AccuRadio sets a record
The announcement was intriguing: Accuradio goes for the record by adding 100 holiday music channels to its online service. “We’re highlighting the upstart, competitive nature of AccuRadio by launching 100 holiday season channels at a pace of one at least one a day,” says company spokesman Michael Lev. “Dozens more than Pandora is offering. Last time I looked we were at 68 channels; last year we did 81 stations.:
OK, I think they have the record already, though to be honest I haven’t verified the numbers of either Accuradio or Pandora. It’s barely past Thanksgiving … I just started thinking about Christmas. But Accuradio is new to me, so I began my quest to find out more.
You can listen to Accuradio through the company website (AccuRadio.com) or via smartphone apps available for the iPhone or Android. Audio quality is superb, with full fidelity as I listened in my truck.
One killer feature I found almost accidentally is station blending … if you find a channel you like and want to add to it, you can combine the two. Or three. Or more. I combined top-40 HitKast with Alternative Now and Today’s New Country to create a channel I haven’t named yet. Maybe K-WAG would work.
The app is “compatible” with Apple Car Play and Android Auto in the sense that you can stream through your phone into your car stereo, but it is not “native,” meaning you cannot access the app directly and make selections or changes on your car stereo’s main screen, but you can use the “now playing” screen to pause music or skips songs.
Likewise, there is no native support for smart speakers, but you can send audio from your phone or computer to your speakers as long as you have the right set-up.
Unlike Pandora’s and Spotify’s free versions, Accuradio — which has no paid versions — allows unlimited skips, so if you don’t like a song or just don’t want to hear Maggie May right now, you can just skip on to the next. Or the next, without running out of skips and being stuck with Modern Love.
Here’s what caught me off-guard: the service isn’t new! It launched back in the early days of radio streaming in 2000. Originally called RAIN radio due to its connection to founder Kurt Hanson’s RAIN newsletter – Radio and Internet News — Hanson later changed the name to Accuradio. The original three channels — pop standards, modern rock classics, and piano jazz — have evolved into roughly 1000 channels covering more than 50 musical genres. All of therm curated by actual people who are said to love music; many of whom have backgrounds in music, radio, or television.
What inspired Hanson to develop an internet music service after a successful career in and around radio itself? Besides RAIN, he founded Strategic Media Research where, among other things, he launched an alternative ratings service to Arbitron (now Nielsen) called AccuRatings. He’s worked in radio since high school and has advised stations throughout the country.
“I haven’t thought about this for a long time — it was actually when I was in high school in 1972 in Milwaukee, listening to one of the first FM top 40 stations (WZUU-AM/FM), he explained. “It was a great summer for music — Jackson Browne, the Stylistics, Badfinger, America, the Chi-Lites, Don McLean, Paul Simon, etc. Except every 70 minutes the station wrecked the music flow by playing Sammy Davis, Jr.’s “The Candy Man” because 8-year-olds were buying and requesting it! ARRRGHGH!!!! I dreamed of the day when radio programmers would have a better handle on what their listeners wanted to hear — and even better if listeners could control what they heard.”
That led Hanson to found Strategic Media Research and eventually launch Accuradio.
What sets Accuradio apart from other streaming services? Hanson says it’s the personalization and customization. “We have a lot more variety and personalization options than AM/FM streams, and unlike Pandora (which is programmed primarily by computer algorithms using their Music Genome Project), our channels are curated by real human beings who love music
We also have, unlike Pandora and and its ilk,” he says, “some actual station voices to give us “stationality,” but they’re mainly brief sweepers that don’t draw attention away from the music.”
Treasures for Troops
The little AM station I wrote about recently in Michigan — WION/Ionia (i1430.com) recently completed its Treasures for Troops event, in which the station collects donations to be sent to U.S. service men and women around the world. This is the eighth year for the event.Boxes are packed with donations including letters, cards, and notes from Saranac, Ionia, Lowell students, Ionia area residents, and others. Each box also contains three “staple” items of Peanut Butter, Chunky soup, and some beef jerky, along with a variety of items from the needs list published locally each year.
“186 boxes were mailed to active military members deployed far from home,” according to station manager Jim Carlyle. “The boxes will be a surprise to most recipients, however some addresses were provided to the Blue Star Mothers by families and friends of the deployed.”