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Wednesday Morning Is For Podcasting At NAB

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This morning, for me anyway, has been all about podcasting. Hang on. Let me rephrase that. The morning was all about trying to figure out the Las Vegas Convention Center, because HOLY SHIT, THIS PLACE IS HUGE AND CONFUSING!

By 10:40 I finally had my bearings enough to make it to a panel about how the most popular podcasters break through. It was moderated by Podcast Movement co-founder Dan Franks and featured some of the biggest names in the true crime podcasting world including Patrick Hinds of True Crime Obsessed, Rebecca Lavoie of Crime Writers On…, and Rabia Chaudry of Serial and Undisclosed.

This group covered every aspect of podcasting and how the people that do it the best…well, do it.

Hinds talked about getting his start in the podcasting world when his favorite Broadway podcast quit posting new episodes. He said that he thought the show and the content was so good that surely someone else would pick up the baton. After months of waiting for that to happen, Patrick Hinds realized he had to be that someone. It is a good lesson. Don’t assume the space you want to be in will be covered. Only you can deliver the content you want exactly the way you want it.

The expertise that Hinds really delivered was in how to grow an audience and create a dedicated listener community. He talked about the importance of learning to market on social media. Not only did that bring True Crime Obsessed a bigger audience, it brought an audience that was invested in the show’s hosts. 

Hinds is a gay man and said that he regularly discusses LGBTQ issues on podcast and its social media pages. He invoked sports radio when he said that because he and his co-host have invested so much time in engaging with their listeners, he has never experienced that “stick to sports” pushback that you might expect.

Rebecca Lavoie said she learned about audience engagement from Howard Stern. She saw so much value in the way Stern would pull back the curtain on what went into creating his show each day. That transparency created her loyalty to Stern as a listener because she felt like he was giving her access to everything.

The other way Lavoie said podcasters should engage with their audience is in analytics. Podcasters can see their direct download data. Using that to see what works and what doesn’t can help shows super serve their core audience.

Rabia Chaudry first came to prominence as the attorney for Adnan Sayed, whose case was at the center of the mega-popular Serial podcast. She said that experience taught her the importance of being aware of what your success can create for others. 

Chaudry told a story about being offered a book deal to tell Sayed’s story. Initially she turned it down, thinking it would be in bad taste. Later a friend convinced her to take the deal saying that the story had become so big that someone was going to write the book. Didn’t she want to make sure it was written by someone that knew the case inside and out?

The session wrapped with a discussion of premium content. All three agreed that in order to be a success with Patreon or a subscription service, you have to make sure that content is truly special. Lavoie said it was important to make sure it changes regularly. She said that there is a “tribalism to premium content subscribers.” If you treat them right, they are the ones that will spread the word about your product.

The second session I attended was all about Marvel’s podcast Wolverine: The Long Night. You are justified in wondering what sports radio can learn from a podcast that exists in the Marvel Comics universe, but the panel was their to discuss taking an already successful brand and using audio to enhance what its possibilities and limits are.

Amy Fitzgibbons of Stitcher moderated a panel that included Jenny Radelet Mast of Stitcher, Director Brendan Baker, and producer Daniel Fink, who is also Marvel’s VP of Business Development. 

The panel began with the trailer from season one of Wolverine: The Long Night. Immediately it is clear how different this podcast is from any other. First of all, it is scripted. Secondly, it transports you to a world. The audio is expertly crafted. You don’t need pictures. You can see it in your head because Wolverine: The Long Night is presented like an HBO series that just happens to be audio only.

Fink says that Marvel is always willing to test storytelling across different mediums. He realizes audio can be a stretch for his company, but podcasts have come so far. S Town and Serial showed him that effective storytelling can be done without pictures.

Radelet Mast was on board the second she saw the word Marvel in her email. Stitcher had experience with fiction podcasts before Marvel came to them. They have an erotica podcast on the way. She doesn’t want to leave anything unexplored when it comes to fiction podcasts.

Brendan Baker has worked in the sound design world for years, particularly with NPR. He knew that adding music and other production could create a theatrical presentation of any type of storytelling. He was most intrigued by trying to create an audio-only fight scene.

What this panel hammered home was the importance of using good audio and using it the right way. Five years ago no one would have imagined that a Wolverine story could be consumed as audio only. The character’s most die hard fans would have at best been willing to give it a chance. To convince them to stay with the show, Marvel had to make sure the experience was nearly flawless in execution.

