SAN FRANCISCO (05/02/2000) - You use the Internet as an information source, right? So you're familiar with the idea of custom news: You select subjects that interest you so that only stories matching your criteria appear for your reading pleasure.
AudioBasket Inc. wants to do the same thing for audio news and information.
"What AudioBasket allows you to do is create your own personalized audio broadcast," says Andrew Edelson, cofounder and vice president of marketing for the new company. "It's based on the idea that no one really knows what you want to listen to but you."
So far, AudioBasket has 25 audio content providers, including ABCNews.com, the Associated Press, Bloomberg, Financial Times, Newsweek On Air, and the Wall Street Journal. Stories, shows, and programs are listed in seven categories: news, business/finance, entertainment, sports, health/family, lifestyles, and technology/science.
And AudioBasket is not just news. Miss Monday night's "Ally McBeal"? Tuesday's "NYPD Blue"? Last week's "Beverly Hills 90210"? On AudioBasket you can get an update on all of them, plus stock reports, sports scores, and, just in case you missed it, the latest on Elian Gonzalez.
Audiobasket broadcasts do have advertising, about six minutes per hour, "far less than traditional radio," says Edelson. The service is free, but for $8 a month, you can have the ads removed.
"If you don't want any advertising, you don't have to get it," he says. "It goes back to the initial premise. There's only one person who knows what you want to listen to. That's you."
Shopping for Sound
News briefs and updates on your favorite TV shows may be as short as a minute or less, while some feature programs may last as long as half an hour. The site enables you to add audio items to your "basket" the same way you add items to a shopping cart at, say, Amazon.com. Click on Play and you can listen to them one after another.
AudioBasket's AudioFinder feature allows you to set criteria for automatic selection. For example, set keywords "Microsoft" and "antitrust," but not "stocks," and you'll get only stories about the Justice Department's antitrust case against Microsoft, but not information about its stock.
You can also choose the length of stories you want, how current you want them, and which content providers you want them from.
"All you have to do is come back and press play," Edelson says.
AudioBasket is still in beta form, so many promising features are not yet available. Eventually a small desktop application called AudioBasket Assistant will let users download their audiobaskets onto their desktop for offline listening, or to a portable audio device, such as an MP3 player.