Since running the service involves actual costs, the problem is that "free" means "Duane pays"...
I have to admit, the "Duane pays" option sounds extremely appealing
But assuming that even Duane's resources are somewhat limited, I suspect the advertising option is much more realistic.
I have followed the evolution of Leo Laporte's TWIT network for several years, from the days when he said his salary would be paid entirely based on contributions, to abandoning that and now taking his income from TWIT's general revenues. Similarly, at least according to my local public radio station's announcements at fund raising time that less than 5% of listeners actually contribute anything.
As much as I would like to believe otherwise, I suspect it will be a very hard sell to actually get enough contributions to fully pay for the service, plus generate enough of a profit to justify Duane's time.
However, I have been very impressed by the growth of advertising in the podcast world and I suspect that there could be enough money in Chumby-based advertising. (Back in the olden days, about the only advertisers around were all tech oriented. That is definitely changing. For example, Audible now sponsors lots of podcasts produced by many different companies. Netflix also throws a lot of money into podcast advertising. On TWIT, over the holidays, there were jewelry advertisements. And within the last couple of weeks, an underwear supplier is now running ads. Seriously.)
It seems like a very large number of Chumby users use their Chumbys to access internet radio streams and podcasts.
If a better player than btplay could be incorporated to provide more features, such as a "Pause" function, as well as interstitial ads showing on the Chumby screen while streams are playing, there may be enough revenue to keep Blue Octy in business.
Perhaps if our Chumbys were repositioned as portals to Pandora or iHeartRadio, money from Pandora or Clear Channel would be available to support the Chumby administrative structure.
I understand that the bottom line is that even with the new server structure, there are still expenses that need to be covered by some revenue source. And as much as I might dislike it, advertising seems to be the most realistic way to get that revenue.