Podcast hosts know that one of the hardest things to accomplish on a “radio” show online is hooking up callers so they can interact live on a broadcast. Even worse are video podcasts, which are nearly always pre-recorded rather than live.
Now, however, a new startup called OnTheAir is aiming to change all that. From making Hangouts on Google+ obsolete to helping vidcasters make their shows a lot more interactive, this new offering is set to move podcasting to the next level.
The service went from stealth mode to private beta at the end of March. It was founded by alumni of Apple, Google and Facebook and seed money totaling $800,000 from True Ventures (thanks to Scott Banister and Tony Conrad of IronPort and About.me respectively).
It works very simply. The show’s host(s) set up a show with a start time and other details, which gives them a unique URL to the live broadcast. This URL is a coundown landing page up to the point of the show, so it can be safely marketed up to the time of the show’s launch. Tweets can also be scheduled in advance if a Twitter account is attached to the show.
Once the show starts, the countdown swaps to a live stream of the host’s camera. A text chat is included for viewers and the host, of course, but even cooler is the “Call In” button included there.
Viewers can then click on that and, if the host accepts them, be added to the show’s video and audio stream so that a conversation can take place. The host can decide who can be included and for how long. So this could quickly become a “Hangout” type broadcast or a radio call-in show instead.
For podcasters/vidcasters, this is a huge boon. OnTheAir is currently capped at 5,000 viewers per show, but this will assuredly change once it goes live. That date has not been announced as yet. Still, keep an eye on this one. It could be a game changer.