Internet’s Saving The Radio Star

Posted by Jessica Furseth

Gimlet is a startup that is gambling on podcasting becoming big business…

Video Killed The Radio Star”, the Buggles sang to the world in their ‘70s hit. That was a time when the TV screen seemed the obvious media choice for the future, but we’re now living in a media landscape far more diverse than the Buggles ever envisioned. In fact, today the internet is bringing the radio star back to life and making them global stars.

It’s this optimistic viewpoint that has prompted Alex Blumberg to start a company devoted to creating podcasts. Blumberg’s Gimlet raised US$200,000 startup cash in a matter of hours as Blumberg pitched his business based on what he knew: his past life as a producer on ‘This American Life’, which most weeks is the most downloaded podcast in America with around a million people downloading each episode.

Ira Glass, Blumberg’s old boss at ‘This American Life’, is rapidly becoming a household name as podcasts are well on their way to becoming the next big thing in the media world. Podcasts have grown 105% in the US over the past five years, according to a 2012 study from Edison Research. After all, there are plenty of times during  our days when we can’t look at a screen, such as when we’re driving, walking, commuting or just making dinner.

But audio broadcasting has a lot more to offer than just background noise, according to Blumberg. He told the Wall Street Journal: “I think audio demands certain things. It demands plot in a pretty straightforward way, or it demands authentic emotion in a pretty serious way, or it demands companionship. So those are the three reasons that I think people listen to audio.”.

Another reason why people like the radio is because it allows them to feel a personal connection, which is what the best hosts create when they speak to their audience. Gimlet will aim to scale up the podcasting industry by doing exactly what made podcasts so successful in the first place: having each of them target its own audience and interact with them in a unique manner. Want to know how Gimlet is progressing? They have a podcast for that: Startup.

Traditional radio is using many of the same tricks as podcasts to move into the future too though, with the BBC iPlayer Radio and the TuneIn app among those offering radio on demand. “Personalisation is a major part of the future of radio. Pandora [in the US] has shown how personalised music can make a good product, but good radio stations are more than songs pseudo-randomly thrown together,” radio expert James Cridland told The Next Web. The future is likely to bring us a “hybrid radio”, thinks Cridland – a mix of the best of broadcasting and internet.

Check out our previous post about just how beneficial a podcast could be for your business here.

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