Ezra Kucharz – President CBS Local Digital Media
I announced that I had a RFFocus magazine coming in June of this year. That magazine was postponed until Sept. I was not happy with the finished product. I am going to post a few of the interviews that I did for that magazine on this site as well as blogwallet.com, my new small business site. I greatly enjoyed talking to Ezra Kucharz about CBS Radio’s foray into podcasting. I love innovation and companies that are ahead of the curve and I thought you might be interested in this information.
Ezra Kucharz has more than 20-years experience creating, evolving, and managing a number of leading Internet properties. He has served as President of CBS Local Digital Media since January 2010, and oversees the online and mobile strategy for CBS Television Stations and CBS RADIO utilizing the assets of more than two dozen television and 117 radio stations. He has developed a vast platform of news, sports and entertainment web destinations.
Kucharz joined CBS from FiLife.com, an IAC and Dow Jones personal finance joint venture, where he served as President and General Manager of the financial question and answer platform that connected people who have personal finance questions to experts in the field. He led all day-to-day and strategic activities including revenue growth, new business and product development, technology, research and editorial operations.
In 1995, Kucharz founded one of the first online digital sports media companies, Total Sports. In addition to developing numerous pioneering online sports technologies including the first online cybercast of a college basketball game and locally managed community-based college sports publishing, Kucharz managed sales and business development activities for a network of 105 websites. (To see Ezra’s full resume go here)
Kevin Ross: Hello Ezra. Congrats on the new venture at CBS Radio, Play.it. I’ve been getting a steady stream of press from CBS about it and I’m very interested in CBS radio’s involvement with podcasting. I wanted to introduce what CBS is doing to our audience. Can you offer some clarity on why a terrestrial radio company has decided to delve into podcasts ?
Ezra: Well, when you look at the landscape, consumers are being trained by on-demand video. There’s no argument that’s huge in the marketplace. When you go to audio, there has been a lot of momentum around on-demand music with Spotify and Pandora. We looked at our core strengthens like spoken word, news, sports, comedy that kind of thing and we saw that there really wasn’t an offering for consumers in the on-demand audio space for that kind of content so that was our initial genesis.
KR: So explain to me how it works, do you go online seeking talent, do they come to you, do you pick shows from your terrestrial lineup?
Ezra: There’s a bunch of different ways. It works in any IP browser so that you don’t have to download an app. You can go to to Play.it, iTunes or Tune-in and the content is there. We wanted to make the content ubiquitous so it as easy to find and digest. They can digest it in two-forms they can either stream it or download it and if they choose to they can subscribe to it as well. Additionally they can embed players on their websites or social media as well.
KR: How do you secure advertisers. Do you just sell advertising for the particular podcast only or do you utilize your advertisers from the commercial radio stations?
Ezra: The advertiser can buy it live on air or live streaming or they can by all platforms or just one
KR: So you basically sell all your content or the majority or what percentage?
Ezra: You mean the over the air shows?
Ezra:I would say 80 to 85% of the shows. So everything most spoken word shows 6a to 7p hours. They are all podcasts and they all have streams.
KR: Do you only utilize established radio people or do you look for other talent as well?
Ezra: We have probably 40 to 45 original shows that are are just digital only. It’s everything from Taz the WWE wrestler and the actor Robert Wall. They are not on the air for us they are just doing digital and they have been very successful for us.
KR: There are some people who are naysayers about the Podcast industry, ironically these people are in radio. What do you think of that?
Ezra: Well obviously I don’t think that’s the case. There were naysayers about video on demand and Netflix.
KR: How many shows do you currently have on the air?
Ezra: I would say about 375
KR: Is the talent compensated
KR: What is the consistency of each show?
Ezra: We have some who do it daily or weekly. It’s hard to build an audience when you do a show once a month. A lot of our talent travel, a number of them are able to do their shows from wherever they are. We also provide a kit for them to do it from home or they can come into our studios.
KR: So what makes a GREAT Podcast?
Ezra. Great engaging content where the host connects with the guest and they both connect with the audience.
KR: So for the most part jocks can get stuck in the commercial realm of doing radio. Have you had jocks come from commercial radio and offer a much better show.
Ezra: Yes all the time and we do get great shows from those people when they do podcasts.
KR: So do you do allow profanity?
KR: So with the expansion of domain names from dotcoms do you have problems with the Play.it extension?
Ezra: No, most people figure it out without a problem.
KR: Are you getting a lot of celebrities who want to do podcasts?
Ezra: Yes we have always have a lot of inquiries from celebrities.
KR: What would you say to jocks still waiting for a gig on commercial radio?
Ezra: They should not be waiting. There is a great opportunity online and if they don’t do it with us they should consider doing it with someone.
KR: Thanks for your time
Ezra: Thank you Kevin