Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
Driving across America soon? Know what station carries public radio programs for every mile of your journey, thanks to NPR’s Road Trip tool. You’ll get turn-by-turn directions from Bing along with the name and frequency of all the NPR stations you’ll be able to listen to every mile of your trip.
Stop “scanning” and go straight to the station you’re looking for.
If you’re a fan of public radio you know it’s the perfect companion for long road trips across the USA. Not only does a day of public radio teach you more than an average day in university, it also makes any trip go quickly by being consistently interesting.
Long trips involving many state borders mean constantly leaving radio stations behind you, though. You’ll start hearing faint static until you hear nothing else; then the frustrating search for your next station begins. You could loop around the stations 8 times before you find public radio back, and sometimes it simply doesn’t exist.
Stop the madness. Print a map for your trip with NPR Roadtrip: you’ll not only get turn-by-turn directions but also an indication of which NPR stations you can get when, and where to find them on your dial.
Using NPR Road Trip
Head to the NPR Roadtrip page and you’ll see a basic map interface. You can simply find out what stations are near you, if you want, by entering your current address:
This is great if you’re going to be in the same place for a while, but is hardly perfect when you’re on the go.
That’s when the road trip feature comes in handy. You know the drill: type where you’ll start and where you want to be. You’ll get directions, but they’ll be spliced with station names and frequencies.
The directions will let you know the turn or mile marker you can find certain stations at. You can click on any station to find out more about it, which is nice. Some NPR affiliates focus on music, while others focus on news, so details are good to know.
You can explore the map yourself to see the full range of any given station. This taught me that there really are no NPR stations for most of eastern Colorado and much of Nebraska, so I suppose I’ll be sticking with podcasts next time I drive through there.
NPR isn’t a centralized network of stations; it’s a service. Public radio stations across the country can offer NPR content if they pay for, but can also buy content from PRI (which offers This American Life among other shows) and other not-for-profit companies that create shows. Because of this, NPR road trip won’t necessarily point to every public radio station you can find on your trip.
And by no means are public radio stations the only ones that offer great content. Sometimes you’re going to want to hear rock music or something else, so this tool isn’t quite perfect.
Still, it’s nice to know where the NPR stations are on the dial for the entirety of your trip. Stop randomly scanning and get the information you need up front. Will you be using this? Let me know in the comments below, along with any similar tools. Also check out these other NPR web offerings: