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Check Out These Hot Audio Apps

Technology innovations provide more than new platforms

Play-by-Play Options on TuneIn Audio apps are a hot trend that radio broadcasters need to know about, not just because they stream radio content. Thanks to their interactivity and wide availability, audio apps are becoming a popular platform for experimenting with new content delivery ideas and models — the best of which could potentially be incorporated into effective radio apps.

Many radio listeners talk back to the ads they hear. Now XAPPmedia ( has found a way to harness this backtalk with XAPP Ads.

An XAPP Ad combines the audio of a conventional radio ad with smartphone interactivity: At certain times, the listener using a mobile audio app — such as that of XAPPmedia client NPR — is played an ad, then asked if they want to respond to it by saying phrases such as “call now,” “download app” or “send email.” The user’s smartphone microphone is turned on at that point, and any verbal responses go to XAPPMedia’s servers for immediate action.

“It is difficult for traditional radio ads to generate or even measure direct engagement or conversion for advertisers,” said XAPPmedia Chief Marketing Officer Bret Kinsella. “XAPP ads are so simple that consumers interested in offers convert instantly. Consumers don’t have to stop what they are doing to make a phone call or do something else to claim an offer. They simply speak.”

College sports is a natural niche media application and is suited to audio apps. This fact has not been lost on streaming audio provider TuneIn Radio ( Their audio apps for Android/Blackberry/iPhone/Windows smartphones, Amazon Kindle/Android/iPad tablets and Logitech/Panasonic/Roku/Samsung/Sonos SmartTV systems now carry every play-by-play broadcast and additional college football content from 19 Learfield Sports’ university partners, including Alabama, Wisconsin, Louisville, Texas A&M and Penn State, ultimately increasing TuneIn’s coverage to some 85 college teams.

Twitter Audio Cards “We acquire and distribute the audio very much like a standard radio affiliate, with one exception: All our stations are digital-only, of course,” said TuneIn spokeswoman Siobhan Murphy. “Through the first eight weeks of the season, we have seen over 3.7 million session starts, over 2.8 million unique listeners and over 1.6 million listening hours. Our 85 stations are now followed by more than 200,000 users in total from all over the world.”

Apparently 140 characters is not enough: Twitter has added tappable audio capability to its app, courtesy of the Twitter Audio Card. The idea is simple: Twitter users can now directly embed audio content from SoundCloud or Apple iTunes directly in their tweets.

“With a single tap, the Twitter Audio Card lets you discover and listen to audio directly in your timeline on both iOS and Android devices,” wrote Twitter Product Manager Richard Slatter on the Twitter blog. “Throughout your listening experience, you can dock the Audio Card and keep listening as you continue to browse inside the Twitter app.” This feature is being employed by Coldplay, the White House and the BBC World Service to share audio content.

The cliché is wrong: You can teach an old dog news tricks.

The proof: The 138-year-old Farm Journal is launching an app called My Farm Radio, which will serve as a ’round-the-clock source of news, weather, markets and talk aimed at farmers and ranchers. The app will connect listeners to live and on-demand content.

“All the latest research indicates that, for a growing number of farmers and ranchers, mobile devices are rapidly becoming the go-to choice for news and information,” said Brian Conrady, senior vice president/general manager of Farm Journal Radio. “While this totally new offering will be a first for agriculture, we expect our audience — and clients — will quickly associate My Farm Radio as the Pandora-type app for agriculture.”

The app is being offered for Android and Apple platforms and can be downloaded at

James Careless is a longtime contributor. Send ideas for What’sNext to [email protected].