James Cridland | How the Radio and Podcasting Industries Are Evolving
James Cridland
Smart Business Revolution

James Cridland is the Editor of Podnews, a daily podcast newsletter. He is a radio futurologist — a writer, consultant, and public speaker on radio and new media’s future. He has worked in radio and audio since 1989 as an award-winning copywriter, radio presenter, and internet strategist. He launched the world’s first streaming radio smartphone app in March 2005 for the original Virgin Radio in London, launching daily podcasts earlier that year.

In 2007, James joined the BBC working on the BBC iPlayer for radio, achieving a dramatic increase in the service’s audio quality. He has since worked for a variety of businesses across the world including Canada’s Vista Radio, receiver and silicon manufacturers Pure and Frontier Silicon, talkSPORT, and a variety of media companies in Europe, North America, Asia, and Australia, helping them focus on the benefits and challenges that new platforms bring to their business. 

In this episode of the Smart Business Revolution Podcast, John Corcoran interviews James Cridland, the Editor of Podnews, about his early entry into the radio industry and podcasting. James shares his experience working for Virgin Radio and the BBC, explains how he got started in podcasting, and offers advice to new podcasters on building a great podcast.

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Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:

  • James Cridland explains what Podnews is and talks about his early interest in radio
  • Has radio been affected by podcasting over the years?
  • How James helped develop a radio app for mobile phones while working at Virgin Radio — and his experience working for the Virgin brand
  • James talks about developing an iPlayer for the BBC and explains how he got started with podcasting
  • How the big changes and investments happening in recent years have impacted podcasting
  • Common mistakes people make when starting a podcast and James’ advice on handling them
  • How technology can help improve podcasting
  • James’ advice on using content to network and build relationships
  • The peers James respects and the people he acknowledges for his achievements
  • Where to learn more about James Cridland and Podnews

Resources Mentioned In This Episode

Sponsor: Rise25

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We’ll distribute each episode across more than 11 unique channels including iTunes, Spotify, and Google Podcasts. We’ll also create copy for each episode and promote your show across social media.

Cofounders Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran credit podcasting as the best thing they have ever done for their businesses. Podcasting connected them with the founders/CEOs of P90xAtariEinstein BagelsMattelRx BarsYPO, EO, Lending Tree, Freshdesk,  and many more.  

The relationships you form through podcasting run deep.  Jeremy and John became business partners through podcasting.  They have even gone on family vacations and attended weddings of guests who have been on the podcast.  

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Rise25 was co-founded by Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran who have been podcasting and advising about podcasting since 2008.

Episode Transcript

Intro 0:14

Welcome to the revolution, the Smart Business Revolution Podcast where we ask today’s most successful entrepreneurs to share the tools and strategies they use to build relationships and connections to grow their revenue. Now, your host for the revolution, John Corcoran.

John Corcoran 0:40 

All right. Welcome everyone. John Corcoran here, the host of this show and it’s such a privilege every week to get to talk to smart CEOs, founders, and entrepreneurs of a range of different organizations from recently interviewed the original CEO of Netflix, go check out that episode, Activision Blizzard, LendingTree, Open Table, YPO, EO, you name it. I’m also the Co-founder of Rise25, where we help connect b2b business owners to their ideal prospects. And a quick shout out today to a previous guest, Evo Terra, who told me that I had to go talk to today’s guest because he’s such a thought leader, such an expert in this nascent emerging industry of podcasting. So, James Cridland, he’s the editor of Podnews. It’s a daily podcast newsletter, it is a must read if you are at all involved in this industry like I am. You’ve got to subscribe, you’ve got to read it on a regular basis to have your finger on the pulse of everything that is changing so quickly. 

He is a radio futurologist – a writer, consultant and public speaker on radio’s future. He’s worked in radio and audio since 1989. So he’s seen a lot of changes during that time. He’s also an award winning copywriter, radio presenter, and internet strategist. Also go check out the audio version of Podnews on iTunes or whatever podcast you listen to. And this episode, of course, is brought to you by Rise25 Media, where we help b2b businesses to get clients, referrals and strategic partnerships with done for you podcasts. I have been doing a podcast since 2010. I’m such a proponent, I’m an evangelist for this medium, James as you are as well. I’ve been telling people since I started, you know, look, you don’t have to be the next James Rogan at all. Joe Rogan, sorry. You don’t have to be the next Joe Rogan. You know, even if you don’t get a big audience, a big following, it will change your life if you take the time to create a podcast and it certainly has for me. So many great friendships and relationships have come from it. And so I feel so blessed to be a part of this industry. And I tell everyone that they should do it. So if you want to learn more, go to rise25media.com. Alright, James, such a pleasure to have you here. And first of all, for those who don’t know you or don’t know what Podnews is, that’s your most recent project and a long line of different things you’ve been involved in. But let’s start there. What is Podnews? And why should people subscribe to it?

