Addeal brings podcasters closer to dream

ByChris Dixon\

Monday,March6, 2006 
Edition: FINAL, Section: LOCAL & STATE, Page B1


Nateand Di Fulmer are at the crest of a new wave in the broadcastingrevolution.

The pioneeringcouple have produced the irreverent, low-budget "The Nate and DiShow" out of a small office in their Mount Pleasant home for the pastyear. From here, they "podcast" their popular talk program tothousands of Internet listeners around the world.

Recently, though,these 20-something mini-storage facility managers hit the big time.By landing a sponsorship deal to promote "Big Love," a new HBO dramaabout a polygamous family, Nate and Di have moved one step closer totheir ultimate goal of self-employment.

"As far as movingus closer to quitting day jobs, it's a major step," Nate said. "We'vebeen clamoring for over a year to get major media sponsors involvedin podcasting, and it's finally happened."

A podcast is adigital audio broadcast that can be downloaded onto a listener'scomputer, iPod or other MP3 player.

The Fulmers saidthey read about podcasting a couple of years ago and decided to giveit a try. "Most of our episodes have kind of followed whatever'sgoing on in our lives along with a little national and world news,"Nate said.

The first threeepisodes of "The Nate and Di Show" revolved around the Fulmers'battles with state of Virginia tax collectors. A lien was placed onthe couple's bank account after the boss who paid them to manage adrive-in theater erroneously reported their taxes. With a successfulresolution, Nate and Di broadcast an official apology from theVirginia Department of Taxation.

The show evolvedinto discussions on politics, religion and hypocrisy with a healthydose of risque and often edgy humor thrown in.

When theircomputer was ruined by a lightning strike, the podcasters created afuneral show by heaving it off one of the old Cooper River bridges.When invited to a recent Chapel Hill, N.C., podcasting convention,Nate and Di dined with fellow podcasters former Sen. John Edwards,D-N.C., and his wife, Elizabeth. On the show that followed, Diinsulted the barbecue. She said that Elizabeth Edwards later defendedthe meal, writing in an e-mail that "red cabbage slaw is a treat."

As they producedmore shows, the Fulmers cross-promoted their podcasts and along with Apple's iTunes andYahoo's podcast sites. The more places they promoted the show, themore downloads. Eventually "The Nate and Di Show" became one ofPodcastAlley's most popular programs, consistently placing in the top20 out of as many as 15,000 different shows. Lately, each new episodehas recorded more than 12,000 downloads.

These numberscaught the eye of Mark McCrery, CEO of a new service called Podtrac.Launched in November, Podtrac both tracks downloads of some 30,000different podcasts and offers major sponsors a place to insert theiradvertising into the audio of podcasts.

McCrery said hisfirst major push came from HBO, which will insert 30-second ads forits upcoming show "Big Love" into more than 30 podcast programs,including "Nate and Di,"

"Cinecast," "APCelebrity Focus" and "Baby Time."

McCrery said heexpects to reach hundreds of thousands of listeners with his firstcampaign. The podcast advertising market, he said, is expected toreach $80 million by the end of the year.

"Nate and Di gotearly recognition and have been able to build up a great fan base,"he said.

"I don't know anyother hobby that lets you make money and communicate with so manypeople," Di said. "It's like a dream come true."

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