PODCASTING Personalized 'radio' may be wave of future
Here's another way for you to get your music fix.
By MARC FISHER
Podcasting, the latest grass-roots entry in the catalogue of miseries facing the radio industry, may yet turn out to be a boost to good old broadcast radio.
Like satellite radio, Internet radio and iPods, podcasting is another step toward the Radio Me idea in which listeners pick out the music they want to hear and essentially program their own stations. A podcast is a radio show, created by anyone who owns a computer and a microphone, that can be downloaded onto listeners' computers or portable music players. The Web site www.ipodder.org provides a list of podcasts and instructions on how to listen to them. In theory, podcasts will draw listeners away from the sameness of over-the-air radio and into a world of infinite variety.
Podcasts -- the most popular version of the technology was developed last year by former MTV veejay Adam Curry -- can be painfully amateurish or delightfully quirky. They are a natural descendant of the mix tapes that music lovers made and traded in the early years of the cassette era in the 1970s.
A little miffed
But the radio business -- like other mass media, suffering a continuing decline in its share of Americans' time -- is already figuring out how to do what big media do best: co-opt the revolution, whatever it may be.
Tom Webster, vice president of Edison Media Research, and executives at some of the largest radio companies are suggesting that radio stations develop their own podcasts and make them available at no charge to listeners seeking a more varied or obscure selection of tunes. The idea is to ease the pressure that broadcasters now feel to broaden the array of music on over-the-air radio
Once listeners get into the habit of downloading inventive podcasts from their local radio station, they're more likely to tune in to that station's broadcasts when they're in the car or at work.
Or so goes the theory. The few broadcast stations that have taken the leap into podcasting are mainly news stations. But music stations will be there soon, and just as Internet radio evolved from making your own radio station in your bedroom into an industry dominated by MSN and AOL, so too will podcasting go corporate.