James Cridland 2:59

Yeah, well, it’s a daily newsletter, which talks about podcasting. It’s very much for people who are in the business of podcasting. It comes out every day. And the idea is that it’s a short two or three minutes thing that you can read to start your day, if you’re in the US. And it’s free to subscribe. You can get it at podnews.net.

John Corcoran 3:21

That’s great. And so you’ve been in radio or around radio and emerging podcasting from for quite a long time going back to 1989. What, what brought you to radio to begin with? How did you get interested in it?

James Cridland 3:38

Oh, I think I was always interested in radio. So I remember when I was six, and the new box of frosted that came, you know, a box of frost is breakfast cereal with Tony the Tiger on the front came in. And if you saved up enough vouchers you could send off to get yourself a Frosties radio. And so I thought that this was a brilliant idea. And so I saved up enough vouchers sent off. And eventually through the post got a beautiful little portable am radio, which was the most amazing thing. And I remember getting it for the first day. And I was listening to it. And I thought wow, there’s all these voices and all this music and everything else. And then by the end of the day, I was really sad because I thought that I had used it all up because I didn’t understand that it wasn’t just a recording. It was picking up signals through the air I thought I thought that I’d used everything up so that was a mistake. And from that day, I was basically hooked so you can blame frosty as breakfast cereal for that. So, you know so at school, I did all of the things that you would do if you wanted to work in radio. So I did physics as a subject for the electronic side. I did politics as a subject for the journalism side music as a subject as well, you know, so you can see that I was very keen and getting involved in the radio business. And so yeah, and so I think you can trace it all back to that, to that slightly weird set of breakfast cereal.

John Corcoran 5:19

It’s interesting, you know, while back, it’s interesting, you mentioned journalism, because, you know, you know, if you had chosen to go into, let’s say, local TV, newspapers or local newspapers, you know, it might have been a very different decision for you. Because, you know, over the last 20-25 years, there’s been a dramatic change in that industry. And at least from my perspective, it seems like radio has changed a lot, but maybe not quite as significantly. It’s been affected by podcasting. But I don’t think that it’s been as much of a negative impact. As much would you agree with that?

James Cridland 5:58

Yeah, I would, I mean, I think from the business side, you know, newspapers were mainly kept afloat by classified advertising, you know, that small advertising that people would take out to sell, you know, their car or sell their, you know, their, their house, or whatever.

John Corcoran 6:19

It was the worst is the most inefficient way of selling something you’d have to call someone else with. Okay, well, color’s the couch? How long? Yeah,

James Cridland 6:26

exactly, exactly. And as soon as eBay or Craigslist came along, of course, then that killed that part of the business for them. And of course, as soon as websites came along, that killed much of the benefit of reading a newspaper in the first place. So I think you’ve got you had both of those things that radio never, never had, and radio never had classified ads. And radio was somewhere by and large that you would turn to for the human voice, not just for the spoken, not just for, you know, the written word. So from that point of view, radio is actually surprisingly unaffected by all of this. So if you look at, at, you know, American radio numbers, nine out of 10 people used to listen to the radio 20 years ago, nine out of 10 people listen to the radio now now. Yeah, sure, they’re listening to the radio for less time, but they’re still, you know, consuming radio, which I think is really interesting. And there are lots of people out there who have predicted radios death, they predicted radios death in the 50s, when TV came along, in the late 70s, when the the Walkman came along, you know, and so on, and so forth. And when Napster came along, of course, you know, radio was shorter die, and radio really isn’t dying from that regard. What you obviously have is you have changes of habits, changes of consumption. And, you know, we’re listening to radio in different ways. Now, we want different things from our radio, I think that the the legendary K Fogg in San Francisco is now no more because people wanted, you know, something else. And I think, you know, we’re seeing a lot, an awful lot of change there. But the actual fundamentals of radio is something which is a human connection, which is a shared experience that hasn’t gone away and the business model. Although, you know, the radio industry hasn’t been very good in taking care of it, the business model is still there of, you know, allowing your audience to hear your message as an advertiser. So and I think, you know, one of the fascinating things when you look at the data, is that podcasting, yes, it’s growing and growing dramatically, as I’m sure that we’ll get on to, but you’re not actually seeing too much eating into radio, as a result show the some, but actually, you know, radio is still incredibly, you know, so much larger, both in terms of revenue and in terms of consumption than podcasting is. So podcasting has got a long, long way to go.

