Audio Startup 60dB Upgrades Streaming App for Short Radio Stories

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to make it easier for people to get to the audio content that they expect and listen to,” says McLendon. That may put 60dB in a position to capture more of listeners’ time, since 60dB users who also like podcasts won’t have to go to competing apps like Apple Podcasts, NPR One, Stitcher, or RadioPublic to find them.

It’s fair to say that the release of the improved app represents the end of 60dB’s beta or shakedown period.

“A lot of those things are under the covers, but our hope and expectation is that the experience will feel much more rich and robust,” McLendon says. “It’s really reflective of the things we’ve learned over the last six months as we’ve had consumers using the app.”

The name 60dB is a reference to 60 decibels, which is roughly the volume of human conversation, Henn says. “We wanted to create the perfect place for lots of different ideas and thought and conversations,” he says. “Not shouting, not music, but, you know, human ideas.”

The impulse to capture and share the ephemeral ideas flowing past in appointment-based terrestrial radio was what brought together Henn, McLendon, and their third co-founder, former Netflix engineer John Ciancutti, in 2016.

Henn says the trio saw a lot of companies designing new “podcatchers” that help people find and subscribe to podcasts—apps like Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, RadioPublic, and Overcast (see “50 Podcasts You Should Be Listening To—and 5 New Ways to Find Them”). But they felt app builders weren’t paying much attention to short-form content.

“I think there’s this dawning recognition in the industry that you don’t have to create an hour-long podcast to reach an audience,” Henn says. “We’re seeing a lot of creative institutions adopt this short-form format. We work with Fox. We work with the Atlantic and the Washington Post. We’ve also seen the New York Times create The Daily, which is 20 minutes long. We saw NPR launch a short news podcast, Up First. A lot of those shorter digital shows have been successful.”

Henn says most podcatchers don’t handle this short-form content well because they’re designed to help audiences find and consume longer programs that come out less frequently.

“I want a technology that’s going to connect all of those for me seamlessly without me having to make a thousand little choices,” says Henn. “That’s where I think we come in.”

60dB is being cagey so far about how it plans to turn its audio platform into a revenue-generating business. Subscriptions are one possibility, according to McLendon.

“Our focus right now is on getting the product to be one that is delightful for our listeners,” McLendon says. “Obviously, monetization is a big deal, and a huge opportunity in this space that needs to be addressed. You can imagine that given our backgrounds at Netflix, subscriptions are high on the list of things that we’re interested in. But it’s premature to talk about it right now.”

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