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Industry Leaders: Richie Culph, Content Director - rova

10 November, 2021

Richie Culph and rova have been huge supporters of the New Zealand Podcast Awards in its inaugural year. 

We were fortunate to spend some time with Richie to learn a bit more about his role and to get his thoughts on the Kiwi podcasting scene. 

Read on for the full, unedited Q&A...

NZPA: Firstly, tell us a bit about rova - what role does rova play in the Kiwi podcasting space and how does it differ from other platforms or networks?

Richie: rova is different things to different people.  Listeners would know it as an app for digital audio content, and podcasts are a growing part of that.  Unlike most (if not all) others, rova has been developed to put Kiwi listeners at the centre of the experience and (again, unlike others) we control the development completely, so you can expect more features coming with Kiwi users and their favourite content in mind.

With the explosion of podcast content, about 800,000 new podcast series added to apple podcasts in the last 12 months alone, the challenge for listeners is discovery.  We want rova to become the destination for Kiwi listeners to connect with podcasts that are relevant to them.

For creators, it’s more than just the app.  rova, as part of MediaWorks, has boots on the ground in Aotearoa not only finding sponsors for our own podcasts, but also partnering with independent creators to connect them with monetisation and listener amplification opportunities they just don't have access to.  I’m very proud of the fact that in the last fortnight we’ve partnered with and sold two independent podcasts, and there are more on the way. 

And of course we’re creators ourselves.  Not only do our fantastic MediaWorks radio shows create high quality catch up podcasts supplemented with original content, but we take creating original podcasts very seriously. 

In September rova launched Tic-Heads with Uncle Tics & Randall, claiming the top spot for an original debut podcast on the NZ Podcast Ranker, and next week with the support of NZonAir we’re launching Aotearoa Hip Hop: The Music, The People, The History.  A three year project with over a hundred interviews from around the world, incredible writing and music direction, I think it’s likely the most comprehensive documentary podcast ever produced in this country and absolutely stands on the world stage.  We can’t wait for people to hear it.

NZPA: Who is Richie Culph? Tell us about yourself and how you ended up in the podcasting business?

Richie: I’m the Content Director for rova and point person for MediaWorks Digital Audio and Podcasts, but my background is as a writer, audio engineer, voice actor and producer.  I’ve built my career on creating great audio content, writing and producing over a dozen separate radio serials (now Fiction Podcasts!) in NZ and Australia, and I still keep my toe in the water.  I made a couple of comedy sketches for Tic-Heads last month, and last week a Melbourne Cup Sketch for a Sydney breakfast show, which I do every year.

I’ve always loved podcasts.  I started listening before iPhones and I wasn’t rich enough for an iPod so it was easier to burn them to CD!  It truly is a dream to be working in the podcast medium and I don’t take it for granted.

NZPA: Podcasting has already exploded around the world. What's your take on the NZ scene? What needs to happen for more kiwis to start listening to podcasts more frequently?

Richie: There’s still so much growth to come for podcasts in New Zealand, and that’s great news for Kiwi creators.  Depending on which numbers you believe, 13% of Kiwis listen either daily or weekly, so by getting started now, your podcast will be ready, waiting and awesome when the other 87% gets there!

A lot of the growth that has come from Australia I believe is due to large publishers promoting awareness of the medium, and that is certainly something we intend to do at MediaWorks.

NZPA:  What advice would you give to someone looking to launch a new podcast in New Zealand today?

Richie: Start with passion.  Choose content that you would want to create regardless of how much you get paid… because it might take a while!

Work to the organic strengths of the team.  What story can you tell that no one else can.  This will make things sound natural and be a lot easier in the long run.

Make a defined commitment to a series run.  Plan to deliver 6 or 10 episodes, then reflect on what you’ve created and see what needs changing for the next season.

Marketing.  How do you plan to find an audience?  They won’t just turn up, so you need to find a way to tell people about your podcast.

NZPA: rova is connected to New Zealand's largest commercial radio network. Can you give us some insight into how traditional radio and podcasting co-exist?

Richie: Radio and podcasts are similar in that they are both forms of audio entertainment, but the differences in the mediums are clear.  A successful radio show does not necessarily make for a successful podcast, but it is a very good start and there are plenty of examples where that is the case.

Radio is in a fantastic position to leverage our experience in audio, embrace the podcast medium, create more content bespoke for it and partner with creators to improve their content, increase their audience and get them paid!

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