On Radio: Up From the Boneyard: Local Media, Its Digital Death and Rebirth [Part 2]

June 11, 2012
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As mentioned in part one of this three-part post, the birth of Bob’s Boneyard and the Boneyard Podcast network emerged from the death of a ten-year radio show and career. Bob Frantz, a.k.a. Bob Fresh of The Mike and Bob Show, was clearly depressed about the loss of his job: “When the show was cancelled I was bummed out. But I am not going to stop doing something that I love doing just because someone said don’t.” And with that came the idea for not just a podcast but a podcast network. It was an idea that Frantz adapted from at least one radio guy gone podcaster, Adam Carolla. Like Frantz, Carolla had been forced out the radio door and into his garage when his radio show was cancelled in spring 2009. Unlike Frantz, Carolla was nationally syndicated and could still point to very positive Arbitron ratings. Upon being released after his home station embraced a format change, Carolla responded by creating a “network” of podcasts he could use to sell advertisers listeners in aggregate. Frantz quickly looked to this strategy as a way to continue an over-the-mic career and recruited a number of friends and former broadcast buddies to populate his network.

The other shows include Torres vs. Zombies, a zombie-survival podcast, Dork Trek, a “Star Trek: The Next Generation themed” podcast, and a mother-oriented podcast titled Get Mommy a Drink. The latter podcast consists of Frantz’s wife Stephanie and her friend, Sarah LeClaire Heisler, both of whom developed a program devoted to mothers who hate the idea that they should talk about their kids 24-hours a day. Launching in the summer of 2011, the podcast quickly became the network’s most popular offering. Foul- mouthed, obsessed with Duran Duran, and simply unlike any other “mommy cast” offered at the time, Get Mommy a Drink appeared as a recommended comedy podcast on iTunes. It found itself as one of the top comedy podcasts for a number of months, placing them in the company of comedy podcast celebrities such as Adam Carolla, Marc Maron, and Kevin Smith. After an initial stint of podcast fame, Get Mommy a Drink found its core audience of around 10,000 downloads a month and connected with an audience of spirited and dispirited mothers, women who never wanted to have kids, and self-identified gay men.

Get Mommy a Drink‘s success taught Frantz and his colleague’s two lessons. First, the power of finding and filling an niche at the national level. As far as podcasts goes, there was nothing like this in the “mommycast” universe. Secondly, it affirmed what Frantz began to suspect: the idea of turning a “local comedy program” into a “hit” may have to be abandoned. Even though the original Bob’s Boneyard flagship podcast is still the most popular in terms of downloads per month (close to 15,000 a month), Bob’s Boneyard posts three podcasts a week as opposed to Get Mommy a Drink‘s one and came with pre-existing audience from The Mike and Bob Show. In other words, Frantz discovered that his other niche-oriented podcasts, had “more room for growth”. Frantz predicts that “in two years Bob’s Boneyard may have the smallest number of listeners because the other shows are so niche.” As an extension of a local comedy radio show, the podcast lacks a focused topic and is competing nationally not only with all those other local comedy teams from across the nation that are no longer on radio and are now on podcasts, but with fellow podcasters. Frantz understands that he is at a severe disadvantage competing with many of them: “Dana Gould and Marc Maron live in LA and have been in the business for years. They are national performers that use their casts to promote their acts. They can leverage their celebrity and call someone famous to come on their cast. Guys like Adam Carolla has these connections. Even then someone like Kevin Smith is a huge podcaster and has just started making money at this.”

That question – “How to make money at podcasting?” – is a problem that plagues Boneyard Industries and will be explored soon in the third and final post on this topic.

If you are interested in listening to these podcasts, search for them on iTunes or click on the links above.


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