How On-Demand Audio will Make Money in the Future

Since the early days of podcasting, many have wished for and aspired to make a good living from producing and distributing podcasts. Many a podcaster has failed to achieve that goal and has hung up the towel on trying to earn a good living or build a small company around the fun and exciting podcasting space. I have seen many people and companies come and go since before podcasting really even started. Expectations for the scale and advertiser support just did not match reality. Podcasting certainly did not “Kill the Radio Star” like Wired Magazine proclaimed on its cover back in 2005.

The podcasting/on-demand audio industry will make hundreds of millions or even one day billions in revenue once advertisers and distribution platforms have a consistent third-party standard for understanding and reporting download’s, play duration, specific playback devices and geo-targeting abilities to do what is called in radio “copy splitting”. These are the elements that drove broadcast radio to the 16 billion dollar industry it still is today. This usage and audience measurement metric data needs to be verified by detailed user studies by trusted research firms like Arbitron and Nielsen Research, as the large media buying agencies still operate on those principles.

The specific parts of the industry positioned to generate the most revenue and profit the most are generally the same as now: content providers and networks providing high quality content with top talent with a strong existing audience following offline and online. We are also seeing a few top publishing, hosting and metrics tools providers that are trusted by content providers and advertisers getting solid and growing revenue streams. I think that those that can create a content network with talented hosts, who can build authentic audience trust, deep “friendship level” engagement and entertain, will make hundreds of millions of dollars from major Fortune 500 brand advertisers and sponsors. Many major brand advertisers are beginning to give on-demand audio podcasting a shot, as a radio advertising replacement strategy.

Monetization will happen from a variety of revenue streams, as outlined above, but mostly it will be the larger major content provider networks and shows will make the most revenue. The aggregator distribution (iTunes, Stitcher and others) will continue to struggle, but will grow revenue from getting into partnerships with content providers at a deeper level to get connected to advertiser revenue. The other ways these aggregator platforms can grow revenue is via offering in-app purchases, audience donation/fan loyalty shares and selling merchandise and/or offering live event ticket transactions. This part is the real weakness in the industry today and will be the key to creating the most user-friendly software experiences on mobile devices and in-cars. This is going to be the last place that is able to monetize in a way that will be healthy and really propel the industry to higher levels of revenue in the future.

I believe that Apple has been the company to profit most from Podcasting. Apple did not invent podcasting, but did make it what it is today with millions of daily users accessing podcasts through very expensive and highly profitable devices. Apple can make or break this industry right now and for the foreseeable future. It is rumored that Apple Podcasting could be moving to Android and, with a move like that; it could give the podcasting industry a big audience boost. It is true that Google has not put any effort into the podcasting market, because Google considers YouTube their podcast play. Android is clearly the biggest potential growth opportunity. It has lagged without a first-party podcast experience. Although Stitcher and others have made some in-roads into Android, it has remained a missed opportunity.

I believe that in the next 12 months, the on-demand and podcasting market will be quite different than today. The shift around consumption of audio content to mobile devices and beyond the desktop computer is a significant development. The entry of players that have big budgets will create a big impact and other dominant streaming internet audio players will jump into the on-demand talk audio market soon to drive the audience and revenue even higher.

We all need to start getting used to the phrases “on-demand audio” and “on-demand talk”, and the term “Podcasts” as important industry terms, as I am hearing them more and more. The term “Podcast” and “Podcasting” are not going away and never will, but these other terms will help this industry become the financial success we all want it to become.

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2014 and Beyond for Podcasting

Since the earliest days of podcasting in 2004, the key points of change over the years have been around monetization, content quality, devices used for listening or watching and software distribution platforms.

Podcasting has seen a heavy amount of churn on the content and distribution platform sides for many years.  Tools platforms have enabled content providers and apps to be more usable and stable in recent years.  Most of the current companies have proven to be steadily improving and economically viable.

Although many of the podcasting tools providers have been successful, many of the early providers struggled to stay viable.  Companies that endured and found acceptance among content providers were those that worked hard to adapt their tools and platforms into what content providers needed. The common thread is they all had and continue to have a single point of contact that was reachable and respectful of podcaster community.

