Is a Live Podcast an Event Format to Consider?

Event and session formats are constantly evolving to meet attendee expectations. Is a live podcast another one to add to the mix?

We’re no strangers to exploring the potential of podcasts here at Associations Now. We’ve taken a look at associations that are finding success with podcasts, why podcasting could be a natural fit for CEOs, and how podcasts could become revenue generators.

In this post, I’m going to tackle another opportunity for leveraging podcasts: as events.

For example, one of my must-listen-to podcasts at the moment is “Pod Save America,” a twice-weekly commentary by former President Obama aides on all things political. I’m a self-proclaimed “Friend of the Pod.” (Fellow listeners will know what I’m talking about.)

While most of my listening happens either on my morning runs or during my walks to and from work, when I heard they’d be doing a live show, I was excited. Getting to see the hosts in front of an audience, answering questions from their listeners, would provide a different perspective. Unfortunately for me, that sold-out show took place in Brooklyn last month, and I wasn’t there (bummer), but a friend who attended said it was amazing and engaging and left her feeling fired up and excited.

Which is probably how meeting planners would like attendees to feel after leaving a conference session, right?

This is just one example of a media brand extending its podcast to live events. An article posted on Digiday earlier this week took a look at this trend and why “many podcast producers now consider live events to be an integral part of any show’s development and growth.”

For companies like Slate and Midroll, live events have a number of benefits, according to the article. Among them: Ticket sales serve as a revenue stream, the live shows help improve podcast downloads in the cities they are held in, they’re a good place to test out new talent and show ideas, and advertisers and sponsors are willing to back them.

Offering a live podcast at your next conference could have some of these benefits, along with others. For instance, it could be a way to engage some of your millennial attendees onsite. A 2016 study from Edison Research called “The Podcast Consumer” [PDF] showed that 38 percent of people ages 18-34 listen to podcasts.

Another benefit of a live podcast is that it extends the audience for your meeting. For example, you could livestream the podcast, so that nonattendees could listen in. At the very least, you could make it available for download after the conference. The recorded podcast could even be used as a marketing piece for the following year’s meeting.

A third benefit is that the live podcast format creates an immersive experience that gives attendees a chance to interact with the hosts and ask them questions—something that’s impossible when they’re simply listening.

In a May 2016 Boston Globe article, John Gallaugher, who teaches about podcasts as an associate professor of information systems at Boston College, echoes this last point.

“Listening to podcasts is very intimate, and the audience can feel a real attachment to the artist. An opportunity to see and be part of the performance brings the fan base closer,” he said.

What do you think of adding a live podcast to the format mix at your next conference? Let us know in the comments.


Samantha Whitehorne

By Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editor-in-chief of Associations Now. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!