Unlike television, which has the main players fighting online streaming at every step of the way, radio is embracing the “available anywhere” aspects of the Internet. The first radio station started streaming in late 1994 and now we have 159.8 million digital radio listeners in the US. Everyone seems to like it: listeners like hearing their favorite stations even if they’re not in their broadcast range, local radio hosts like having far away listeners call into their show and marketers like “attaching their brands to digital radio services in traditional and novel ways.” So aside from maybe FM radio manufacturers, everyone is happy.
Given than I love the flexibility and reach of TuneIn, my radio app of choice, I feel petty asking for new features, but here goes.
1. Download the podcast: while listening to NPR recently I had to rush to an appointment and missed the rest of the show. I would have liked to continue listening. Sure, I could have looked up the show, found the episode online and downloaded the podcast on NPR’s site, but why make it so hard? By sending me the podcast (or the link to it) via email or social media, NPR can get to know me as a listener and encourage me to hear other shows. This isn’t a good match for every type of station but works well for NPR’s format.
2. Talking back: the internet is all about two-way communication and right now internet radio is just like regular radio: a one-to-many broadcast. The currently almost blank screen states the radio station, current program and a “donate now” button for NPR and a generic “today’s daily deal” button on others. Some stations also show the current song being played but no links to where to buy the album or song. Allowing listeners to engage with the station can bring a dimension to internet radio that doesn’t exist when listening to radio in the car. By offering more information and links stations can also promote more engagement on their website.
Still, these are minor quibbles. Overall, TuneIn and the radio stations are doing a great job online. Stream on!