Media

‘Dumb’ radio gets smart: TuneIn adds recommendation features for live shows across 70K radio stations

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With some brand-new features from radio-station aggregator TuneIn, traditional radio stations don’t have to be “dumb” anymore.

TuneIn aggregates over 70,000 live global radio stations (those that are streaming online) and 2 million on-demand audio programs (podcasts, concerts, interviews, etc.) under one web service, and has over 40 million users. And as of today, those users have access to a new universal programming guide, called TuneIn Live, to easily find what’s on the air, view programs/stations that are trending high across the service, and get a greater level of personalization.

So, for example, if you’re annoyed that the local sports news radio station isn’t broadcasting a particular college basketball game, you can head over to TuneIn Live to find one that is. Or if you’re bored with your regular music stations but want to listen to the same genre of music that they play, now there’s a real-time trending feature that suggests alternatives. Also, you’ll get to see album artwork for songs that are currently playing.

The traditional human-curated radio experience is something TuneIn obviously has a lot of faith in, and the new trending features help promote the best of what’s available in a way that wasn’t possible before, TuneIn director of product Kristin George said in an interview with VentureBeat.

“If I’m listening to a country station in Germany, unlike a lot of the DMCA compliant playlist creators, I have no idea what this German DJ is going to play next,” George told me. “That’s a much different experience than you find with digital [aka smart] radio, where Adel is always going to be related to Rihanna,” so they often get grouped together.

In my own experience, online radio service Pandora sometimes seems intent on pairing many of my smart radio stations with Jack Johnson songs and the occasional cringeworthy Nickleback track. So, there’s certainly something to be said for alternative radio stations. If TuneIn can help me find more of those stations and the good DJs those stations employ, I’m all for listening to traditional radio more often.

In addition to the TuneIn Live feature announcement, the company has also added integration with Google+ to alert people when their favorite programs are on.

Founded in 2002, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based startup has 70 employees and has raised a total of $22 million in funding to date from General Catalyst PartnersJafco Ventures, Google Ventures, and  Sequoia Capital. TuneIn faces competition from Pandora, iHeartRadio, Stitcher, and others.

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