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Peripheral Vision 008: Seth Lind on why radio won't die

Brian Heater
October 17, 2013
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"The death of radio has been foretold pretty much since its invention," Seth Lind explains. "Especially since the invention of television. Why would you listen to radio since the invention of television? One of the main answers to that is you can do other things while you're listening to radio. You can't watch the Colbert Report while driving." It's a question This American Life's director of operations gets more times than he cares to mention -- when will the internet finally put the last nail in radio's coffin? After all, Lind is the digital gatekeeper of one of public radio's most beloved shows, helping Ira Glass and co. explore new distribution platforms. Internet streaming has played a large role in the show's success in recent years -- as has the podcast, a perennial list topper over on iTunes. "Currently two-thirds listen on the radio and one-third listen elsewhere via the internet, whether that's podcast or streaming," says Lind. "Radio is pretty flat, but digital is growing, so I wouldn't be surprised if, in a couple of years, it's even. But I've honestly been surprised at how durable radio has been."

This American Life's latest platform launches this week, an attempt to keep up with new listening habits that are emerging online, a sort of marriage of the always-on delivery method of radio, with the flexibility of digital. "Our 2013 This American Life product is a 24 hour stream of episodes," says Lind. "It basically will be a digital radio station that will play This American Life around the clock. What the 24 hour stream will do is take advantage of platforms like radio streaming apps like TuneIn and I Heart Radio -- and possibly the new iTunes Radio. It will find listeners who just want to turn on a channel and have the content come to them. This way you can pull up the app or go to a player and there will always be an episode playing. You won't be able to chose what it is. It will just be a story faucet."

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