Erika Engle

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Hawaii radio stations turn
broadcasters into podcasters

TWO Hawaii radio stations owned by Texas-based Clear Channel Communications Inc. have begun making on-air shows available on the Web for people to download.

The stations join a growing list of broadcast outlets seeking more ways to get into people's ears. This latest foray involves podcasting, a method of publishing files on the Internet.

The Rick Hamada and Mike Buck shows on KHVH-AM 830, and the Clear Channel local public affairs program "Community Matters," can be downloaded free from the station's Web site and from TownPodcast.com, headed by local businessman Peter Kay.

Clear Channel stations in major markets such as New York City and Los Angeles weeks ago began offering podcasts of shortened portions of shows, as well as material that did not originally air.

The difference is that the Hawaii podcast material will have been broadcast, said Paul Wilson, director of programming for Clear Channel Hawaii. More shows from other company-owned stations, such as KSSK-AM/FM 590/92.3, KIKI-FM 93.9 and KUCD-FM 101.9, will be added in the coming weeks, he said.

The podcasts will initially contain the same commercials that ran on the air, Wilson said.

"At some point, we may insert new commercials at a different rate -- that's the eventual plan."

TownPodcast.com invites podcasters to upload their shows for free, but also offers packages to help people start podcasting, Kay said. The packages start at $500, but most of what a beginning podcaster needs is available free online, especially if one uses "that cheapo microphone that came with your keyboard that you've never used," said Kay.

Not just grassroots

Podcaster Ryan Ozawa, of HawaiiUP.com, is not surprised to see mainstream broadcasters jumping into the arena. "I have no doubt that we'll come to see 'regular' broadcasters dominate podcasting as far as the mainstream production of it goes," he said.

The Hamada and Buck shows won't be posted for download until the day after they air, which Ozawa sees as the downside for the podcast of a radio show. "Imagine (hearing) a passionate call for people to rally at the Capitol ... then finding out the event already happened."

The podcasting of music also poses a problem of its own, since fees must be paid to licensing organizations to stream music online. That is the reason for the delay in podcasting shows from Clear Channel's other Hawaii stations, Kay said.

Ozawa said he is not giving up on the grassroots nature of podcasting.

"The two main reasons podcasting took off are the widespread use of broadband Internet and iPods -- and the fact that people were dissatisfied with what Clear Channel and Cox were shoveling onto them."

Podcasts of mainstream radio will only appeal to a station's existing audience, he said.

"The people that radio drove away already? The people turning to their iPods or satellite radio? They're not getting them back," Ozawa predicted.

Not dead yet

The podcasting craze has some industry observers ringing the death knell for traditional, terrestrial radio. Media research companies predict satellite radio will continue to grow, along with personal entertainment choices and emerging technologies, though satellite radio is not yet available in Hawaii.

Chuck Cotton, general manager of Clear Channel's seven-station Hawaii cluster, took issue with the death-knell ringers.

"Radio reaches 97 to 98 percent of the population of the country every week. It has for years and it still does.

"Radio still has content that you can't get anywhere else -- traffic, news and information. Even commercials have information in them that people need. You can't get that on an MP3 player or a CD," he said.

The radio industry finds ways to use technology to grow and evolve and make the business better, Wilson said. "TV was going to kill radio; video (rentals) were going to kill the movies," Wilson said.

Ozawa said he believes independent podcasters, like bloggers, will adopt specialized, narrow channels. Even radio stations went from broadcasting to the masses to narrowcasting to specific demographic groups that like a certain genre of music.

"Only the diehard, KoolAid-drinking podcaster thinks they're going to destroy Clear Channel or Cox," Ozawa said.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4302, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: eengle@starbulletin.com

E-mail to Business Desk


© Honolulu Star-Bulletin -- http://archives.starbulletin.com