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wsRadio founder tells WSJ 'How I Got Here'

Posted on: 02/07/2008

From the Wall Street Journal‘s ‘How I Got Here’ feature: Chris Murch [pictured below] had such a successful career in Internet marketing back in 2001 that he was often invited to speak on the subject in the media. One day during a traditional radio appearance a light bulb went off, and within that same year, Mr. Murch had used $100,000 of his own savings to start his own radio station on the Internet.

Today, wsRadio hosts dozens of shows for over $1 million in advertising revenue, including eBay Radio and PayPal Radio. Erin Chambers spoke with Mr. Murch about his ventures…

Q: How did you get started in Internet Radio?

A: I was participating in a radio show on a local station in 2001. [It was] about the Internet, and at that time they were just starting to stream through the Internet. Then lawsuits and legal issues came into play across the board concerning royalties and streaming through the Internet. When they stopped streaming for a period, I thought ‘This is an interesting opportunity to start my own radio show.’

We approached professional talk show hosts with the chance of being syndicated. They were interested, but we were charging them production fees, and they were used to getting paid rather than paying for producing their shows. So we targeted people who were looking for a niche audience in their industries.

Q: You have a background in Internet marketing. Did you know anything about producing radio programs and streaming them on the Web?

A: I don’t have a real radio background, so I hired Lee Mirabal who is now our vice president and director of programming… Essentially we take niche programming that probably wouldn’t fly on traditional radio, train people to sound professional and then we were off and running.

Q: Some of your niche shows include Doc Love, a stamp collecting show and a program on healthy and beauty tips. Do these really have an audience online?

A: Absolutely. If it’s good content that they can’t get elsewhere on regular radio, then yes. You have access to worldwide audience [on the Internet]…

Q: What sort of effort went in to landing huge partners like eBay, PayPal, Entrepreneur?

A: It’s interesting… I kept calling eBay trying to find the right person. And the first person I was actually able to talk to after being pushed around via email for a couple of weeks literally said “we get that.”.. They immediately got the bigger picture, listened and came back to us and said they’d like to partner with us…

Q: What’s next for you?

A: Down the road, we know that Internet is going to be in cars. Whether it’s Mapquest or anything else, people need the Internet in their cars. And it’s all going to be voice activated. Some rental car companies, Avis for example, already offer after-market Wi-Fi in their cars for a fee, but auto makers across the board will roll out Wi-Fi-enabled cars and SUVs later this year. Ford is already doing it with FordLink in the F-series, as an extra-cost option.

Wall Street Journal subscribers can read this entire story online here.

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