Tag Archives: podcast

Interview With Brent Axe: Coronavirus and the POKE Scale

Tuesdays With ColemanWhat a difference a few weeks, days and hours makes.

Before the travel bans, before sports and concerts cancelled and before schools closed, I paid a visit to Syracuse University for my college radio station’s 35th annual reunion. I returned from that trip just nine days ago.

The keynote of the WJPZ Alumni Banquet featured three SU grads: Jeff Kurkjian, host of Jeff and Aimee in the Morning on 102.7 The Coyote, a Las Vegas Country station; Pete Gianesini, Senior Director of Digital Audio Programming for ESPN and Brent Axe, host of the “On The Block” afternoon show on ESPN Radio/Syracuse and a reporter for Syracuse.com.

Syracuse Sports Journalist Brent Axe

During the session, Brent brought up a principle that guides his show planning, called the POKE scale. As with many others in the industry, his brand stretches across platforms including hosting his own podcast. I wanted to know how Brent is using POKE to build his brand, develop compelling and engaging content and demonstrate differentiation as a reason for listening.

Just last Wednesday, we spent some time on the phone discussing it. Syracuse was set to play the University of North Carolina in the ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament later that night. While we knew sports would soon be played without fans in the venues, the thought of cancelling them altogether hadn’t yet crossed our minds.

That was six days ago.

Brent and I discussed how POKE plays a role in his daily planning, including the way he covered Coronavirus on his sports talk show up to that point.

Perhaps there’s value now, more than ever, in applying the POKE scale to show prep–certainly in a format (Sports) built around something that currently, for all intents and purposes, doesn’t exist. In addition, as Brent explains, it is equally important to recognize when to make adjustments.

Read an edited transcript or listen to the entire interview below.

JAY:

When I saw you in Syracuse, you mentioned the POKE scale. Talk about the acronym and what each letter means.

BRENT:

Passion, Opinion, Knowledge and Entertainment. I write my show notes on a legal pad. Every day on the top of the legal pad I write the date of the show and POKE. If you’re accomplishing those four things, particularly in the type of show I do, you’re checking the box.

Let’s start with Passion. The number one thing my listeners say to me is they appreciate my passion. They might not agree with what I’m saying, but they enjoy the manner in which I’m delivering it.

Opinion. Listeners are looking for you to have a defined, clear take. As we speak, Syracuse is getting ready to play in the ACC Tournament. They have to win to go to the NCAA Tournament. The discussion on the show is, “If they don’t win, is it a failed season?” If I don’t think it’s a failed season, I have to explain why.

Knowledge is prepping. And when you work in this industry, you’re constantly prepping. When you’re watching sports, you’re debating with yourself. First it’s, “Am I going to talk about this?” If the answer is yes, then it’s “How?” And how do I keep it entertaining for those that aren’t hard core sports fans?

JAY:   

Are you putting each topic through the POKE filter to determine how each break works within that structure?

BRENT:  

I try to. The other day I talked about Coronavirus and I broke the Opinion rule. I said, it’s my job to have an opinion here, but this is a case where we don’t know enough to have a firm opinion. You can have an opinion, but you have to clarify it sometimes when it’s beyond the scale. This is real life interfering with sports, so I’ll be honest with my listeners. When I came on, I said, I’m not an expert, I know what I know, here’s the information we have, and let’s go from there. That’s where putting it through the filter doesn’t always work. I heard a call from Bob Costas who was talking about sports talk radio and the “First Take” shows of the world and podcasts, and Bob said you can’t possibly be that opinionated about something for three hours a day, five days a week. And he’s right. When I look at the four things in the POKE scale, (I might say) I can’t entertain you today. Coronavirus is a serious discussion. You’ve got to know when to break the rules and let people know that today’s a little different.

JAY:  

So many shows right now are trying to figure out how to handle approaching the Coronavirus. If you had handled it with updates like a hard news station, it would be out of left field and not consistent with your brand.

BRENT:

And that’s where Knowledge comes into play and applies to guests. If I don’t know, get somebody on that does. It’s growing so many different layers. Schools cancelling classes. Events that are being cancelled. What do I do as a fan? Do I go to games? This is not going anywhere anytime soon, so knowledge becomes important. Trusting sources, getting people on the air with you that can explain it. If you’re not knowledgeable about it – in this case it’s Coronavirus but it could be a 2-3 zone defense – get somebody on who is knowledgeable.

JAY: 

Do you think authenticity goes part and parcel with Passion?

BRENT:  

Yes. You can’t control authenticity. Your audience is making that judgement. You’ve got to be authentic and people will appreciate that more.

JAY: 

Many hosts are afraid to give their opinion, whether it be because they fear it will be controversial or taken the wrong way. Do you always say what you believe or do you sometimes take an opinion you feel will be good for the show?

BRENT: 

It’s important to me that my opinion–going back to that word we used a minute ago–is authentic. The opinion I give someone in public better be the same as it is on the radio.

