Capitol Broadcasting set a goal for podcasting in 2020 that is already well in the rearview mirror. CBC Audience Development is hitting its stride with the CBC Podcast Network, working closely with CBC Radio, WRAL News, WRAL Digital and the Durham Bulls as the team behind the growing enterprise. The local network has 16 active shows across the sports, news, and lifestyle genres.
Goal Smashing with Teamwork
“We set an audacious goal for our local network for 2020, then blew the doors off it by August,” said Corp General Manager of Audience Development Shelly Leslie. “Part of that success was the quick launch of the Coronavirus: NC News Brief podcast in early March,” a very targeted, short form show designed to inform North Carolinians about the rapidly changing pandemic and its impacts on the state.
That podcast is the CBC Podcast Network’s top performing show of the year.
“At one point, the show was in the top 50 Daily News podcasts on the Apple podcast chart and made it onto Apple’s ‘Coronavirus Recommendations Chart,’ something we’ve never done,” said Leslie.
The network is currently at over 630k downloads for the year.
The small but mighty team at CBC Audience Development includes Leslie, Production Manager Anita Normanly, and a new addition in 2020, Podcast Network Executive Producer Wilson Sayre. WRAL Digital Product Manager Jake Seaton has also been key to their efforts making sure CBC Podcast Network shows are published on all podcasting platforms.
History and Progress
CBC President/COO Jimmy Goodmon saw podcasting as a future opportunity several years ago. CBC Radio produced the first shows for the company in those early years.
When CBC Audience Development was formed as an R&D unit mid-year 2017, we set podcasting as one of our primary areas of focus. We spent the first year analyzing what shows we were currently producing, harnessing the talents of the people across the company who were producing shows, operationalizing production to improve quality, and conducting cross company training. Then, we formed the Capitol Broadcasting Podcast Network, moved our shows to the Megaphone hosting platform so we could better measure and analyze our efforts, and put in all the infrastructure to promote and sell advertising across our shows. What CBC Radio started, plus the teamwork of the last the two and half years, brings us to today.
The AudDev team works as a partner across the company helping grow new audience and new revenue.
In March 2020, Sayre filled a key position in CBC’s podcast plans. She leads the day-to-day operations of the Capitol Broadcasting Podcast Network, analyzing shows, offering recommendations for improvement and growth strategies, plus vetting new CBC show pitches and external partnerships.
“Wilson is such a tremendous asset to us. She made an immediate creative and journalistic impact on podcast efforts, particularly our longform, narrative style podcasts we have in development,” said Leslie of Sayre.
Sayre brings national experience as a reporter, host and producer to AudDev. Previously a lead producer on The City podcast for USA Today, her work has aired on shows like NPR, Reveal, Marketplace and the World. Sayre has been honored with both the Daniel Schorr Journalism Prize and the national Edward R. Murrow Award.
In Development, Top Shows
“In 2021, our mission is to establish Capitol Broadcasting as a national podcast producer,” said Leslie.
Two true crime podcasts, under the WRAL Studios brand, will launch in first quarter of 2021. Both are hosted by WRAL-TV Reporter News Amanda Lamb, who has been working in a job share with AudDev since the fall of 2018.
“If you’re working in the company’s R&D unit, you have to be passionate, collaborative, and willing to learn anything,” says Leslie. “I look for people who are comfortable constantly expanding and challenging me and each other to grow! I’m particularly proud of Anita Normanly who has, in addition to many other roles on the team, cross trained with Wilson and is now producing one of our new true crime podcast series.”
Lamb is enthusiastic about contributing to the true crime podcasts.
“As television reporter who has covered crime for three decades, written true crime books and appeared on many national true crime magazine programs, I was so excited that Capitol Broadcasting tapped me for this new venture,” she said. “Not only did it give me a chance to dust off a portion of my brain, but it was a real opportunity to not only go in-depth in some of the stories I have covered over the years, but to write in the unique creative way that this genre promotes. It’s been a lot more challenging than I expected, and I’ve definitely grown as a podcaster in terms of my writing and developing my voice which is very different than a television voice.”
Lamb also appreciates the opportunity to work with AudDev team.
“Because I’ve worked in the news department since 1994, I’ve never had the chance to work with other people within the company,” she said. “Working with Audience Development has been a true joy, everyone is so talented, engaged, and has made me so much better at this process. It is truly a team effort from beginning to end. They have taught me so much, and of course I admit I still have a long way to go.”
In addition to a national strategy, the CBC Podcast Network will continue to build local shows in the network, seek out partner shows to diversify our voices and genres, and work with CBC Radio on sales.
Sportsradio produces 6 of the network’s top 10 shows. “I’ve always been really proud of the radio team – embracing podcasting years ago,” said CBC Radio Vice President Brian Maloney. “In particular, Joe Ovies launched the 919 Beer Podcast in 2014 – ahead of its time. 919 Beer along with others have grown quite nicely! And our Canes Corner podcast hosted by Adam Gold draws the most loyal and rabid fans in-season from Triangle listeners and around the world.”