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idea: rivo

Anyone who's been converted to the Church of TiVo can tell you that it changes your entire relationship with television. Now, instead of sitting down and tuning out to whatever dreck happens to be on, you just tell TiVo what you like and it preemptively records it. So when you sit down to kill a few brain cells in front of the tube, all your favorite shows are there waiting for you.

Since I've become a TiVo addict, I've been thinking: I want TiVo for my radio. Call it RiVo.


Consider this. There is so much great content on the radio that gets lost every day. I'm an NPR junkie: Forum, City Arts and Lectures, The World, This American Life, Prairie Home Companion: I love all of it. And, usually, I miss it.

Since I'm spending most of every day writing, I can't listen to the radio while I'm working. So I only listen to the radio when I'm eating (and I eat fast these days) or driving (which is infrequent, since everything I need is within walking distance in lovely Cole Valley).

If I had RiVo, I could just tune in when I had the time to hear that show from noon I missed. And it would be easy. Broadcasters (including NPR) are already netcasting their shows. And there's all sorts of internet-only programming, too. All we'd need is some sort of centralized schedule (with descriptions) and an application that would automatically do the recording.

Programs could be recorded in mp3 format so they're small. And then, as long as we're collecting mp3s on an internet-connected computer, why not layer in a file-sharing mechanism ala Napster, too? So if my RiVo didn't record This American Life yesterday, I could check to see if someone else's did.

Of course, I'd prefer a separate box for it, so it would be associated with the stereo instead of the computer, but I'd settle for an app to do the job. iTunes is already halfway there: it ships with internet radio stations preprogrammed in. All it would need is a way to say: I like this show – record it whenever you notice it's on.

And leave out all that annoying pledge drive stuff while you're at it.

Whaddayathink? Would you use a RiVo?

{ 3:34pm }



» Of course, as soon as I posted this, I realized it couldn't be a new idea.

Products are already on the horizon: SimpleFi streams from your computer to your stereo and hints at "caching" programs and Command Audio seems to be doing something in this space, though it's hard to cut through their marketing hype enough to see what exactly it is. But the real winner is Gotuit Audio, which seems to be the most direct "TiVo for radio" idea out there.

Interestingly, though, none of these systems are really computer-based (they all are separate boxes) and none of them come anywhere near Napster-like file-sharing functionality. Not very surprising, I guess. Nobody wants to get in that kind of hot water. Still, being able to check if my friend taped the show I wanted to hear would be a real killer app.

Oh, and they all have really stupid names.

dmp  { 5.10.01 @ 5:14pm }

» BitBop is being described as a "tivo for internet radio." I think you put in your likes, it records streaming music that matches, and you login to hear it at a later date, like tivo.

It also has a stupid name.

Matt  { 5.10.01 @ 6:30pm }

» It must be steam engine time -- this is third time in the last two weeks that I've heard someone express a desire for just such a gadget. And everyone seems to want it for NPR, not for commercial radio.

jjg  { 5.10.01 @ 7:08pm }

» I'm just steamed that Tivo isn't even available in Canada. I mean, what's the big deal, it can't be that hard to offer it up here. We do have a couple of huge cable companies, and satellite dishes, and all that other telecommunications stuff. Hey we've even got the Internet! Which makes it hard to read all these people raving about Tivo. I want my Tivo!!!

james  { 5.10.01 @ 8:58pm }

» Actually, the time when I'd most want a RiVo is when I'm in the car, driving west, and hear part of the traffic report, distracted by something on the road.

"What?! Did he say massive pileup on I-44 or I-40? Damn, where's the rewind?"

(Invariably, it doesn't matter what is said. I am always on the one with the massive pileup.)

TheBrad  { 5.10.01 @ 9:14pm }

» Rivo would be a beautiful thing, but until there's something like that, it's worth noting that a lot of shows from NPR have archives of old shows (in RealAudio format, usually) online. In particular, I was thrilled to discover that This American Life and Prairie Home Companion both have archives on their websites. I'm afraid I couldn't find any of the others you mentioned, though.

Moss  { 5.11.01 @ 11:52am }

» For the sake of completeness, here are the sites for Forum (archives back to March 2000), City Arts and Lectures (sorry, no archives), and The World (only the last five days).

jjg  { 5.11.01 @ 4:07pm }

» And what about Car Talk? I always, always, always miss it when it's on.

