Public Radio Podcasts Doing Well, Making Underwriter $$$

I, for one, am glad that there are podcasts of public radio programs. My local station, WILL-AM, has been podcasting for about eighteen months, and I appreciate being able to catch up on Bob McChesney’s show and some of their other great public affairs programs on my own schedule. I agree with Jack Brighton, who runs internet operations for WILL, who said on my radio program back in January that podcasting is just another way of making their programming accessible, and therefore part of the mission of public broadcasting.

So, I’m glad to see that NPR is teaming up with other producers to offer a whole pile of podcasted programs, and finding success in terms of downloads, and underwriting. Of course, underwriting is a often a little too close to advertising for my taste much of the time. And yet, because of its limits (on broadcast at least) it’s still not as pericious as real commercial advertising.

Still, NPR tells Current that its thinking about selling underwriting on “themed packages of podcasts,” which seems to strike a little closer to advertising. In fact, NPR can sell full blown ads on podcasts as long as it’s only online, since the noncommercial rules only apply to the broadcast band.

But bandwidth does cost money, even before the AT&T starts charging content providers. And I’m not sure how well pledge drives would work for podcasts. I don’t know what the solution is (aside from better public or federal funding, which has its own set of problems), so I’ll just have to wait and see if NPR can resist the urge to cash in too much.






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