KCRW Listeners load up on podcasts via iTunes

Podcast downloads from Santa Monica-based KCRW zoomed to 100,000 a day from 3,500 when iTunes began hosting podcasts.

I used to volunteer at KCRW, a nominally public radio station which now arguably has more advertisements than some commercial radio stations. My feelings about the station are mixed. Much of their programming, both music and talk shows, is excellent and cutting edge. Yet the terrain they cover rather continuously morphs away from anything even remotely controversial. For example, music with a political bent is virtually never played. Their “Left, Right, and Center” talk show seems more a parlor debating squad than serious analysis.

Their podcasts are now sponsored by Lexus, with ads inserted into them as well as everywhere else at the station.

Toyota Motor Corp.’s Lexus brand paid tens of thousands of dollars last month to have the company’s name mentioned for six months in KCRW podcasts, on the station’s website, on the air and at a concert.

Still, KCRW is hugely innovative, and was about the first radio station, public or otherwise, to podcast in a big way, trail-blazing the way for others sure to come. It’s just that, well, shouldn’t a public radio station not be as commercial and ad-filled as regular radio?