RadioPublic Is “Rethinking Radio in the Mobile World”

New podcast app follows in the footsteps of Pubcatcher and NPR One
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There’s a(nother) podcast app in town. RadioPublic has launched its eponymous iOS and Android apps, about six months after the public benefit corporation was created. Headed by CEO Jake Shapiro, the co-founder and former CEO of public radio distributor PRX, the organization’s leadership has a history of audio-centric, mobile-focused innovation (think Pubcatcher and the Public Radio Player app).

“Discovery is at the heart of this first RadioPublic release, and is part of our vision for rethinking radio in the mobile world,” Shapiro wrote in his introduction of the app.

He cautions that the app is still under active development and user feedback is still factored in heavily, but here are a few notable features:

RadioPublic seems to have a taken a cue from Google Now with what it calls a “a tailored set of cards’ driven by your listening habits and context”, first highlighting new episodes from shows users have already followed. Then the app recommends episodes based on other interests, perhaps from other shows or older (but still relevant) episodes of the same podcast.

The app also will offer a variety of subcscribable playlists organized in ways reminscent of Spotify or iHeartRadio (according to “topics, activities, moods, genres, artists, publishers, and networks”). These can be shared outside of the app, with plans to enable shows to be embedded externally on the websites of publishers and podcasters.

However, it’s a little unclear how early adopters will be able to do a lot of this, since the app does not yet offer accounts. Apparently this element is in the works but will not ever be mandatory.

And in a move so old school that it’s new again, RadioPublic will enable users to ask a real, human “podcast librarian” for a recommendation. However, like a traditional library, this on-demand feature is only available during certain hours.

Also, RadioPublic is built on RSS and therefore is an open platform. That means tech savvy users can also take advantage of advanced settings mode, which lets listeners code their own feeds with XML or OPML. Later, the app has plans to let users “migrate” other podcasts subscriptions to centralize it as a listening hub.

And in the ongoing quest to most effectively monetize podcasts, the developers say podcast producers can take advantage of the app without having to develop their own app or a blaze an uncertain trail. Rather, RadioPublic plans to offer extensions that publishers can use to promote engagement and create revenue.

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