This year, NPR had its largest ever "boots on the ground" presence at the International Consumer Electronics Show – the industry's largest confab of technology and innovation. So, why is CES – a sea of mass prototype electronics and gadgetry – so important to a public radio organization? And equally important, why did our small but fierce Digital Media and NPR Labs teams bravely navigate their way through miles of cluttered conference space and the crowd of more than 140,000 attendees?
Without the content to feed new gadgets like tablets, internet radios and smart phones of all kinds – the shells themselves collect dust. The gadget makers are looking for top-tier content, and the content providers are looking for the perfect gadget or platform to present their experience. Enter NPR and its member stations.
For nearly 40 years, NPR and its member stations have been synonymous with high-quality news reporting, storytelling, and audio. We are committed to being wherever our audience is, whenever they want us, and to providing an exceptional experience on every platform. NPR is America's largest podcaster, its on-air audience reaches more people than the top 60 newspapers combined, and it houses one of the largest collections of free transcripts dating back decades.
NPR's Digital Media and NPR Labs teams joined in the CES conversation earlier this month, speaking on panels about NPR's strategy for apps, tablets, and smartphones; content monetization; and the latest research and development on accessible radio technology for the deaf, hard-of-hearing and vision impaired populations. NPR Labs, radio's only R&D division, made significant strides toward providing the more than one million Americans who have hearing impairments and/or dual sensory loss access to live radio via real time captioning or Braille-enabled iPhones, iPads, in-car display screens and other devices.
My prediction: NPR will be back in even greater numbers at CES 2012, collaborating with electronics and technology manufacturers and other content providers, and cutting through the clutter to find the best delivery platforms for our digital, mobile and underserved audiences. Viva Las Vegas – see you then.