Anchor Launches To Take Radio To The Next Level


anchor app on iphone
Image Credits: Anchor

Welcome to the next generation of broadcasting.

New York-based Anchor, which launched today for iOS, is offering a new, easier way to record and transmit interactive audio content.

The company’s two co-founders Nir Zicherman and Michael Mignano, who previously worked at the photo-editing toolkit developer Aviary, hatched their new company over a shared love of radio. And have even enlisted some of New York’s heaviest high-end radio broadcasters to help with the app.

Local National Public Radio affiliate WNYC and Radiolab are both signing on to be initial “anchor” (I had to), users of the app.

“WNYC and Radiolab are audio-first brands, and we’re always looking for new ways to incorporate listener voices into our programs in thoughtful, meaningful ways,” said Delaney Simmons, Director of Social Media at WNYC, in a statement. “Anchor gives us another way to reach listeners with the stories we’re interested in, hear from  people around the world and connect with new audiences.”

Here’s an example of how the radio station is already using the service:

For the two co-founders, the work with NPR is the fulfillment of a years-long love affair with radio.

“Around high school I got really into NPR,” says Zicherman. “And when I went to Cornell NPR was a big thing up there too.”

In Mignano’s case, it was a lifetime of listening to sports radio in the morning that turned him into a junkie.

In the wake of the Adobe acquisition, the two cast about for something to do that would bring them back to their love of radio. So in January 2015, they started working on the technology that would become the Anchor app, and in July 2015 they left Adobe to work on the business full time.

“As popular as this medium is we feel it’s really hard for regular people to contribute to it,” Zicherman says of radio technology. “Unlike photos and videos and writing, recording and publishing your voice has not been democratized [and] radio and podcasts aren’t interactive. You can listen to Grantland on the air, or NPR, but you can’t talk back to NPR.”

Mignano agrees.

“The products being built for this space aren’t being developed with audio in mind. The products put visual ahead of audio,” he says.

For both founders, the future of the medium is multi-directional. Just as people can comment on Youtube, Instagram, and other forums for media, there should be a way to verbally comment on audio streams as well, and this is what anchor provides.

Basically, it turns everyone into their own anchor or newscaster. “Our thesis is that this hasn’t happened because the tools haven’t existed to allow it to happen,” says Mignano. “Radio is basically the same technology that existed 100 years ago.”

In part, Anchor also looks to bring the conversations that people have in-person online to reach a broader audience. People broadcast their thoughts on Reddit and Twitter and other platforms, but without the proper training they can’t do the same in audio.

“People have things to say, they just don’t have the means to say them with their voice,” says Mignano.

So let’s say someone want to become a full-time, or even-part time, Anchor. They’d just sign up for the app, download it, and then use the app like they would any recording tool on a smartphone.

A broadcaster can record up to two minutes in an initial message and anyone who wants to respond records a one-minute response.

The idea is that users record these “waves” and the waves get replies. The more people that listen to these waves and respond to them, the more the broadcaster can engage with an expanding audience.

Waves can be embedded and shared like this one from Avi Muchnick, the creator of Aviary, where he talks about hiring a startup.

The vision for a new kind of responsive broadcasting was attractive enough to bring on several bigtime investors.

The company raised $1.6 million in a round led by SV Angel and Eniac Ventures, with additional participation from Acequia Capital, Scott Belsky, betaworks, CrunchFund, Homebrew, Avi Muchnick, Questlove (of The Roots and The Tonight Show), Quire, and Vijay Vachani.

In the past few years a few apps have emerged that are coming up with new ways of toying with the old notion of voice broadcasting as a social media platform.

Thanks to the success of podcasts like Serial, and the lasting power of radio, people are again embracing the intimacy of the audio broadcast.

The Indian-based telecom services firm Altruist acquired the voice-based social media platform Bubbly in 2014, and apps like HearMeOut and Hubbub also offer voice recording and distribution technologies.

While HearMeOut and Hubbub have gone quiet, the early adoption of marquee names like WNYC and Radiolab bodes well for Anchor’s chances.


More TechCrunch

Ahead of the AI safety summit kicking off in Seoul, South Korea later this week, its co-host the United Kingdom is expanding its own efforts in the field. The AI…

UK opens office in San Francisco to tackle AI risk

Companies are always looking for an edge, and searching for ways to encourage their employees to innovate. One way to do that is by running an internal hackathon around a…

Why companies are turning to internal hackathons

Featured Article

I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Women in tech still face a shocking level of mistreatment at work. Melinda French Gates is one of the few working to change that.