The podcast content community is very sensitive to platforms that are looking to take advantage of the community. In the past, podcasters have been burned by many early companies.  For this reason, it is very important for new companies coming into the podcasting space to build trust with the podcast content community and engage with them as deeply as one can to learn the pitfalls to avoid and opportunities to move towards.

Key Trends and Challenges:

The podcasting market growth continues to center on mobile device adoption that includes smartphones, phablets and tablets.  The market is dominated by audio content, with the vast majority of revenue for all major players in the market coming from host-read sponsor and inserted advertising in downloaded or progressively download play streams.  Pre-roll advertising in podcast content can be effective, if kept in the 30 to 60 second range or less.  Much longer host read sponsor messages can also have a significant value as well.

CPM revenue for podcasts and on-demand audio can vary wildly and range from just a few dollars to as high as forty to fifty dollars per thousand of reported downloads.  The reason for this wide range is because the advertising market for podcasting and on-demand audio shows is immature and advertising buyers are mainly funding direct response campaigns today. The ROI results of properly matched advertisers and shows can be very high.

The podcasting space is still in the process of establishing audience reporting standards around the exact method for how to count downloads; play duration and advertising message impressions are tracked and reported.   The other big issue is around having a credible third-party advertising agency recognize an audience research entity to verify reported metrics.

We are seeing advertisers tending to work with podcast brands and networks that have a strong awareness and reputation for delivering compelling content and advertiser ROI results.

Radio listeners are steadily increasing ownership of smartphones and tablets, thus will have the mobile data connection and device to get access to podcast and on-demand spoken-word audio content.  The podcast hosting platforms are showing strong growth in podcast usage across smartphones, but tablets are growing in usage as well.  Most of these devices have access to mobile wireless and Wi-Fi, thus making many tablets mobile devices as well.  All tablets and smartphones have integrated Bluetooth radios that can connect to car head units.

Over the next few years, this same tablet/smartphone technology and mobile wireless data connections are going to be integrated into the dashboards of higher end new cars that are purchased by the same age group and education level as current and future on-demand audio/ podcast users.  The other major impact on the podcast market is wearable mobile devices.  The next generation of mobile device processors will be able to predict our needs and desires, based on sensed usage and activities.

Mobile devices and software are headed towards more hands-free usage and thus access to wireless on-demand radio-like experiences via the wireless carrier data networks.  Every mobile device will be a radio replacement device that is with the user all day long versus just when in the car.  This has the potential to grow the consumption of audio and video content.  Smartphones are evolving to become PC replacements and, with phones getting larger screens, they also become tablet replacements or phablet devices.  These larger screen smartphones and phablets will help grow media consumption for both audio and video.

The other major enhancement to the on-demand radio and podcast market will be more content coming from the broadcast radio side.  I believe that more local radio stations will begin to utilize digital on-demand distribution of online only and some broadcasted content targeted at local, regional, national and global markets.  The radio stations and broadcast radio groups will need to do a much better job of selling a combination of local, regional, national and global sponsorship packages to advertisers or better utilize savvy digitally focused advertising agencies that truly understand the on-demand radio and podcast advertising market.

The advertising messages in podcasts will need to be uniquely targeted to the specific podcast listener.  Actual Ad placements will need to be heavy on the mid-roll side, but well integrated pre-rolls, mid-rolls and post-rolls can be 30 or 60 second spots or shorter.  Like always host story telling about his or her experiences with the product or service is always good to have after or before the spots.

The other opportunity is that show donations will require a different approach than has been done in the past. Individual show donations will need to be a very easy and convenient donation process that would be visible with every episode of an on-demand radio/podcast series.

Looking to the future, we will see more premium paid ad-free on-demand radio and podcast content enabled via in-app purchase wrapped by free content in a freemium model.  Podcasts or on-demand radio shows are a very personal medium and success is often measured on engagement that often leads to revenue coming from live events and selling related products like books, t-shirts, tickets, wine, hard alcohol and consulting services.

All mobile app distribution and ad sales platforms for podcasts will need to focus on generating revenue from offering services that meet the market needs to help generate revenue for the content providers.  The opportunity for technology tools, client app development, ad sales and metrics providers is to tap into the $17 billion radio advertising market to fuel the on-demand radio and podcasting market.

