According to Wikipedia, National Public Radio is one of the few nationally syndicated news organizations in the U.S. that still thrives and provides a diversity of news programing. It’s a “privately and publicly funded non-profit membership media organization that serves as a national syndicate to 797 public radio stations” in the nation. It “was created in 1970, following congressional passage of the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, which established the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and also led to the creation of the Public Broadcasting Service.”
NPR is probably one of the few mainstream media outlets that many people listen to on their way to and from work. It claims a listenership of 27.5 million listeners per week. Though NPR does include commercial advertising, it’s not riddled with it like CNN or Fox News. Nevertheless, unless I’m driving my car in the morning or late afternoon, I don’t usually tune into the station using my radio. Instead, I use the NPR application (iTunes Store link) to create a playlist of stories that I’m interested in listening to before heading off to bed. If I were commuting everyday, the playlist feature of the NPR iPhone app would be equally useful.
The user interface of the NPR iPhone app is similar to that of its online website. Programs are neatly categorized into News, Art & Life, Music, and Programs. The media organization features 90 different podcasts and several daily programs; however, the NPR app does not include a search engine, unlike the website, so you need to be familiar with its offerings. Not all the podcasts are featured in the app, but you can subscribe and download them from iTunes.
When you launch the NPR iPhone app, it opens to the top stories of the last few days. The most recent top stories are typically posted first in written format, but the following day or two, these stories can be heard in their original audio format. You can also preview current stories listed by Topic (U.S. News, World, Business, Music, Science, Health, Arts & Life.) The last category of the app’s homepage is the Hourly Newscast that mostly repeats throughout the day and night, adding changes when needed. What’s great about these current news stories is that they’re short (usually under 5 minutes) and to the point without commercial intrusion.
The second page of the app features NPR’s extended programs, including All Things Considered (mix of news and features), Talk of the Nation (news and opinion), Fresh Air (interviews), Science Friday, and Car Talk (auto repair.) There’s also NPR Playback which consist of an archive of programs going back to 25 years ago, to around 1984, more or less.
The application also includes local NPR affiliate stations for what seems like every state in the country. You can save selected stations as favorites; however, these programs are not broken down into topics. Location stations are set up for live streaming throughout the day and night.
For me, developing a playlist of stories is the best part of the NPR iPhone app, because you get to focus on news and programs that you want to hear, when you want to hear them – even up to a month or longer after they’re posted. You can also browse and add stories to your playlist as you listen to a currently playing story. Many stories and programs are linked back to iTunes for downloading.
MUO published an article last week about 6 iPhone Internet Radio Apps For Every Type Of Listener. So what news applications do you use?