“So, finding those stories, if you’re a reporter, if you’re a producer, that haunt you for whatever reason — your gut following that is very important,” Dave Cawley said.
Dave Cawley started investigating the Sarah Powell case for the podcast COLD back in 2013 when the police released a redacted case file on a thumb drive to reporters in the area.
Powell went missing from her Utah home in December of 2009 and is presumed to have been murdered by her husband. Over the course of 18 episodes, Cawley, the host of COLD, presents hundreds of documents, countless hours of audio recorded by Powell’s husband and interviews with those who were involved.
“It came down to this being a story that I covered, as it happened, that I had unresolved questions that lingered in my mind. I knew if I was curious about it, so were our listeners, our viewers in our local area.” Dave Cawley said.
COLD took a small team of people at KSL, a Utah television and radio organization years to research, collect audio and edit together. November of 2018 the first episode launched — and quickly reached number one on Apple podcasts.
Sheryl Worsley, the director of audience development, said to include resources for listeners, Cawley included the number for the Utah domestic violence helpline along with the national hotline. The podcast also promoted the Utah hotline through a fundraiser and repeatedly mentioning it for everyone.
Worsley said to have a successful podcast, newsrooms and journalists should consider:
- Find an existing social group who’s interested in your topic
- Saying yes to all interviews
- Hiring a composer to write your podcast’s music
- Consider building a website or jump page for your podcast
- Create ready made content for your partners
- Ask for ratings and reviews
What did not work?
- Having every episode ready at launch
“This takes so much time, we did not have all of the episodes done at launch, we were about five episodes in at launch,” Worsley said.
Cawley had about five episodes finished before they launched the podcast which meant sometimes after they would put out a story and then immediately turn around and start another.
- Running advertisements like radio ads
Podcasts are not like radio and their advertisements need to be tailored for the difference in how they are listened too Worsley said.
“As podcast is not broadcast you cannot go ‘Sunday, Sunday, Sunday’ in someone’s earbuds, that is not cool. So you have to be smart about what you’re doing. As for that, there’s the argument about whether the host, as a journalist, should be voicing those ads,” Worsley said.
Tagged under: #eij19 #SPJ #podcast #radio #cold #investigative