Localized news radio app readies


iphoneIt’s a Pandora-like hyperlocal approach to traffic with “musical interludes” from user’s iPhones, reports the Chicago Tribune. Former Navteq EVP/Sales and Marketing John MacLeod says his new company, HearHere Radio, will launch as a free iPhone app early this month called “Rivet News Radio.”

From the story: “The concept is modeled after online radio service Pandora, except the rolling content is news, not music. The Rivet News Radio app will feature national and local news, hyperlocal traffic reports and weather. Users can also adjust the settings so that songs stored on one’s iPhone play between the news reports.”

“If you say, ‘Yes,’ to music, then every 10 or 15 minutes, you get a little music with your news,” MacLeod told the paper.

MacLeod, raised more than $650,000 from angel investors, friends and family; hired about 25 contract workers, including radio veteran Charlie Meyerson, the former news director of WGN-AM; and built a radio studio in the Windy City.

McLeod has held leadership roles at Disney, Sony Pictures Entertainment and most recently Navteq. After Navteq acquired Traffic.com in 2006, the company set out to integrate digital maps with traffic data. “MacLeod has since earned three patents, which concern the animated display of traffic information, personalized audio and visual traffic reports, and location-enabled advertising in traffic channels,” said the story. “HearHere’s goal is to deliver radio news based on “where you are and what you’re doing.” So instead of a Chicago traffic report, there’s a North Shore traffic report, or a South Side traffic report, or a far western suburbs report. Once a listener’s device crosses certain geographic lines, the report changes.”

See the Chicago Tribune story here

RBR-TVBR observation: As the story said, Rivet News Radio doesn’t have to pay license fees for the music because the tunes are already stored on the users’ phones. But more importantly, this type of service may well be adopted by Pandora, iTunes Radio, Spotify, etc. someday down the road, further eroding radio’s localized edge in the car.