John Corcoran 8:59

Do you think it’s because of the nature of how we consume radio because people listen to it in the car and it you know, up until recently, it’s been kind of clunky to listen to podcasts in a car in now. carmakers are starting to move build apps directly into the car. So maybe that’ll affect things but do you think that’s part of why radios survived?

James Cridland 9:22

Well, John, I mean, I think you know, partially it’s because of habit. You know, I wake up and I should apologize the background noises that you’re hearing is a great big Tropical Storm here in Brisbane. Which is a lovely thing because we haven’t had rain for about four weeks so that’s a good thing but you will hear it sounds as if there are elephants upstairs but I promise you there aren’t. So yeah, I mean, you know it. I think I think habit has driven an awful lot of radio consumption and habit is the thing that is very difficult to break. You know, when we when when we wake up, people of a certain age, wake up to the radio Do when we get in the car, the radio turns on automatically, you know, it’s just in there isn’t it. And so those habits are hard to break. And so there are lots of people who will turn around and say that, you know, radio is dead, or radio is going to die in the next two years because of x, y, and Zed. And they forget that actually, radio is a really strong habit. And people are very used to, you know, it’s part of their, it’s part of their life experience. You know, they’re very used to spending half an hour with the radio in the morning, as they get up as they welcome in the new day, and they want to connect with other human beings. Yeah, I think, you know, habit, you know, clearly when you have a look at other apps and things, habit is the thing that drives stuff. So Twitter and Facebook and stuff are building that habit building that addiction. And I think radio has always had that.

John Corcoran 10:53

So this is fascinating, but it you joined virgin radio, in the 2000s 2001, you join and you are involved in developing one of the first apps, this is pre iPhone, but for apps to that broadcast radio, across phones, and then and also podcast, talk a little bit about how you got involved in that.

James Cridland 11:18

Yeah, so I’d always been interested, I’d worked in radio at that point for more than 10 years. And I was always interested in what radio could do when, when joined up to the internet and new technologies. And when I joined virgin radio in 2001, I was looking after their website, which at the time was a tremendously popular thing. You know, it was one of the if not the most listened to internet radio station in the world directly through. Yeah, directly through the web. And there was another that was doing fantastically well a radio station called Soma FM, which is run from California as well remember that? Yeah, yeah. And I’m sure it’s still going. But I think, you know, Virgin was doing tremendously well. But one of the things that I was keen in doing was seeing, you know, how we could use mobile phones, which were beginning to get a little bit more sophisticated, whether there was an opportunity for us to do some interesting things there. So in 2005, we launched we didn’t really call it an app, because they weren’t called apps in those days. So we ended up calling it a 3g tuner. But if you had one of the three phones, which were available to you at the time that ran a particular version of Symbian, then you could download using a using a wire and all kinds of complicated desktop software, you could download this, this app that would allow you to listen to the radio, and it would allow you to listen to the three channels that we were sticking out one, one a an FM station, and the other two are online only. And I know at the time, not only were the no app stores for mobile phones, not only was it really difficult to install an app, but also at the time, no mobile phones had Wi Fi built into them. So you can imagine that not only will you ton of bandwidth and data Yeah. And so you know, not only were you doing that, but you know, 3g was relatively new. And although we called it a 3g tuner, just just to make it sound fun and exciting. We built it so that it works on normal 2g connections. Now, I don’t know how how boringly techie you are, but 2g essentially means that your that you get up to up to 9000 kilobits per second IE that is very, yeah, it’s not very much. Sorry, nine, sorry, nine kilobits a second, not not 9000, tiny, tiny amount. So. So the radio station, we were encoding at 8k. So you can imagine it sounds as if it was underwater. And it costs more than I think in the time, it would be about $20 an hour to listen in data costs.