NPR unveiled plans today to launch a digital-music service in the first half of 2007 that would serve as a one-stop shop for public-radio listeners who normally get their music and information from a variety of sources.
The national leader in podcasting -- the organization has 52 podcasts available via iTunes -- NPR hopes to expand its reach to more web-based formats.
"NPR and other programs across the country offer all these remarkable services rolled up to create sort of an extraordinarily unique catalog of ideas about music," said Ken Stern, NPR's chief operating officer. "But in the digital age you can't find this stuff. This will be a unique place for people to discover, learn and have a community around music."
Still in its infant stages, the project has not developed a business model or confirmed any potential sponsors.
'A place to learn'
Also, unlike other digital-music services, the NPR site will not sell individual downloads.
"There are a lot of places to buy stuff. This is a place to learn," Mr. Stern said.
The site will host podcasts from public-radio stations around the country, as well as features already offered through its music program "All Songs Considered," including streaming performances from Washington's 930 Club and Philadelphia-based World Cafe. It will also allow users to access more than 70 years of public-radio archives, making it perhaps the largest resource for such information online.
Mr. Stern added that he hopes the service will be shaped by the many listeners who have already been tuning into public radio and its podcasts.
"There are 30 million listeners whose principle characteristic is their desire to be involved and learn about music they don't know and share it with others," he said.