One of the more common podcast questions I get asked is, "How did you get your podcast on the radio?"
Even though I've had my own experience with getting a show on broadcast radio, I wonder this myself. How do people get their podcasts on broadcast radio?
I asked this question to Jakob Lewis, producer of the award-winning podcast Neighbors with Nashville Public Radio and founder of Vox Familia, an audio production company which helps families document their stories. I also asked him about producing "local" content, as this can be helpful in getting the attention of broadcast radio stations that are often focused on nationally syndicated programming and need programming of specific interest to their local communities to keep their broadcasting licenses.
How did you get your podcast on broadcast radio?
I happened through a long courtship period of earning trust with WPLN in Nashville and figuring out the terms that would create a mutually beneficial partnership. After I went through a nine-week radio storytelling heaven called the Transom Story Workshop in Cape Cod, I had references and work that backed up some of my idealistic claims about what I could do. That opened a lot of doors for me.
I also founded an international audio collective called The Heard. This was a group of like-minded podcasters from all over the country and Canada that banded together to support one another with our collective resources, knowledge, and reach.
The Heard helped my show appear bigger than it actually was. We rise together. Also, it worked. One of our shows partnered with KCRW, another became a Stitcher show, another one pivoted from their podcast and founded a production company called Neon Hum, which has created shows for major brands and companies, including Rachel Maddow's show Bag Man, which just won a Peabody Award!
What are the pros and cons of being on broadcast radio?
Cons: restrictions in format
Why do a "local" show?
I'm very rooted in Nashville and this was a chance to explore the lives of those around me and deepen those roots.
My show isn't just a sit-down interview show. It involves gathering sounds and action of people and places. I also like to interview people where their lives take place. So either at their homes, jobs, or other locations relevant to their stories. If somebody lost a loved one I'd rather them show me the tombstone then come to my studio and talk about the tombstone.
The pros of a "local" show are that it doesn't just have to be hyper-local. It can still have universal appeal. According to my metrics, most of my listeners come from the major markets you would expect for a national show—New York, L.A., Chicago.
Nashville always jumped around 4-7th on the list. Yet I did make a large impact locally in a deeper way than I did in a larger city. Another pro is now I see people around town that I've done stories on and my life is richer because of it.
If I become too "hyper-local," a con is that I might not connect with many people outside of Nashville. Another con is that people from outside of Nashville can discount it before ever hearing it.