Hovey Smith on PodCasting Outdoor Radio Programs
The following is from a presentation given at the Outdoor Writers Association of America’s annual conference which in 2013 was held at Lake Placid, New York. In this presentation I describe how my nearly two years of Podcast radio failed to attract sponsors and what I learned from this effort. Most significantly for those thinking about PodCasting Outdoor Radio, I outline a dozen types of programs that would be effective as stand-alone programs and provide examples from my PodCasting experience.
OWAA, Lake Placid
Sept. 16, 2013
Stay on Message for Getting and Keeping Sponsors
Wm. Hovey Smith
Host/Producer Hovey’s Outdoor Adventures
The Backyard Sportsman
Who is this guy?
Wild game cook
Stand up comedian
TV short feature personality
What is the common thread that connects all of these activities?
How is this manifest?
Wants to try the new, outlandish, and unexpected whether it offers economic reward or not.
Bored to distraction with repetitive activities, following the same formula, writing or producing the same types of stories over and over again. Yet this is what the marketplace wants and rewards.
Potential sponsors want
A. Some reasonable connection of their product or service with your activities
B. Repeated exposure, hopefully on a lot of programs in addition to ad buys
C. Dependable same-format programming
D. Simple deals
E. Commonly personal contacts and interchange with the host over a period of years before will spring for any serious money. Hate working with ad agents.
F. Audience numbers
G. Demonstrable results
What I offered
A. A variety of programs
B. Featured different classes of products or activities on almost every show
C. Irregular formatting
D. Only had occasional interviews with outdoor personalities
E. Gag ads that might be sometimes difficult to distinguish from real one
F. Inconsistent persona
G. Non-uniform voice
H. Variable recording quality
I. World-wide exposure
J. Supplemented with high-quality blogs
K. Supplemented by YouTube videos
L. Audience peaked at nearly 20,000 downloads a week
M. One-man broadcast effort
N. Network ad agency support
O. Network program placement
P. Two broadcast networks and iTunes availability
In brief, any potential sponsor did not know what to expect from one show to the next and was dealing with network ad people that they did not know and apparently did not want to be bothered with.
Usual show format
Show text to half hour
Amount of personal outlay for radio production over two networks for nearly two years
Amount of income derived from ad revenue
Amount of income derived from book & product sales.
Indirect income/support resulting from radio show
Outstanding personal debts resulting from broadcasting efforts
From an economic point of view the PodCast radio programs “Hovey’s Outdoor Adventures” and “The Backyard Sportsman” were absolute failures.
A. Got to go on some interesting hunts and do some interesting things that otherwise would not have been possible
B. Did receive extended public exposure on the radio
C. Video production resulted in TV offers
D. Helping to solidify personal relations with sponsors resulting in ad placement in books
E. Interesting life experiences out of the house moving and doing
What benefit is this to YOU?
My experiences in producing inventive radio programs are best used as a sampler to help potential host/producers decide what kind of radio that they wish to do or what new things that they might add to existing formats.
I produced at least 12 different types of shows, each of which could be a format for your own radio program. Rather than change-up every week, pick a particular type of program and stick to it. All of my programs are still available on WebTalkRadio.net and Apple iTunes. The best way to get to them is to go to my www.hoveysoutdooradventures.wordpress.com blog, read the outline of the shows and use the link to go to my WebTalkRadio.net show page and bring then up using the archived shows tab.
Trade show/convention programs. These shows which might run two consecutive one-hour episodes consisted of coverage of the annual Shot and Blade shows in Las Vegas and Atlanta and such a show-based program might also include the annual conventions of the NRA, NWTF, QDMA and many other outdoor organizations which could fill out a full year of weekly programs. This would be particularly valuable to potential sponsors if supplemented with blogs and videos.
These are technically very difficult shows to record, video, write up and produce – especially as a one-man production.
Examples of such coverage are Hovey’s Outdoor Adventures shows on Nov. 11, 2010; Feb. 23, 2011; June 15, 2011; June 21, 2011; Aug. 11, 2011; Oct. 3, 2011; Jan. 25, 2012; Feb. 13, 2012; Apr. 22, 2012; Apr. 30, 2012; June 14, 2012; Aug. 19, 2012; and Feb. 2, 2013.
Hunting stories are usually thought of as the exclusive territory of visual media, but these also work as radio programs. Shows were of my hunts or with/about others describing their hunts. I featured variety with hunts using muzzleloading guns, pistols, rifles, bows and crossbows. These hunts were also worked in other shows and the hunts given as an examples.
