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Pandora: news, sports, and weather coming, eventually

“Why can’t I listen to news, talk, or sports radio on Pandora?” the streaming site’s Tim Westergren says Pandora’s fans often ask. “That’s actually something we’ve talking quite a bit about as a company and something we intend to deliver to listeners eventually,” Westergren responded in a video blog he posted this week. But for now the company wants the public to use it as a music service.

Then, “once it becomes your radio station, I think it makes sense to add those pieces in,” he explains. One of the benefits of Internet radio is that “we’ll actually know where you are,” he adds, “so we’ll be able to deliver sports, weather, news that’s actually relevant to your particular area.”

The prospect of doing this is “something very exciting to consider,” Westergren concludes, but will take some time to accomplish.

This is welcome news, as far as I’m concerned, having suggested that Pandora would be a much more valuable service with music DJs. And as I’ve said before, most Internet radio isn’t really radio, it’s juke box. But to be fair, streaming audio is expensive. It’s not like terrestrial radio where the number of listeners you have is limited only by the number of people in the area. The actual act of listening costs Internet radio stations bandwidth and therefore money.

Live365’s standard listener based package, for example, costs up to $2,000 a month for 500 simultaneous listeners. That’s doubtless a markup over the actual bandwidth expenses but it gives you an idea of the price of an audience of 100,000 streamers or more.

Still, although I’m a faithful listener, Pandora won’t my radio station until it sounds like one. And that means DJs offering local news and information as well as music. Maybe when we get out of this recession we’ll see what streaming Internet can really do.

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