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Trivia time. The next time you’re leaving Herd and Horns, ask the first person you run into the following two questions. Question number one – what is a podcast. And two – who is the Vice President of the United States. In today’s tech savvy world, the electoral winner of the popularity contest between any generic podcast and Mike Pence is the podcast. By a landslide. While that may not bode well for Mr. Pence’s self-esteem, it says an awful lot about how we as a public are consuming information.
Edison Research is one of the world’s largest market research and polling organizations. According to their website, they provide strategic information for businesses and media organizations. Last spring, the good folks at Edison Research released their 2018 Infinite Dial Study. The study was described as unveiling “the latest research in digital audio, social media, mobile, smart speakers and podcast consumption.” It concluded that podcasting is one of the “most talked-about sectors in audio today, posting significant gains in this year’s study.”
Well, golly gee, golly. Can I say we told you so? Let me take this opportunity to plug the Bison Illustrated Podcast featuring yours’s truly and this magazine’s editor-in-chief, Nolan Schmidt. Over the summer, we had everyone from North Dakota State quarterbacks coach Randy Hedberg, former Bison basketball star Dexter Werner and Mike McFeely and Dom Izzo from Forum Communications, appear on the podcast. These guests, and their content, were excellent. We also took on topics like – is the Missouri Valley Football Conference better than the Colonial Athletic Association (James Madison’s conference); Easton Stick is the best quarterback in the FCS; and the key to a great tailgate is music that allows one to get down with one’s bad self, #turnitup. Take a listen to any podcast, sports television programming, terrestrial radio or print. We run out of topics to talk about in the summer waiting for college football to start, thus the manufactured prefabricated cookie cutter debates like “Team X is better than Team Y because A, B and C,” or the suddenly popular and already clichéd, “If there was a Mount Rushmore for this team, here’s who would be on it.” Hey, guilty as charged, but we’re more entertaining than a monkey throwing a pie in doing it.
In all seriousness, though, if you’re not podcasting the Bison Illustrated Podcast, you’re falling behind. At least say the experts. An article in Inc. Magazine noted that one of the habits of successful people in 2018 was, you guessed it, listening to podcasts. One of my fellow shareholders at Vogel Law Firm walked into my office a few weeks ago and started talking about podcasts. He’s old enough to remember the days when t.v. satellites were the size of Volkswagens. After I told him that he needed to listen to our podcast, he told me to check out the American History Tellers podcast. He was right, it’s excellent. His recommendation was instant, first-person validation of Edison Research’s study.
The way we consume information is changing and growing before our eyes. In late August, NDSU head coach Chris Klieman sat in the Media Room of the Sanford Health Athletic Complex for his weekly press conference before the season opener against Cal Poly. Some of you will remember this room by its former name – the Steve Nelson Classroom in the Bison Sports Arena. I remember sitting in hard, molded plastic desks while watching film during NDSU football camps in the late 1990s in this room. Fast forward and there were approximately 20 members from every modern and traditional media outlet assembled, including radio, print, television, websites/social media platforms, to, yep, you got it, podcast hosts, rapid tweeting and disseminating every one of Klieman’s words.
Last June, since introducing the Bison Illustrated Podcast, our numbers have soared. Nolan and his predecessor, Joe Kerlin, deserve tremendous credit for that. We have listeners contacting us from all over the country via social media offering their input on questions like, who is NDSU’s biggest rival? Answers ranged from old-schools foes like South Dakota State, the University of North Dakota and Northern Iowa, to our most recent nemesis, the JMU Dukes. Here’s what may be more impressive, and likewise validated by Edison Research’s survey. When you tune in, you’re liking what you hear. You’re liking it a lot. Courtesy of the analytics provided by iTunes, during our average weekly hour-long podcast, the significant majority of you are listening for over 50 minutes. We’re like that old classic vinyl sitting on your turntable. You hit play and you let this mother role on unabated until the stylus lifts from the vinyl surface at the end of side one.
Last year, 124 million Americans listened to a podcast, with 69 percent of you doing so on a mobile device. To put that number in perspective, a record 137.5 million people voted in the 2016 presidential election. Do you hear that Heidi Heitkamp and Kevin Cramer? You can get some bang for your buck advertising on our podcast. Well, for the sake of keeping the peace, I think our podcast will refrain from any political ads … unless the price is right, of course. The Democratic and Republican Senatorial Campaign Committees can find me @swany8 on Twitter and we’ll discuss pricing. In a number that makes advertisers swoon, 69 percent, perhaps the same 69 percent tuning-in on their mobile devices, agreed that podcast ads made them more aware of new products or services.
Podcast listeners are engaged. Edison Research tells us that 94 percent of listeners are active on at least one social media channel, and more likely to follow companies and brands on social media. Ironically enough, our podcast and you loyal listeners helped land me a gig hosting a weekly radio show on 740 AM The Fan and its sister station, 107.3 FM, called “Herd It Hear With Swany.” The show airs every Saturday morning from 8:00 – 9:00 a.m., and is exclusively devoted to covering a single topic. Said topic is usually preceded by tailgating, plays its games in the Fargodome and has one helluva good party in Frisco, Texas every January. Podcasting is influencing mainstream media, and the smart companies are learning to adapt.
We’re just getting warmed up on the Bison Illustrated Podcast, and if you haven’t listened, here’s your invitation to join us every week with some banter and insight into Bison Athletics in a wide open format where anything goes (except F* bombs, those are still on the no-fly list). But don’t take my word for it. Listen to the experts at Edison Research. If you’re not podcasting the Bison Illustrated Podcast, you’re falling behind. Everyone up for the podcast, err, kickoff, the march is on!
Follow on Twitter: @Swany8
Listen and Subscribe to the Bison Illustrated Podcast!
Bison Illustrated magazine senior columnist Josh Swanson and editor Nolan Schmidt take their free-flowing North Dakota State University thoughts off the page and into your ears. You can subscribe to the weekly podcast on SoundCloud and iTunes. Just search “Bison Illustrated Podcast” on both platforms and give the show a listen!