What Podcasters Can Learn From Great Radio

Stuart Morgan

June 15, 2023

I was invited to speak at the Podnews Live event in Manchester, and it was a great opportunity to show and tell some of the work we’ve been doing at Audio Always. It was also an opportunity to spend some time reflecting on how radio has influenced our podcast production and marketing in the business.

It’s true what they say about looking to history to shape the future, and the world of audio is no different. How audio reaches us and the way we listen may have evolved, but there are many tried-and-tested radio techniques that podcasters can use to keep listeners coming back for more.

Here are just some of the ways that we’re taking inspiration from traditional forms of audio media as we deliver new, digital formats.

Character Definitions

The greatest radio shows are built on strong characters. Whether they’re funny, clever or controversial, the very best on-air content is rooted in easy-to-understand personalities.I am in awe of how radio groups continue to build breakfast shows with characters that differ across the group, and the way that production teams shape content by knowing people’s likely responses to stories or situations. I am also often surprised by how easy it is to get this wrong!

Doing the same on our podcasts is a key part of making sure listeners are able to easily connect with talent. They may love them, or hate them, but having clear character definitions is essential to building lasting bonds. We also took inspiration from Australian radio when we invested in our Visual Podcast Studios in Salford and London. The simple technique of putting presenter names on ‘mic muffs’ has meant that those watching the content on social platforms can easily identify the personalities they love.

Creatures of Habit

Radio listening is built around how we structure our lives. Knowing when you can expect a podcast to be released is key to repeat listening, and across all our formats we don’t shy away from reminding listeners when and where they can listen or watch.

We’re also building habit-forming features into our formats, as this is another way to help podcast listeners know what they’re going to get every time they press play. From Jordan’s Joke Of The Week on Help I Sexted My Boss to Ashley and Lauren’s weekly icks on Nip Tuck, recurring content is at the heart of our content.

Playing Along and Winning

Guessing the mystery voice on my local radio shaped every weekday breakfast for me growing up. Mum and I usually got it wrong, but had fun trying. I’ll never forget the morning she rang in and was the ‘lucky caller’. Of course, the competition wasn’t just about winning, it was a tool for production teams to create joy and jeopardy for all the listeners, and it transfers perfectly to podcasting.

We’ve launched a competition on Help I Sexted My Boss. The mechanic is simple and straight out of radio’s playbook – listen to the episodes, hear the tannoy then go online for a chance to win a holiday to Benidorm. It’s a way to create excitement with the audience, fuels engagement and also helps build all important listening habits. Benidorm is also a highly divisive destination for the hosts, which is perfect for character definition.

One of The Gang

There’s no greater feeling than knowing you’re included, and radio does an amazing job of building emotional connection with listeners. I remember listening to the brilliant Chris Needs in his Friendly Garden on the BBC Radio Wales late show. Chris gave his callers their own lifetime number, creating a feeling of being part of his wonderful club.

We mirror this format across our network of podcasts. From giving the audience nicknames to making sure we reply to every bit of direct social interaction, it’s important for us that we elevate them from being listeners to part of audio friendship circle.

Growth and change in the audio industry is both essential and exciting, and it’s great that lessons learned from radio are shaping the future of podcasts. At Audio Always we embrace that, taking all the good that’s gone before while championing new ideas and innovations both in-house and from the international arena.

PS, Mum’s guess on the mystery guess competition was right! What a time to be alive!