LONDON — The United Kingdom’s first radio station devoted exclusively to podcasts has launched in London. Podcast Radio broadcasts on DAB+ digital radio, showcasing podcast content from around the world.
The station’s CEO Gerry Edwards explains how the idea was born from his own radio and podcast experience. “Podcasting has intrigued me for years, and I found myself discussing it over and over in everyday conversation. After helping friends and colleagues produce their own individual series and seeing my own co-hosted seven-episode podcast reach the U.K. comedy top 10 on Apple, I felt podcasts needed to be heard over the airwaves.”
OVER THE AIRWAVES
“There are a small handful of brands that have tried placing extended podcast content on the radio,” he said. “Some were tried before the term ‘podcast’ was coined, and others use solely their own podcasts. We really want to work with podcasters and help them market their content with an audience who are looking to discover great new audio.”
Anyone can submit a podcast to the station for broadcast, said Edwards. “We don’t want every episode of a podcast series, but a sample so we can feature the podcast and podcaster. Each featured series will have some background information on our app and website, linking to the full series externally. We know ‘downloads and listens’ are the big currency in podcasting, so we want any contributors to experience growth in these numbers every time they are featured on Podcast Radio.”
Edwards’ business partner is radio consultant Paul Chantler, who previously helped set up the station for builders and tradespeople, Fix Radio, in 2017. “The popularity of podcasts and live radio is intoxicating,” explains Chantler. “Radio is a natural way for people to sample different podcast content and find out what they like so they can download more episodes.”
One of Chantler’s contributions to the station is to create the “podjock,” linking between content segments. “This is speech radio that shares ideas, voices and themes that otherwise wouldn’t make the airwaves,” Podcast Radio’s CEO Gerry Edwards explains.
“Speech radio traditionally sounds quite serious, and while some of our programs may follow this mold, others can take you down an artistic, playful route — or even have you contemplating the meaning of life. Our podjock is there to tie all of these various themes together. He or she is a cross between a DJ and an announcer.
We don’t want to throw all of our contributors into a washing machine and just see what order they come out. Instead, our team is built up of both broadcasters and podcasters, using real knowledge and experience to help navigate the listener through our day parts.”
Podcast Radio shares its building with other radio stations, on London’s South Bank close to the Tate art gallery. The studio features a Sonifex S2 mixer, Electro-Voice RE20 microphones, Sonifex TBUs and DAs, and a BW Broadcast audio processor.
Edwards says he needed to overcome some technical challenges before launching. “I called upon previous radio colleagues who could help set up the connections we needed and sync up the hardware and software. The systems were straightforward, but the goal posts moved when it came to the DAB carriage providers.
Eventually we found a great home combining and balancing multiplexes, to make ourselves heard London-wide and throughout the neighboring county of Surrey. The short answer to solving this was lots of meetings — and even more phone calls.”
The focus then turned to the station’s launch. Alongside an ongoing PR campaign, Edwards said finding the right content was critical. “Like MTV, we were really careful in choosing our first episode. We went with Jo Wood’s “Alien Nation,” in which Robbie Williams was a guest. The two discuss their own encounters with UFOs and explain what they believe is out there. It’s produced by Mike Hanson at Pod People Productions and it’s just brilliant!”
Edwards says the response from podcasters has been positive. “We have several inboxes full of applications and it’s heartwarming to hear the quality content being made around the world. There will also be scope for partnerships with podcast content companies to feature their shows, and we’ve already had interest from U.S. and Canadian companies who saw us announce our launch at the RAIN Summit in London last November.”
There are global aspirations for Podcast Radio, too. “We would love to expand across all of the U.K. and eventually into other countries,” said Edwards.
“Part of the beauty of podcast content is being able to hear different accents, themes and genres from all over the world. It’s a sign that we can sample from anywhere on the planet and enjoy cultures and different characters. Discovery between these borders isn’t easy, and that’s where we come in. When it comes to podcasters, it’s their amazing hard work and programs that we want to showcase.”