A radio station that just plays podcasts

Radio Tomorrow with James Cridland

iHeartRadio has launched what it claims is a first – a radio station that just plays podcasts.

 The nattily entitled iHeartRadio Podcast Channel AM 1470, in Allentown-Bethlehem PA, USA, will broadcast podcasts from the iHeartRadio catalogue 24-hours a day.

When I tuned into the radio station (which appears not to be geolocked), I heard Hell and Gone, a true crime podcast – but of course. “Whatever bad thing happened to Rebekah, it happened here.”
The podcast headed for a commercial break, and on the radio, I heard a promotion for another podcast, followed by being thrown into the middle of an NBC News radio bulletin (literally, the middle of a sentence). Then an ad for the iHeartMedia Lehigh Valley Career Expo; an ad for a Lehigh Valley christian foundation or something; a PSA from the Pennsylvania Police telling me to drive carefully; and then a jingle to promote the iHeartRadio player and back into the podcast (“now, let’s return to Hell And Gone”).
iHeartRadio incorrectly claimed that they were running the first podcast awards last year; and similarly incorrectly claim that this is the first radio station to play podcasts 24/7. It isn’t – that accolade goes to KYCY, a former station in San Francisco that aired “KYOU”, an all-podcast format, way back in May 2005. To put that into context: that was even before Apple had discovered podcasts. KYCY is no longer; it’s now KGMZ, a sports station.


A non-stop podcast station sounds a strange idea. The whole point of podcasts is that they are on-demand… so why would you make a radio station out of them?
It’s a strange listen – a set of relatively random pieces of content, linked together on a linear radio station. You might hear some drama, followed by some educational programming, followed by a bit of news and then perhaps some comedy.
And then, I realised. That’s exactly what NPRABC RN or BBC Radio 4 is. A slightly random collection of individual show, linked together on a linear radio station.
“iHeartRadio Podcast Channel AM 1470” is airing on WSAN, which had a 0.3 share with its previous format of spanish-language sport from ESPN: a format that is still referenced on its website. It covers 728,100 people.
Would an all-podcast, all-the-time radio station really gain audience? I’m not so sure: but is airing evergreen content from podcasting a good way to fill off-peak programming, like evenings and overnights? On first listen – yes, I can see that working well. Anything’s better, and more interesting, than lazily-programmed iPod Shuffle radio.
It might not be a first – and it might not entirely be for you – but it might get your creative juices flowing in terms of what you could broadcast on the radio. Local podcasts, or podcasts of interest to your audience? There just might be something in it.
I’ll be interested to seeing the audience figures when they come out. And congratulations to iHeartRadio for trying something different.

About The Author

James Cridland, the radio futurologist, is a conference speaker, writer and consultant. He runs the media information website media.info and helps organise the yearly Next Radio conference. He also publishes podnews.net, a daily briefing on podcasting and on-demand, and writes a weekly international radio trends newsletter, at james.crid.land.

Contact James at [email protected] or @jamescridland