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NPR Tries to Reach Distracted Listeners With ‘Infinite Player’

Network launched a pesonalized Web stream in beta form

NPR has beta-launched the “Infinite Player,” a listener-customized Web stream of NPR programming.

The network’s Michael Yoch blogs that the explosion of Internet-connected devices has created listening opportunities everywhere. But it’s a “distracted” listening model, as in listening to the radio while doing something else.

“NPR and its member stations already offer some great options for this use case. The radio, of course, is the most obvious,” writes Yoch. “NPR station streams are also available on desktop and mobile devices.

“But new platforms have created an opportunity to explore completely different approaches to distracted listening.”

Hence the launch of “Infinite Player,” which works with recent versions of Safari and Chrome Web browsers. NPR acknowledges its offering has been influenced by other products that use personalization including Facebook and Pandora.

It works like this: The latest NPR newscast plays first, followed by stories the network thinks the listener will like. Controls allow skip, pause and a 30-second rewind. The user can indicate if he or she likes stories with thumbs up/thumbs down feedback that influences future selection.

NPR is working with stations to release versions of the player that combine local and NPR audio. Current ones include KQED(FM) in San Francisco, Michigan Radio and KPLU(FM) in Tacoma, Wash.

The organization also invited feedback on the concept, technology and experience.