Soundcast sees explosive audience growth
By: Brad Rowland
In the not-so-distant past, the concept of a podcast was foreign to the vast majority of audio consumers, and that was certainly true of those interested in The Salvation Army and its messaging. In 2018, however, the Army’s Soundcast network of audio programs experienced exponential growth, with more to come.
Chris Benjamin, a self-proclaimed “podcast junkie” and Soundcast director of production and operations, arrived two years ago and undertook an initiative to revamp the program’s shows into a modern age. He focused on the content, concentrating on quality in several forms.
“The first thing was to just work on the content itself, really before we focused on how we would market everything and increase our audience,” Benjamin said. “We knew that the shows needed to sound great for them to grow in the way we wanted. So we focused on getting away from scripts, facilitating real conversations, improving audio quality and trying to produce a great listener experience.”
Part of Soundcast’s effort to reimagine itself began with a survey of its target consumers, aiming at eliciting a reaction and gathering information on what listeners were seeking in the space. Soundcast, which manages four audio programs (two in English, two in Spanish), includes an exceptionally diverse audience. Its audio can be heard around the globe in conjunction with radio stations and online distribution.
“We’ve been given this platform, with the amount of stations that we have and the growth that took place well before I got here, and it allows us to make a tremendous impact in the lives of others,” Benjamin said. “We took the feedback we have been getting through the survey about what people really wanted to hear, what they were going through, and we continue to try to see how we can minister and help change lives through our platform.”
Through the feedback gathered in the survey and the updating of the network’s overall profile, Soundcast experienced significant growth in 2018. Its online presence grew by more than 300 percent in terms of downloads and Soundcast now partners with 1,865 radio stations worldwide, a figure that has never been higher in its history.
Still, there are big-picture goals for the future, beginning with 2019.
“One of our goals is to really hone in, both stylistically and with consistency, on our video production side,” Benjamin said. “Really exploring that and seeing what it can become. Trying to share that option with our audience, training those who are on air in what they need to do to facilitate it and having that platform for people to consume.”
The network – including the 15-minute “Wonderful Words of Life” broadcast and the one-minute “Heartbeat” show – now produces series that specifically target different voices with diverse backgrounds and perspectives. As a result, Soundcast is always seeking fresh new material that can be presented to an audience yearning for those varying viewpoints.
“We can never have enough scripts,” Benjamin said. “So if anyone believes they can write or has a passion to share something, I want to encourage them to send it our way.”