We at Unity World Headquarters are saddened to announce that Unity Online Radio, which has been broadcasting 24 hours a day for nearly 15 years, will cease operations on April 14, 2022.
Although the livestream will stop, the website, unityonlineradio.org, will remain live for a few months, and listeners can still hear recorded podcasts by downloading them. After that, the shows will be kept by Unity for possible future use.
Current show hosts—about 30 with live shows—have been asked to find new platforms from which to share their podcasts.
This decision was made for many reasons, said Unity CEO Jim Blake.
UOR was a cutting-edge platform when established in 2007. Since that time, Unity has subsidized its operational expenses every year.
In 2017 a new strategy was born to bring in new staff talent, attract new hosts, and invest in the platform and website with an eye toward monetizing the powerful content being offered. Our teams did everything right in terms of retooling the network and even growing it.
However, since that original plan was put in motion, the landscape of the audio content world has changed and largely rendered our monetization strategy and long-term plans for funding UOR ineffective in today’s world.
- Podcasting and live audio have exploded in the last five years and are extremely competitive. Unity does not have a marketing budget large enough to compete.
- New distribution channels have emerged that are required for success in this space (Spotify, iTunes, Pandora, etc.). Unity has shared UOR podcasts through those outlets but is not given listener data in return, so there is no way for Unity to develop and steward long-term relationships with those who are consuming the content through other services.
- Finally, opportunities to monetize live shows or podcasts have dried up. A recent study found that 83 percent of people who listen regularly to podcasts are unwilling pay for audio content. And UOR is not large enough to attract significant advertising dollars.
As the costs for maintaining the network have continued to increase, advertising revenue and donations have decreased, and losses now amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. Unity can no longer subsidize costs of this size, Blake said.
Blake and Unity executives expressed gratitude to those running the network the past several years: program manager Diane Ray, who also hosted her own show; producer Jeff Comfort, who was with the network from the beginning; and producer Louis Pagan. They created a professional, seamless network for live call-in shows and recorded podcasts. Diane brought high-caliber hosts onto the network, and Jeff and Louis juggled the live shows, callers, encores, prerecordings, and inevitable technical emergencies with skill and grace.
We also want to thank the dozens of hosts who have shared their talent, creativity, and inspirational insights over the last 15 years. Their messages of hope, love, and prosperity have brought support to listeners far and wide and have deepened their relationship with the Divine. We are incredibly grateful for their contributions to the Unity broadcast history. For the future, Unity is researching multimedia models that will allow us to share Unity teachings through a variety of channels. We will retain the many wonderful podcasts that have been shared through the years for possible use in the future.