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Meet your new Online Radio competition: Newspapers

This past week I had to the opportunity to visit online radio studios under construction.

But here's the catch:

It was at a newspaper.

The San Diego Union-Tribune, to be exact.

The U-T's Ron James and Marc Balanky are gearing up to leverage the paper's notable local news assets and just as notable local web presence and mix them together into an online radio alchemy that may just be the Next Big Thing in the world of newspapers (no wonder they're getting calls from newspaper markets far and wide for the how-to).

And it will surely be another force fighting for online radio dollars with your stations and their streams.

Think about the implications of a front page banner ("What's on now") inviting 3 million unique monthly visitors to sample radio-style content from name-brand local columnists and legendary local radio talent – hear their talk shows and even call in!

Live and on-demand.

Here's a unique peak inside Ron and Marc's plans in a Q&A I did with them this past week from their very radio-like studios down the hall from the printing presses.

I STRONGLY recommend you give this interview a listen, because it may be the model many other newspapers follow in medium and large markets nationwide.

A very intriguing glimpse into the future of the newspaper business, and an indication of the commitment they have in converting from "print" companies to "media" ones (their web staff alone is likely to be bigger than everybody working on the web in radio in your entire market).

Their online radio effort has not yet launched, but when it does it will live at

Even now they have a streaming Alternative station online which features Indie tunes. And listen to this: Its average daily traffic is about 75% of San Diego legend 91X's.

Pretty amazing.

You will be hearing much more about this. And you heard it here first.

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