Neal Boortz, despite leaving his long-time talk show last year, has never fully retired from radio. He continues to do daily commentaries for News 95.5 FM and AM 750 WSB.
But he wanted to do just a bit more. So he's now recording two or three podcasts a week at about 20 minutes apiece for Andy Dean's new ConnectPal.com network. Dean himself is a radio talk show host once heard on WSB.
Boortz also didn't want to provide his product for free. ConnectPal enables Boortz to charge any amount he wants for a monthly subscription. He chose $4.99, which found to be reasonable.
At his peak, Boortz drew more than 6 million listeners a week on AM/FM radio. He was on Atlanta radio for much of the past 45 years.
Boortz doesn't expect anywhere near that many subscribers. If he even gets 10,000 subscribers, "my eyes would bug out and get stomped by a bullfrog!" he said. "Of course I get people who say, 'Man. Why are you charging? I don't want to pay for this!' Nobody is twisting your arm!' "
Read my interview with Boortz from August when he came into Atlanta for the annual AFLAC Cancer Center Careathon for WSB.
The Naples, Fla. resident (who still keeps a place in Atlanta) started his podcasts last week and is enjoying how easy it is to do. Plus, the site will automatically send out emails to all his subscribers every time he posts a podcast.
So far, he said early feedback has been good, noting the $4.99 charge comes out to about 42 cents per podcast per subscriber - a modest cost.
"I saw podcast sites with all these fancy graphics," he said. "People don't care about that. They sign up for what I do. This website delivers on that."
Boortz said he left radio partially because he wanted to travel and no longer wanted to be tied down by a daily three-hour plus show.
When Dean himself left the syndicated radio world himself over the summer, he said he left with the belief the ability to make money in that realm has been greatly compromised in recent years as ad revenues have fallen sharply.
He sought a place to podcast in a way that could generate income. There are no shortage of free places to podcast (iTunes for one). And there are many free podcast sites where they sell advertising. But Dean quickly realized he would need a huge number of listeners to make the advertiser model work - at least 50,000 per podcast. Not a lot of people short of Adam Corolla could pull that off, Dean said.
Dean also said he wasn't popular enough to merit a stand-alone on-line operation that someone as big as Glenn Beck now has.
So he created ConnectPal where he would provide all the back office work and allow people who have small to medium-sized followings to charge for their podcasts. He said people could charge $1.99 and up. ConnectPal takes a cut to cover its costs, including credit card charges, as well as hopefully make a bit of profit.
The upfront cost to a content creator? Nothing.
Better yet, if Boortz goes on vacation, he can place subscriptions on pause so people aren't charged while he is providing no content. (Dean said there is an honor system there but he will monitor podcasters to ensure they are providing fresh content while charging.)
Boortz, for instance, will be traveling to New Zealand and Australia for a couple of weeks starting next week. He won't charge his subscribers during that time.
Dean launched the operation in the spring and says he now has about 200 content providers with tens of thousands of total subscribers. He himself has an unspecified "thousands" of subscribers. He added that he already makes more money than he did on Premiere, the syndicated radio operator he had worked with the past few years.
He said content providers are not just political talk show hosts. He has a baseball coach who provides video instructions for $50 a month. There's a military commentator who has 500 subscribers at $6 apiece.
Dean is thrilled to have Boortz aboard. "He's a legend," he said.
Boortz is on WSB, a part of Cox Media Group, which also includes the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.