– Allison  { 5.12.01 @ 6:37am }

» Man, you make me feel so inadequate. I have "Tivos Envy."

On the radio front, it's a just a good thing that all my radio shows are archived and available on demand. ;)

John  { 5.12.01 @ 9:38am }

» i had a conversation with some new friends last night about something of the same concept. they work for symbol (the people who make all the bar code scanners) but, behind the scenes, symbol is also the company creating most of the wireless technology that everyone is using today.

anyways, the concept was that if you could enhance the current wireless signal to 5+ ghz, and with the right technology, you could receive internet radio (streams) to your car radio.

i've gotten away from comercial radio stations, and have been spending alot of time lately listening to live streams when i'm at the computer. but what i want is to be able to listen to the same damn stream in my car.

now, that would be cool.

aryn  { 5.12.01 @ 1:48pm }

» I use all the time to get music I like, but it isn't really the same thing - and boy do I ever wish I had it in the car!

This is a very interesting idea, Derek, and I agree, it's This American Life, Prairie Home Companion and that ilk that I'd want it for. Somehow they're always on when I want to do other things away from the radio. *sigh* I'd love to be able to walk into my kitchen to cook dinner and hit the "Play Me Something Interesting" button.
Heh, and now I'm picturing the wired house with an A.I. (I'd name mine Bunter after Lord Peter Wimsey's butler) who would say "Pardon me, but I notice you've just taken clothes out of the dryer. Would you like to listen to Car Talk while you put them away?"

Dinah  { 5.14.01 @ 5:50pm }

» I was just discussing this very thing with some people on an IRC channel I frequent devoted to shortwave radio. Seems the BBC World Service, whose programming is often even better than NPR's, is going to stop broadcasting on shortwave to North America as of July, based on the delusion that everyone here can listen to them over the Internet. So now I want RiVo for radio, especially since I *never* watch television any more, but always have the radio on (and more often than not, tuned to the BBC World Service on shortwave....)

Ultimately, I came to the conclusion that the idea of RiVo required that people use radio the way they use television, that is, listening to specific programs at specific times. But I don't think most people do use radio that way. They tend instead to use radio as a background jukebox or something, listening to music with only half an ear rather than paying attention the way NPR listeners do, and the way a RiVo would tend to lead people to use radio. Given that the people who use radio this way are a distinct minority in North America, I'm not at all sure that the critical mass to support such an application is available here. I hope I'm wrong; it would be a really neat tool, and something I would definitely buy (or hell, even build; if this was two years ago, I would already have a domain name and be working on my business plan.... :-)

Ralph Brandi  { 5.15.01 @ 9:28am }

» It's true that this idea is mostly good for NPR, which is time-sensitive, as opposed to regular old top 40 radio, which is not.

Hmn. Maybe it should be called NPRster instead....

dmp  { 5.15.01 @ 5:21pm }

» Just knowing about the TiVo gave me this idea independently, and Google showed me this page while I was trying to find "TiVo for radio. With that said, I have a TiVo, and I would want a RiVo to work a bit differently. It seems that many of the NPR or top 40 needs of other posters could be met by Audible or eMarker .

Personally, I seldom listen to anything other than NPR. My most common problem, is that I hear about a segment that is going to be on "Morning Edition", or "All Things Considered", and I can't stay in the car to hear it. I bought a D-Link DSB-R100 PC FM USB Radio with the intent of developing software that would record the local NPR station to my hard drive 24-hours a day. (This is a nice unit, BTW, but I was really hoping for something that didn't require my sound card to digitize an analog signal. Is there a PC tuner that allows you to save radio directly to your harddrive without going through a sound card?) The right codec will give extremely good audio at 10 Meg an hour. That means 1000 hours, or well over a month with 10 Gig of hard drive.

With everything already on your hard drive, the problem then becomes one of generating time-stamps and getting to the PC in a reasonable amount of time. There are several ways to generate time-stamps that have various pros and cons.

I always carry my Palm V, so I could write a little custom app.
I could hack the eMarker.
cell phone? My answering machine has a time stamp.
of course there are many more ways.

Of course I haven't actually written any of the software, yet. If anybody knows about software that does this, please post it here.

– Curt Cox  { 7.23.01 @ 10:46am }


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