Some of these shows were on: Nov. 30, 2010; Dec.10, 2010, Jan. 4, 2011; Jan. 11, 2011; Feb. 1, 2011, Feb. 8, 2011; Feb. 15, 2011; Mar. 8, 2011; April 4, 2011; July 18, 2011; Sept. 5, 2011; Nov. 1, 2011; Dec. 5, 2011; Jan. 9, 2012; Jan. 23, 2012; March 5, 2012; April 2, 2012; July 16, 2012; Sept. 17, 2012; Oct. 2, 2012; Dec. 21, 2012; Jan. 7, 2013; and Feb. 4, 2013.
Memorable shows were “Blunderbuss Swan Hunt on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, Feb. 4, 2013;” “Muzzleloading Hunts on Georgia’s Ossabaw and CumberlandIslands, Jan. 7, 2013;” “Larry Weishuhn Hunts Africa and Asia, Sept. 17, 2012; “Hunting Spring Hogs and Turkeys, April 2, 2012 and “The Naked Truth about Snipe Hunting, March 5, 2012.
Radio drama. On of my plays, “A Visit from Auntie Thresa Claus,” was used as part of my annual Christmas Show. In addition I did some more extemporaneous productions with turkey hunting stories that were supplemented with thunder and lightning and in connection with a business show.
The most recent broadcast of “A Visit from Auntie Thresa Claus” was on Dec. 17, 2012. “Turkey Hunting Stories” was aired on April 11, 2012; and “The Backyard Business Conclave at the Road Kill Café, Podunkville, U.S.A.” was heard on May 30, 2011 and followed up on a more conventional treatment of small business start-ups the previous year.
Featured destinations. Long the breadbasket for the travel writer/broadcaster, my venture in destination broadcasting took unusual twists with shows like “Sandersville, Georgia: My Home Town, May 23, 2010” which resulted in a CD tracing the town’s and my family’s history from the 1700s to the present. This was sponsored by a local bank and is sold each year at Christmas as an inexpensive gift to out-of-towners. This is a project that any of us “of a certain age” can do.
Another show was “Hunting Elephants and Rhinos in Eastern Tennessee, Nov. 5 2012” which featured Miocene fossils that were being dug from an ancient sinkhole at the Gray Fossil Site near Johnson City, Tennessee.
Hunt destinations. These shows differed from Type 4 in that these shows were over-the-top outrageous promotions for the local community and/or county. This was as if the Chamber of Commerce had “gone wild” and were promoting their area as the best of all possible places on God’s green earth.
Featured communities were Steward County, Nebraska, on March 15, 2011; Sandersville, Georgia on April 15, 2011; Richmond Hill, Georgia on May 15, 2011; Coastal Louisiana on June 6, 2011; Monks Corner, S.C. on Nov.21, 2011; Helen and Nacoochee, Georgia, May 21, 2012; Ashland City, Tennessee Oct. 1, 2012; and Dawson, Georgia, Oct. 15, 2012
Interviews with outdoor personalities. Often I would do brief interviews with people at trade shows, but occasionally would do pre-arranged call-in one-hour shows. Most commonly we had spoken previously and were able to have a friendly conversational chat about the subject topic.
These included Dennis Dunn, the author of “Barebow” on Nov. 30, 2010; Bill and Kath Troubridge on Jan. 11, 2011; Bill Booth on Feb. 1, 2011 and July 16, 2012; and Larry Weishuhn on July 18, 2011 and Sept. 17, 2012.
Informational. A since of mortality hits you when you have dodged death a half-dozen times, and you often realize that the only thing of value that you have is what you can give to others. In earlier broadcast over the VoiceAmericaSports network, I tried instructive and informational programs along the lines of my book Backyard Deer Hunting: Converting deer to dinner for pennies per pound. These were supplemented by a 20-YouTube-video series on “How to start your own backyard business.” Although well intentioned, these efforts utterly failed to gain traction with my audience who were apparently very reluctant to risk being infected by knowledge.
A more effective approach was to provide information in an entertaining format and by example. Examples of such shows are: Hunting Gun Talk on Feb. 22, 2011; and Hunt Travel: Car, Plane, Boat and Train, March 22, 2011.
Personal Experience. Modern radio listeners want to know about the person who is delivering the information and take solace in the fact that other people are going through some of the same trials with the economy, health issues and human relations that they are. Reality Television is one manifestation of this, Reality Radio is another approach that I tried on a couple of episodes.
Some examples are The Lady and the Spear: Spear Hunting, Man-Woman Relations, Feb. 8, 2011; Engines of Change, May 2, 2011; A’Fixing to Get Ready to Go Deer Hunting: Holistic Health, Oct. 3, 2011; and Hacking Through Life July 30, 2012.
