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5 Differences Between Live Radio Broadcasting and Podcasting

Live radio broadcasting and podcasting have a lot of similarities that may have you questioning whether you should turn your idea into a radio station or a podcast. Also, you may be wondering whether podcast information can apply to your live radio broadcasts and vice versa. Now, you are of course able to air pre-recorded segments on your radio station, which make it much more of a podcast setting, so this article is specifically discussing the live radio aspect of running a radio station. So, to answer all of your questions about how similar live radio and podcasts are and how much of the information about both forms translates to each other, we are going to break down the differences between the two.

1. Schedule vs. On-Demand

When you have a live radio show, you have to stick to a strict schedule and format. You are only on-air for a pre-determined amount of time at a specific time of day. Additionally, you have to communicate that schedule to listeners so that they have the opportunity to listen to the full live radio broadcast from the beginning. Your listeners may tune in at any point during the live radio broadcast though, which means you need to re-introduce yourself, the show, topics, and even recap the conversation(s) thus far every so often.

On the other hand, with a podcast, your audience can listen to your podcast whenever they want, they are able to start from the beginning of every episode, and they have the ability to stop listening and come back to the podcast later at the exact point that they stopped. Your listeners can also restart your podcast or go back to a certain point, so you don't need to repeat yourself like you do with live radio. With a podcast, your audience has a lot more control with how, when, what, and where they listen. Although you likely have a podcast upload schedule that you follow, your audience still has a lot of agency whereas both a live radio host and the audience don't have a lot of control over the schedule or listening habits because scheduling dictates everything.

2. Mass Appeal vs. Niche

Another difference has to do with the target audience of each. Generally speaking, radio stations try to appeal to larger audiences by playing more popular music and creating content about a wide range of topics. This often poses a challenge because while you are trying to appeal to a mass audience, it can be difficult to reach a large audience and capture their attention. Now, this is not always the case, especially with internet radio, particularly on Live365, because the music and content is programmed by real people with their own interests. Many people now begin radio stations with more of a niche genre of music in mind, meaning that their radio station appeals to a more niche audience.

While there are some podcasts that try to appeal to larger audiences, many take the approach of focusing on a specific topic so they appeal to a more niche audience. With a niche podcast, you are largely hoping that the audience that is interested in your topic will stumble upon your podcast or that you will be able to easily reach them online through your knowledge of their online habits. Again, there is certainly some overlap here as both podcasts and live radio shows can appeal to large audiences or niche audiences, but historically radio has leaned into mass appeal and podcasts have gravitated more towards niche topics and thus niche audiences.

3. Live vs. Pre-Recorded

This one may seem obvious, but the live aspect of a radio show gives much less wiggle room compared to recording your podcast. With a live show, you have to be comfortable with being spontaneous and moving on from any mistakes, interruptions, technical difficulties, etc. If anything at all happens, you can't edit it out afterwards, you just have to continue with your show since it is live and you also have the time constraint of however long your broadcast is scheduled for.

When you have a podcast, you have the ability to re-record and edit out mistakes and anything else that you would like to eliminate from the episode that you publish. You are able to clean up, polish, and perfect your podcast. However, you may then lose spontaneity with your podcast because of the ability to re-record and edit. Also, while you likely have a episode length that you aim for, you have no time restraints unlike a live show. You have the ability to talk for as long as you want on your podcast and you can keep and cut from it as much as you see fit. If you have a lot of compelling content to discuss in your podcast, you can include it all whereas a live show forces you to cut down on your content, even if it is incredibly compelling.

4. Regulations and Licensing vs. Unregulated

The regulations between live radio and podcasts also largely varies. With radio, you obviously play lots of music, even on live broadcasts. Legally playing music comes with a lot of regulation though. You have to obtain licensing for the music you play on your radio station and then there are lots of regulations as to how often you can play the same artists, albums, and songs. (If you are running your radio station on Live365, music licensing is included and the regulations are implemented into the platform.) The regulation that comes with playing music is a large part of having a radio station, but that is not the case with podcasting.

While you likely play a lot of music on your radio station, you actually can't use music in your podcast because of copyright issues. Now, you are able to use music if you have specific permission from the artist or if the music is under public domain, but aside from these cases, you are unable to put music in your podcast. Aside from this, podcasts are largely unregulated. Basically, if you want to play music, live radio is your only option whereas if you would like to talk without limitations, podcasting is the right option for you.

5. Short Life vs. Long Life

Lastly, live radio and podcasts have very different life lengths. Live radio broadcasts have an incredibly short life as they are only available to listeners as it is happening. Once a live radio event ends, that is the end of its life. You are able to record your live events and extend their lives by posting them on a website or blog, for example. However, generally speaking, there is a tiny window of opportunity for a live show to be consumed.

Podcasts are the complete opposite of live radio broadcasts in this respect. Podcasts have an incredibly long life. In fact, a podcast will be online forever, so your target audience will always be able to consume your podcast, whether that be weeks, months, or even years later.

As you can see, there are some key differences between live radio broadcasting and podcasting. However, despite these differences, there is a lot of information out there about podcasting that can be applied to live broadcasting and vice versa. Of course, information related to these differences will not be applicable, but information about branding, planning, equipment, preparation, and so on could absolutely be used for both forms. So, use all of the information you have access to in order to create the best radio station or podcast possible. And, if you have an idea and were wondering what form would be best, hopefully these differences gave you some clarity!

If you are looking for podcast information, take a look at all of our informational podcast articles here and for radio broadcaster information, check out our articles here.

Interested in podcasting with Live365? Join our waitlist to be the first to be notified when podcasting is available on the Live365 platform.

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About Michelle Ruoff

  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania