Shush! People are Listening

New software makes it possible to download satellite radio broadcasts into an iPod. When I consider that alongside research showing the pervasiveness of radio, I wonder when satellite vendors will decide to upload content from Mini Media producers to augment their fare and serve new niche audiences.

Thanks to Paid Content for reporting that “TimeTrax, the “TiVo for radio” app designed by Candian programmer Scott Maclean, has matured into the backbone of TimeTrax Technologies, a seven-person startup … The software doesn’t take the place of a (satellite) subscription but is designed to help XM and Sirius subs make the most of the pay services by letting them record and timeshift.” Engadget has a photo and writeup showing the TimeTrax docking station that allows the iPod to download satellite content.

There has been some angst about whether TimeTrax opens new avenue for digital music piracy but I am interested in other things. What if the licensing mechanisms existed to sell works into the satellite cloud and then distribute them back down to mobile listeners? Media Post columnist Tom Hespos recently wondered the same thing: “Picture, if you will, an explosion of niche content delivered via audio to your portable device, such that you’re listening to an interest-based “narrowcast” on the train on your way to work. Your portable device has a time-shifting function much like TiVo, such that it recorded a program about rare stamp collecting while you slept and saved it for playback during your train ride.” ( Download requires free registration.)

It requires a lot of “ifs” to follow this line of reasoning but I think there is a payoff at the end of the conjecture. The Center for Media Research recently distilled some findings from Arbitron’s Radio Today report for 2004: “On average, Americans spend almost 20 hours per week listening to their favorite stations. These numbers have remained relatively steady across recent surveys, despite a growing number of consumer media options — 35- to 44-year-old men spend the most time listening and represent the largest share of listeners — . 35- to 44-year-old women represent the largest share of female listeners.”

So the audience is listening. And it is a good audience that has, so far at least, sustained itself against the encroachment of other media because we live in a commuter culture when there are times you can’t do anything but listen..

More on this later.

Tom Abate
Cause if you ain’t Mass Media, you’re Mini Media.