Podcasting needs to change in Canada

For the last three months, I have been busy building my new podcast The 905er into a viable enterprise. I have been working with a colleague, Roland Tanner on this. Neither of us had experience creating podcasts, nor marketing them. However, like any good entrepreneur, that hasn’t stopped us from diving in head first.

We have learned quickly a lot of this new media industry in Canada. Mostly as to how there doesn’t seem to really be one. According to one estimate, there are approximately 850,000 podcasts out there right now. With that number you must be saying, Joel you’ve just contradicted yourself. Normally I’d agree, however there is another statistic that we’ve observed since beginning this venture.

What does the industry look like right now?

One of the first things I made certain to do, was to check our metrics and see how we were performing. Apple Podcasts is the paramount go to chart ranking for the industry right now. It’s what I use to see how each episode is performing once we upload it. We are in the politics category, so that is what I focus on above all others. As I’m not interested in competing with the Joe Rogan’s or Barstool Sports podcasts. However, I notice a distinct trend happening. Take a look here:

The Top Political Podcasts in Canada
Rounding out the Top 15 Political Podcasts in Canada

You’ll see the standings for the Top 15 political podcasts in Canada. If you take a look, you’ll see that there are only two Canadian podcasts. One by Canadaland, the other by Peter Mansbridge. This isn’t an off week either. This is common place. Rarely do we get into Canadian made content until we start getting into the 50th ranking.

As podcasting is becoming more and more ubiquitous in the modern media landscape, one must wonder why isn’t Canada getting into this venture more? I have a few reasons.

Why podcasting is different here in Canada…

Podcasts when done right are an independently produced and distributed platform. In America, Joe Rogan, Ben Shapiro, Barstool Sports and Crooked Media, often top the various charts. They are also primarily independently produced and distributed. They are literally grassroots built empires. We don’t have that in Canada.

Canadaland is often the example of the Canadian podcast, but I find they are the exception not the rule. Instead, the Canadian podcasting industry is built upon CBC, Rogers owned Frequency, and Corus owned Curiouscast. Primarily they sell repurposed episodes of their radio properties. These aren’t podcasts.

Think of podcasting and radio as the difference between YouTube and TV. It’s similar but with very important distinctions. Instead of the corporate contrived fluff that TV and Radio produce, online independent productions are often more personal, and more focused. One episode will usually be focused on one topic as opposed to multiple shorter segments. It’s what makes the charm of podcasting so addictive. You get to know the personalities of the people who are producing the content.

The result is often, what comes across as a more sincere and forthcoming conversation. A personality or group of personalities that you can identify with, that you want to spend time with. Ultimately, it’s akin to having a chat with a friend. Rather than the corporately produced material on TV and Radio which often feels sanitized and restrained. Forced instead of natural. It’s this distinction which I believe makes podcasting such a powerful new medium to produce and receive content.

This brings me to what we’re doing wrong here in Canada. We too often don’t have the confidence in our own abilities. Instead we rely on others to rise to the occasion. At least in terms of private enterprise. This new medium, is ripe for entrepreneurs to step up and build new media empires with. We have seen it in America, why not here in Canada? Instead we rely on the major corporations of Corus, Rogers and CBC to build their monopolies on this new technology and poison the waters before anyone else can get a foothold.

So what is the point of this Joel?

You’re probably asking the screen right now. Am I making a plea for government monies to come pouring into the fledgling Canadian podcast industry? Am I asking for Can Pod Con dollars? No. I don’t think that will suffice. In fact I’d argue that in the modern age the entire Can Con model needs to be toppled, but thats for another blog post altogether.

I want you to listen more. Listen to more Canadian produced podcasts. Listen to the Canadalands, and newer independent new media enterprises starting up. I want you to listen to my podcast The 905er. Stay away from the repackaged CBC, Corus and Rogers radio shows. If you didn’t listen to them when they aired, why are you going to listen to them off the air? Most of all, if you’re curious about starting a podcast, do it. Dive in and do it. Trust me, it’s not hard to get the equipment you need. All you need is a good idea, and the will to go out and publicise it to your audience.

This is a powerful, new and impactful medium. I truly believe that new media such as podcasting, online video production and whatever else may come down the wire, will transform the way we consume media in the 21st Century. It can also be incredibly democratic, allowing you and I to have an impactful voice on society.

We are new to the podcasting game. We are learning more and more every day, about how to reach our target audience and provide what they want and need to hear. In only 12 episodes we have already risen to a peak ranking of 49 out of 300 podcasts in the politics listing. We are just getting started and still have 48 more spots to go! If we can do this then trust us, you can too!

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