Putting a little new up in new media

As what we used to just call “the internet” has become increasingly fragmented across all kinds of devices big and little and across various platforms and services new and old–well, less new anyway–the job of providing stories, news, information and entertainment to an audience has become very complex. It used to be that a media organization would just have a website, and that was how you experienced it online. It did pretty much the same job and looked and functioned pretty much the same way on whichever beige box was plugged into the wall and into the wired world. Ah–the good old days.

It takes a whole suite of tools to do the job properly now, and NCPR has been scurrying around trying to keep it’s presence current on as many of them as is practical for a small organization with limited resources. All of them are changing and evolving rapidly, so it might be a good time to inventory what’s out there now for the NCPR audience and what’s coming up.

NewandImprovedFirst–a brand new ncpr.org website is days away from launch. It will have a cleaner look and be a lot more flexible, scaling to work properly on desktop, laptop, tablet and phone screens. It will highlight good photography better, and will operate more conveniently, providing the ability to read, listen to audio, watch video and share stories directly from the home page. It will use a new media player that is compatible with more browsers and operating systems. And shortly after launch, it will provide stories from a wider array of public media networks, programs and producers than we can do now. That is because the Public Media Platform, which has been in the works for several years is finally beginning to roll out, and will give us access to  news and entertainment from programs like PRI’s The World, Science Friday, and others that listeners have long enjoyed on air, but couldn’t receive via our website.

Second–we are testing out a totally-remade version of our NCPR app. I’m one of the testers and have to say the experience so far is a big improvement, particularly on the phone screen. We also plan to add a second stream in addition to the NCPR broadcast stream to the new app, including for the first time our Public Radio Remix station WREM, now heard only via broadcast in the St. Lawrence County area. NCPR is also working on creating a local presence on the new NPR One mobile app, which provides a mix of national and local stories that is tuneable to individual preferences  and story selection and can respond to voice prompts. This will make it possible to retain a local “radio” presence in the growing area of the connected car, where terrestrial radio is taking a back seat to new digital and satellite offerings available in the dashboards of new vehicles.

Third–we are improving the online listening experience. Streaming is an expensive proposition and costs increase with both the quality of the audio and the number of listeners. So it’s a balancing act to provide the best service to the most users without breaking the bank. But NCPR has begun offering a higher-quality stream which uses a more efficient encoding method to deliver better quality using less bandwidth. So far it is available only using iTunes Radio, but we plan to extend this kind of improvement to the streams available directly from the NCPR website sometime in the coming year.

While it’s too soon to say “You’re welcome,” it’s never too soon to say “Thank you.” Your consistent support over the years has enabled NCPR to build and maintain a steadily improving presence on the technology of the new media era. I think this will be a jackpot year for NCPR listeners and visitors.


1 Comment on “Putting a little new up in new media”

  1. Ben says:

    Glad to hear you’re going adaptive. I was wondering when you’d tackle that, can’t wait to see it! The Public Media Platform, is this a service of http://digitalservices.npr.org/?

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