Wounded Warrior Hunt I only did one such show where Stg. Billy Deen, a Iraq War vet, and his son Hunter came to hunt with me at Whitehall. On this hunt 15-year-old Hunter Deen took his first deer while sitting in the deer stand beside his dad. Although his dad could have shot the deer with the muzzleloader, it was more significant to him that his son take his first animal.
A challenge on this show was that Hunter was reluctant to speak on the radio, but through a much-exaggerated Q-A interview technique I did get a sufficient response to capture the event immediately after 5-point buck was downed. This show was one of the most personally satisfying that I did. It was broadcast on Nov. 7, 2011.
Environmental Restoration. As a Professional Geologist, the devastation caused by Katrina, Rita and the Deep Water Horizon oil spill on the GulfCoast had a great impact on me. I delivered a presentation at the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force Council’s in Biloxi, Mississippi in 2011. I proposed a new TVA-style of organization be established in Louisiana to oversee the long-term restoration of the Louisiana Delta by implementing pre-approved plans for GulfCoast restoration in the midst of a crisis.
In 2013, I testified before the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council in Spanish Fort, Alabama, and reemphasized the need for long-term efforts to help overcome centuries of environmental degradation.
This original radio broadcast “200-Year Plan for Restoring Louisiana’s Mississippi Delta” was aired on Sept. 5, 2011. These efforts have yet to have a perceptible impact on national policy.
Business Shows One regular segment of my VoiceAmericaSports broadcast was one on Starting Your Own Backyard Business. I had produced 21 YouTube videos on this topic, but this subject material differed so much in tone and content compared to my “Hovey’s Outdoor Adventures” format on WebTalkRadio.net that I used a few shows to end this series and even gave an early-morning telephone seminar on the subject.
These efforts got absolutely no traction for me. There were many others who were/are in the business development field with much more advanced and slick presentations than I was able to present. This subject material needs to be presented as a business promotion show with emphasis on outdoor-related businesses.
These shows were broadcast as segments in November and December, 2010 and an outline of the entire series was published on my www.hoveysoutdooradventures.wordpress.net blog on Dec. 10, 2010.
Company Visits. I have always liked doing shows based around company visits. These are also popular with listeners/viewers who are curious about how their products are made. As I traveled around the country I would often stop at distillers and wineries and use these facilities to provide some “local color” to my programs as well as interesting interviews with well-practiced tour guides.
I had known members of the Buck family for decades, and when they moved their factory to Post Falls, Idaho, this was an ideal time to do a show. A bear hunt was also arranged so that I would have a chance to demonstrate a new line of light weight made-in-America knives.
Both the visit and the hunt were successful. I incorporated the visit as part of the annual Blade Shot in Atlanta which was broadcast on July 4, 2011, the bear hunt was aired the previous year on VoiceAmericaSports and a follow-up turkey hunt was featured on the Dec. 10, 2010 show, “Buddy Hunting In Idaho’s Muzzleloading Season.”
Other possible subjects for radio shows.
1. Hunts with one unusual gun or tool nation or world-wide.
2. Outdoor related music
3. Story telling
4. Wild game cooking show
5. Go to the dogs
Now that I am not doing radio what am I doing?
1. Over 300 YouTube videos on the Hovey Smith YouTube Channel
2. New 8-book E-book Muzzleloading Short Shots Series available on Amazon.com, as a Nook Book and from all other major E-book outlets.
Book 1. Muzzleloaders for Hunters ($4.99, Published)
Book 2. Buying Used Muzzleloaders ($4.99, Published)
Book 3. Shooting and Maintaining Your Muzzleloader ($5.99, Published)
Book 4. Hunting with Muzzleloading Shotguns and Smoothbore Muskets ($4.99, Published)
Book 5. Hunting Small and Big Game with Muzzleloading Pistols ($4.99, August, 2013)
Book 6. Hunting with Muzzleloading Revolvers ($4.99, December, 2013)
Book 7. Muzzleloaders for Self Defense ($4.99, October, 2013)
Book 8. Building or Restoring Your Own Muzzleloader ($4.99, November, 2013)
3. Short form TV (Segments on “Welcome to Our North” which began broadcast in July, 2013)
4. Speaking and comedy gigs (Contact me at www.hoveysmith.com)
5. Outdoor business consulting (Contact me at www.hoveysmith.com)
Final piece of advice
Decide what type of show you are going to do. Do two pilots. Get your sponsors. Then do your shows!