I’m Radio…And I’m Your New Neighbor
One of the biggest challenges facing the growth of podcasting is the lack of transistor radios. (If you’ve only heard rumors about transistor radios, they were like boom boxes only they could be lifted to your ear without causing bursitis. Also, you could play them in a cemetery without fear of waking the dead…let alone having them run for their lives to get away from you.)
Transistor radios were all you needed to enjoy your favorite music, talk or sports. And, they were one-touch simple. You selected AM or FM, spun a dial and listened to your program. Even my dad could do it.
Today, Consuming Audio Entertainment is Complicated
Most terrestrial radio is listened to over the air, while the smartphone is the platform for web radio services, including podcasting. Radios are still simple to operate, but the web radio ecosphere is full of apps requiring different levels of dexterity, if not computer science degrees.
And while you can listen to terrestrial radio on your smartphone—assuming your favorite station has an Internet stream—you have to pay your wireless carrier for the privilege of listening to what you can otherwise hear over the air for free.
Enter Jeff Smulyan
Smulyan, is the CEO of Emmis Communications, and he’s out to shake up the status quo. His actions will have major implications for podcasting.
Smulyan is behind an initiative called NextRadio, which is lobbying smartphone manufacturers and wireless carriers to activate the FM receiver that’s already in your smartphone. NextRadio has also developed an app that makes listening to terrestrial radio on your smartphone free, while offering what heretofore have been Internet-only interactive features.
Sooner or later, local radio will be right there alongside your podcasts and, if early versions of the NextRadio app are any indication, a heck of a lot easier to listen to.
I, for one, would rather it happen sooner rather than later. Listening patterns are habits. The sooner people develop the habit of treating their smartphones as transistor radios the sooner people will learn how to smoothly segue from the local morning show or an NPR newscast to a podcast.
What happens then is something I discuss in next Tuesday’s post.