OC Talk Radio founder draws on his radio and public relations past to help tell local business leaders’ stories.
In spite of the increasingly fast-paced nature of today’s media, the art of long-form storytelling still thrives in the form of books, movies, TV and, more recently, podcasts. Paul Roberts, founder and station manager of OC Talk Radio, has been in the business of storytelling for decades. Lately, he spends his days amplifying the voices of the Orange County business ecosystem by helping his clients stream and record their live podcast shows in his studio at the Cove @ UCI, the headquarters of UCI Beall Applied Innovation.
Roberts’ roots in radio date back to his undergraduate days working for the student-run broadcasting network at the University of Michigan. After earning a degree in political science, Roberts moved from the Midwest to California in search of fame and fortune.
“I thought I was going to be an actor, producer or rock star,” said Roberts.
Instead, Roberts found himself storytelling for stars as an entertainment publicist at Reflections, Inc. and Stan Rosenfield Public Relations. Some of his clients included CHiPs star Lou Wagner, rock band The Police and singer Johnny Mathis.
At one point, one of Roberts’ public relations firms started to represent entrepreneurs such as Felice and Boyd Willat, founders of Day Runner personal organizers.
“Everybody wanted to know what they did … their personal story, insights and inspiration,” said Roberts. “Suddenly, entrepreneurs were seen as another form of celebrity.”
Roberts created OC Talk Radio in 2010 as a media experiment, drawing from his experiences working in radio and representing entrepreneurs. At the time, he noticed the lack of business-oriented storytelling in Orange County and took that as an opportunity to be the county’s first and only station with a business bent.
“There were very few business podcasts, very few business radio stations left,” said Roberts. “So we [at OC Talk Radio] thought we’ll do what nobody else does: help tell those stories and benefit not just the audience, but the people involved in the show by telling their origin and brand stories in a way no one else can.”
Today, Roberts helps tell the personal stories of local business leaders from behind the soundboard at OC Talk Radio. The online radio station produces 24 shows a week, each covering a variety of business topics, from marketing and branding to entrepreneurial innovation.
According to Roberts, different podcast shows amass different audience sizes. The more niche shows bring in about 1,000 listeners a month, while their more popular shows average over 40,000 per month. Regardless, Roberts cares more about who is listening than how many.
“This isn’t a billboard on the freeway that five million people drive by in the hope that five will remember and call you,” said Roberts. “This is narrowcasting, not broadcasting … I’m trying to get people that are really your customers interested and coming back week after week to learn more.”
With the help of Roberts and OC Talk Radio, Applied Innovation will soon join the long-form, audio storytelling world with a monthly podcast set to launch in November. The show will cover a variety of topics, ranging from startup advice to developments in faculty research.
Learn more about OC Talk Radio.
Photos: Julie Kennedy, UCI Beall Applied Innovation
Illustration: Rachel Noble, UCI Beall Applied Innovation