MONTREAL — Radio station podcasts are typically drawn from a station’s on-air content; repackaged for delivery to avid listeners via the Web. But in Montreal, a number of professional broadcasters have taken it upon themselves to create their own podcasts from scratch — even though there’s no money to be made from it.
A case in point: For more than 20 years, David Tyler was heard on-air on CJFM and then CFQR, without a break. When he lost his gig at CFQR, Tyler launched a podcast, “David Tyler: UnLeashed,” in addition to building his international voiceover business.
Kelly Alexander is another Montreal broadcaster with a long résumé, having worked for a wide range of stations in Toronto and Montreal. She currently works for Astral Radio in Montreal, but she devotes a lot of her time to producing her podcast, “The Kelly Alexander Show.”
Despite the demanding schedule, “I’ve been able to do both my podcast and my radio work at the same time,” said Alexander. “I feel fortunate to be able to indulge in my passion for audio each and every day in two different mediums.”
Why they podcast
“David Tyler: UnLeashed” is a comedy-based podcast that runs 20 to 25 minutes per episode. “If I had to classify it, I’d say my style of comedy runs along the lines of Mitch Hedberg and Steven Wright: short, to the point, quick one-liners to make you think,” said Tyler. “I tend to gravitate toward social and political satire.”
The podcast’s content reflects David Tyler’s on-air style. Producing it helped him deal with CFQR’s unexpected decision to take him off the weekday midday shift in August 2008.
“I had been thinking about doing a podcast for years but when I left radio back in 2008 I decided it was time to actually put the wheels in motion,” said Tyler.
By contrast, Kelly Alexander was not between jobs when she launched “The Kelly Alexander Show.” Instead, it was borne out of a desire “to experiment and try things that would not necessarily work on traditional radio,” she said.
Kelly Alexander “For example, due to time constraints on traditional radio, the length and depth that I go to regarding my interviews and opinion pieces could never happen. There just isn’t enough time on conventional radio because of programming and advertising responsibilities.”
The Kelly Alexander Show consists of a one hour segment per podcast, all targeted at women age 25–54. To attract these listeners, the show has covered serious topics such as breast cancer and diabetes.
But it is not just serious topics. “We’ve had some fun talking to Grammy winner Jody Watley, Broadway dancer Jamal Story who also currently dances with Cher, and Canadian astronaut Julie Payette,” said Alexander. “In recent shows, we’ve spoken to author and hip hop artist Maestro Fresh Wes, as well as ‘So You Think You Can Dance Canada’ judge and choreographer Sean Cheesman.”
For David Tyler, podcasting has been more of a cathartic experience than anything else.
“As the name suggests, doing corporate radio for just over 20 years can be kind of — ‘restraining,’ shall we say?” he said.
“Doing the podcast was my chance to ‘get off the leash’ and not have to filter everything I was doing like during my time in corporate radio. Not that I swear or do crude things, not at all, I still cater to the same fan base as when I was on the air ... only now they get to see a different unfiltered side of me.”
Ironically, Tyler has only produced a handful of podcasts, due to the success of his voiceover business. As for returning to radio full-time? Despite doing occasional guest announcing on CFQR, “I’m not looking to get back into radio,” he said. “I’m having way too good of a time doing what I’m doing and being around for my kids.”
Meanwhile, Kelly Alexander podcasts for because of help love of the medium.
“Podcasting to me is a way to reach my audience on a truly personal level, as I have time to really explore topics and discussions that mean a lot to me and my audience,” she said. “In a way, you’re already a member of their family when they listen to you on-air from their cars and offices. With podcasting, it’s like you’re sitting at the kitchen table with them just having a chat.”
Clearly, podcasting has something to offer broadcasters, working or not. It is clearly a chance to be creative without worrying about keeping station management happy — even if it doesn’t pay the bills.