Op-ed: Net radio won't disrupt AM/FM without star-power content

Thursday, June 20, 2013 - 11:55am

Former AOL VP Brad Hill (and former GM/Director of Weblogs, Inc.) says that for all Internet radio's innovation, it won't seriously disrupt traditional AM/FM without "star power and blockbuster announcement material."

He means "killer content." Stern on SiriusXM, or "House of Cards" on Netflix.

And that lack of content relegates the medium as something out of the mainstream... "geeky" is Hill's word.

"Its image is tethered to computers and smartphones. That is a status quo in which the usage numbers of terrestrial radio remain fairly safe," he wrote for Engadget.

Sure, Internet radio still isn't quite as easy to use as an AM/FM radio. And it's not available in as many cars. But those things will change. And when they do, Internet radio's inherent advantages like lower (or nonexistent) ad loads and personalization, will become even more profound.

But Hill maintains that won't be enough for Internet radio, as it lacks the "shades of glamour" of things like video service Crackle's Seinfeld-produced "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee."

"It is up to Apple, or Google, or Rhapsody, or Spotify, or Pandora, or Amazon, or another internet player to break down the perceptual walls within which internet radio is trapped, developing content or importing stars that will compel users to commit more of their attention to the platform," Hill concludes. "Technology alone might not be enough to disrupt the nearly 100-year-old technology of terrestrial radio. But technology plus killer content can do it."

Read Hill's op-ed in Engadget here.

Engadget spotlights two of radio's 'digital age' survivors: KCRW and WFMU

Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - 1:50pm

New Jersey's WFMU and Santa Monica's KCRW alike "have managed to weather a storm of media consolidation and survived an internet revolution that has completely altered the way we consume entertainment over several decades -- particularly in recent years, as unique voices have disappeared almost entirely from the radio dial."

That's from an Engadget.com piece on the two stations (along with a video segment), and it's a great read about two stations still creating wonderful radio in the digital age.

"It may well be the stations' willingness to embrace technology that has allowed them to survive -- and, arguably, even thrive -- while so many of their peers have simply faded away," the site's Brian Heater wrote.

Read (and watch) about WFMU's online Free Music Archive, KCRW's efforts in digitizing their vast library, and more, here.

BMW brings Stitcher Radio into the dashboard

Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - 1:05pm

Stitcher Radio in a BMWBMW revealed yesterday it's integrating Stitcher Radio into cars with BMW Apps or Mini Connected services.

Stitcher is a news radio and pocast service that's often referred to as Pandora for news radio. In-dash use of Stitcher requires a connected iPhone. Drivers can use BMW's dashboard system to create or remove stations and provide feedback like "More Like This" or "Listeners Also Like."

Engadget has a hands-on video here.

New Google project may be "a Sonos competitor," says Engadget

Friday, February 10, 2012 - 11:25am

Google is developing a home entertainment systemGoogle is developing a home entertainment system with a focus on wireless music streaming, according to the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and other publications.

The system would reportedly be based around Google-made devices (unlike Android and Google TV devices, which are made by third-party manufacturers). It would include a hub device with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi built-in, wireless speakers, and would be controlled by smartphones and tablets. Google will apparently test the system over the summer.

"Like Apple AirPlay does for iOS, it would stream music from Android devices to home entertainment systems, which are usually the nicest speakers in the house," comments Eliot Van Buskirk at Evolver.fm.

There's no word yet on whether the system will involve radio in some way. One would expect Google's own cloud music service -- which includes a Pandora-like Instant Mix feature (RAIN coverage here) -- will be included.

"Google’s larger goal, a person closely tied to the project said, was to connect everything in the home to the Internet, including light bulbs, speakers and TV sets," writes the New York Times.

Engadget comments that the project sounds "a whole lot like a Sonos competitor."

For more on the story, check out the New York Times' coverage here, Evolver.fm's article here, or Engadget's report here.


Engadget: Pandora-friendly Pioneer AppRadio "a peek into the future"

Thursday, October 13, 2011 - 11:00am

Pioneer's AppRadio with Rdio playingPioneer's in-dash AppRadio connects with iPhones to stream Pandora and Rdio (RAIN coverage here). Engadget recently reviewed the $400 device, finding the Net radio options to be seamless and slick.

But the device itself offers some annoyances. Navigating through the music apps on the AppRadio's touchscreen is "a relative pain" while driving, writes Engadget. Plus there are some annoying bugs and quirks, like not being able to listen to the radio and use the AppRadio's navigation features at the same time.

Overall, Engadget writes the AppRadio is like "peeking into the future": lots of potential, but currently too many first-generation bugs for mainstream drivers. You can find the full review here.

In-dash system supports Pandora and iHeartRadio, will be offered for 2012 Tacoma, Camry and Prius V

Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - 11:00am

Toyota's Entune system, with Pandora and iHeartRadio picturedToyota's Entune in-car Internet radio system will be offered with the 2012 Tacoma, Camry and Prius V. The announcement marks yet another major car manufacturer bringing web radio to consumers' dashboards. Toyota is promoting its Entune system, along with the new Prius V, on a nationwide tour that runs though December.

"At launch, [Entune] will include more apps than other automakers' systems," writes CNet (here). The system supports Pandora and iHeartRadio -- along with various other apps -- via a Bluetooth-connected iPhone, Android or BlackBerry device. Toyota says (here) the system will also support general Bluetooth streaming (presumably allowing users to listen to any Net radio app through a Bluetooth-ready mobile device), USB connectivity, satellite and HD radio.

Like Ford's Sync system (which supports also Pandora and iHeartRadio), drivers will be able to control playback with voice commands. Otherwise, the system uses an in-dash touchscreen display. Engadget reported earlier this year (here) that Entune will be free for the at least the first three years (the cost will reportedly be "included with the factory navigation option," at least in the Prius V). 

Toyota debuted Entune in January during CES (RAIN coverage here). It then won CNET's "Best of CES" and Popular Mechanics "Editor's Choice" awards.

Ford, BMW, Mini, Mercedes, GM, Smart and other car-makers also offer in-car web radio features. You can find our in-car Internet radio round-up here.

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