Special to Wisconsin State Journal

 By Tom Still

MADISON, Wis. – Entrepreneurs can be isolated, often working long hours alone or as part of a small team, only coming up for air (and maybe pizza) as needed.

As chained to the lab bench or coding script as entrepreneurs can be, they must also be consumers of news and information. Current events and trends can shape – or disrupt – their ideas for products and companies. Potential competitors can be making headlines at their expense. Other entrepreneurs can be talking about successes and failures in ways that would broaden their outlook.

Like others, entrepreneurs consume news in different ways. It can be in print, as with this column, or in any number of digital forms that range from video to audio to social media to online news services.

An addition to the news menu for entrepreneurs in Madison is “Innovate 608,” a podcast hosted and produced by StartingBlock, one of the city’s most familiar startup hubs. Sponsored by American Family Institute, the first episode of Innovate 608 is now available at go.madison.com/innovate608.

“We wanted to come up with a way that entrepreneurs who are on the go can be connected in a way that works with their busy schedules,” said Nora Roughen-Schmidt, StartingBlock’s executive director. “There are a lot of great stories to tell involving entrepreneurs and the communities around them.”

Innovate 608 will run about a half hour per episode every two weeks. Listeners can tune in for specific interviews or “binge” on multiple shows, Roughen-Schmidt said, depending on their schedules. Ben Camp, chief executive officer of RehabPath, will be featured in the inaugural episode.

Future guests will include other entrepreneurs and people with expertise in finding financial resources, making an effective investor pitch, staying sane in a hectic world and more. An early invited guest is Gov. Tony Evers.

The Innovate 608 platform is provided by the Wisconsin State Journal and Madison.com and represents another example of convergence in the news industry. Once a print-only citadel, the State Journal and Madison.com offer news across a spectrum of delivery formats.

That evolution was part of my own experience as an editor at the State Journal in the 1990s and early 2000s, when the newspaper launched multi-media programs such as “We the People/Wisconsin,” a cable television outlet and Madison.com. That experience carries forth today at the Wisconsin Technology Council, where live events, our online newsletter, video news interviews and social media help us to reach people with information they can use.

Society’s appetite for digital servings of news and information is larger than ever, in part because people use online tools for just about everything, but also because time is a commodity. Business news is news like any other news: It can be perishable. Its shelf life can be short, and online platforms can extend that life while attracting new readers, viewers and listeners.

Experts estimate there are more than 850,000 active podcasts today and about half of all U.S. consumers above the age of 12 at least occasionally tune in. So, why join such a crowded market with Innovate 608?

“More access to more people with more good stories,” summarized Roughen-Schmidt. That alone is good news for busy entrepreneurs.

Still is president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. He can be reached at tstill@wisconsintechnologycouncil.com.