This all means that revenue in the future of on-demand radio and podcasts will come from a variety of cash flow streams and each show will need to be able to custom tailor their show or network platform to a combination of all or some of the outlined revenue strategies.

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My Digital Life Show #7: The Future of Radio and Podcasting

Here is episode #7 of the “My Digital Life Show” for Tuesday, July 16th, 2013.  This episode topic is about “The Future of Radio and Podcasting from 2005 to 2013 with Radio Expert/Consultant Mark Ramsey.

In this episode we cover these more specific questions:

  • How Podcasts and Radio Content will blend together in the Car?
  • Possible changes coming to broadcast radio?
  • Does radio needs some of the current podcasts talent to succeed now and in the future?

I interviewed Mark Ramsey back in 2005 for my ITConversations Network “WebTalk with Rob Greenlee” show.  Back then, we both talked about the potential of podcasting in the face of shrinking radio audiences and how major celebrities will lead to audience growth in podcasting in the early days of podcasting.  Here is a link to that full interview from 2005.  I replay a key 9 minutes from that interview in the current episode here.

Fast forward 8 years, to 2013 and how have things changed and did we get it right back in 2005?  What are the predictions for radio and podcasting going forward from 2013?


Full WebTalk with Rob Greenlee on ITConversations Interview from 2005

Mark Ramsey Media


Radios Ripped from New Cars, Consumers say, “Not So Fast”

Retraction: The Exact AM/FM Dash Story by Eric Rhoads of RadioInk

Episode length: 56 min MP3  Recorded: 7-16-2013

Please feel free to give me feedback on this show to: rob at robgreenlee dotcom or twitter @robgreenlee .  Leave some of your thoughts here in the comments and I will respond to them in next week episode.

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My Digital Life Show #6: The YouTubeization of Video Podcasting

Here is episode #6 of the “My Digital Life Show” for Tuesday, June 25th, 2013.

This episode topic is about “The YouTubeization of Video Podcasting” and the birth of an animal pet video podcasting star “Lil Bub” the cat that has achieved 212,000 YouTube views within only 4 days release of the Premiere episode of “Lil Bub’s Big Show”.  I am seeing many new video podcasts coming from Revision 3 that are redistributing successful YouTube shows as podcasts.

I also visit my backyard greenhouse to get an Aquaponics farming update.  My custom built system is up and operational now with flowing water and leafy plants already growing.  Hear my visit to the greenhouse to get the dramatic water flow play by play.

My Backyard Aquaponics System Tour – Watch Video
Lil Bub –
Always On –

Episode length: 20 min MP3  Recorded: 6-25-2013

Please feel free to give me feedback on this show to: rob at robgreenlee dotcom or twitter @robgreenlee .  Leave some of your thoughts here in the comments and I will respond to them in next week episode.

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My Digital Life Show #5: Part 2 Growing Globalization of Podcasts and Electric Cars

Here is episode #5 of  “My Digital Life with Rob Greenlee” for Tuesday, June 18th, 2013.

This episode is part 2 of a series on the growing globalization of Podcasts and what that means for podcasting’s future.

This week, I have an extensive interview with Nicole Simon, Author, Social Media and Podcast Consultant at from Berlin, Germany.  She can also be found on Twitter here @nicolesimon .

I also present an update on my 2 year ownership experience of an 100% Electric 2011 Nissan Leaf.  CNET TV Top 5 Electric Cars is also discussed in this episode — read more from CNET here .


Please feel free to give me feedback on this show to: rob at robgreenlee dotcom or twitter @robgreenlee . Leave some of your thoughts here in the comments and I will respond to them in next week episode.

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My Digital Life Show #4: Growing Globalization of Podcasts

Here is episode #4 of the new “My Digital Life with Rob Greenlee” for Tuesday, June 11th, 2013.

This episode is focused on the growing globalization of podcasts and what that means for podcasting’s future.   As you can see, I stay focused on my passion and that is the medium of “Podcasting” for another week.

Interview guest is Karin Hoegh, Podcast Consultant at from Copenhagen, Denmark.

The below ranking chart gives a glimpse into the future of podcasts and maybe all on-demand media consumption over the next 5-10 years.

