Stitcher Raises $6M for Streaming Talk Radio

While I enjoy listening to podcasts, especially of my favorite radio shows, it’s still too much work to sync and download fresh episodes to listen to them on the go. All too often when I want to go for a jog I have no new content loaded up. Stitcher, a company that creates personalized talk radio streams out of shows from providers such as NPR, PRI and the BBC, is trying to help people like me bring audio content to our mobile devices and cars, and along the way introduce us to new shows. The company, which bills itself as a Pandora for news and talk radio, has just raised a $6 million Series B round led by Benchmark Capital and including New Atlantic Ventures, Ed Scott and Ron Conway.

Stitcher helps you subscribe to some of your favorite radio shows (there are about 1,000 to choose from, though not all the shows’ archives are in the system). Recent episodes of these shows get stitched together into streams (with advertising in between — and there’s also some premium subscription content like Rush Limbaugh on demand). The streams are generally oriented towards fresh and newsy content, and they also mix in some programs that you may not have explicitly chosen but Stitcher thinks you may like.

The way Stitcher puts content together might seem a little strange and anachronistic as compared to just picking a program on demand when you want to hear it, but it’s perfect for the (hopefully) hands-free driving experience. The company already has an arrangement with Ford (s f) to use its Sync API to get inside cars that was announced at CES this year. Stitcher CEO Noah Shanok said in an interview that cars are “the ultimate destination for us,” and that he hopes to sign more such deals soon. (Stitcher is already available as an app on the major mobile platforms.)

Benchmark’s Bob Kagle, who joined the Stitcher board with the investment, said he looks forward to Stitcher parsing audio content even further, in order to put together hybrid shows made up of various segments on a particular topic. (And you can bet he’s happy to be putting money into a streaming audio startup that’s not dependent on the music labels!)

Related research from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

Report: Monetizing Digital Content