means a lot of people are making and listening to podcasts. You can check out that post here , and delve into the source reports if you want some deeeep insight into who these people are, including if they are buying fruit juice.

Even though it seems like everyone is making or listening to podcasts and almost everyone has at least heard a radio show, when I talk to people about creating audio content a surprising number don’t really know the difference between the two formats. I understand the confusion; at a glance the two things look very similar and often radio shows are also podcasts.

The difference is mostly about the way the content gets to the audience, or distribution. This is a big subject with a lot of evolving parts. Internet technology and social media continue to change not only the cost and methods of information distribution, but also the way that information providers can interact with audiences.
I am going to try to simplify our topic today and talk specifically about the differences and similarities between AOC’s two audio distribution services, the AOC Podcast Network and Cypress Street Radio. Both of these are delivered only online (no expensive radio wave transmission), so the differences are mainly in the format of the content and the way it is delivered to the listener.

What kind of content can I put on….

The AOC Podcast Network

  • Audio. It has to be audio, but the content is your call.

  • It has to be pre-recorded and uploaded as an mp3 file.

  • Length of the episode can be anywhere from 1 minute to 2 hours. Technically there is no limit to episode length, just file size, 100mb.

Cypress Street Radio

  • Same as podcast. Audio, your ideas.

  • One difference is that in addition to submitting a pre-recorded show, there is also an option to go live. The audience can listen and potentially give feedback via phone or messaging at the same time you are making the show.

  • Because radio is scheduled playback, it will be easier to find a spot for your program if its length fits within a half hour or hour time slot. Between 26 and 28 minutes for a half hour time slot and 56 and 58 for an hour time slot.  

How does the audience listen to ….

The AOC Podcast Network

  • The listener must have access to the internet.

  • The shortest answer is that the audience downloads the show as an mp3 and plays it back at their convenience. A very easy way to listen to podcasts on the AOC Podcast Network is to go to aocinc.org/podcastnetwork . Listeners can listen to episodes in their browser or download them to listen to later.

  • The real advantage (and maybe source of confusion) is the subscription model using RSS feeds and an aggregation app or podcatcher. I’ll expand on that process in a future post, but basically, listeners can use an app to automatically download new episodes to a device like a phone or computer, having new episodes delivered to their device to enjoy according to their own schedule.

Apple Podcast (formerly part of iTunes), on iPhone devices, is one of the most popular examples of an aggregation app. However, there are many apps and services available for finding and listening to podcasts.

If you have one of these apps, you can search for “The AOC Podcast” in the podcast app you use on your device. When you find it, you should see an option to “Subscribe.”  If you click that button, you will automatically have new episodes delivered to your device for you to listen to when you want to do so.

Cypress Street Radio

  • The listener must have access to the internet.

  • The audience needs to know how to find the online stream as they would a website. The easiest way to find Cypress Street Radio is by going to aocinc.org/csradio on any web browser, mobile or otherwise.

  • This is not a terrestrial or satellite radio station and so is not available via those tuners, but you can plug your mobile device into an aux cable to listen in the car!

  • The audience needs to know when the show will air. They will have to “Tune in” on a date and time that the show is scheduled to be broadcast, or played out to the audience. This is called appointment media.

So, which should I choose?

The very short answer to “Podcast or Radio?” is “Why not both?” The same audio content can easily be distributed both ways.

If your idea is to create a podcast, why not put it into rotation on the radio station? Someone could accidentally come across your podcast because they were checking out other content in rotation.

If your idea is to have a radio show, why not distribute it as a podcast as well so that your episodes are archived online and you can reach those who couldn’t listen at the time it was live on the radio station.

If you are already making a TV show, could the audio be a podcast/radio show? Is that another blog topic for another day?!

In the meantime, If you are already an AOC member and you want to make a radio show or a podcast or both, click the button below to start the process.

We will send you login credentials and instructions for setting up your show and submitting episodes.

Or you can email me mroberts@aocinc.org to ask questions or schedule a brainstorming session to talk your idea out.