Jack Hobbs has always liked to pitch. After playing baseball in college, he continued as a pitcher for the Venezuelan professional league. "It was higher than the AAA, but lower than Major League Baseball," he says.
Now, the Dallas resident lobs pitches of a different kind. As the president of ReVOLVER Podcasts, he's selling the power of digital audio for multicultural audiences.
ReVOLVER is the home of audio shows from top-tier Hispanic talent like Access Hollywood TV host Mario Lopez, 13-time Emmy Award-winning Univision journalist Teresa Rodríguez and popular national network radio disc jockey Eddie "Piolín" Sotelo.
Hobbs talks in this interview about his transition from baseball to media, trends he sees in the marketplace and the secret to successful podcasting.
How did you go from playing pro baseball to working in Hispanic media?
When I turned 27, I realized I couldn’t be a professional athlete forever. I started working as an intern at KYWTV in Philadelphia and interviewing in New York City each week with any media company that would meet me. After over 25 interviews, SIN, Univision’s precursor, took a chance on me.
After Univision, you went to Hispanic radio. How did that happen?
I was offered the opportunity to build a new audience and offering after my success in doing so with the TV network and clients. I jumped at any chance to be a part of a build and create something new. At the time Hispanic network radio did not exist.
Podcasting is hot now, but in 2006? Not so much. Why did you launch ReVOLVER then?
After spending 15 years in radio and developing multiple talents and programs that were specific to Hispanic market needs and consumption patterns, the gap in the marketplace became apparent to me.
I wanted to lead the shift to digital for Hispanic audio offerings and help modernize the landscape in terms of language, content, and accessibility of programs.
There was an over-saturation of advertising and units in terrestrial radio that needed to transition and clean up its act. Pandora and other streaming platforms were leading the charge in terms of uncluttered environments and podcasting was poised to do the same for spoken word.
Podcasting, baseball, sports
Jack Hobbs is president of reVolver Podcasts, a leading multicultural, audio-on-demand content creator and distributor in the United States. Beau Bumpas
Why has podcasting geared to the Latinx community seen such huge growth?
The on-demand culture we have grown into is not going anywhere. Audiences are more and more accustomed to getting curated content when and wherever they desire. I don’t see that trend going anywhere but up.
Podcasting allows for highly personalized programs and experiences that are available at the literal touch of a button — and mostly for free. It’s a great model for consumers and advertisers alike.
Is podcasting radio's friend, foe or frenemy?
The climate is obviously highly competitive, but the best way to ensure success for both camps is to find ways to work together to support the audio industry as a whole. We can develop ways to promote each other and increase listenership so that audio continues to grow as a category.
What current trends are you seeing in podcasting?
Shorter form for sure — 20 to 30 minute programs — and highly targeted content niches are emerging each week. When I started, the content options were generally very broad in nature. Now there’s an audience for corn farmers in South Dakota and for people witnessing UFO sightings in the woods. There's truly is something for everyone.
What’s the secret to podcasting success?
Discovery is still a key element, so promotion, cross-promotion, and awareness is at the top of the list. Other than that, consistency and an easy, casual format usually appeal to large audiences and keep ‘em coming back for more.
Content that reflects the movements and trends that we see in everyday society are a fairly safe bet in terms of popularity and snackability with audiences.
Is there anything I should’ve asked you, but didn’t?
Yes, ask me what my dream podcast program is that doesn’t yet exist. It’s called “Let’s Have a Catch.” I’d host and we’d sit around and have a conversation around sports, entertainment, current events and then go throw the ball around a bit. Anyone game for it? Call me.