Tuesday, December 23, 2008

New iPhone App for NPR

One of the things missing for the iPhone is the ability to access NPR in order to listen to All Things Considered, Fresh Air, etc. AOL Radio is a great tool for broadcast radio, but it doesn't include any NPR stations. Public Radio Tuner, a new iPhone app, is a step in the right direction to fill that need. While it focuses a bit too much on classical music streaming, and not enough on news and commentary, it is definitely a giant step in the right direction. Unfortunately, many regions of the country are poorly represented. As an example, this app is still missing WXEL and/or WLRN from south Florida, which is where I live.

Personally, I think the folks who run NPR are missing an obvious bet in not enthusiastically and aggressively pursuing the iPhone as a distribution mechanism. I'd pay a modest subscription rate to hear either of the south Florida stations streamed to my iPhone. Another alternative is to stream it for free, with a :30 fund raising plea every time you start it up, which would be removed once you agreed to subscribe or became a member.

As to additional features, this app could really benefit from a location finder (the nearest NPR station would be helpful for those of us who travel) as well as a favorites list in order to return to a preferred list of stations.

For now, a valiant effort for version 1, and certainly the best out there. Let's hope that NPR wises up to the potential that iPhone distribution holds, and that the developer keeps plugging away at this much-needed app. As for me, I'm not going to renew my public radio membership until the two south Florida stations wise up. How else can I get their attention other than to speak with my checkbook?

BTW, Public Radio Tuner is a free app, so it's worth a try to see what you think!