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Monday, May 7, 2007

Tivo For the Radio? It's Here!

I've been invited to participate in a grand new advancement in technology which marries radio and cell phones together in a way that's never been done before.

It makes radio interactive with its listeners and gives its listeners on-demand content!

Imagine listening to your favorite talk show personality on your way to work in the car. They just hit a great patch of compelling programming that pulls you in when your road trip is over. You've got to get out of the car. But you really would like to hear how this talk segment goes. Sorry. You turn off the radio and move on with your day.

But what if you could pick up listening to that radio show where you left off and time-shift that program to whenever you have some time later on.

Or maybe you want a news update now, not at the top of the hour when the local station's news comes on. Wouldn't it be great if you could access national or local news when and where you wanted?

How about that local traffic report you missed.

Or the weather alert.

Well, it's coming to a cell phone near you and you don't need to download any special software nor do you need a special phone. In fact, it works with any phone - any carrier - anywhere!

This miracle is forthcoming in a matter of weeks from a new media company called Cellecast. And while it's a concept that will work for any type of radio programming, it's my opinion that Cellecast was made for news/talk radio.

The cool thing about NewsTalk and other information programming is its relevance and immediacy to what is going on in the world right now. And while I will likely want to go back into the archives of some of my favorite talk radio personalities to hear portions of their shows I've missed or only heard about from friends, it's today's shows and today's commentaries, news, sports and entertainment information that I want to be aware of.

Cellecast finally breaks through the last wall that has prevented radio from offering its listeners on-demand content in an easy-to-use manner.

In fact, while radio has done an outstanding job of offering podcasts/webcasts of local station content, Bridge Ratings confirms that the growth of the webcast audience has been stymied by its lack of user-friendliness.

There are early adopters and early majority consumers who have spent the time to learn how to find and download their favorite podcasts to their computers and then on to their MP3 players, but frankly, folks, the majority of people who would love to listen to a podcast are put off by the clumsy nature of its "process of consumption". In other words, for most regular folks, it's too complicated.

But Cellecast's on-demand concept offers a solution. No more need to download a webcast/podcast to your computer or to your portable device. Just dial it up on your cell phone and listen! Genius!

Cellecast has also figured out how to offer music radio as part of its catalog of content while most companies are dealing with streaming royalty rates and record label authorization. And while the immediacy of music radio doesn't compare to that of Talk Radio, I can see the wisdom of wanting to go back to a point earlier in the day when I heard a new music release on my favorite station and I want to hear it again - now! As long as I can remember when I heard it, I can go back - time-shifting - and hear it again.

So, look for Cellecast to start making noise this summer and ask your cell phone company how you can get it.

I'm enthused about it not just because they've asked me to help advise them, but because it's such a smart idea and a good one for consumers and radio alike.

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