NPR has amassed nearly $17 Million in grants and most of it is going towards financing the “creation of a new mobile and web platform that is expected to allow it reach more listeners and better compete with outside aggregators of public radio content.”


Apparently NPR “gets it”. They realize that they want to put their app in the hands of every listener; and it “will allow listeners to switch smoothly from, say, a clock radio to a web-enabled car.”


The need to have a uniquely branded application and to own the app were very important in the decision to spend the money.


“It is a play to take control of our own content and to control the platform and delivery system as much as we can,” says Charles Kravetz, general manager of WBUR-FM in Boston, a pilot partner.


We have been saying this all along, it is important that stations do not give their souls away to the likes of a TuneIn or Stitcher.


What was interesting to also note was something that was said by Laura R. Walker, Chief Executive of New York Public Radio. She says, “We see a huge thirst in the digital space and we’re trying to figure out ways to create experiences for people here.” This was in context to one of her stations, WNYC in New York, having experienced double-digit growth in digital listening, even as its radio listening remains “at an all-time high”.


So when you think that one hundred dollars a month or so for your own unique mobile brand is too expensive, imagine spending millions like NPR.


Interactive and shareable, “this app is clearly, we think, going to be very appealing to younger consumers of our content,” says Kravetz.


Don’t believe everything that you hear, b/c as we all know, there are usually three sides to the truth – one side, the other side, and then the truth. In this case, radio says one thing about the amount of listeners, Arbitron claims another number with their PPM (Portable People Meter), and then their is the truth! And it is hidden in plain sight.


The perception is that radio has declined but that is not the case. People may spend less time listening than they used to, but there is still an appetite for it. The new radio listening, or audio, is way up – especially on the sports format. Traug Keller of ESPN says, “Listening is 65% higher than what is recorded by Arbitron if you add podcasts and its 220 million downloads.”


Sports talk hosts bring their flare and personality to the airwaves and have a way of captivating an audience, especially during major sports seasons. They can be the measuring stick for teams and coaches to gauge how they are doing. And with the advent of podcasting, anybody is able to simply download a live broadcast to be heard at a later time.


So yes, live radio listening may be down, but overall listening may actually be up!