The hottest new tactic for transportation agencies is podcasts? Yes, podcasts!

It may be hard to believe, but one of the hottest media tactics is podcasting. And several transportation departments and trade associations have developed podcasts as a way to reach what experts says is a still growing audience.

According to “The Podcast Consumer 2019,” a report published by Edison Research earlier this year, 22 percent of people age 12 and older listen to podcasts weekly, and nearly a third of people listen to podcasts monthly.

Edison’s report finds that the audience share for podcasting has grown a whopping 122 percent since 2014. And, young people age 12-24 are among the largest consumers of podcasting.

Music Oomph has compiled a host of interesting statistics on podcasting.

As with any communication tactic, it pays to understand the technical requirements and to have a plan for the podcast. But the proliferation of podcasts, basically on-demand “radio” programming, is proof that technical barriers are lower than they once were. And that leaves breaking through to your audience as still the hardest part.

Clearly podcasts aren’t “new.”

The term “podcasting” was first used in the Guardian newspaper in 2004. Within a year the first do-it-yourself book was published. By mid-2005, Apple’s iTunes made the process of downloading podcasts to iPods relatively simple.

Nebraska DOT’s podcast is available on Vimeo.

State departments of transportation have created podcasts for several years. According to the AASHTO 2011 State DOT Social Media Report, 10 states reported they were producing podcasts in 2010 and nine were producing them in 2011. But the enthusiasm for podcasting wasn’t sustained. By 2012, only seven states produced podcasts and by 2014, the annual social media report stopped tracking it all together.

Utah DOT’s podcast, Beyond the Barrels,
targets Utah DOT employees.

But the massive growth in podcast audience has not gone unnoticed, and that trend has turned. Arizona, Nebraska, Utah, and Idaho transportation departments produce podcasts. AASHTO’s Snow and Ice Pooled Fund Cooperative Program, known as SICOP, has produced a podcast for a couple of years, as well.

And transportation trade associations are in the podcasting business too. The Institute for Transportation Engineers has a podcast. The American Association of Port Authorities created a podcast just for the 2019 Infrastructure Week.

Last month Michigan DOT joined in with Talking Michigan Transportation. Michigan DOT Communication Director Jeff Cranson said the move to produce a podcast is really “all about the fracturing of the media.”

Talking Michigan Transportation is produced
regularly by Michigan DOT staff.

“It’s just one more way to take our message to the people,” said Cranson, who in the first podcast episode interviews MDOT Director Paul Ajegba.

Cranson, a newspaper editor before he joined MDOT, formerly starred in a podcast focused on Michigan politics. He points out that there are all kinds of specialty podcasts focused on just about any topic.

And that’s the bet for the producers of these transportation podcasts, that just as there are people who regularly read about transportation policies and trends, and just as there are people who tune in to watch online transportation video, there will also be podcast audiences for transportation stories.

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