With Installs Up 400%, Stitcher Sounds Like The Pandora Of Talk Radio

With around of 650,000 users, installs up 400% this year, a podcast recommendation engine, and today adding Facebook auto-sharing to its Android app, Stitcher has made a lot of progress towards owning talk radio after the fall of AM/FM. Today it revealed a number of stats through a Facebook Developer Spotlight, but when I deduced that it now has 650,000 active users based on AppData and the fact that 30% of new signups are from Facebook, Stitcher’s CEO Noah Shanok confirmed “that’s a rough ballpark”.

In an interview he told me how his app will rule the digital airwaves by getting to commuters through new automobile integrations, and filling a giant hole in what Spotify and Pandora offer.

“If you look at terrestrial radio, 30% of listening is to talk”, says Shanok. Yet there’s no access to NPR, politics, hobbies, or sports talk programming on Spotify and Pandora like there is on Stitcher. That begged the question of why Stitcher still has well under a million users?

Shanok explained that “the talk is a last frontier [of online listening] because it’s primarily on the go. A big enabler for us is the mobile device.” Now that 3G and stronger connections are prevalent, users can consistently stream talk radio to their phones to listen to while commuting — something Shanok says the average American spends an hour per work day doing.

People listen to music at work, but talk on their ride there. That’s why Pandora, now at 54.9 million users, was able to get such a head start before the mobile web came to fruition. It’s also why Stitcher is aggressively courting automobile-makers to get integrations so its app can play and be controlled through in-car stereos. Ford, GM, BMW, Mini and Mercedes now make their cars Stitcher-ready.

Today, Stitcher Radio for Android lets you, frictionlessly share listening habits to Facebook, and get recommendations based on what friends listen to. The new auto-sharing could be big, considering that functionality in Stitcher’s iOS app caused 80X more stories to get shared to Facebook since February.

Stitcher will rely on its $18.7 million in funding from New Atlantic, Benchmark, and Ron Conway to take on heavyweight competition, specifically from TuneIn and Clear Channel-owned iHeartRadio which both stream talk as well as music to over 40 million usrers. The Internet at large also offers more ways to consume the niche content you’d find on talk radio. Blogs! And there are other ways to get podcasts, albeit it less social.

But considering how popular talk radio is, it seems a mobile app completely devoted to it like Stitcher could connect big mouths to lots of little ears.

Stitcher is available for iOS and Android