With the Tour de France on, there are a few podcasts that suddenly pop out of the woodwork.
During the Tour, the cyclingnews podcast transmogrifies into a daily download under the banner of Procycling, which is the print stablemate of cyclingnews, under the Future Publishing banner.
Those who dislike the regular podcast (see comments in my cyclingnews review) would do well to check it out again as it’s very different.
You have the host, Daniel Friebe who is the Procycling editor, along with author and journalist Richard Moore, who should be well known to Scottish cycling fans. This year they have a cyclingnews reporter Anthony Tan, a lively Aussie who I haven’t heard of before.
The Tour de France approaches, so for my latest podcast review, it’s time to cover something French.
It’s a French cycling podcast from commercial radio station RTL-l’Équipe, and the quality of the show is what you’d expect- no sound issues for example. In addition to the download, the show is broadcast live and online every Monday 11am-12pm, and repeated again on Monday afternoons. It may be showing off a bit to declare that I listen to this- I can pick up most of the discussion, although inevitably quite a bit passes me by. If you can understand French though, I’d rate it as must-listen.
The show is expertly chaired by RTL host Emmanuel Barth, who manages the various personalities well and gets the best out of them, fostering at times heated debate about the professional road racing scene. This typical French polemique, the kind you’d find in the bar or around the dinner table, is imbued with a passion that can put British discussion to shame at times.
This is a new podcast, that has been finding its feet a little bit. It has a very welcoming, inclusive feel that I don’t think this is a symptom of it’s youth- there is a deliberately anti-elitist ethos there that is intended to tie in with the Veloreviews website and community forum.
If you are not a fan of pro cycling news and comment, and can’t be bothered with the nuances of bike culture and the various sub-niches within cycling, this is the podcast for you. As I see it, the ideal listener is mainly into riding and buying bits for their own bike, as well as improving their fitness, rather than wondering why last year’s Paris-Roubaix runner-up is is running a carbon or aluminium bottle cages this year.
The podcast is a supplement to the Veloreviews.com website and community, which have dipped into and seems cool. It’s the sort of thing that is working to build up long-term relationships and a resource of really useful information. The presenters of the podcast all interact on the Veloreviews forum, giving fitness, mechanics and product advice.
Broadcast as a one-hour live show at 7pm Central Time on Tuesday nights, Bicycle Radio has slick production in a fun format held together by host Sean Mellor. I believe it was originally some sort of ESPN show, but don’t know how the show is funded now. I certainly don’t hear any advertising/infomercials although there is an emerging product shop on the associated website that they are calling Bicycle Radio 3.0.
The biggest plus point of this show is the live format, which gives it a vibrant, fast-paced feel, and the anchor host, Sean Mellor who is very professional while retaining a relaxed style. It rattles along, keeping things to an hour long, and providing plenty of light hearted banter along the way.
It does try to cover a lot of bases, and Larry, one of the show’s hosts makes a joke of the slight bias toward pro news and road cycling. Efraim Rojas’ ‘Weekly dose of pro’ is informed and incisive though, but unsurprisingly it does focus on American interest. No problem with that though. However do I find the pro news from other podcasts- Velocast, Real Peloton and cyclingnews – dig a bit deeper into the issues.
I’ve heard on the podcast airwaves, presenters musing over ways to fund their show, and show hosts admitting to feeling jaded and pondering whether the time has come to hang up their mic. I’m a cycling podcast addict, and want these shows to keep going, so here I list 10 ways to make money from a cycling podcast. I can’t call these ideas or suggestions, as they are all being used in one way or another, somewhere across the airwaves/internets.
1. Rely on goodwill
Like the Two Johns, Velocast or Fredcast, you can ask listeners to donate voluntarily. This may or may not get you very far. Scott Velocast’s ‘$1, which is less than the price of a coffee’ is a pretty good call to action.
2. Pimp yourself to the advertisers
Fredcast has it’s detractors, but it’s the most popular one out there (I’m guessing, without having access to the stats). To appeal to advertisers you have to have a lot of listeners, and David Bernstein achieves that. The downside (if you want to look at it that way) is you need to aim for a broad appeal. You also might feel more pressure to record a show more regularly, although Fredcast David still takes breaks when life intervenes.
