Batting above her weight: Omny Studio’s Sharon Taylor on making her mark on podcasting
Sharon Taylor, the managing director of Omny Studio, was nominated for Radio Today’s Podcast Power Players list because she is “whip smart” and runs a company which bats well above its weight. Here, she talks to Vivienne Kelly about being ‘robbed’ at the 1996 Nestle Write About the World competition, whether or not Clubhouse will topple podcasting (spoiler alert: no), and what’s next for the medium.
VK: Describe your job in one word:
VK: If you could make a podcast about anything, what would it be?
ST: It would be a six-part investigative series exploring how I was once the victim of IP theft and plagiarism (based solely on my interpretation and recollection of events) by a big brand kids content creator after participating in the 1996 Nestle Write Around the World competition. I was robbed, and the people must be informed. (This question is also the reason why I should never be allowed to actually make content and leave it to the professionals.)
VK: What is the biggest mistake you see in podcasting?
ST: Not sure if it’s a mistake given that a lot of publishers are currently enacting this strategy and seeing success, but I wonder if in the long term we will see more people recognising the gaps in current podcast programming and creating content to fill it. So, stepping outside of simply replicating what is popular today in terms of format, length, and style, and instead creating new content that pushes the medium to uncharted places and further increases engagement. I think there is a huge opportunity here, and these creators will really reap the reward of not following status quo.
VK: What’s your prediction for where the industry will be in five years?
ST: I think we’ll see a stronger bifurcation between ‘professional’ and ‘indie’ content, which will be a natural result of more walled gardens and the consolidation we’re seeing in the space now. I also believe we’ll have standardised third-party industry measurement sorted and advertising marketplaces with high-quality podcast-specific creative, able to be bought at scale.
Oh, and Clubhouse will not have toppled podcasting.
VK: What advice would you give to somebody looking to work in podcasting?
ST: Know the space, be passionate about audio, but most importantly just jump in – opportunities abound right now.
VK: What is the best part of your role?
ST: The people. This industry is filled with amazing and wonderful people, all working towards the same goal of making podcasting and audio in general a first-class citizen.
VK: What is the biggest challenge you face in your role?
ST: Right now? Time zones.
Podcasting is such a global industry and connecting with people from all corners of the world over Zoom during their individual daylight hours has been challenging. I’ll deny saying this in years to come … but I miss conferences.
VK: What about the wider industry, what challenges is it facing?
ST: A lot of people would say we’re still working to overcome the same challenges that have existed for years – monetisation, measurement, discovery – just at a larger scale and from different angles. I think we often make those challenges harder than they need to be, by not having consistent messaging and approaches to them across the industry. They’re good problems to have and solve for, though.
VK: What’s something about you that might surprise people?
ST: I am one of the clumsiest people you will meet. If there is a flat surface that can be tripped over, I will find it.
VK: If you weren’t in podcasting, what do you think you’d be doing?
ST: I can’t imagine doing anything different, to be honest. Definitely still working in tech, and most likely at another start-up.
Entries for Radio Today’s Podcast Awards with LiSTNR are now open. Categories span podcast executive leader of the year, host or presenter of the year, branded podcast of the year and podcast company of the year. Late entries are open now until July 4. More information is available here.