NCPR has become increasingly active in social media over the last few years, feeling our way into a useful approach to Facebook and Twitter–and for the last year–working with the social blogging platform Tumblr. Tumblr has evolved a niche specialty as a cool photo sharing platform, and most of our effort there has gone into sharing the best photography by NCPR contributers, and by sources in the region or in public media that we follow on Tumblr.
But this got us thinking–while eye candy is great, and we make a big effort to keep a high-quality graphic feel to our website and daily news–what is it that we do best? Audio. We tell stories about the world, and we have the most talent and experience telling them in audio form.
Why aren’t we sharing that? The short answer is, that’s what we’re going to try next. There is a social media platform just for audio (several actually), and we’re going to give one a go. Many public media producers and programs have found their place in the cloud at SoundCloud, a social audio platform. So NCPR will join them and you there.
We know that online audio is an uphill sell. On our website, only about one in twenty visitors is listening to our audio. The rest we assume are reading, which is fine. We put a lot of effort into putting our stories into readable, useful text, illustrated by the best photography we have available. The problem with doing that well, is that it makes it even less likely that visitors will choose the audio. Kind of a vicious circle. How can you tell whether the audio is just a news host or reporter reading a script, or whether it is something that you can’t get the full benefit of without listening to the sound essay?
SoundCloud, we hope, will make that easy to tell. If you just gotta hear it–that’s what we will put in SoundCloud: NCPR’s best audio, interesting new music, and the most sound-rich nuggets from other public media programs, podcasts and producers. In addition, we hope to curate audio from our audience, and listen to you for a change, instead of you listening to us. Visitors will be able to comment on audio, even inserting their comments into particular locations in the audio.
We can’t say how well this is going to work for you, or for us. But giving it a tryout is a no-brainer, I think, for anyone in the radio business. More soon as we get ourselves set up and start to build a collection.