3. Get into bed with retailers
Veloreviews has a premium members model, where for $35, subscribers get access to trade prices on cycling products.
Jack Thurston presents The Bike Show on London community radio station Resonance 104.4FM. The show takes a relatively broad brush approach to topics, but its first loves are touring, the fixed gear scene, and urban cycling.
Mr Thurston, as a presenter, is well practised and professional while retaining a friendly, personal feel. The show goes out live but it has none of the frantic feel of other live shows. I would characterise it as having a typically English feel- it takes it’s time to get to the nub of things. Where it criticises it is polite and constructive, and while it knows what it doesn’t like (badly designed public spaces for example), there’s no place for a Sod Off Corner here.
The podcast is very different to the other shows out there, and it’s biggest asset is that it takes its time and delves into detail. Jack will get his teeth into a topic, without being distracted by topical news. My friend Andy described it as the Rouleur of cycling podcasts- printed on good quality paper stock, and I think this is a pretty good description. It’s one to savour, to keep and to listen to again.
The Real Peloton podcast has reached it’s 10th episode. A review is long overdue, so, inspired by a blog post by Alex Murray (@leguape), who was inspired by my cycling podcast reviews, I have got my act together.
It’s hosted by Ned Boulting (ITV football/cycling presenter) and Matt Rendell (writer, journalist, Eurosport commentator). First of all, the podcast has a well-balanced mixture of presentation styles: it clearly benefits from (where some other podcasts fail) from Ned’s experience as a professional presenter, but it has a strong vein of banter, sarcasm and tomfoolery to keep it relaxed. The personality comes through and they seem to really enjoy doing it (which occasionally can’t be said for other ‘casts).
A lot of views were aired about the Cyclingnews podcast in this comments section under my post about the Guardian podcast. In summary: could and should do much better.
This podcast offers good insights and news about the pro scene. However it focuses only on pro news, and since most other podcasts cover this too, the big let-down is that with the journalistic access I assume they have, that these insights don’t go deeper. Cyclingnews should be trumping most other podcasts for news, interviews and inside scoops.
At 30-40 minutes the podcast is a nice length but could allow itself to be a little longer. One big failing of many podcasts is padding a show out to an hour and a half or more with interviews. In Cyclingnews’ case this would not be a problem– with their contact book they should be able to bring fans really close to pro riders, DSs, mechanics or even soigneurs. A case in point – Daniel Benson spent a week on the Garmin Transitions training camp and didn’t come back with any audio to share with us! Perhaps they are keeping it all for website articles, but then again I’m not sure he’d be the best interviewer. (sorry)
I think the Velocast is my favourite podcast. The bar has been raised by certain newcomers (see future blog posts), but for now, it’s my number one. It covers a balance of pro news, urban and general interest stories with a personal feel.
Disclosure- the Velocast has connections near to me and I hope to one day meet John and Scott for a pint. They have also been nice to me on twitter and things. Further disclaimer- I do relate to the humour and ethos (1) because they’re Scottish and (2) because they’re British, but I don’t find (2) applies to other UK podcasts by default- you have to some personality to go with it.
The FredCast is a difficult one to review. I am wracked with guilt because the presenter David Bernstein seems like a really nice guy, and his ethos is spot on, but the bottom line is I the majority of the content just doesn’t grab me.
The Two Johns Podcast (of which I am a fan) have ribbed the FredCast for being boring- a little below the belt perhaps. Two Johns broadcast for themselves first and foremost, covering local racing, club scene, cyclocross and high end bike bits with their dry humour, while David FredCast is more inclusive, doing sportives, fitness, urban and news stories for everyone. Both cover pro racing in their own way- two distinct ‘markets’.
The FredCast seems to be immensely popular, but to achieve that, it paints with a broader brush, playing to a lower common denominator. I can appreciate this- the US is a huge market so to be a success you have a lot of bases to cover. He is a great innovator and knows how to work new media- his show seems to be the longest-running podcast, he’s done video broadcasts from Interbike, runs the Spokesmen round table podcast and has sponsors coming to him to get little slots.