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The Future of Digital Radio... Where Podcasts and Music Collide

Podcasts are becoming the next big thing. While it seems like almost everyone is getting to the point that they feel they need their own podcast, the medium is growing in terms of contributors and listeners. In fact, it's getting to the point where it's quickly becoming necessary to have applications that are able to handcraft a radio stream for users.

Curating content and music based on your personal preferences seems like a natural step in the right direction. The recommendation algorithms already exist and have been fine-tuned to the point that recommendations are very useful and quite strong when it comes to figuring out what other music or movies people might enjoy. Based on your personal preferences, modelling your taste based on your listening stats and learning from your your trends, it's becoming more accurate and the suggestions are more on target.

It seems that the natural progression of this would be for a company to design something that pulls in specific podcasts and music that match your listening profile. Wouldn't it be fantastic if a service existed that charged users a small monthly fee in order to do that for them. Being able to curate a blend of talk and music, geared specifically around your customisations... people would love that! Since there are so many podcasts one imagines that it wouldn't take much for streamers and podcast owners to agree to having their content added to that kind of platform to connect with more fans.

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Being able to choose which new service you wanted to get news from, when you want to do news – even if on the hour or just in the morning at a certain time, there are many ways that this "radio station" could play out. For most listeners, it would only serve their purposes to have the function to simply hit play. Deciding your balance of talk versus music and even allowing the software to make editing changes to switch between the two at set intervals, it seems as though this kind of disruptive technology would challenge most radio stations.

Podcasts are still in their infancy but they are definitely stars developing from within this world. They would essentially be the "DJs" of the future, which would occupy a global marketplace instead of regional. Imagine being able to listen to a podcast on castles, interspersed with your favourite rock music only to get sport alert results that are in line with your favourite team - if you like that sort of stuff. Being able to offer niche content that completely matches the listener's profile will make this platform very powerful. Most radio listeners tend to switch between channels, probably deciding to do so due to too many adverts, a song that doesn't match their personal taste or a radio personality that bothers them.

Of course, if radio stations were wanting to survive this kind of disruptive technology they would have to present or take on a similar offering. Allowing their listeners to essentially download a series of podcasts, radio stations would have to allow their own listenership to essentially compile a best of for their own listening pleasure. This would mean that the platform would be able to cater to stations and try to keep them in the game for the type of listeners who want a much more drilled down version of the platform's content.

In this fast-moving age where people don't feel that they've got enough hours in the day, having on standby content that is completely suited to them will make them feel like they're getting much more value out of that time and not simply listening to a random selection of current music and opinions. The immediacy is probably the most attractive part of being able to switch on the tailor-made radio and get a typical brand of music and talk, however with the advent of speech recognition technology and data mining, it'll be quite feasible for shows to be analysed and attributed to certain listener profiles.

It's already amazing to use one of your music apps and have the system learn from you, offering you a personal mix of music. How amazing would it be if something similar were able to be done with podcasts, making it much easier for you to have your own custom radio station built for you from the ground up. It may seem like quite a difficult task, but based on all the supporting technologies that exist already it can't be that far in the future.

It would be wise for radio stations which are already struggling to compete with portable apps but is something that they should definitely anticipate to remain relevant to the next generation of listeners. Younger audiences are used to having things tailor-made and curated based on their specific likes, so one imagines it'll only be a matter of time before this is transferred to mainstream.

Spling has a series of movie podcasts, which are geared towards different types of listening...

Presenter of Talking Movies on Fine Music Radio, Spling publishes podcasts of this movie review programme every week. These reviews typically include three movie reviews, including cinema, online streaming or films available for rental.

He also recently launched something called Confessions of a Movie Critic, which allows him to have a much more candid stream of consciousness type podcast. Running up to 15 minutes, it's an opportunity for him to get a bit more personal and topical with his listeners, adopting a conversational approach.

Must Love Movies is a new addition to his podcast bouquet, a podcast lasting up to an hour where he interviews a celebrity or film industry professional about their taste in movies. During this recording he and his guest watch one of their favourite films, discuss it afterwards with a perspective on their love of movies and their top 10 movies.

Even now, essentially contributing to three podcasts, he's also the host of The Three Wells of Screenwriting podcasts with Matthew Kalil. A screenwriting series, which is entertaining and infotaining, it just shows how niche podcasts can be. Being able to do something niche like this, which ordinarily wouldn't be feasible on bigger platforms or broadcast channels, the attraction is very specific and the low costs involved make it much easier to maintain.

Even with a number of podcasts underway, Spling still believes there is even another channel for podcasting whereby he has more in-depth interviews with filmmakers and screenwriters. The possibilities are endless, the biggest challenge is creating an audience and sustaining the momentum of the podcast series in order to make it a proper, curated piece of content.

The beauty of it all is that since it is so specific, connecting listeners with things they will enjoy can work for the platform creator and the creators who are listed. There is a need for podcast creators to be connected with on-target audiences and this kind of custom radio station idea would do wonders in making that possible.