Podcasting will soon break out of the “pod” and onto the public airwaves.

The world’s first all-podcast radio station will be launched on May 16 by Infinity Broadcasting, the radio division of Viacom.

Infinity plans to convert San Francisco’s 1550 KYCY, an AM station, to listener-submitted content. The station, previously devoted to a talk-radio format, will be renamed KYOURadio.

Infinity, one of the country’s largest radio operators with more than 183 stations around the country, will invite do-it-yourselfers to upload digital audio files for broadcast consideration by way of the KYOURadio.com website.

“I’m excited,” said Infinity Broadcasting CEO Joel Hollander. “We’re creating a new way to let a lot of people participate personally in radio — sharing their feelings on music, news, politics, whatever matters to them.

“I also think this is going to be a really interesting way to develop new talent,” he added.

The station’s producers will screen submitted content to ensure it meets quality standards and does not violate FCC broadcast guidelines. Approved podcasts will be simultaneously broadcast over the AM airwaves and streamed online at KYOURadio.com.

In addition to the newfound reach promised by radio broadcast, podcasters may be free to include in their podcasts some music from major record labels, Infinity said.

The company said it plans to cover the cost of music-licensing fees, which are prohibitively high for most individuals.

In part because of licensing requirements, which usually cover only broadcast and streaming, the company has no plans to provide downloadable program archives.

Infinity’s Hollander said the decision to launch the “open-source radio” experiment came partly because the San Francisco station’s current format has not been a great financial success.

“This switch won’t be a big gamble for us monetarily, but it’s a potential home run,” said Hollander. “You have to make bets on new forms of technology — some work, some don’t. We’re making a bet that this might become the way people want to communicate.”

Podcasting, a term that combines references to broadcasting and to Apple’s iPod, is a method of online audio distribution that has become increasingly popular of late. Digital sound files are uploaded to a website, and listeners subscribe to automatically load files onto a portable player as they’re made available.

Podcasts consist of any imaginable form of audio content, from spoken-word programs by bloggers to shows made by professional radio organizations.

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