Sunday, 31 March 2013

Yanking the Receiver

The Current is launching a new stream dedicated to music from Minnesota’s north shore. Online only stream.This stream is in addition to their primary stream, their MN local stream, their kids stream, and the American Heartland stream. That’s 5 streams. Only one of which has an over the air presence.

Which means, today, 80% of The Current’s offerings aren’t available over your car audio. This problem has frustrated me for years – actually a decade (since podcasting’s bootstrap).

Receiving those streams in a car means a cheap enough and reliable enough data connection covers every street and interstate. It also means having at least an auxiliary port in the dashboard. Two of my last 3 vehicles (1997, 2004 model years) didn’t even have that very primitive technology.

“Alert: Within two years, AM and FM will no longer be offered by two automakers. According to the Convergence panel, radio will be gone from all new cars within five years. Since the automotive companies work three years in advance, these decisions are being made now. It appears that radio really will be gone from the dash unless it’s heard through an Internet radio distribution platform.”

This is huge. I predict this will be an extension of the OnStar service.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Monday, 19 October 2009

RSS-Powered, Low-Powered FM

Mike O’Connor pinged me about an idea he had to build-out a low power FM radio station using RSS-based technologies.

I completely agree – and the idea gets me all giddy.

No only does it combine 3 of my favorite things: RSS, podcasts, and reaching a small community with simple technologies – it dovetails nicely into some renewed thinking on platform agnostic publishing.

Problem – Not enough programs to fill the day

Idea – Use podcasts (blogs with RSS feeds and audio programs) to aggregate content from a federation of LPFM stations. Garrick Van Buren built a great gizmo to do this and you can see an example of his system at PodcastMN. I’m sure Garrick would be happy to help with this.

Problem – Not enough volunteer hours to do the “program director” function for a single station

Idea – Share a program director between a federation of like-minded LPFM stations. Let the person be the aggregator of multiple feeds similar to the one Garrick does, and then create a feed that drives the daily programs on multiple stations. The stations could subscribe to this “network feed” and break away whenever they want to do local programming.

Now, it’s just a matter getting a LPFM construction permit from the FCC – unfortunately….


Looks like 8 MN communities already received the green light.

As promising as LPFM sounds, with the FCC as its gatekeeper, I’m still betting 802.11 is the future of radio

Saturday, 10 October 2009

For the Future of Radio – Tune to 802.11

Yesterday, at the Village gym, tired of my normal workout playlist, I brought up JungleTrain on the iPod Touch.

My favorite, niche internet radio station, streaming from somewhere in Europe, picked up by a device in my pocket, on a random treadmill in Minnesota.

Exactly the audio I was looking for. No ads, no data charge. Just the price of the gym membership.

This is another reason1 why the iPod Touch is more of a game changer to me than the iPhone.

Strangely, the latest iPod Nano and Zune ship with broadcast radio receivers (FM and HD respectively).

Elsewhere in radio land, SiriusXM is trading at $0.55/share and has until March 2010 to trade above $1 or be delisted off the NASDAQ

1. Earlier this year I mentioned how the iPod Touch made re-think my mobile phone service. Both of these experiences are rolled into the larger idea that:

“if I’m not within a wifi network, I’m probably driving or otherwise not able to talk.”


Saturday, 28 June 2008

Quoted in APM’s ‘The Pork Wars on YouTube’

As part of APM’s Public Insight Journalism program, I was interviewed as about the use of sites like YouTube for political issues (vs. campaigns) – specifically in the context of the recent tennis match between animal rights groups vs farm industry groups.

Here’s the bit of my interview they used on-air and online.

“Garrick Van Buren is a social media consultant. He says YouTube is useful only as a place to upload videos. It isn’t likely the best destination site for marketers, because videos are lost easily in the heap.”

“‘Figure out where the people that you are trying to reach are. Are they at Facebook? Then create a Facebook app. Find those people that are most likely to spread your message,'” Van Buren said.”

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Drive 105 Repo’d. Replaced with Love

The last hold-out in the Twin Cities commercial ‘alternative’ radio dial succumbed to Love today.

