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Watch for Big Rise in Public Radio Listening Time

Here is a big prediction based solely on my own experience. Everyone knows the story of people sitting in their cars waiting for a favored piece on public radio to finish playing before turning off the radio and getting out of the car. Well, thanks to the iPhone those days are numbered.

For me my iPhone is my car radio and it is so convenient I am sure it will be everyone’s radio — or if not the iPhone then some other smart phone. I use it to listen to public radio stations on demand from anywhere almost any time, but the listening tends to be initiated in my car on my way to or from work. That’s when most people listen.

What’s not typical is that if I leave for work after 9 a.m. Atlanta time, I can quickly set the iPhone to Minnesota Public Radio which is an hour earlier and listen to Morning Edition, even after it has finished airing in Atlanta. On the way home, most often after 7 p.m. I can click the iPhone onto Southern California Public Radio, which is three hours earlier and listen to All Things Consider, which ends at 6:30 p.m. on the Atlanta stations.

But here is the real twist. I don’t have to wait in the car for a segment to end. I just unplug the iPhone from the car speakers and walk away still listening, much as would have happened in the days of the transistor radio.

So now I come into the house at night still listening to All Things Considered and usually keep it on while I am making the transition from work to home life. Depending on the program and my mood that can add an additional 10 or 15 minutes of listening, but sometime I leave it on right through dinner.

This is big. In the past, people at public radio put on best the programming through drive time, knowing that once someone exited the car they would stop listening. So there was less incentive to have great programming on after drive time. Now, I am already in the habit of walking out of my car with my little iPhone in hand extending what was my drive time listening. Next, if the programming is strong, there is a good chance I will switch on that iPhone at other times. After all, the iPhone is always there, waiting to entertain. So my prediction, the real golden days of radio programming have arrived.

One Response to “Watch for Big Rise in Public Radio Listening Time”

  1. Carl Zornes Says:

    So I guess we’ll have to come up with another term for a “driveway moment,” eh?

    And here’s a tip for you – One drawback to the Public Radio Tuner (and every other iPhone app for that matter) is that you can’t run any other program while listening… But if you play the stream directly from Safari – for GPB go to – you can use other apps (save for Safari and the iPod app) while the stream runs in the background. This way you can send emails, use the Maps app and even text without missing a beat!