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New Kid on the Block — iNetRadio

Just another streamer or the Next Big Thing?

Maybe you’ve heard about iNetRadio, an Internet audio streaming service currently in beta. Or maybe you haven’t.

The folks behind iNetRadio think they may have an angle that will allow them to stand out from the streaming pack — Pandora, Slacker, Rdio, et al — radio. To find out more about those plans, we submitted some questions to Clark Burgard, founder and CTO of Internetwork and lead developer of iNetRadio

Why another streamer? There’s certainly no shortage of those.
Clark Burgard: There certainly are a lot of apps that specialize in music, but we come from the radio industry and believe that, like in radio, anyone can play music, so it’s what you do between the songs that sets you apart. We wanted to offer our users the ability to build their ultimate radio station by starting with their favorite music and then adding service elements such as news, weather, sports and virtually any other content of interest. INetRadio can be as simple as a jukebox or as full-service as a user wants simply by choosing the desired content at any time or setting it to play automatically as new content becomes available.

You say you’re radio veterans — can you share some background?
Burgard: Bob Bayne and I worked together in local radio in Connecticut for over 10 years before setting out to develop iNetRadio. Going all the way back, we launched and managed school stations before continuing on to professional radio in the ’80s. That experience began with internships and grew to us holding nearly every position, including air talent, CE, PD, OM, GSM, and GM. I attribute my passion for radio to the GM of my local station who let me get involved in every aspect of operations back when I was just an intern screening calls for the evening talk show. A decade later I was GM. I’ll never forget that experience.

You’re currently in beta. Is the beta we’re seeing close to the final product or is this a work in progress?
Burgard: “Success is a journey, not a destination.” Technology and consumer tastes change rapidly and continually these days so we will always be planning the next step.

ETA on a launch?
Burgard: We have been reviewing, and in many cases, implementing a number of interesting suggestions from users and content providers. There will be a point at which everything that makes sense for an iNetRadio launch will have been added, although that date is hard to predict. It’s likely that other ideas will lead to a sister product based on a similar platform.

Business model? Ads? Free? Paid? Hybrid unpaid/paid tiers?
Burgard: Radio doesn’t charge, so we don’t either, although the Internet does offer the ability for users to pay for a commercial-free experience. INetRadio will eventually include ads, but for now we see launching iNetRadio with “Commercial-Free 9-to-5… No Matter What Time Zone You’re In!” That voiced by Ernie Anderson or Gary Gears would have been great.

Do you have any financial backing? Any that you can reveal?
Burgard: We have received financial support from both professional investors as well as successful radio executives.

In my brief demo I didn’t see any broadcast radio station streams, a la TuneIn, is that part of the plan or is that something coming later?
Burgard: We are looking to add live streams and are currently working with several live content creators. Interfacing on-demand content and live streams can be tricky as one offers users complete control while the other provides much less.

Will you be looking to sign deals with broadcast groups?
Burgard: Absolutely. Radio’s greatest asset is content, and whether it’s broadcast or netcast, there will always be a demand for content. However, the difference between radio listeners and Internet users is an important one. For example, a broadcast morning show might be four hours long because it has to be in order to serve the listeners during that time period. That same morning show would be best condensed for Internet users who are looking for the most compelling content in the shortest amount of time. A broadcast morning show prepared for Internet users should focus on the elements that make the show unique, such as bits or interviews. Whatever would end up on a client demo would work as it showcases the highlights of the show. Also a consideration is that Internet users will select content based on their schedule, not a broadcast schedule, so references that pin a time or date on a show aren’t needed.

Avoiding buzzwords, buzzphrases and marketing jargon, describe your idea of what iNetRadio will be to someone not particularly familiar with the differences between the various streaming options out there. To a lot of people it might look like just another audio content delivery service.

Burgard: INetRadio is not just music, and can entertain as well as inform users throughout the day with breaking news, weather or other timely content. For example, users sign up by choosing their favorite music channels, then they’re given the option to add news, weather, sports and other podcast content that can either be ready to go from a “faves” list or set to automatically play the moment the selected content is updated. Users can let iNetRadio play all day and be kept up to date as new content is posted. INetRadio monitors these “AutoPlay” items and inserts them into the playlist as the next item to play. This is much more convenient than having to keep checking podcasts to see if new shows have been posted, a particularly useful feature for everything from hourly news to weekly or monthly podcasts. I’m a news junkie and have my iNetRadio set to play eight newscasts from around the world as they become available giving me “all my favorite music and all the news I can stand” (sorry for the marketing jargon).

Additionally, all selected content, whether played manually or automatically, plays from the beginning. This sets iNetRadio apart from live streaming services where tuning in at just the right time is both necessary and inconvenient.

The minds behind other audio content delivery vehicles (from Pandora to iHeartRadio) range from musicians and ex-musicians to broadcast conglomerates. Do you think being radio veterans gives you an angle that hasn’t been explored?
Burgard: Yes, having roots in the radio industry and extensive experience in streaming internet content delivery (since 1995) gives us a unique balance and the dedication to serve our listeners with familiar and time-proven content using a platform that’s free from many of the technical limitations of broadcast radio. I should also point out that the first three presets on my car radio are AM stations run as small businesses that superserve their listeners. Just love that…