White Market in Context II – A Podcast for Radio

29 September 2016

Over the past year, I have struggled to rewrite the “About” section of the website. When I started the show, in 2008, it was a radio show with a podcast. I would produce it and present it thinking of its output as radio; the podcast was just a record of the show that allowed people to listen to it after it aired, beyond its normal schedule on Radio Zero. For a long time, I think my view of the show remained somewhat intact. Probably, because I’m mostly passionate about radio, I held on to this romantic idea that radio was a more valid medium than podcast.

Being more than a 100 years older than podcasting, radio certainly is a more mature medium. After the boom podcasts had in the last few years in terms of quantity available and media coverage, it would be naïve to ignore how podcasting is becoming mainstream. Nonetheless, it is still a few steps away from being an industry or even a viable business venture. In opposition to its sister activities blogging and vlogging, podcast professionals (and/or celebrities) exist on a much smaller scale in both quantity and dimension – meaning they are far fewer and they are also worth less financially.

I will not dive into the discussion whether podcasting is radio or not. I would like to, however, explain how focusing on White Market Podcast as a radio product or as a podcast has an impact on some of its content.

Placeless, not timeless

White Market Podcast currently airs on two community radio stations in England, Spark FM and Soundart Radio, on Sundays and Tuesdays respectively. This is not the first time the show airs in more than one station; back in 2012, White Market Podcast’s the Portuguese predecessor aired on six different stations.

In 2015, the show made its comeback due to my involvement with Spark. As WMP was done live, airing only on Sunderland’s community station, it was only fair that I used the station’s name, frequency, and online addresses as recurrent straplines. However, as White Market Podcast moved into being a syndication platform and started to be played at the other end of England, it was very clear that the show had to become “placeless”. So, the usual references to North East weather and phrases like “you’re listening to White Market on Spark” had to slowly fade their way out of the show.

Having different broadcast days for each station also comes at a cost. Even though this issue is a bit subtler at the minute, it was particularly problematic on the first episode that aired on Soundart Radio – the FSFE Summit special went out on Spark FM the Thursday before the event, but it aired after the event on Soundart. Similarly, the Netlabel Day 2016 episode would not have had the same links and remarks if it had aired on a different day, since it coincided with the initiative.

There is something, however, very specific to the show that requires WMP to assume a certain local identity. The show’s emphasis on copyright alternatives can only be done in relation to a specific administrative territory, since copyright is – above everything – a territorial regulation. For this, White Market Podcast local identity is European. Also, despite having been produced in three different countries (Portugal, Germany and UK), the show was always produced in Europe, so it makes only sense to cover copyright at this level.

Listening geographies

White Market Podcast has a global reach and focus. Despite being primarily European in terms of covering copyright policies, at its core the show remains as a hub for free music from all corners of the world (never played anything from Antarctica, but let know if there is any CC music out there!). Additionally, this season our list of interviewees also includes a variety of nationalities: Chilean, Romanian, Swedish, American and British (tune in for the next show, by the way).

While I have no data on listening figures from our FM broadcasts, judging by the feedback I get on social media and the stats of both this website and the podcast feed, I assume most of WMP listeners follow the show via podcast. WMP’s listeners spread across different countries, different time zones and even different continents. United States, United Kingdom and Germany sit at the top of the list, but I do not need to scroll much further down to find countries like Argentina, Japan and Russia, and the list goes on. It seems quite evident to me that if I chose to focus on the FM broadcast only, I would potentially be alienating most of my audience.

FM or podcast? Both.

As any other radio producer, my work is mainly guided by (what I assume are) the expectations and the needs of my audience. Nevertheless, there are some restrictions to my operation that I cannot ignore, and most of them sit on the radio side. On top of having to produce a show that fits the duration of the slot I am allocated to on FM stations, all my executive decisions have to be in accordance to Ofcom Broadcasting Code.

As I rewrote the “About” section on the website and on all platforms WMP is present on, I decided to stop referring to the show as “White Market” and call it “White Market Podcast” whenever possible. While it may sound odd at times if you are listening to it on the radio, the truth is that the show lives mostly as a podcast at the minute, because that is how it reaches its audience. I still produce it as a radio show in terms of sourcing content and audio editing, but I am always aware that I am actually producing a podcast. White Market Podcast is a podcast for radio.