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Wednesday Morning Is For Podcasting At NAB

Demetri Ravanos

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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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Dan Le Batard Breaks the News – NBC Has Contacted John Tesh About ‘Roundball Rock’

“We are actually talking right now about licensing it to them for the Olympics in Paris, which is always great.”

Barrett Sports Media

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Screengrab of John Tesh being interviewed by The Dan Le Batard Show
Screengrab: The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz

While everyone waits with bated breath for an announcement on the NBA media rights partnerships after next season, The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz dug in on what has become an important topic amongst basketball fans. If NBC does in fact get its partnership back with the NBA, fans want to know if they plan to re-license the ‘Roundball Rock’ theme song they used for The NBA on NBC from 1990-2002.

Dan Le Batard welcomed the score’s composer, former CBS and NBS sportscaster John Tesh to the show and he confirmed he has spoken to NBC recently.

“Has NBC reached out to you about reviving ‘Roundball Rock’?” asked Le Batard.

“They have actually,” said Tesh. “Nothing firm, but they said, ‘Hey, can you stay frosty on this? … we’d love to talk to you about it.’ We are actually talking right now about licensing it to them for the Olympics in Paris, which is always great.”

Even bigger news came next when Test told the show, “We are actually going in at the end of June, we’re heading to Nashville, we have a full orchestra on hold and we’re going to re-record it. The recording, I think, still sounds great, but I wanted to make a few changes, maybe open up the middle.”

The show played the famous Saturday Night Live skit where Jason Sudeikis and Tim Robinson played the song for show host Vince Vaughn along with Kenan Thompson and Kate McKinnon.

As the guest appearance wrapped, Le Batard said, “…NBC is going to fix all the badwill it creates by ending Charles Barkley’s studio show but replacing it with the glorious remake of [‘Roundball Rock’]”

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Foul Territory Adds Two New Shows to Its Network

“We’re extremely excited to join Foul Territory’s fast-growing network.”

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Foul Territory Logo
Courtesy: Make Plays Media

Make Plays Media has announced that it is adding two new shows within its expanding Foul Territory Network, providing fans with more localized coverage pertaining to their favorite Major League Baseball teams. In addition to Dodgers Territory, which launched earlier in the regular season, the platform will introduce North Side Territory and Hammer Territory. The Foul Territory program debuted last March and features its signature program hosted by Scott Braun with a roster of former players who convey their perspectives of the game. These personalities include A.J. Pierzynski, Erik Kratz, Todd Frazier and Adam Jones among others. Moreover, MLB insider Ken Rosenthal frequently contributes to the show, which also contains guest appearances from active major-league players.

The North Side Territory program will focus on the Chicago Cubs and will be hosted by Patrick Mooney and Sahadev Sharma, both of whom cover the team for The Athletic. The debut episode of the program has been released, beginning its cycle of releasing shows three times per week during the season.

“We’re extremely excited to join Foul Territory’s fast-growing network,” Mooney said in a statement. “We’ve enjoyed appearing on the main show and thought this platform would be great for a Chicago-centric, Cubs podcast. We appreciate the way that the Foul Territory crew covers the game with authenticity and authority, giving fans the type of information and perspective they want. With their help, we plan to do the same thing with North Side Territory, and amplify our work at The Athletic.”

“I’m so excited to serve passionate Cubs fans and get back to podcasting with my partner on the Cubs beat at The Athletic,” Sharma said in a statement. “To do so with Foul Territory, an exciting venture that has quickly established itself as an authority in this medium, is truly a great opportunity. We’re hoping North Side Territory becomes fans’ go-to podcast for all things Cubs.”

Earlier in the month, Foul Territory released the Hammer Territory podcast centered on the latest news and analysis surrounding the Atlanta Braves. The program debuted at No. 3 on the Spotify U.S. charts for all sports podcasts and first on the Chartable U.S. rankings on Apple’s podcasting platform. Members of the show include former SB Nation Battery Power professionals Brad Rowland, Scott Coleman, Stephen Tolbert and Shawn Coleman. New episodes are released four times per week across all podcasting distribution platforms.

“We are so excited and thankful to connect with the folks from Foul Territory and be part of the network,” Rowland said in a statement. “It’s an amazing opportunity to connect with Braves fans from all over the country and the globe, and the support has been tremendous. We look forward to a fruitful partnership for a long time.”

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Report: MLB Commissioner, Some Owners Discussing Potential of Nationalizing TV Rights

“As the local media situation evolves, we will continue to evaluate the best model for us moving forward.”

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Major League Baseball
Courtesy: Major League Baseball

With uncertainty looming surrounding the future of Major League Baseball on regional sports networks, there is reportedly discussion taking place about nationalizing the television rights for the league. MLB Commissioner Robert D. Manfred Jr. and some owners around the league are discussing the possibility of nationalizing the league’s television rights, according to a new report from Evan Drellich of The Athletic. The conversation is reportedly borne out of concerns towards cord cutting, the situation surrounding RSNs and the augmenting presence of live sports in an environment with more reliance on streaming.

Some of the owners and executives within baseball, largely in the smaller markets, believe that the best way to bolster media revenues over time is by centralizing deal-making. This could result in selling all of the regular-season broadcasts for the 30 teams across the league within a singular streaming package. Conversely, those who attain larger profits are believed to be against the plan and do not want to forsake such power.

“As the local media situation evolves, we will continue to evaluate the best model for us moving forward,” Manfred said in a statement to The Athletic. “Our course of action will be determined by the clubs, who are the ultimate decision makers under our constitution.”

Major League Baseball currently has national media deals with The Walt Disney Company, FOX Corporation and Warner Bros. Discovery; however, the teams themselves have typically controlled a large portion of the inventory. The league office controls the out-of-market rights for the teams, which gives fans the ability to watch games from around the league using MLB.tv. Major League Baseball, along with the NBA and NHL, argued in court last week about the viability of Diamond Sports Group as it is entrenched in Ch. 11 bankruptcy and at a carriage impasse with Comcast.

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