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American Public Media's new streaming partner: Why Slacker Radio?

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This morning, American Public Media — Southern California Public Radio and KPCC's parent organization — announced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas that it will partner with Slacker Radio to stream APM content through Slacker's services.

Of course, Slacker isn't the only Internet music streaming service out there. So why did APM choose it over, say, Pandora or Spotify?

Simple: Slacker enables programming. So do some other streaming services, but not in a way that would allow the APM and its programs, like the popular "Marketplace," to stand out. APM will be in good company: ABC News and ESPN are also Slacker partners.

At, Jeffrey L. Wilson provides a quick summary of what the various streaming radio and music services are all about. He says that Slacker is for "Tweakers" — that is allows users to customize their listening experience. Pandora, by contrast, permits much less involved modification; the whole idea is that you sit back and let the Pandora algorithm choose your music for you.

That kind of passivity is no good for what APM wants, which is to regularly present its programming to people streaming audio (especially in their cars). For that, APM needs dedicated channels, which Slacker has. In this respect, Slacker is more like satellite radio — a point made in vigorous fashion at The Lefsetz Letter. But it's the channels that make sense for APM — more so than the capacity to "tweak" the experience.

I've made a similar argument, from the point of view of a service like Pandora replacing SiriusXM in cars. My feeling is that it's about the programming, stupid. Music-based streaming sites can't do this as well as satellite radio. But Slacker is making a foray into this field.

That's why Slacker is the right choice for APM. 

Follow Matthew DeBord and the DeBord Report on Twitter.