Clear Channel, Infinity Broadcasting Move Into New Medium

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NEW YORK ( -- Podcasting is less than a year old but radio groups, radio networks and advertisers have begun to embrace the concept through a series of new and varying strategies ranging from subscription to ad-supported.
PlayPod is one of the inexpensive software packages that enables an iPod to browse through and download a growing array of audio content.

Downloads to iPod
Podcasting allows listeners turn audio content into MP3 files, which are easily downloadable on iPods or other MP3 players.

Public radio was the first terrestrial radio group to enter the podcasting arena, offering for download a handful of its popular shows. Infinity Broadcasting today announced plans to get into the game, and Clear Channel Radio has promised it will soon begin podcasting popular on-air sketches and personalities. Additionally, Premiere Radio Networks, a subsidiary of Clear Channel, has already begun podcasting several of its popular syndicated personalities, including Glenn Beck and Phil Hendrie. Other Premiere personalities, such as Rush Limbaugh, will be podcasted soon.

Marketers such as General Motors Corp. and Heineken are producing podcasts while Ford Motor Co.'s Volvo and Time Warner are sponsoring podcasts.

Subscription model
Premiere�s podcasting model is subscription-based, with listeners paying monthly fees to download shows and listen at their leisure. Because podcasting was originally based on free software, Premiere had to create a proprietary RSS-style software that automatically delivers podcasts to a subscriber�s computer or portable MP3 player.

�All of us who have some role to play in technology are listening to our users,� said Brian Glicklich, Premiere Radio Networks�s vice president and president for interactive services. �They�re telling us what they want and we�re finding ways to bring it to them in ways that make sense.�

Listener-submitted podcasts
Infinity�s podcasting plan enters into the equation from the back end: Instead of offering existing programming available as podcasts, Infinity will use San Francisco station KYCY-AM as a hub. Listeners can submit their own podcasts through the station's Web site. The station will air and stream selected podcasts -- essentially giving amateur radio DJs and programmers air time. The podcasts can still be downloaded onto iPods and MP3 players.

Infinity�s strategy is also a handy way to avoid the rights issues associated with podcasting content that isn�t proprietary -- which is why the relatively low number of music-based podcasts feature independent and unsigned artists.

Podcasting has also caught the eye of one of the largest media-buying agencies.

Early adopters
Zenith Media�s radio group and strategic resources group recently authored a white paper on the subject, which stresses that marketers need to keep up with consumers who stray from traditional media, the so-called early adopters who influence others. �Advertisers who embrace the new technology and communicate to consumers in meaningful ways through podcasts may be viewed as innovators, forward thinking, cutting edge and the envy of the neighborhood,� the paper states.

But, the paper asks, is podcasting more than a flash-in-the pan advertising opportunity?

Either way, marketers don�t have much to lose by trying. �At the anticipated low cost of entry,� the paper says, �podcasting provides advertisers an opportunity to enhance radio�s existing 'one-on-one' relationship with its target audience. ... We believe the upside potential could be significant, while the downside is pocket change.�

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