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How River Radio Built A Podcast First Radio Station

River Radio flipped traditional radio on its head and created a “podcast first” radio station with Whooshkaa.

Noor Hammad • Tue 14 September, 2021

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A “podcast first radio station” may sound like an oxymoron, with much of the narrative around podcasting and radio pitching the two mediums against each other.

River Radio, a new venture launched in 2021 and servicing the Thames Valley in the South-East of England, has billed itself as just that.

Using Whooshkaa’s broadcast to podcast solution, River Radio has created a hybrid format that meets their audience’s listening preferences, delivers more value to sponsors and saves the River Radio team time and money.

The Opportunity

River Radio identified an opportunity to engage a community in The Thames Valley, West of London that wasn’t being serviced by a commercial radio station.

Rather than replicate a traditional radio station model, River Radio launched a new model that better suits the lifestyles and listening preferences of their prospective audience.

Sam Sethi, Managing Director of River Radio explained, “We knew we didn’t want to just do a traditional music radio station and we didn’t want to interrupt our shows with three minutes of irrelevant ads every 15 minutes.”

River Radio also wanted to respond to their audience’s media consumption preferences, which are dominated by on-demand services such as podcasting.

“We asked ourselves, what does live radio give you that podcasting doesn’t? It makes sense if you’re broadcasting something that needs to be listened to in real-time like a football match, but there was no point saying to our audience ‘we’ve got a great show on wine but unless you tune in from 9 to 11 on a Thursday morning you don’t get to listen to it’. Similar to how websites are now built mobile-first to respond to user preferences for mobile devices, we built River Radio to respond to listener’s on-demand preferences, every show is only 1 hour long which is perfect for podcasting.”

River Radio would be a new type of radio station, featuring a show format and commercial model that set it apart from traditional broadcast stations.

“We asked ourselves, what does live radio give you that podcasting doesn’t?”

A “podcast first radio station”

It’s no secret that on-demand has been steadily eating into traditional broadcast media consumption. This is true for music, as audiences increasingly turn to on-demand options like Spotify in preference to broadcast radio.

The trend is also reflected in spoken word audio with studies showing listeners are trading radio for podcasts.

Sam explains how River Radio has focused on creating one hour shows that cater to these trends and reflect modern preferences for higher quality, in-depth, hyper-local spoken word content.

“We call them subject focused shows. For example we have a wine show (Uncorked), a book show (Turning Pages), a parenting show (School of Parenting), a health and fitness show (Fitness Into Your Day). We have 15 other similar subject focused 1 hour shows. They’re 90% spoken word with some or no music.”

The subject show format is more akin to a podcast than a traditional radio show. An example is Uncorked, which is hosted by Master of Wine Katherine Dart. It features in-depth interviews with local wine producers, knowledge sharing about wine tasting, food matching and grape varieties as well as listener questions. Sam summed it up as ”a podcast recording that we happen to broadcast live.”

A new commercial model

The subject focused content model is a natural fit for highly relevant sponsorship integrations.

“There’s no and now for 3 minutes of advertising… interrupting our shows, instead we have a relevant sponsor for each show. For example the book show called Turning Pages is sponsored by a book publishing company and Uncorked the wine show is sponsored by a local winery”, Sam explained.

Because River Radio caters to both broadcast and podcast listeners, they are able to deliver more value to sponsors:

“It’s great for sponsors because they get more bites of the cherry. They are integrated into the live broadcast and then again via the podcast version with dynamic pre-rolls, mid-rolls and post-rolls made possible by Whooshkaa’s dynamic content insertion. They’re also exposed to listeners who come through our website where we embed the Whooshkaa show players for listen again.”

“It’s great for sponsors because they get more bites of the cherry.”

A single, seamless workflow with Whooshkaa

Whooshkaa’s broadcast-to-podcast solution and dynamic content insertion technology come together to provide an end-to-end solution for River Radio.

Live broadcasts are recorded automatically using Whooshkaa’s Live Stream capture. The River Radio team configures a schedule for each show and maps it to a relevant podcast, complete with artwork, descriptions, tagging and other necessary metadata.

Whooshkaa Live Stream Capture River Radio use Whooshkaa to capture their live streams on a regular schedule.

When a live broadcast ends it is immediately available as a podcast episode. The content is edited and in-house ads are automatically recognised and replaced with dynamic, targeted sponsor ads by Whooshkaa’s technology – with no manual effort required. This means on-demand listeners get the right sponsor ad and the right replacement content served to them in real-time.

Episodes are distributed to podcast platforms such as Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Deezer and more where they can be accessed by an on-demand audience or live broadcast listeners who want to listen again from the River Radio website.

“We’ve recognised that live broadcast drives listeners to the podcasts and the podcasts drive listeners who are really keen to hear new content as soon as possible, to other live broadcasts. With Whooshkaa we can cater for both”, Sam notes.

River Radio Uncorked on Spotify Shows are automatically published as podcast episodes and distributed to platforms such as Spotify.

On the River Radio website, Whooshkaa show players are integrated into the members-only section where new episodes flow through automatically without requiring website updates.

River Radio website featuring Whooshkaa player.

Commercialising Content with Whooshkaa Campaigns

A tightly integrated sponsorship model is key to delivering on River Radio’s commercialisation objectives.

Dynamic content insertion technology provided by Whooshkaa Campaigns allows the River Radio team to control sponsorship messages across all on-demand platforms. For example when a show’s sponsor changes, new sponsor messages can replace upcoming episodes as well as across the entire back catalogue.

Due to the evergreen nature of River Radio’s content, listeners frequently consume older episodes, meaning additional value can be delivered to sponsors who can reach audiences no matter when they choose to listen or which episodes they choose to listen to.

Whooshkaa Campaigns gives River Radio control over the placement of messages, frequency and targeting capabilities such as by location and device.

Measuring Engagement

Whooshkaa’s IAB Certified analytics allow River Radio to measure audience engagement with on-demand audio across all platforms and understand when, where and how their audience is listening.

Whooshkaa Campaigns provides IAB Certified campaign reporting so River Radio can demonstrate value to their sponsors.

A new model for radio

River Radio have created an innovative format that satisfies the preferences of a modern radio audience. Smart use of dynamic advertising technology means they can deliver more value to sponsors. We’re excited to see where River Radio take their “podcast first radio station” next.

If you’d like to learn more about Whooshkaa’s broadcast-to-podcast solution and dynamic advertising technology please drop us a line.

Author: Noor Hammad

Noor Hammad

Noor is the Chief Marketing Officer at Whooshkaa. He is passionate about SaaS technology and all things audio.

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