Benchmark Helps Web Talk Radio Startup Stitcher Turn Up The Volume By $6 Million

Stitcher CEO Noah Shanok wants his company to become the Pandora of Web talk radio, and he just raised a $6 million Series B to help him get there. The round was led by Benchmark Capital, and follows a $2.7 million Series A in 2008. Existing investor New Atlantic Ventures put in more money as well.

The company’s apps stream news, talk, and informational podcasts to people’s iPhones, Blackberries, and Android phones. You can get NPR, Fox News, The Onion, The New York Times, and even TechCrunch. You assemble a “station” by picking different audio feeds, and Stitcher automatically plays the most recent stream from each one.

The big difference between music on the Web like Pandora and talk and Stitcher is that songs don’t get updated. But both are trying to create a radio-like experience. Stitcher has a much smaller audience than Pandora, and is more mobile-oriented. About half its usage is from its iPhone app. But they are also complementary. Both Stitcher and Pandora are featured apps in Ford’s Sync in-dashboard entertainment system.

Stitcher’s biggest competitor is perhaps iTunes itself, which includes vast trove of free downloadable audio podcasts. But managing your podcasts can soon become unwieldy or you quickly run out of new things to listen to. Stitcher wants to be a discovery tool for that kind of audio. As it builds out its audience, Stitcher is still relatively ad-free, but it has experimented with ads that are a combination of audio and in-app display where the audio ad prompts listeners to click on the ad on their screen.