Podcast vs. Radio: Differences in Medium and Production

At first glance, podcasts and radio seem pretty similar. After all, both are types of audio shows, and they do have plenty in common. But upon closer inspection, you’ll find a clear distinction between the two formats! If you’re a creator, the audio show medium you choose will depend on your audience, content and goals. To help you out with this decision, we’ll explore the key differences in podcast vs. radio.

Podcast vs. radio differences

It’s difficult to settle on precise definitions for podcast and radio, given the considerable amount of variation within each format. However, there are definitely specific features that set the two apart! Let’s take a closer look at some of the differences in podcast vs. classic radio shows.

1. Podcasts are pre-recorded; radio is live

One of the biggest distinctions between podcast and radio is the timing of their presentation. That is, podcasts are mostly pre-recorded, then edited to create digital audio files that are accessible on-demand. Podcasts may be accessible via streaming services, like Soundcloud or Spotify, or to download.

Meanwhile most radio shows are broadcast in real-time, either via airwaves or digital broadcast. This means that, unlike podcasts, radio cannot be edited. However, radio streams can be accessed at a later date after the broadcast has finished – this is known as internet radio, and can make internet radio feel similar to podcasts. But the initial broadcast is the key: podcasts are pre-recorded and then released, while radio is live.

2. Podcast episodes are released intermittently; radio is (often) 24/7

Radio is also pretty much constant, with a set schedule of different hosts presenting on dedicated time slots. A listener has to tune in at the time of the broadcast to listen, unless an internet radio stream is available.

Podcasts, on the other hand, have a scheduled release pattern. As such, podcast fans have to wait for new episodes to be released for new content. This does give an advantage to new fans of established shows, as they can listen to the whole backlist while they’re waiting! And of course, as a creator, you can leverage the suspense of waiting for new episodes in order to gather more listeners.

3. Podcasts cover specific topics; radio is more general

There are various podcast formats – storytelling, interviews and roundtables, to name a few. But what unites them all is that podcasts cover specific, niche topics. No matter how many people are talking, they’ll talk about essentially the same topic in each episode, which is great for listeners trying to gain deep expertise.

Radio is much more general in its approach. Radio stations want to attract and retain as many listeners as possible. And they do this with a broad content base! This often includes a combination of light discussion, news updates, and popular music. As a result, podcasts tend to have more niche, devoted audiences, whereas radio has greater mass appeal to casual listeners.

4. Podcasts are independent; radio is regulated by the government

(Almost) anything goes with podcasts. However, in the UK, radio has to adhere to Ofcom standards and requires a licence to broadcast. Podcasts are not affected by these rulings.

Technical differences of podcast vs. radio

It’s not just how and what goes into podcasts and radio that makes them different – there are some important technical differences too! Let’s examine these now.

5. Radio is much more compressed

As podcasts are edited after they are recorded, there is more opportunity to adjust the audio files. The last stage of this is compression, standardising the sound to ensure no part of it is too loud or too quiet – but it occurs after all the other editing, meaning the sound is usually pretty even already.

Radio, however, is compressed live. As you can imagine, this is quite a different process, and can result in pretty high-intensity live audio.

6. Radio requires higher-cost equipment

Radio often demands a higher technical budget than podcasts, due to the type of equipment needed. Equipment to simultaneously broadcast and compress the sound doesn’t come cheap! There’s also a greater risk of bringing imperfections to the forefront, so radio recordings need to be as close to perfect as possible.

Podcast equipment is more affordable and flexible – especially if you choose to record in a podcast studio at a fraction of the upfront price. Book your session with Premiere Podcast Studios today for an amazing podcast recording and production experience!

7. Podcasts are more malleable in production

As podcasts don’t have such a high budget and quick turnaround, there’s more space for creativity and technical improvements during podcast production. Podcasters can learn as they go, trial new formats, new equipment, and see what works best for them, whereas radio is more challenging to experiment with.

Which should you choose, podcast or radio?

Choosing between podcast vs. radio all comes down to what you want to achieve with your audio show, as well as your budget. Which topics do you want to explore? What sort of audience do you want to reach?

If you’re looking to host a general interest show, radio may be better suited for you. This is a great platform for would-be hosts who are confident in improv and presenting live, or even pursuing a career in entertainment.

But if you want to really dig into a particular topic and capture a nice audience, opt for a podcast! You don’t need to buy expensive equipment right off the bat, and you can save even more if you rent a podcast studio in central London. Furthermore, you’re not beholden to governmental regulations, you can experiment more with your format, and there’s adequate space for editing if you’re just starting out. Whichever you choose, we wish you luck!

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