The 5 Differences between Radio and Podcasts (+ Fun Quiz)

In this post: 

We contrast podcasts and radio programs.

To keep you super engaged 😛:

There is a fun quiz at the start to test your PODCAST & RADIO knowledge.

Feeling confident and ready? 

Let's go:


Radio vs. Podcast


You have to follow the station’s schedule vs. Choosing when to listen

To catch a radio show (either live or pre-recorded), you have to tune in as it's airing.

The radio station (internet, AM or FM) sets the schedule for its programs.

An example to illustrate this:

Morning drive time shows air from 6–10 am.

You’re up and listening to your radio during this time, or the content is gone forever.

That’s true…

Unless, the radio station records the breakfast show, and makes it available on their website as a radio archive.

What is it?

A radio archive is an exact recording of the live programming.

You can listen to radio archives from the radio station's website.

And you can't download radio archives.

With podcasts, listeners have the freedom to choose when to listen, because the audio podcast is always online waiting to be downloaded or streamed.

But can a podcast be live?

Yeah, some podcasts are live.

The podcast creator will broadcast the show to live listeners, while recording it.

In this respect, a live podcast is very similar to an internet radio show or webcast.


Public performance rights vs. Reproduction and distribution rights

Musical works are protected by three essential rights the reproduction right, the distribution right, and the public performance right.

When a station plays mainstream music, it pays a fee called a royalty to Performing Rights Organizations, e.g. the ASCAP on behalf of the copyright holder.

So what qualifies as a public performance?

Good question.

It is performing music to a gathering of people.

Your close friends and family don’t count as the public.

Playing music on radio or TV constitutes a public performance.

Internet radio stations also pay royalties to PROs because streaming music is a public performance.

What if a radio station decides to repackage its morning drive show as a podcast?

“They have to remove the music.”

Simply because downloading involves making copies of the content.

Without the reproduction and distribution rights from the copyright holder, this is infringement.

PROs take care of public performance licensing.

To get reproduction and distribution rights, podcast creators have to seek permission from the songwriter and music publisher directly.

Rather than take this hard route, podcast creators commission original music from musicians and get all the permissions from the artist.

Some sites offer music that’s legal for podcasts (podsafe music).
However, this will be independent music, not the mainstream or “hits” on the radio.


Radio has a strict schedule vs. Setting your format

Radio stations adhere to format clocks or schedules, where program elements such as music, news or weather are allocated fixed time slots.

Maintaining a strict format enables the radio to establish consistency in their programming.

This helps listeners know what to expect when they tune in to a particular radio.

For example:

You’re hardly going to hear a two-hour long talk show at a Top 40 radio station.

Podcasts don’t adhere to set formats.

Creators have control over the content and length of their shows.

So depending on the amount of content you have, you can make your podcast as long or short as needed.


Appeals to a broad audience vs. Targeting a specific audience

Commercial radio stations try to draw in as many listeners as possible.

Well, having more listeners means more ad revenue.

So the station may create a variety of programs that appeal to various demographics such as millennials and baby boomers.

They may play popular songs over and over.

It kinda sounds annoying…

But it’s a way to ensure that when a listener tunes in, they are likely to catch their favorite song.

If they don't hear it, as the reasoning goes, they may tune to a different radio station.

Find your niche,” maybe the first piece of advice you hear when you seek to create a new podcast.

For example:
You can create a successful podcast that targets people who love tattooing cars.

Yeah, cars.”

But would an internet radio station go after such a specific niche and have many listeners.


Audio format Vs. Different file formats

AT THE RISK of repeating myself…

Podcasts are on-demand digital media files like audio files, videos, PDF files or Epub files made available via web syndication using RSS feeds to the user's portable media player such as their laptops, computers, digital radio,  etc.

Radio deals solely with broadcasting audio via radio waves or via the internet.

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  • Winston
  • Updated February 11, 2019