Feb 15, 2012

First tablet launch for NPR Music? The iPad, of course!

The latest app from NPR's digital team brings NPR Music to Apple's iPad, and it's now available for free download from the iTunes App Store. Designers created "a true multimedia music magazine," NPR said in a news release, merging original NPR Music content such Tiny Desk Concert performances with its own 24/7 music stream and the live streams of public radio stations. "I think it shows off the flood of amazing stories about music that makes its way to our site from our member stations and our staff," writes Bob Boilen, All Songs Considered host, in a blog post unveiling the site.

To introduce more iPad users to the NPR Music experience, NPR will produce an exclusive in-app concert on March 7 with The Shins, a Portland-based indie-rock band that's about to release its first album in five years, Port of Morrow.

When Apple first launched the iPad in 2010, NPR was among the top news organizations to create a killer app for the new device.

Michigan city official can't sell LPFM license on eBay

A city official in Benton Harbor, Mich., has abandoned his efforts to sell the license to the city’s low-power FM radio station on eBay after observers pointed out that FCC approval would be needed. Joseph Harris has shut down the station and tried to sell the license for $5,000, but pulled it off eBay after getting three bids, reports Laura Conaway on the blog for MSNBC host Rachel Maddow. Harris shut down the station in January to save money, according to the local ABC 57 News, and city commissioners are protesting the move to sell WBHC-LP’s license and equipment. Public Radio Capital, the nonprofit consultancy that works to expand public media, is working to find local nonprofits that would be interested in acquiring the license and continuing the service.

Public radio listeners more satisfied with stations than most, study finds

A phone survey of radio listeners in the U.S. this month found that public radio listeners are more satisfied with their stations than the average listener. Research firm Mark Kassof & Co. called 649 radio listeners to ask how satisfied they were with the stations they listened to most (P1 stations, in radio parlance). Forty-eight percent overall said they were 100 percent satisfied with their P1 stations, but 61 percent of public radio listeners reported total satisfaction. That was topped only by Christian radio listeners, 77 percent of whom were completely satisfied.

Aereo to offer online subscriptions to over-the-air signals, including PBS

In 2010, a Seattle start-up called ivi attempted to sell online access to 28 encrypted broadcast signals, including public TV stations, without informing the stations (Current, Oct. 4, 2010). It was stopped by a federal judge in New York last February and is currently trying to raise money for its ongoing legal fight.

Now, a firm backed by media giant Barry Diller, Aereo, is doing much the same thing — except it's using "proprietary remote antenna and DVR" technology "that consumers can use to access network television on web-enabled devices." Aereo has installed miniature antennae throughout the New York City market that pull in over-the-air signals from all local broadcasters, including PBS member station WNET. Starting in March, subscribers, at $12 a month, each get a single antenna with a remote personal video recorder attached, accessible through their broadband connection.

“Aereo is the first potentially transformative technology that has the chance to give people access to broadcast television delivered over the Internet to any device, large or small, they desire," Diller, who just joined Aereo's Board of Directors, said in a release Tuesday (Feb. 14). "No wires, no new boxes or remotes, portable everywhere there’s an Internet connection in the world — truly a revolutionary product." Diller, who founded Fox Broadcasting, is current chairman of InterActiveCorp (IAC), an Internet company that began as a subsidiary of the Home Shopping Network and now owns 50 websites including Newsweek/Daily Beast,, and Vimeo. IAC has invested $20.5 million in Aereo.

According to ZDNet, assigning a separate antenna to each subscriber is how Aereo hopes to get around legal issues. "Legally, that’s not supposed to be any different from having the antenna in your own house," ZDNet notes. "It’s just one long cord."

Aereo is formerly Bamboom Labs, a self-proclaimed "a big, bold new technology" focused on the notion that "free over-the-air broadcast TV should be available to anyone within the service area 
of a channel," it says.