JAY:  

On the topic of brand development, listeners will see through it if it doesn’t match the brand perception of who you are.

BRENT:   

I’ve been doing radio in Syracuse since 1996. My listeners know certain things about me. I’ve had an opinion for years that Pete Rose should not be in the Hall of Fame and nothing has come along to change my opinion. So every time Hall of Fame voting comes around, I hear from people. “You still feel this way?” It can help build a brand and build awareness when people know what your opinion is.

JAY:  

Does the POKE scale work outside of Sports? Like for a morning show on a CHR or Hot AC station, for example?

BRENT:  

Yes. For example, you need to be passionate about the market you work in. That’s essential. Having an opinion and gathering other opinions is important. Knowledge speaks for itself and we’re all entertainers! That’s what I love about the POKE scale. It does apply to just about everything you can do in this business.

 

We send our thanks to Brent for taking the time to share the principles of the POKE scale, and applaud every radio personality going above and beyond to serve their listeners in important, crucial and memorable ways.

Coleman Insights Finds TED Talks Daily Leads Awareness Among Top Podtrac Ranked Shows

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC, August 12, 2019 – New research from Coleman Insights reveals that TED Talks Daily has the highest Aided Awareness of the 20 most-listened-to podcasts as ranked by Podtrac in March 2019. Despite being the most recognized, only 43% of monthly podcast listeners are familiar with the TED Talks Daily podcast.

The study of 1,000 18 to- 64-year-old monthly podcast listeners conducted in May 2019 asked respondents to review a list of the March ranking of the Podtrac Top 20 Podcasts and indicate their familiarity with each. The TED brand occupied two of the top three spots, with The Daily coming in second at 35% and the TED Radio Hour at 32%. There is a significant gap between the most and least familiar of the top 20 Podtrac-ranked shows, as Invisibilia is familiar to only 8% of monthly podcast listeners.

According to Coleman Insights President Warren Kurtzman, “Our findings reaffirm the idea that despite podcasting’s growth, the medium still has a long way to go with brand development. Even with the most-listened-to shows, most active podcast users aren’t familiar with them. The ones they are familiar with are big, cross-platform brands with strong marketing behind them.”

Listeners between the ages and 25 and 44 are more likely to be familiar with the Top 20 shows than are 18- to 24-year-olds or 45- to 64-year-olds. Furthermore, Coleman Insights finds that male podcast listeners are more likely than females to be familiar with the Top 20 Podtrac shows.

These findings are different from those released by Coleman Insights last week, which focused on Unaided Awareness of podcast brands. The top-ranked show in Unaided Awareness, The Joe Rogan Experience, does not participate in the Podtrac rankings and was therefore not included in the Aided Awareness measurement.

Coleman Insights will discuss the implications of its podcast research findings in a presentation at Podcast Movement, to be held at the Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando. The session, “Outside Thinking for Podcasts”, is set for Wednesday August 14th at 9:00 AM as part of the conference’s Industry Track.

Coleman Insights to Present Webinar on Podcast Listening Behavior

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC, August 28, 2018 – Coleman Insights will offer a webinar for the broadcast and podcast industry detailing the results of an actual mediaEKG® Deep Dive study on two popular iHeartRadio podcasts. The insights will cover “The Ben and Ashley I Almost Famous Podcast,” featuring former stars of ABC’s “The Bachelor” franchise, and “Business Unusual with Barbara Corcoran,” hosted by the real estate mogul, bestselling author and “Shark Tank” star.

By the end of the session, attendees will grasp the “Three Ts of Content Execution” and how each can play a role in content development. You’ll gain an understanding of how audiences feel about the content and why they feel that way. This session is designed to help podcasters and broadcasters create better, more focused content that produces more engagement and increases listening.

Coleman Insights Executive Vice President John Boyne says, “We’re thrilled to offer this presentation to those who didn’t get the chance to see it at Podcast Movement. Podcasters and broadcasters should find the insights useful for understanding in-the-moment podcast listener behavior for two shows with very different content.”

iHeartRadio SVP/Podcasting Chris Peterson said of the original presentation, “Let’s learn what listeners really think rather than a download, which tells you nothing.”

Boyne and fellow Executive Vice President Sam Milkman will present “The Three Ts of Content Execution: A Second-By-Second Look at Podcast Listening Behavior” Wednesday, September 5 from 2p-2:45 PM EDT via webinar.

Registration is now open for the webinar here.

 

The Three Ts of Content Execution

Tuesdays With Coleman

It doesn’t take too much exposure to Coleman Insights to recognize that we talk a lot about the twin goals of building strong brands and developing great content. My colleague Warren Kurtzman revisited these fundamentals last week when he wrote about what it will take for podcasting to pass the tipping point.

This week, I’d like to focus on the content development side of the equation. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist (or even a media researcher!) to tell you that better content comes from doing more of what the audience likes and less of what they don’t. The challenge comes in figuring out what exactly are those positive and negative drivers.