12 hours ago
I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s  broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Blue Origin has successfully completed its NS-25 mission, resuming crewed flights for the first time in nearly two years. The mission brought six tourist crew members to the edge of…

Blue Origin successfully launches its first crewed mission since 2022

Creative Artists Agency (CAA), one of the top entertainment and sports talent agencies, is hoping to be at the forefront of AI protection services for celebrities in Hollywood. With many…

Hollywood agency CAA aims to help stars manage their own AI likenesses

Expedia says Rathi Murthy and Sreenivas Rachamadugu, respectively its CTO and senior vice president of core services product & engineering, are no longer employed at the travel booking company. In…

Expedia says two execs dismissed after ‘violation of company policy’

Welcome back to TechCrunch’s Week in Review. This week had two major events from OpenAI and Google. OpenAI’s spring update event saw the reveal of its new model, GPT-4o, which…

OpenAI and Google lay out their competing AI visions

When Jeffrey Wang posted to X asking if anyone wanted to go in on an order of fancy-but-affordable office nap pods, he didn’t expect the post to go viral.

With AI startups booming, nap pods and Silicon Valley hustle culture are back

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

A new crop of early-stage startups — along with some recent VC investments — illustrates a niche emerging in the autonomous vehicle technology sector. Unlike the companies bringing robotaxis to…

VCs and the military are fueling self-driving startups that don’t need roads

When the founders of Sagetap, Sahil Khanna and Kevin Hughes, started working at early-stage enterprise software startups, they were surprised to find that the companies they worked at were trying…

Deal Dive: Sagetap looks to bring enterprise software sales into the 21st century

Keeping up with an industry as fast-moving as AI is a tall order. So until an AI can do it for you, here’s a handy roundup of recent stories in the world…

This Week in AI: OpenAI moves away from safety

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets

Featured Article

Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

CSC ServiceWorks provides laundry machines to thousands of residential homes and universities, but the company ignored requests to fix a security bug.

3 days ago
Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is just around the corner, and the buzz is palpable. But what if we told you there’s a chance for you to not just attend, but also…

Harness the TechCrunch Effect: Host a Side Event at Disrupt 2024

Decks are all about telling a compelling story and Goodcarbon does a good job on that front. But there’s important information missing too.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Goodcarbon’s $5.5M seed deck

Slack is making it difficult for its customers if they want the company to stop using its data for model training.

Slack under attack over sneaky AI training policy

A Texas-based company that provides health insurance and benefit plans disclosed a data breach affecting almost 2.5 million people, some of whom had their Social Security number stolen. WebTPA said…

Healthcare company WebTPA discloses breach affecting 2.5 million people

Featured Article

Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Microsoft won’t be facing antitrust scrutiny in the U.K. over its recent investment into French AI startup Mistral AI.

3 days ago
Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Ember has partnered with HSBC in the U.K. so that the bank’s business customers can access Ember’s services from their online accounts.

Embedded finance is still trendy as accounting automation startup Ember partners with HSBC UK

Kudos uses AI to figure out consumer spending habits so it can then provide more personalized financial advice, like maximizing rewards and utilizing credit effectively.

Kudos lands $10M for an AI smart wallet that picks the best credit card for purchases

The EU’s warning comes after Microsoft failed to respond to a legally binding request for information that focused on its generative AI tools.

EU warns Microsoft it could be fined billions over missing GenAI risk info

The prospects for troubled banking-as-a-service startup Synapse have gone from bad to worse this week after a United States Trustee filed an emergency motion on Wednesday.  The trustee is asking…

A US Trustee wants troubled fintech Synapse to be liquidated via Chapter 7 bankruptcy, cites ‘gross mismanagement’

U.K.-based Seraphim Space is spinning up its 13th accelerator program, with nine participating companies working on a range of tech from propulsion to in-space manufacturing and space situational awareness. The…

Seraphim’s latest space accelerator welcomes nine companies

OpenAI has reached a deal with Reddit to use the social news site’s data for training AI models. In a blog post on OpenAI’s press relations site, the company said…

OpenAI inks deal to train AI on Reddit data

X users will now be able to discover posts from new Communities that are trending directly from an Explore tab within the section.

X pushes more users to Communities