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RAIN 4/15: Radio legends, leading webcasters discuss "content crisis," ideas for the future

Posted on: 04/15/2011


One of the core components of our RAIN Summits is showcasing the wide variety of ideas, backgrounds and strategies that broadcasters, webcasters and others employ online.

That was perhaps most evident in our “Compelling Content” panel at RAIN Summit West. The discussion featured radio legends Lee Abrams and John Gehron (of AccuRadio), as well as long-time successful webcaster Bill Goldsmith of Radio Paradise. The panel included the very-entertaining duo Heidi Hamilton and Frank Kramer of “The Heidi & Frank Show,” as well as AOL Radio’s Director of Programming Thomas Chau.

Hamilton and Kramer — who took their morning show online after losing their on-air posts in L.A. — said that they’ve collected 100,000 daily listeners and 10,000 paying subscribers. They’ve set up a daily video to complement their radio podcast and even have plans to ditch their headphones and bring in a green screen.

Radio Paradise’s Goldsmith is also looking to add more visual elements to his radio service. He spoke about launching Radio Paradise HD, a new feature that pairs images with the music and is well-suited for the new TV-based platforms Radio Paradise is expanding onto.

Abrams shared words of warning with broadcasters, arguing that today’s media faces a “content crisis.” He said that broadcasters shouldn’t spend time building an amazing web product while neglecting their core product. Abrams urged them to innovate on the air and not let their programming remain stuck in outdated ruts.

Finally, AOL Radio’s Chau explained that his service creates compelling content by letting users have their say. Listeners can rate songs on AOL Radio and Chau, as Director of Programming, uses that information to fine-tune his stations.

Our panel on “Compelling Content” was just one of many discussions that took place during RAIN Summit West 2011. Stay tuned for more coverage over the coming days.


The first version of Research In Motion’s (RIM) answer to the Apple iPad, the Blackberry PlayBook, will be in stores on Tuesday. While this first iteration will be Wi-Fi-only (a 4G version is planned to launch in summer), it’s notable in that it runs Flash.

This should mean (we haven’t yet tested it ourselves) PlayBook owners can access Flash-based Internet radio sources (e.g. Pandora, or AccuRadio) via the web (that is, without the need for an app).

How well it does that, at least in the early stages, may be a story in itself. A Wired review says the “WebKit-based browser is about as stable as your bipolar uncle,” and crashed during Flash-based games. There is a small selection of Blackberry apps available for the PlayBook, and an update this summer will apparently make the device capable of running Android apps.

But Wired and USA Today agreed the new device sounds and looks great, and multi-tasking worked well. It has an HTML output, allowing you to connect your home theater/living room display to a webcast (try RadioParadise HD for this) while you read the New York Times on the device itself (the display output and the device’s actual display can be different).

The 7.6” x 5.1” PlayBook will be available with 16 GB storage for $500, 32 GB for $600, and 64 GB for $700. Read Wired’s review here. Read the review in USA Today here.


Nominees for the 15th annual “best of the Internet” Webby Awards were announced this week, with broadcast institutions the BBC and NPR among those with the most nominations (six and five, respectively).

Webby winners will be selected by a panel of celebrity judges including Martha Stewart, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, and Arianna Huffington. Nominees are also eligible for “People’s Voice” awards, for which members of the public can vote.

The BBC has two nominations in the Radio/Podcasts category: “A History of the World,” and BBC World Service podcasts. NPR, CNN podcasts, and TED.com are also nominated.

NPR Music, Pandora, indie music blogger Pitchfork, and SoundCloud are nominated for the Music Webby. Also in that category, Grammy-winner The Arcade Fire for “The Wilderness Downtown,” a Google Chrome-only video for their song “We Used to Wait.” Pandora and SoundCloud were also nominated in the Best Mobile Music category, along with SoundHound, Music in the Cloud for iPhone and Android, and VEVO Mobile.

Winners will be announced on May 3rd and honored at a ceremony in New York June 13th. Voting is now open for the “Webby People’s Voice Awards presented by AOL.” You have until April 28th to cast a vote at webby.aol.com.


TuneIn Radio’s iPad app recently received a glowing review from PC Mag. “This is, unquestionably, the app for the radio enthusiasts,” the publication’s Jeffrey L. Wilson wrote. “I give TuneIn Radio Pro an enthusiastic nod of approval as it easily ranks as one of the best iPad apps available. As such, its worthy of an Editors’ Choice award.” Find the full review here.

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Conference schedules
Sep. 12 SF Music Tech Summit: San Francisco, CA
Sep. 13 RAIN Summit Chicago @ NAB/RAB RadioShow: Chicago, IL
Sep. 14-16 NAB/RAB RadioShow: Chicago, IL
Sep. 24 IBS Radio/Webcast Conf.: Chicago, IL
Oct. 6-7 Digital Music Forum West: Los Angeles, CA
Oct. 13-14 Digital Content Summit/Music: New York, NY
Oct. 18-22 CMJ Music Marathon: New York, NY
Oct. 27-30 CBI Fall Convention: Orlando, FL
Nov. 5 IBS Radio/Webcast Conf.: Boston, MA
Nov. 19 IBS Radio/Webcast Conf.: New York, NY
Dec. 3 IBS Radio/Webcast Conf.: Los Angeles, CA