Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Mobilcasting Public Radio

I got the chance to help create and join a panel discussion on Podcasting and Mobilcast Content Trends at the Public Broadcasting New Media Conference in our home town of Seattle. It was a very early session and started bright and early at 8:30 a.m. on a Saturday, Feb 25th. I was fully expecting that this early morning session would be lightly attended as it was early and the last day of a long conference, but boy was I wrong. The room was full and the minds in the room were clearly running on Seattle coffee. All one hundred public broadcasters in the room were full of great questions and interest in the topics around content trends. The above photo is of Maria Thomas and Chris Pirillio.

I think the core reason this panel was so well attended was the interesting mix of panelists.

Panelists included: Jason Georges, Webmaster for public radio's KCRW, panel was moderated by Chris Pirillo the walking brand, blogger, founder of Lockergnome, Chris Pirillo Show, Gnomdex tech conference and former TechTV host, innovative digital media mind Maria Thomas, VP and General Manager of NPR Digital Media and myself Rob Greenlee from Melodeo's Mobilcast and WebTalk Radio.

These public radio folks showed a strong eagerness to understand the coming challenges and opportunities that is being presented online. While public radio has long been pioneering online distribution of audio content via streaming, the area of downloading and podcasting is stretching the opportunity and the risks. I got the distinct impression that public radio is struggling with the process of coming together in some way to take advantage of scale and not continue to be so fragmented online. This coming together and consolidation of all public radio was the theme behind Maria's discussion about NPR's Podcasting project.

My goal on this panel was to share the fact that shorter length mobilcast content was the bulk of the content being listened to on the mobile phone. I also shared that as we look out into the future mobile wireless listening on the mobile phone could be a significant growth area for public radio as wireless broadband grows.

The other panelists took different directions as Jason talked about how KCRW is increasing its bitrates from 48k to 64k for podcasts, iTunes is doing a great job of presending KCRW content and how KCRW is moving into more video podcast. The video podcasts are of live in-studio musical performances. KCRW has created a low cost video production performance studio that is creating unique video content.

Maria Thomas from shared more detail on NPR's podcasting program and expressed concern that Public Radio is not a cohesive and easy to find experience online. She expressed great concern for how the Public Radio category in iTunes is full of non-public radio content and explicit rated content. She felt that public radio online was just too fragmented and is losing ground on the potential of combining efforts to drive cross traffic between public radio properties online. This consolidation would also drive more sponsorship dollars into public radio and would get more exposure compared to other major online media properties. This consolidation will allow public radio to better compete against other growing media.

Rob Greenlee

Tags: NPR Public Radio KCRW Chris Pirillo Maria Thomas Jason Georges

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