What Steve Jobs did for public radio

There's been a lot of talk about all the industries that Steve Jobs changed over the course of his long career.

Well here's another: public radio.

After all, if it weren't for Steve Jobs -- and the iPod -- there would never have been a podcast.

That was change enough.

Now you can hop on your iPhone -- or iPad or iPod touch -- at any time of day, virtually anywhere in the world, and stream live programs or public radio stations.

I used to say that as long as Americans were addicted to driving, public radio would be OK because so many of you listen in your cars.

Now I say public radio will be OK as long as Americans are addicted to driving, and to all the devices that Steve Jobs gave us.

About the author

Jeremy Hobson is host of Marketplace Morning Report, where he looks at business news from a global perspective to prepare listeners for the day ahead.
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You can stream private commercial radio stations too on Apple devices.

Apple's presence in the world has brought obscure technologies to the masses. There is no denying this, but it'd be prudent to look at the basis for a technology before crediting its foundation to a CEO. The company's devices typically aim to make its users feel empowered and yet free of inexplicable hangups that every new adopter endures.

Podcasting is a form of internet radio, something that people should ultimately credit to physicists, engineers, and a smattering of bureaucrats gifted with vision sufficient to fund them—that is, to set them in motion toward general goals without squelching their respective talents.

Mr Jobs was a man more clearly gifted in this way than any modern executive or bureaucrat, and so it is not wrong to credit him with funneling these talents to a listening audience. The problem, here, is that he was a conqueror, and that is discomfiting to anyone with reverence for the truly humanist products his company yielded. Debates ensue, but it's inarguable that Internet radio simply wasn't accessed by a great mass of users before the MP3 player market was taken over by the iPod and its concomitant desktop software. It was there, but it was invisible; Mr Jobs ought to be credited with recognizing this fact clearly enough to have bet huge sums of money on it. This is true regardless of what we think of the history of the rate of net radio's adoption.

The more empowering aspect of the Apple paradigm has been its ability to cut through frustration with computers to produce a sort of satisfaction that users of competing platforms and gadgetry almost never get a hold of, barring the prototypical 'enthusiast.' Apple is still the only company who gets this point. As long as they can follow that basic vision, they'll continue Jobs' winning spree and provide a platform (or two) that people will choose to trust in a way that is uncommon to computing machinery.

AGREE, totally who wrote this, did you not even do basic research?

Its easy to understand how someone who has only ever used an iPod etc. would think Apple had invented the technology behind it, however before you make this sort of proclamation in a public form.

You're right, Dan, that MP3 shows were around, but it was the ease and integration of the iPod with Apple's content ecosystem that made them go mainstream. (I personally think some variant ofthis was close to inevitable, BUT Jobs sped things up.)

uh, bullsh*t.

podcasts were called webcasts before the ipod obsessed culture renamed it to "podcast".

i knew this was coming. now that a great man has died, prepare for the messiah-creating assignment of tons of things he DIDN'T do...

I thought it was Adam Curry that came up with the idea of mixing regularly-released MP3 files with an RSS feed to create a show that can be subscribed to and downloaded automatically.

ugh. yes. you can *do* it on Apple devices but you can do it on all kinds of other devices too. and you always have been able to. i've been on podcasts since the early years and i've never owned an Apple product.

sure, Apple made it easier. fine. but so did a lot of other people. so to say that without Jobs there'd NEVER be a podcast? is like saying without Ford there'd never be the car. come on, now.

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