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Did the stream drop because the user got a phone call? Once the MP3 is saved to a listener’s hard drive, the stats go dark.And then there are the audio “aggregators,” such as Stitcher, which often cache podcasts on their own servers and reduce the overall download tally.Lind said the benefits of the updates will far outweigh the drawbacks.“I think that for every person who comes and just reads…there’s going to be 10 more people who find the audio of it.” The team is also working to add richer metadata to stories, with tags for locations, people, era, topic, and mood.TAL also sells old episodes for 99 cents apiece, about 10,000 per month, with most of the cash going to the mothership at Chicago’s WBEZ and some of it to contributors as royalties. But “I don’t think they’re going to sell for that much longer.” And why not? After all, downloading music is just a stopgap for streaming, right?Eventually, wireless connectivity will be ubiquitous — in cars, in subway trains, in rural hayfields — and fast enough to obviate the need for caching.So you might search for “mood: angsty; topic: love; decade: 90s” and find, for example, Episode 42: “Get Over It!” (And a lot of other stories, too; this is TAL, after all.) TAL is working with 3Play to design a custom XML format for categorizing its content.
The company makes software that transcribes speech automatically, but a team of humans has to review each one for quality control (and make editorial decisions: ). The staff is going to have to get over it, Lind said, and that includes a certain bespectacled host.One of the challenges ahead, for him and his new tech team, is finding a way to centralize all of that.Another priority for the team this year: Build a mobile site that serves HTML5 audio on any device that can support it.Not to mention the fact that some of those aggregators sell ads against the content, which undervalues TAL’s sales.Lind relies on Google Analytics for web data, Podtrac for podcast data, and his streaming provider for streaming data.