The story has to come first

A podcast production agency designed to function as a creative agency, JAR Audio works exclusively with brands to help them grow their revenue and impact by making meaningful connections with listeners.
Roger Nairn, Jen Moss, and Aaron Johnson founded the agency with an ambitious task in mind: to one day replace traditional advertising with high-value, high-performing podcasts.

The choice was one born of thoughtfulness and data. A well produced podcast by JAR garners a 95-100% listen-through rate. By comparison, commercially produced YouTube videos have watch-through rates of
about 50%.

“When you listen to a podcast, you stick your earbuds in and it’s like someone is whispering into your ear,” says Roger Nairn, co-founder and CEO. “It’s an intimate medium, and a well-told story will have you listening longer, enjoying it more, and subscribing.

Unlike the push mediums of TV or radio broadcasts, listeners seek out the content they want to listen to, and that content tends to be quite niche— perfect for brands seeking to connect with their audiences. Add to the mix that podcasts are also a subscribable medium, and you have one of the best marketing mediums out there. Podcasts have the potential to provide excellent value for both listeners and for brands.

JAR might not have been the first agency to realize so, but it was clear that the branded podcasts in existence were basically 30-minute advertisements. “The level of quality was just not very high,” Roger says. “The three of us felt that we could apply all of our expertise individually and as a whole to create an offering that would be of value to our customers.” Roger came from the advertising industry, specifically in client services, while Chief Creative Officer Jen Moss had spent many years working for CBC and brought to the table all sorts of story-telling experience, mostly in audio. Aaron Johnson, Chief Technical Officer, had a background in broadcasting in traditional and new media.

Their powers combined to form the heart of JAR’s unique and valuable offering: interesting, engaging stories that apply best practices from branding and communications standpoints.

“At the end of the day, our podcasts are a piece of marketing, and they need to do their job and perform for the client. Luckily, the best way to do that is to tell a good story and the rest should happen almost automatically,” Roger says.

That’s been the case for pretty much all of JAR’s projects, which have ranged from internal podcasts for the staff at Lululemon to a “travel hack” podcast for Expedia. JAR’s first big client, Saje Natural Wellness, was the agency’s first client period. JAR produced Saje’s Well Now, a podcast that topped the charts in its debut week.

But podcasts-as-marketing-tools form only part of JAR’s innovation. The rest lies in the way the agency is built. Because JAR was designed to be remote, they were able to weather the pandemic better than most because there was no real lapse in production.

“We never had a full staff just sitting in an office and waiting for work to come in the door,” Roger explains. “We build all of our teams based on the project we’ve been given, and we can pull talent from throughout the city, the province, or even the world to find the best person for the job.”

The way they record episodes also speaks to the agency’s innovation. JAR used to rely on sound studios to record its episodes, but in response to coronavirus safety measures, the agency created a remote audio kit that could be couriered to the podcasts’ hosts and guests throughout the world.

“When they receive this kit, it’s super easy to plug into their internet, and it connects to our server, creating essentially an ISDN line that lets us remotely record crystal clear audio,” Roger says. “It’s allowed everyone to stay safe, to remain in their home, and it also means our reach now is as far as couriers are willing to go, without compromising the quality of the recording.”

Though JAR isn’t bound by geographical location, the agency is looking to expand and continue the legacy of great creative agencies in its home base of Vancouver, Roger says.

Vancouver is a very creative city, and we’re proud to be part of that evolution. We’ve got a lot to be proud of here.”

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