Here is a Top 10 Ranked List of the Most Spoken Languages around the World:

  1. Mandarin – 1 Billion + (Chinese)
  2. English – 508 Million +  (New Zealand, U.S., Australia, England, Zimbabwe, Caribbean, Hong Kong, South Africa, Canada and more)
  3. Hindustani – 500 Million + (India)
  4. Spanish – 400 Million + (Spain, Mexico, Cuba and most South and Central American countries)
  5. Russian – 300 Million (Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, US to name a few)
  6. Arabic – 250 Million + (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Egypt)
  7. Bengali – 215 Million – (Bangladesh mostly, but many other countries have these speakers)
  8. Portuguese – 200 Million – (Brazil, Macau, Angola, Venezuela, and Mozambique)
  9. Malay-Indonesian – 175 Million – (Malaysia and Indonesia)1
  10. French – 135 Million – (France, Belgium, Canada, Rwanda, Cameroon, and Haiti)

Here is a download referrer ranked list by country breakout of the top countries consuming podcasts over the past few months.  This data is from the largest podcast hosting provider in the world – Libsyn.

  1. United States
  2. United Kingdom
  3. Canada
  4. China
  5. Australia
  6. Japan
  7. Korea, Republic of
  8. Germany
  9. Spain
  10. Mexico
  11. France
  12. Sweden
  13. Russian Federation
  14. Singapore
  15. Brazil
  16. Saudi Arabia
  17. Italy
  18. Netherlands
  19. Thailand
  20. India

China has broken into the top 5.

The other languages represented in the above Top 20 country download referrer list, that are not included in the Top 10 Most Spoken Languages are Japanese, Korean, German, Swedish, Italian, Thai, and Dutch.  The current largest languages not represented in the Top 20 country list are Malay-Indonesian and Bengali.


Please feel free to give me feedback on this show to: rob at robgreenlee dotcom or twitter @robgreenlee .  Leave some of your thoughts here in the comments and I will respond to them in next week episode.

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My Digital Life Show #3: Top 13 Things that “Really” Build a Podcast Audience

My Digital Life with Rob Greenlee

My Digital Life with Rob Greenlee

Here is episode #3 of the new “My Digital Life Show with Rob Greenlee” for Sunday, June 2nd 2013.

This episode is even closer to the vision that I have for this show, but have more improvements to come.  You will notice that I improved the audio production and am now using my Sure SM7B microphone and Mackie 802-VLZ3 mixer.  This change from episode one is dramatic.

My goal here is not do a monologue show, but to have some guests sprinkled in to add some varied opinions and to get listeners more involved in the show.

The topic this week stays focused on my passion and that is the medium of “Podcasting”.

The Topics This Week:
1) Top 13 Things that “Really” Build a Podcast Audience
2) EFF Legal Defense fundraising $50K+ to Fight a “Podcast Patent Troll”

Here are links to things mentioned in the show:

The EFF Save Podcasting effort is here, the link to submit and see submitted prior art is here

Thank you to Michael Wolf and JD Sutter for contributing with comments that you will hear in this episode.  Here is a link to the article written by JD Sutter.

Here is a link to the “Speaking of That” podcast hosted by Robert Keeme of which I played a snippet.  Thanks guys for the nice comments.

Please feel free to give me feedback on this show to: rob at robgreenlee dotcom or twitter @robgreenlee .  Leave some of your thoughts here in the comments and I will respond to them in next week episode.

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My Digital Life Show #2: Is Podcasting the Same as Radio?

My Digital Life with Rob GreenleeHere is episode #2 of the new “My Digital Life Show with Rob Greenlee”.  This episode is much more focused and becoming more like the vision that I have for the show.

The topic this week gets back to my passion and that is the medium of “Podcasting”.  This show will target one specific topic each week.  These topics will generally be about new media and podcasting, as it seems those topics are on my mind more then others.   I will write an article then do an audio episode about it to go into more detail on the topic.

In this episode, I discuss the long-running issue of “Is Podcasting the Same as Radio?”.  I also wrote an blog post on this topic here about a week ago. Give it a read and then listen to the audio episode.

Thank you Adrian Bacon and Daniel J. Lewis for contributing with comments that you will hear in this episode.