“Every mini-van driving soccer mom with a 15 year old will be pleased as punch when she turns on her radio and hears this festival of shit pouring forth from her speakers.” – Sornie

Two choices remain; The Current, or some mythical online service.

My first experience with a format change:
Back around 1986 104.1 FM changed from something boring to heavy metal. I thought the world had split apart.

But, I stuck with the format change and had the hair to prove it. Then had the same reaction when they mellowed out four years later and switched to “college” or “alternative” or “modern” or “progressive” rock.

Again, I stuck with them. And still have a cassette recording of their live broadcast of Too Much Joy in concert.

I stopped there. Not following them into Country or beyond.

10 minutes from now, I expect the FM dial to resemble the current AM dial, with AM completely abandon. Like suburbanites migrating to newer construction further out. All while iPod capacities grow exponentially.

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Monday, 23 April 2007

So, You Want to Be a Public Radio Star?

I had a great conversation with Tim Elliott and Phil Wilson this weekend at MinneBar, we started talking about the early days of podcasting and how Tim and I both saw podcasting as a farm league for broadcast radio in general – and public radio in particular.

The problem is by the time those institutions start asking, the podcasters have moved on. Realizing they don’t need the broadcast distribution model to be successful and podcasting is no longer the radio farm league, but a completely different game. Then, when the big league starts asking, you know something’s up.

“PRX has launched the first-ever Public Radio Talent Quest, a nationwide search for the next generation of hosts for public radio. Contestants can submit a 2-minute audio demo for their shot at $10,000 and the opportunity to produce a pilot show for public radio.”

Friday, 13 April 2007

Friday, April 13, 2007 1:33:51 PM

I re-listened to the proceedings from February’s Public Media conference yesterday. The first time around I missed the ‘origins of objectivity’ bit (not taking a positioning makes it easier to attract the widest range of advertisers). Seems consistent both in light of this week’s Imus drama and in why the difficulty in advertising on blogs.

“Imus’ customers (also called advertisers) are no longer willing to pay to hear him say what he did and the customers for Rap music are willing to pay to hear it.” – Phil Windley

Makes me think Imus’ employers looking for a reason to can him.

Tuesday, 6 March 2007

If Radio Changed Would Anyone Hear It?

“If radio featured significantly less advertising, would that keep listeners away from their CD’s and iPods and satellite radios and TV’s and video games? Indeed, would that make the radio industry a healthier one?” – Mark Ramsey, Mercury Radio Research.

These days, after more than 5 minutes of broadcast radio, I need to turn it off or leave the room. It’s not just the commercials, or the decade-old play lists, or the insipid banter between “personalities” (NPR included), it’s also the lack of control (pause, skip, etc).

I was reminded yesterday of Flato – a coupon radio program (now with podcasts!). It’s an entertaining listen if you’re driving near Milwaukee. Back when we made that drive more frequently, there was a stickie note inside the dashboard with Flato’s frequency on it.

Radio needs to stop acting like it’s in competition – for ad dollars or community entertainment – with any of the media forms on Mark’s list. Radio needs to start being interesting. Hopefully before we all forget what broadcast radio is.

The payola investigation was successful:

“Under the pending agreement — reported yesterday by the Associated Press and confirmed by Adelstein — Entercom Communications will pay $4 million in fines, followed by Clear Channel Communications ($3.5 million), CBS Radio ($3 million) and Citadel Broadcasting ($2 million). Adelstein said he expected a majority of the commissioners to approve the settlement this week.” – Charles Babington, Washington Post

Tuesday, 26 September 2006

Sending Static to the Satellite

“It’s only a matter of time until this content is free, FCC-filtered, and ad-supported.” – Mark Ramsey

Ramsey’s talking about Sirius’ new Internet Radio offering. While I’m not a big fan of the satellite model, the strength of satellite is that it’s an alternative to the AM and FM dials.

Admittedly, I’m coming at this from the listeners perspective. Not the spectrum owner, or the advertiser.

Then again, as a listener I prefer having control of when and what I listen to. As such, I’ve got everything in iTunes.

I’m rooting for Sirius. This is a great move on their part – be available anywhere. In fact, I’d love to see them increase their monthly subscription fees. More power to the listener.