Storm clouds gather over podcasting By Michelle Kessler, USA TODAY http://www.usatoday.com/money/media/2005-08-03-podcasting-usat_x.htm SAN FRANCISCO At Seattle public radio station KEXP, there's a simple procedure for evaluating new technology. "We just go ahead and do stuff," says John Richards, the station's morning disc jockey. That's how the quirky station created one of the first music podcasts without support from major record companies. A podcast is a digital recording of a radio-style audio program that can be downloaded from the Internet and played on a digital music player. Many podcasters think the technology could revolutionize radio as TiVo did television. But record labels worry that listeners will pirate the songs contained in the downloaded radio shows. The result: yet another Napster-like standoff over piracy and music rights. Podcasting is a great way for KEXP to reach thousands of new listeners, especially those outside of Seattle, Richards says. But the station can't podcast programs such as John in the Morning Richards' variety mix of independent and mainstream music because record companies haven't provided an easy, affordable way for podcasters to license songs. That's why most podcasts today are talk radio. So KEXP last month invited 14 unsigned or small-label bands from the Seattle area to contribute songs to a podcast. Richards asked a lawyer a listener who volunteers at the station to draw up a simple contract for the bands. KEXP did not release numbers but said the podcast was a hit. KEXP is now podcasting some live performances to which it owns the rights. KEXP decided that "we couldn't sit around and wait and wait for a major (label) to sign off on this," Richards says.