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October 27, 2014:
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Success Stories

Radio Great Turns to Podcasting

by Brian Baltosiewich

For over four decades, Detroit radio and Dick Purtan (pictured) were nearly synonymous. Nationally, he has a collection of awards like Major Market Air Personality of the Year (twice,) NABs Marconi Award and four times he received R&Rs Personality of the Year. His radio show has been included in the Museum of Radio and Television Broadcasting. Dick Purtan is as good as it gets in radio.

When he retired from the air in March of 2010, its safe to say there was a Purtan-shaped hole in the Detroit radio scene. Flash forward to the Fall of 2011, and Dick Purtan is a podcaster. The podcast really began, Purtan told me in an email interview, even before he retired. About six weeks before I left the air Purtan said  I started getting flooded with calls and e-mails from listeners asking me not to hang up the headphones.  I was flattered, but after 45-plus years I was ready for a little sleep.  The whole website/podcast thing seemed like a logical way to stay connected with the listeners, keep the old grey matter working, and finally get to stay up past 9pm. It seemed like a good fit.

As weve established, a podcast can be worlds apart from a terrestrial radio gig. Purtan and his co-podcasters (called Purtans People) record his podcast weekly at his dining room table. Purtan runs his own board, something he admits he had to get used to. Figuring out which plug goes in which hole... I always had an engineer for that.  And to be honest, I'm not used to broadcasting from my dining room. The other major difference?

Not having to play "My Baby Does The Hanky Panky" or any other song for that matter. There's part of me that keeps thinking I should go to weather and traffic - but I'm slowly getting used to that.  I occasionally go out and look at my driveway, but there aren't usually too many back-ups to report. The best part is not having to deal with a Program Director.

As for his listeners, theyre finding the podcast and liking the new, unfettered Purtan Podcast. As Purtan told me, The reaction has been great. People are asking if we'll expand them to four hours long, five days a week.  As you can imagine, that schedule sounded too vaguely familiar to me.  I thought I had retired from that!  We have a very strong following on Facebook and that has really directed people to both my website, DickPurtan.com and our weekly podcasts.

As someone who has seen the industry change several times over in a four-decade career, Dick Purtan sees the writing on the wall, and admits that podcasting is not only approaching Next New Thing status: It seems already to be the next thing" (although its not a big money maker.) On the plus side, it gives freedom not only to those of us doing it, but now people can choose when and where to listen.  They're not limited to the time they have driving to work... they can listen while they're working out or - if it's not one of our particularly funny ones - they can always use it to help them fall asleep. New podcasts are uploaded on Fridays at DickPurtan.com.


Brian Baltosiewich has been a broadcast professional for more than 20 years.  His podcast website, www.radioexiles.com features professionally-produced podcasts from radio pros who have lost their gigs.Reach out to him at brian@radioexiles.com or through their twitter account @radioexiles and on Facebook at radioexiles.com




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