Radio news’ future -- by way of the past

Saturday, November 30, 2013
[Originally posted Nov. 19, 2013; updated to reflect the project’s new name.]

I’ve been thinking about the future of news—radio news in particular—for a long time.

In 1996, I encouraged the bosses of a radio group that eventually would be subsumed into the Clear Channel empire to embrace the Internet.

In 1998, I suggested: “The Internet is bound to create more opportunities for journalists who know how to make news compelling: ‘The one thing that won’t change is the ability to tell a story, and tell it well.’”

In 2007, I insisted: “This is the best time in history to become a journalist.”

In 2009, I asked: “What it would take to get you to go out of your way to tune in to an AM (or Internet) radio newscast? And what now makes you tune out from radio news?”

In summer 2012, at the premature end of one attempt to reinvent radio news, I predicted: “We are better positioned, with stronger, sharper skills than any of us had a year ago to go on and create something new again, somewhere else.”

A little more than a year ago, I advanced an audacious plan for a “customizable and time-shiftable news experience, created from the ground up for smartphones.”

And now, in 2013, all that thinking about the future has come to a head. We have that something new—that something I hope will make you go out of your way to tune in.

For the last few months, mostly in secret, I’ve been privileged to help recruit and train a talented team of forward-thinking journalists. With a visionary team of technologists, we’ve created ... Rivet.

It’s unlike any radio news you’ve ever experienced.

Among many innovations: You get to pick the categories of information you want, and those you don’t want. It’ll be “top of the hour” any time you launch the Rivet app. And individual stories can be any length at all—as long as they remain interesting and relevant to the end. (And if they fail to do so, you can just skip to the next story.)

Coming soon—for free—to an iPhone near you.

Stay tuned.

P.S. Thanks, Robert Feder, for the coverage. But I feel neither old nor doglike, and—as the little recap above makes clear—these “tricks” aren’t exactly new to me.