To help demonstrate to the podcasting industry what is doable on this front, on July 25th, iHeartRadio SVP/Podcasting Chris Peterson joined my colleague Sam Milkman and me onstage at Podcast Movement in Philadelphia to share content research we had done for two of their original podcasts. Chris introduced the session by stating, “Let’s learn what listeners really think rather than a download, which tells you nothing.”

Podcast Movement Session

(L-R) John Boyne, Sam Milkman and iHeartMedia SVP/Podcasting Chris Peterson

The Podcast Content Deep Dive: A Second-By-Second Look At Listening Behavior was the culmination of two separate mediaEKG Deep Dive® studies that analyzed a pair of iHeartRadio Original podcasts. One is The Ben & Ashley I Almost Famous Podcast, featuring former cast members of ABC-TV’s The Bachelor; while the other is Business Unusual with Barbara Corcoran, hosted by the real estate mogul and Shark Tank celebrity. For each, we recruited a sample of their target audience to listen to the podcast. Then, using the mediaEKG meter, we were able to collect granular in-the-moment feedback on what they were hearing. What caught their attention? What grew their interest? What lost them? We then followed up with qualitative questions to help us understand why they rated content the way they did.

While the details of the research are fascinating, let’s be honest: What works for a podcast specializing in The Bachelor universe may not work for everyone.

But, stepping back, there are broader lessons of the research that are applicable to many and that are evident in much of the content research we do. We refer to these as “The Three Ts” – Topic, Treatment and Tone.

Ben and Ashley I Almost Famous Podcast

  1. Choosing the right topic means choosing something to talk about that your audience wants to hear about and—importantly—wants to hear you talk about. In the case of Ben and Ashley I, their topic selections have a very clear impact on the second-by-second performance of the show. When talking about the current season of The Bachelor or The Bachelorette, their odds of success are high. But, the further they get from that bullseye topic lane, the better their execution needs to be in order to cut through. In our presentation, there are some fun examples of this, as well as a creative example of how the show cleverly extends its topic lane.
  2. For Barbara Corcoran’s podcast, the lessons of the research primarily relate to her treatment of various topics. There are certain ways that Barbara can espouse business advice that really work well for her. For example, Business Unusual’s target audience reacts really well to Barbara’s highly structured, step-by-step treatment of how to do things like ask for a raise or speak well in public.
  3. Finally, it is important to understand the optimal tone for a segment. Different tones for the same topic can have wildly different outcomes. For example, think about how differently one could cover the latest news out of the White House. Stephen Colbert may take a humorous tone, while Fareed Zakaria may take a more serious, professorial tone. Meanwhile, someone else may take an almost unhinged, ranting tone. Same topic + different tone = totally different outcome.

Business Unusual Barbara Corcoran

Want to learn more? On Wednesday, September 5th at 2pm EDT, Sam and I will deliver The Podcast Content Deep Dive: A Second-By-Second Look At Listening Behavior via webinar. We’ll dig into the specifics of how listeners react to these two podcasts, and you’ll learn more about how topic, treatment and tone play out in each. Our goal is to help podcasters and broadcasters think more and learn more about how The Three Ts can help them develop great content.

Click here to register for the webinar, and we’ll talk with you then!

Coleman Insights To Take A Deep Dive Into Podcast Engagement At Summer Conference

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC, June 20, 2018 – Coleman Insights will present the results of a new mediaEKG® Deep Dive study on iHeartRadio’s The Ben and Ashley I Almost Famous Podcast, featuring former stars of ABC’s The Bachelor, and Business Unusual with Barbara Corcoran, featuring the real estate mogul and Shark Tank celebrity, as part of the Industry Track at Podcast Movement July 25 in Philadelphia, PA.

The proprietary mediaEKG Deep Dive platform provides second-by-second insight into which elements of the podcast appeal to listeners and which do not. The platform also uses a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods to reveal how listeners feel about the podcast’s hosts and guests and how engaged listeners are with the podcast’s content benchmarks.

Coleman Insights Executive Vice President/Senior Consultant Sam Milkman explains, “We will go well beyond the simple measures of listener and download counts that podcasters are used to seeing and examine content engagement. By looking at how the audience responds to specific content, podcasters can more effectively develop engaging content.”

Podcast Movement Co-Founder Dan Franks adds, “We are thrilled to partner with Coleman Insights to help us present the Industry Track at this year’s Podcast Movement. One of the biggest challenges for a podcaster is to figure out who their listener is, and what their listener wants. Coleman’s solutions for this very problem are very exciting for us as organizers, as we get to help spread the word this July throughout the entire podcast community!”

Coleman Insights’ Executive Vice Presidents/Senior Consultants Sam Milkman and John Boyne will deliver “The Podcast Content Deep Dive: A Second-By-Second Look At Listening Behavior” Wednesday, July 25 at 10am at Podcast Movement at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown. They will be joined by Chris Peterson, Senior Vice President, Podcasting for iHeartMedia. The session will be part of the conference’s Industry Track, featuring subjects such as metrics and advertising standards to future trends.