« Previous Article Next Article »

A Few Words About Internet Radio

| 04.10.2013 |

David Lykken never intended to become a talk show host – it just sort of happened.


"At the end of the day, I get tired of reading," says Lykken, managing partner of Mortgage Banking Solutions, an Austin, Texas-based consulting group for the financial services industry. "Instead of reading, I wanted to hear something in an audio basis. I was searching for a podcast that offered an analysis of the news being talked about in the trade magazines, but I couldn’t find anything."


Rather than wait for someone else to come up with the solution, Lykken took the initiative by creating his own talk show via BlogTalkRadio. In many ways, this medium offers the best of all worlds: the traditional and still beloved radio talk show format realigned for the digital age.


Internet radio is not, by any stretch, a new medium. The first Internet-exclusive radio broadcast took place via Paul Allen's digital media company Starwave in November 1994, with a performance by the Seattle-based rock group Sky Cries Mary. One week after that auspicious start, a somewhat more prominent musical act offered the medium's second presentation – the Rolling Stones, who included a cyberspace element to one of their raucous concert performances.


There is no data on how many people are listening to Internet radio at any given time, nor is there any way to determine how many Net-exclusive broadcasts are being produced. But if empirical evidence is any indication, Internet radio has no problems attracting listeners – and, for that matter, very special guests.


"We've interviewed so many fascinating guests that it’s difficult to pick the most interesting," says Betty Jo Tucker, publisher/editor of ReelTalk Reviews and host of the weekly Movie Addict Headquarters talk show on BlogTalkRadio. "But Cloris Leachman was definitely one of the most memorable. What a comedy ambush! I could hardly get through the interview because I was laughing so much – unprofessional, I know, but I couldn't help it! Debbie Reynolds and Barry Bostwick have been the most candid – Debbie about her bad luck with men and Barry about his Rocky Horror Picture Show’experiences. And Tony Curtis was the most controversial with his comments about Marilyn Monroe. His interview with Movie Addict Headquarters may have been the last one he gave before passing on. Tony was having some hearing problems and misunderstood my name. So he said, 'Betty Culpepper, what a name! Have I got the movie for you: Montana Falls starring Betty Culpepper!' To this day, some people still call me by that name!"


The beauty of Internet radio is the ability to accommodate both programming with a broad appeal, such as Movie Addict Headquarters, as well as shows that aim at a distinctive niche. For example, Physique Star Radio (which is broadcast over RXMUSCLE.com and available for iTunes download) takes a highly specialized subject – the fitness industry – and offers cogent commentary on all aspects of making money off muscle.


"My goal with the show is to help guys create their best physique ever and teach them how to make it work for them," says Ian Lauer, the actor/fitness model and MensPhysique.com editor who serves as host. "The show is geared primarily towards NPC/IFBB men's physique competitors and those interested in building a great body. Because I know many of these competitors dream of being fitness models, I make sure a lot of the show’s content is giving listeners honest insight into the fitness entertainment industry."


Even a program with a somewhat esoteric B2B subject can score on Internet radio. For mortgage banking specialist Lykken, the medium has delivered his message brilliantly.


"We've had about 140,000 downloads in past four months," he says about his weekly Lykken on Lending program on BlogTalkRadio. "It is astounding to me that we have so many people. We've had broadcasts form over a year ago that are still being downloaded."


Indeed, the strength of Internet radio comes in its ability to offer a feature that is impossible on terrestrial or satellite radio: the ability to archive back episodes for future listening. Tucker notes there is a considerable imbalance between her live audience and those coming to show at other hours of the day.


"Because our show at 4 p.m. Eastern Time on Tuesdays, most of our listeners catch the archived segments rather than the live shows," she explains. "When we interview big name guests, the numbers go up considerably. For example, Cloris Leachman's archived interview now has 908,028 listeners and Fred Willard's gig has 907,361 archived listeners. The average for four of our recent shows was around 6,431 archived listeners and 300 live listeners."


If you proceed…


But as with any media production, there are a lot of considerations that need to be addressed before you go on the air. For starters, it helps to have subject matter and guests who can bring in an audience.


"Depending on the particular guests and their social media following, we see considerable bumps on some shows," says Lauer, whose programs have featured some well-known fitness models and actors including Mike O'Hearn and Christian Boeving.


Of course, there is the question of putting together a program schedule, and that takes up a great deal of time.


"The most challenging part is just scheduling guests," says Lauer. "The schedule of a fitness personality such as myself is anything but routine, so clearing my time to record the show at the same time as guests can be a challenge."


If you decide to pursue a talk show format, don't think that you can just wing it.


"I put one hour for every 10 minutes of broadcast," says Lykken. "There is at least six hours of preparation into every one-hour show. But I do it, I want to do it really well. I want it to be first class."


There is also the question of budgeting. While Internet radio programming is less expensive to produce than other broadcast media, it is not a freebie endeavor.


"The hard cost is about $1,000 per month," says Lykken. "We sell some ad space to defray costs."


"I pay more than most hosts because of my technologically challenged status," admits Tucker, with a laugh. "If I didn't need a producer and an editor, the show would cost only about $30 per month. And BlogTalkRadio hosts can also apply for revenue sharing, or they can also do shows for free if they are satisfied with only 30-minute episodes and no more than five callers."


But with the right format and content, the medium can certainly pay for itself.


"When the Kindle edition of It Had to Be Us was launched, we did a show about it – and, as a result, the romantic memoir my husband and I co-wrote under the pen names of 'Harry & Elizabeth Lawrence' zoomed to #2 on the Kindle Best Seller list in the category of 'divorce' while the show was underway," says Tucker. "It then went to #1 in that category the next day. And when my publisher released the Kindle edition of Confessions of a Movie Addict, we did another episode about that event – which helped send my life-at-the-movies memoir to #2 in one category – surpassed only by Roger Ebert's Your Movie Sucks."


For Lauer, the time is right for any entrepreneurial-minded soul to explore Internet radio.


"Quit thinking and start doing," he advises. "Had I waited until I was 'ready' with great equipment, software and everything else to be perfect, I would still be waiting!"


Ian Lauer's Physique Star Radio is online at www.rxmuscle.com/rx-radio/physique-star-radio.html 


David Lykken's Lykken on Lending is online at www.lykkenonlending.com 


Betty Jo Tucker's Movie Addict Headquarters is online at www.blogtalkradio.com/movieaddictheadquarters