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Online Sports Betting Not Happening In Maryland In 2022

“Some state regulators had expressed optimism at one point that online sports betting in Maryland would go live by the end of this year or in time for next year’s Super Bowl.”

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Online sports betting in Maryland appears to have no shot of happening this year due mainly to the fact that the state’s oversight committee on sports wagering is hung up on how to bring women and minority-owned businesses into the fold.

The Maryland Sports Wagering Application Review Committee (SWARC) is currently awaiting results of a disparity study by the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency.

Some state regulators had expressed optimism at one point that online sports betting in Maryland would go live by the end of this year or in time for next year’s Super Bowl. But given where SWARC is, the whole process is being held up to the point that it’ll likely be later in 2023 before residents can use their phones to place bets.

It’s been just over a year since Governor Larry Hogan signed legislation that legalized sports betting in the state. Since then, five casinos in the state have opened retail sportsbooks.

The casinos have handled more than $132 million in bets since December. $26.9 million in wagers were placed in April alone.

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Media Reacts To Nick Saban’s Comments On Texas A&M, Jackson State

“Saban’s comments and the ensuing rebuttals will be used to fuel content on sports television and radio through the offseason and likely beyond.”

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Nick Saban had some choice words about recruiting in the NIL era on Wednesday night. The Alabama head coach didn’t just voice frustrations with the process. He called out three schools specifically for using Name, Image and Likeness payments to create an advantage for themselves in recruiting.

He said that Texas A&M, which signed the top-ranked recruiting class in 2022 according to a number of outlets “bought every player on their team.”

He said that Jackson State gave a player $1 million to come to the school. “It was in the paper,” he said. “They bragged about it! Nobody did anything about it.”

It is likely that he was talking about defensive back Travis Hunter, widely regarded as one of the five best players in the class of 2022. It should be noted that Jackson State Coach Deion Sanders has been adamant that Hunter did not receive a dime from the school or anyone else.

The comments created plenty of content on sports radio on Thursday.

Jimbo Fischer, the head coach of Texas A&M took the story to a new level with a press conference of his own in which he cryptically encouraged people to “dig into” Saban’s career history.

The commentary in the sports media came in all kinds of forms. Plenty took to Twitter to express an opinion.

Others used the feud to create comedy.

Finally, others did actual reporting. they made phone calls to get context and further the story.

The coaches may be relatively quiet in public for a while. That doesn’t mean the stories and reactions are going away. Saban’s comments and the ensuing rebuttals will be used to fuel content on sports television and radio through the offseason and likely beyond.

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Bleav Announces Partnership With SiriusXM

“The Bleav podcasts come with some serious star power. Each show features a former player paired with a host to discuss the latest news about their team. In adding Bleav, SiriusXM adds the likes of Eric Davis, Lorenzo Neal, Adam “Pac Man” Jones and others to its roster.”

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A new partnership will see content from the Bleav Podcast Network come under the SiriusXM umbrella. All 32 of the network’s NFL team-specific podcasts will now be available on the SXM app. The satellite radio company will also have the ability to air Bleav content on its sports channels.

“SiriusXM is a leader in content. We’re very happy to be a part of their programming and continue to amplify the voice of our talent,” Bleav CEO Bron Heussenstamm said in a press release. “SiriusXM listeners will be able to regularly hear from athletes that played for their team, bringing fans insight and access that only a player can.”

The Bleav podcasts come with some serious star power. Each show features a former player paired with a host to discuss the latest news about their team. In adding Bleav, SiriusXM adds the likes of Eric Davis, Lorenzo Neal, Adam “Pac Man” Jones and others to its roster.

The deal will also lead to more content in the future. The companies expect to add to the Bleav content available on the SXM App, including shows focused on other professional and college sports. 

“Bleav’s team-focused programming, hosted by many former stars from the league, give fans a unique and experienced perspective into their favorite players and franchises,” said Steve Cohen, SiriusXM’s SVP of Sports Programming and Podcasts.  “Bleav’s network of shows deliver valuable insight for fans of every NFL team.  They are a great addition to the selection of sports podcasts available on the SXM App and we look forward to adding other shows, focused on other sports, from the Bleav network to SiriusXM in the future.” 

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