The network is the network: public radio on the web

Over the weekend I heard from John Tynan, webmaster for radio stations KJZZ and KBAQ in Arizona. He noticed that I'd recently crossed paths with New Hampshire Public Radio, and wanted to point out a couple of interesting things.

On KJZZ's Arizona Week page, there's a mashup (see "Map of Arizona Week Stories from 2004 to Present") that organizes radio stories by location. Very cool. If you were visiting Tuscon and decided to drive out to Mammoth, you could notice that the Biosphere is enroute, and you could listen to a story about it along the way.

Here's what I like even more. John has correctly observed that, if a bunch of radio stations were to insert location and topic tags into their RSS feeds, it would be trivial for an aggregator to scoop them up. Listeners could then create -- and share -- custom radio programming.

John writes:

This would also have the additional benefit of promoting the idea of collaboration between stations and reinforcing the idea that we are a network of content providers.

It sure would.

Note, by the way, that this idea depends on public radio making the shift from RealAudio streams to MP3 downloads. And that seems to be happening, albeit sometimes rather quietly.

Until about a month ago, for example, I was relying on an mplayer hack to move some of my favorite public radio shows onto my MP3 player. The other week, though, I noticed that although the archive page at This American Life still says that you can't download files, it's not true anymore. Last week's episode, for example, was a rerun of a classic on stories that make us cringe. The offered link is If you unpack that you'll find

When I noticed this change, I made myself an unofficial TAL feed with enclosures. I'm sure other TAL listeners would be happy to collaborate on adding location and topic tags to an official version of that feed. Delightful network effects would ensue.

Update: Jared Benedict has a better version.

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