Greg Fadul and his business partner Jim Palmer founded their company, Grace Digital, as a niche audio consumer electronics company. Their concept was to create value-added solutions with more unique features than a typical big company would provide, and their first product was an internet radio. It was 2007, and the first iPhone had been released just months earlier.
Given the dramatic rise in on-demand audio and the dominance of the smartphone as a listening platform in the intervening 10 years, it may be hard to imagine a role for a physical radio for consumers — but Grace Digital hasn’t found that to be the case. Greg explained, “We see our product as complementary to smartphones. It’s a luxury item for some people who don’t want their phones in their bedrooms, and for avid radio hobbyists who enjoy new gadgets.” Their most recent release, the Mondo+ radio, can play audio from services like SiriusXM, iHeartRadio, CBS radio, NPR, BBC, and over 100 Chromecast-enabled apps such as Pandora, Spotify and Slacker, and over 30,000 AM/FM/HD radio stations, and now — with help from Audiosear.ch — tens of thousands of podcasts as well.
An internet radio provides something that, for many people, has become an atypical experience: it separates the act of listening from the phone. “Smartphones are like Swiss Army Knives, whereas ours is a single-use product. It delivers great sound, it has an optional battery so it can easily be used outside, and a nice display to tell you what you’re listening to. While it may sound counterintuitive, that single-use element is what people love about it. Terrestrial radio still has a huge number of listeners, so an all-in-one solution for listening to music, podcasts, and traditional radio is really attractive to people.”
The snazzy color display, integrated clock radio and alarm/sleep function, and great audio quality with adjustable bass, treble, and equalizer all set the Mondo+ apart from competitors from a mechanical perspective. But the access to content is just as important in showcasing its unique value. “The availability of great content is why people buy our devices, and that’s why we reached out to Audiosear.ch,” said Greg. “We had great partners for music streaming content, but, before Audiosear.ch, no one to supply great podcast content directly on the device.”
Grace Digital has several enhancements to the Mondo+ planned for the coming months, including enabling users to see all episodes of a single show, and adding a folder feature that will allow people to create groupings of their favorite podcasts and stations. They’re also building out the ability to search for and add podcasts directly on the Grace Digital website so that users don’t need to navigate through long lists of podcasts on the radio’s 3.5” color display.
Podcasts are a growing area of interest for Grace Digital’s customers, and some of their more dedicated users have started to provide feedback about having podcasts available on their radios. “We’re different from the average large consumer electronics company because we’re so close to our audience. We do all of our customer service here in San Diego, where I’m based, so I go and listen to calls, look at the tickets, and talk to our customer service team so that we really learn what people want. We know that podcasts are growing and that our customers are looking for ways to access them. We’re glad to be able to provide it.”