"What we've seen over the past three years alone, globally and in SA, has been a shift towards greater listener time spent on video as well as audio. Especially in talk radio, with missed shows you can now playback at a time that suits you through SoundCloud. This figure has jumped up to hundreds of thousands every month, proving the consumer demand for it."
That's the opening from Karl Gostner, Primedia Broadcasting's general manager, when we caught up for a quick chat on Primedia's move into other forms of communication, such as podcasts.
Gostner explains the popularity of podcasts boils down to the fact that they offer greater depth of content engagement, something listeners of talk radio are keen on as they tend to phone in with their comments and take the conversation further on social media. Podcasts mean they can now do so even if they missed the initial broadcast.
So, as a consumer, you get to embrace time-shifted listening and immerse yourself more deeply in the content. In explaining how podcasts differ from other business talk radio programming/on-air interviews, Gostner speaks of an episode of Primedia's Face-to-face with Success podcast series that featured designer Thula Sindi. On-air the interview would be current and topical, based on hard news. The podcast format, however, meant the interview could delve deeper than the surface facts and explore Sindi's personal journey - which makes for more insightful, engaging content.
The length of the interview helps with this.
Primedia's Face-to-face with Success podcast series comprises just such bite-sized interviews with prominent, successful and sometimes controversial South Africans. Mike Abel of M&C SAATCHI ABEL was a recent interviewee - listen to his featured interview on the agency's growth from start-up to 'Agency of the Year' in just five years below:
You'll notice the podcasts offer a tighter format, new for the South African market as it is chunky and more readily consumable.
The fact that the team has time to edit a 90-minute interview down to an 8- to 12-minute podcast means you get the best possible distillation of facts: "It's like a balsamic reduction of the content; pure adrenaline for the ears," confirms Gostner.
This is a sign of the dramatic shift locally. With South Africa's growing middle-class, there's a strong interest in how people have made the leap and changed their life. These stories are inspirational and aspirational and offer a strand in the South African cycle, to celebrate success of the past two decades in the country as well as to build on that going forward.
But don't expect your typical 'top boardroom businessman' success story. Those featured in the podcast are from all walks of life, such as music producer Oskido. The podcasts prove that there's more than luck involved in making it as success (usually) doesn't come easy - you have to have a passion for what you do and work extremely hard at honing your talent.
Gostner speaks of the strong nation-building aspect involved in sharing business success stories. In many corporate cases, culture kills success. That's why Primedia Broadcasting is based on a culture of success and celebration, of sharing and promoting what's really going on in the business world in order to inspire others, either just at the point of success or at the point of giving up. That's because success stories usually come with an inflection of difficulty and the trials it takes to finally make it. That's what really inspired others: Realising they're not the only ones struggling to get things right, and that it can be done.
It's all about evolving the way we tell stories, says Gostner, and broadcasting is just a part of that. Look at EWN (Eye Witness News), for example. Over three years it has become so much more than just a radio news portal - it's competing with the biggest and best, currently the fourth biggest new website nationally.
Today, effective storytelling means you have to stay on top of trends and connect with consumers where they are - that means being active on social media as well as exploring new mediums of sound and sight in order to tell better stories.
Gostner shares an example of how Primedia recently did so - instead of merely reporting in their radio bulletins that legendary pianist Abdullah Ibrahim had performed in Church Square, photographer Andiswa Mkosi was sent to capture the moment visually and the article was shared on 702's website.