DAR.fm, a website with big plans to revolutionize radio for the digital age — it wants to be “the IMDB plus Tivo for radio” — has launched Version 1.
Founder Michael Robertson, formerly of MP3.com, knows how to turn a phrase; he says radio has been “the red-headed step child of media, abandoned at the gas station restroom when the rest of the family drove into the 21st century.” He thinks features like timeshifting of content and fast-forward/rewind capability can change that.
DAR stands for digital audio recorder. When a show is selected to be recorded, users are alerted via email when the program is available for listening. When a user selects a program they are automatically signed up for a “lifetime pass” and will have access to future recordings of that program.
An earlier version of DAR.fm — Robertson describes it now as an “alpha” release — listed about 500 stations and 1,500 shows. He says the new iteration increases that list dramatically, so some 5,000 stations and 16,000 programs.
“But more importantly, instead of an alphabetical listing of shows, we cataloged and ranked each show based on actual user activity. Users can browse this database of radio content and every show is rated by its popularity, which DAR.fm deduces by measuring the more than 1 million minutes of daily recording users are doing with the system.” Shows and stations also are ranked regionally, which allows a visitor to see localized popularity.
He thinks this approach can help people discover radio content.
Another key point, he says, is that radio content today is more diverse than people realize, with topics ranging from auto racing to wine and home improvement. “For the first time it's easily discoverable and recordable.”
DAR.fm is free. Users can record four shows with a lifetime pass on each, and stream to a PC. If they want more recording ability, the company will charge $40 per year and let people record up to 10 shows, Robertson said.
The site does not currently have advertising, though it’s part of its longer-term plan. Also: “We will never replace audio ads, but there are ad opportunities in and around the user experience that we can leverage. Imagine a user sets up recording for the ‘Dennis Miller Show.’ Each day after the show completes we send an email informing the user that they can now listen to the broadcast, and there’s an email advertising opportunity.”
Robertson told RW his focus right now is to try to get to 1 million users.
“Forty percent of people watching TV use a DVR. Can we get 5-10-20% of radio users accustomed to using a DAR? We will see.”