Please feel free to give me feedback on this show to: rob at robgreenlee dotcom or twitter @robgreenlee .  Leave some of your thoughts here in the comments and I will respond to them in next week episode.

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Is Podcasting the Same as Radio?

I have been hearing some radio broadcasting folks make posts to blogs about how to best produce a podcast and must comment on the topic, as it hits at the core of why radio and podcasting industries have not been more connected.

I think that podcasting is significantly different than radio broadcasting and it is not the same medium.

In podcasting, the content “segment” is rarely related to a commercial break in the program format. Most ads and sponsor messages are best delivered as part of the flow of regular content. In podcasting, you rarely need to use exit music or the concept of “we are leaving” and coming back after this message.

My experience is that well produced podcasts do have a structure to the format that is led by the type of content or titled parts of the show that are very loosely timed in the program as you are not needing to hit a certain time clock on the production. The thing about program length is that it does not need to fit some standard model like radio does and thus presents the opportunity to give the appropriate length that is wanted by the audience and what producers wants to produce. The length issue is a more important factor in different genres of podcasts programs – no one size fits all.

The thought shared was that all podcasts should be short and the issue of listening duration, “see how people stick around” thought is missing the real point here: podcasts are more about engagement and are more personal than “radio”. Podcasts just don’t have the channel flipping issue that radio has, as it is more difficult to change to another podcast episode than to change a station on your radio dial. Podcasts are on-demand and can be continued later, as opposed to radio which mostly airs live or on replay. If you missed it, “Sorry”.  The content is never able to be heard on the listener’s timeframe.

I believe that podcasts and typical radio show formats can co-exist, but the folks coming from radio to podcasting need to spend some time to learn from successful podcasters and podcasters can learn some other things from the professional radio broadcasters. Both should not view each other as the same thing or same medium. Both require a certain set of core skills that are the same, but both sides need to understand how each is uniquely best.

Listen below to episode #2 of “My Digital Life Show with Rob Greenlee”, as I discuss the above topic.

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My Digital Life Show #1: Not So Digital Backyard Aquaponics Project

This introduction episode is about my backyard Aquaponics project that I have been working on for almost a year now. This episode just spends a few minutes explaining the project and its challenges.

Aquaponics is very much like Hyroponics, except for the fact that it uses fish as a source of food to grow your produce in water.

See the image below of the current system under construction.

Please feel free to give me feedback on this show to rob at robgreenlee dotcom or twitter @robgreenlee . This is my first personal podcast since I stopped recording the Zune Insider podcast and the nationally syndicated WebTalk World Radio Show back in 2006.


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On-Demand or Podcasts are the Next Evolution of Talk Radio

If done right podcasts are much better then regular broadcast talk radio. The niche focus is very much the strength of the medium and their general on-demand accessibility on internet connected devices. This scheduled live or live-like broadcast radio is just not needed as much for topics other than traffic, weather, local news, live sports and breaking news. That is enough to keep broadcast radio alive in the future, but much of that will be delivered to the car via internet radio streaming. We will also see some DVR like functions in the car via live radio apps and on-demand radio show playlists that auto update.

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Podcasting vs. YouTube

By podcasting’s definition, YouTube Channels are not the same as podcasts.  I keep hearing the comparison and matching going on by users and some newer content providers.  The current state of perceptions might lead one to that conclusion, but they are very different things.

What you generally find is that podcasters and YouTube content creators are very different.  You also find that successful podcasters are not always successful YouTubers and successful YouTubers are rarely successful podcasters. The two areas cater to very different audiences and usage scenarios.  Here is a case study presented by content provider Pat Flynn that discusses his success in combining YouTube and Podcasting distribution.  He did find a synergy between the two for him, but depending on the type and genre of content your success will vary.

The existence of proprietary distribution platforms like YouTube and other mostly streaming hosting platforms is creating some confusion around what a podcast is today.  Things come in cycles and we have seen this gravitational pull to streaming that started in the late 90s and is continuing to grow in popularity. The thing that always kept streaming grounded in reality is the unreliability of internet connections to deliver the data speeds to keep us connected to the audio and video content we seek online.  While admittedly, our wired and wireless broadband has gotten much better over the past 10 years, we still have a need to store our media files locally for playback anytime at a consistant quality level.

