100 Episodes of Health Podcasting

Content From: HIV.govPublished: March 20, 20123 min read


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While exploring the strategy for re-launching our podcast series earlier this year, we discovered that our colleagues at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) had over 100 podcasts of their NIH Research Radio. We invited them to tell us about their experience. As the host and producer of NIH Research Radio, HIV.gov invited me to share my thoughts on a personal milestone. Not long ago I produced my 100th episode of the NIH Research Radio podcast. It was actually the 147th overall episode – someone else started the podcast years ago – but it was a landmark for me. And a good time to think about, why am I doing this? What have I learned? What benefit is the NIH Research Radio podcast offering in the bigger scheme of things?

Well, let me start with that. The NIH Research Radio podcast may be the only way that thousands of people hear about the research and medical discoveries that are happening at the National Institutes of Health. These days with such a growing number of people getting information delivered more and more via mobile devices and internet-based platforms, like blogs, Twitter and other social media, it makes perfect sense for an audio podcast to be part of that mix. My first podcast was back in 2007 – according to Edison Research, back then only 13 percent of Americans had ever listened to an audio podcast. Later statistics from 2010 say that nearly one in four Americans have listened to one. And that’s what I’m seeing with NIH Research Radio – a growing audience. Both the number of subscribers and the number of episode downloads increased by more than 50% last year – not that I’m counting. Don’t worry, big brother isn’t watching. I only see numbers of subscribers and downloads, not who is subscribing or downloading. But I do know that I’m trying to reach a general, lay audience, as well as researchers and health experts.

So back to that first question: why do the NIH Research Radio podcast? It’s a great way to get the information out to that growing number of people who listen to podcasts. We all care about our health and want new information that will help us lead better and healthier lives. The NIH Research Radio podcast is an easy way to share the important health information about AIDS, diabetes and stroke, just to name a few – I’ll cover any topic that has some new information or importance to the public. Also the podcast is relatively easy to do, and even easier to get. It’s widely available, and, because it’s formatted much like a radio program or news-magazine, much like what you might hear on broadcast radio – it’s easy to understand. I’ve certainly learned a great deal about a wide variety of topics talking to many different spokespeople and covering so many different discoveries.

And what have I learned about podcasting after 100 episodes? I’ve learned how to put together a podcast pretty quickly. If you’ve ever been intimidated by editing audio, well, when you have a deadline and have had to meet it over and over, you get pretty good at it. My one big “secret” if you will, is sharing content. I’ll do one interview, and use it not just for the podcast, but other audio and broadcast radio programs. The other thing I’ve learned is that it’s a work in progress, especially when it comes to marketing and measurement.

One last note, when I started the NIH Research Radio podcast it was a “new media” platform – a new way to augment the NIH’s traditional outreach – like press releases and news advisories. It’s funny that podcasting seems kind of old school now. I feel it’s almost an expectation that a government agency like the NIH should have one.