Why Podcasting Should Thank Jeff Smulyan

att-on-boardMy friends in the radio business may not agree with me (again), however I believe AT&T’s decision to activate the FM chips in its Android smartphones is a major plus…at least for podcasters.

While Jeff Smulyan and NextRadio may be out to save, or at least enhance the future of, terrestrial broadcasting, their actions are leading toward making the smartphone, as I’ve written a previous post, the transistor radio of the (early) 21st century.

But, first, a small step backward. I interviewed Smulyan a few months ago. Here are two short clips about the NextRadio initiative.  He’s the driving force behind NextRadio, so it’s best if you take a few moments and hear his case in his own words.

First, why Smulyan sees listeners turning to their smart phones for FM radio listening (:31):

Second, how Smulyan plans to entice carriers into forgoing revenue from the incredible number of hours spent streaming to broadcast radio (:35):


Why NextRadio

Either audio entertainment on smartphones remains the way it is, a patchwork of separate apps based on delivery method (stream, mp3, over-the-air) or some enterprising company recognizes that to the listener, it’s all the same: portable, engaging audio content. That company develops an app that allows access by content or brand and turns the listening experience into a becomes a 1-touch (or 2) event. And that means, all those radio listeners Smulyan talks about are 1 touch (or 2) away from your podcast as well.

We can’t build an industry on a delivery system that requires geek as a second language. We can all argue whether radio is dying as a business, but the truth is, if you still had to wiggle a thin wire over a piece of quartz to listen to a radio station, we’d all be gathering around the living room piano for our audio entertainment.

So app developers now have additional incentive. Smulyan is delivering more listeners to their 1-touch app of the future. Whether those apps are ad supported, paid or sold/licensed to manufacturers, thanks to Smulyan the value of those apps has gone up. To the degree that value relates to incentive and investment, there should be reason for more of both.

This leaves only T-Mobile and Verizon as the major wireless companies not climbing onboard the NextRadio bandwagon. T-Mobile enjoys going its own way, but Verizon and AT&T have demonstrated their neck-and-neck competitive strategy, meaning it’s only a matter of getting the numbers (i.e., revenue splitting) right before Verizon climbs aboard.

I say the sooner the better. Keep it up, Jeff.

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