We are seeing increasing user demand for on-demand streaming like playback for podcasted content today and am sure the demand will continue to grow.  This will cause the podcasting community to evolve the current model more towards favorites and click-to-play user scenerios.  These new user scenerios and functions are already being built into podcast aggregator apps, but for us to move towards more streaming, will require podcasters to move beyond the current download and subscription model that is still popular, but fading today.

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Top 13 Things That “Really” Build A Podcast Audience

I have been recently reading the advice given by many others about ways to promote your podcast.  Many focus on new types of things like distributing CD’s and making business cards for your show – not really the best of ideas really!  I believe in making sure you are doing the basics well first before doing some of these other ideas.  While all the promo ideas given online can help to some degree or so.  The real keys to building your show audience boil down to these things mainly – doing these things well WILL GROW YOUR SHOW:

  1. Great audio/video quality
  2. Entertaining or informative topics with passion, knowledge, personality are KING!
  3. Compelling album art that is refreshed/updated regularly
  4. Clear and interesting show name/series descriptions
  5. Get your show distributed to as many aggregation platforms as possible – even broadcast radio
  6. Major parts of the show include audience involvement/contribution to show and topics
  7. Meet your audience in the real world as much as you can
  8. Guest on other podcasts/radio/TV shows – as a topic expert or entertainer
  9. Contribute via written word to online topic discussions in your genre
  10. Produce shows on a consistant basis and at a fairly consistant duration
  11. Join a network of other podcasters
  12. Work to be known locally in your community and gain local media attention
  13. Get top listing in search engines based on your topic genre keywords
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On-Demand and Time-Shifted Talk Radio is the Future of Audio Podcasting

The talk of the death of podcasting is an annual right of passage these days,  but I am starting to think that nothing is really wrong in the podcasting medium. We are just seeing the natural maturation of this form of media.  Saying that is not to discount the need for the medium to improve its distribution platforms and offer greater quality content. It seems like the future should be centered on developing more synergy with the broadcast radio side.  I know this is a little counter to what we might all think, but really radio has wide adoption and podcasting fills a need that radio is weak at and that is around on-demand and time-shifted consumption of serialized audio programming.  It seems like many of the folks on the radio side don’t really get podcasting and the podcasting side does not get how radio works.  Both could really learn from the other and help each other.

I also see the video side of podcasting beginning to fade away as video shifts to being more cloud based-streaming that can be more easily monitized.  It seems that within a few short years podcasting will be 90% audio and radio stations will be much larger podcasters then they are today.  The other major concern area for me is around distribution platforms viability long-term as it is very difficult for any of these platforms to make any or enough money to keep investing in these platforms.

Here is an excerpt from a recent Wired Gadget Lab article:

“Stitcher Stitcher is a free talk radio app that lets you listen to your favorite programs on demand. You can choose from more than 7,000 shows, and the app is available on all major phone platforms — including Windows Phone for the first time.

“We decided that the time was right to create a Windows Phone Mango app now that Windows Phone is definitely becoming the third member of the space,” said Collin Billings, Stitcher’s director of user experience.

Stitcher aggregates popular content by source (for example, NPR, BBC and CNN) and by topic (for example, food and motorcycles). Content is wirelessly synced, so if you start listening to a program on your Windows Phone, you can pick up where you left off on an Internet-connected radio or on your PC.

The app’s name is derived from the practice of “stitching” together multiple stations and podcasts to create a personalized talk radio playlist. If you’re not quite sure what to listen to, or are looking to branch out to new sources, you can see what other listeners of the same show also liked.”

I need to say that the lack of podcast aggregator platform revenue is number 1# limiting issue around podcast distribution platform innovation and improvement.  The answer to this question looks a lot like Stitcher with more integration with internet radio in the car and on mobile/wifi devices.

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[VIDEO] Next Gen TV Discussed on Saturday Morning Tech Show

I joined Geek News Central’s Todd Cochrane and Geekazine’s Jeffrey Powers to discuss the latest tech news and next generation tv topics this past Saturday, Feb 4th.  Give it a watch.

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