The Public Radio Player: Makeover Edition!

January 17th, 2013 → 6:56 pm @

It’s been four years since the launch of the original Public Radio Player iPhone app (under another name we won’t mention because it has lingered much too long). We stopped counting downloads at 4.5 million, and even now the app has 21,000 active users each day. Public radio stations and programs continue to add or edit their listings, often at the request of enthusiastic Player users.

Thank you, stations, programs, and people everywhere, for your incredible support.

So the Player has been durable. But we know better than anyone that it could use a major update, and we’ve hinted at one for a while. Well, now we’re just weeks away from launch. We are so excited about this. We just gave participating stations (i.e., the vast majority of public radio stations in existence) an early heads up, especially because we need info from them to enable new features.

Stations, if you want your news and Twitter feeds and/or a donate button (yay!) on your Player page, go here.

Stations, producers, and true fans can view a recent webinar with a close look at the new app.

Or just gaze upon these preview shots. That way, you’ll know what to look for when you download the update. We’ll post a launch announcement here and on our Facebook page.


15 Comments → “The Public Radio Player: Makeover Edition!”

  1. Elvis

    1 year ago

    Aaaaaaaah. Should never have updated. Old version worked. This one does not. iPhone 5 w current software. No airplay function. Stations just buffer. A swing and a miss. Can I reinstall old version?

  2. wb

    1 year ago

    where’s the volume slider ? also, we miss eclectic
    24 from KCRW… much preferred the last version.

  3. Geezus

    1 year ago

    Why don’t you sell your previous logo to Pandora? It would be an excellent fit, and their current icon/logo is worthy of ridicule.

  4. Judy

    1 year ago

    This new app is now useless to me. I have an Iphone 5 and the old app worked perfectly. Now all that it does is buffer, never getting to a station. Additionally, I can’t easily find what is playing live now. I do not want to have to browse by state. I understand you are a free app, but the functionality of this new version does not work as well as the previous.

  5. Matt

    1 year ago

    Why no Eclectic24 on the new version?

  6. Rosana

    1 year ago

    The new app will not play. I have iphone 4s. I chose a station and touched the play arrow but nothing happens. Help. I was using the old version everyday!

    • Heidi

      1 year ago

      This is a major disappointment! The previous version worked great. I listened to my local NPR station every day through a docking station. I have an iPhone 4S and nothing, but nothing happens when I press the play button once I set the station whether I have the phone in the docking station or free of the docking station.

      What is the point of this app if it does not stream the NPR station?

  7. Steve

    1 year ago

    Love the new look!

    How about…

    The ability to determine the order of the favorites stations, like the last version?

    Having the currently playing program name on the station show on the favorites list, like the last version?

    Also, is it possible to find where a stream is currently being broadcast like the last version? I liked being able to listen to Marketplace from 5 different stations on any given week on my drive home.. It looks like I get taken straight tithe podcast now, which IS nice.. But being able to find new stations using programs is fun, as well.

    • Rekha at PRX

      1 year ago

      Thanks for the suggestions, Steve. We removed some of these features because they weren’t used much and we were aiming for simplicity. That said, we’re discussing how we might reinstate the ability to see what’s airing now on various stations. Will keep you posted.

      • Mark Epperson

        1 year ago

        Please, please, please, please reinstate this feature (to list all the stations a given show is playing on at that time). I used it constantly. Reducing functionality as an improvement? How would you know these features “weren’t being used much”? Did you do a focus group of actual users outside your office? Come on, get real. Are you sure you weren’t just cutting corners? Let’s see how many products I use daily that I’d like better if suddenly half of it’s features and functionality were gone. Hmmmmm a car without breaks or turn signals; nope. Hmmmmmm, Microsoft Word with a highly inaccurate spell checker, no recent documents list and no edit/replace function; nope. Still thinking. Sorry, NONE! Of all the things I like least about the new app, this is the grand prize. I loved catching a show I like on different local stations and getting a little glimpse into another American community’s vibe.

        The search feature has also been crippled. I did side by side testing of the old app vs the new app on multiple devices too. Try doing a search on Weekend Edition or Morning Edition. I’ve spent almost an hour trying to determine the logic behind what’s being returned in the search feature and I just don’t get it. I just typed in “weekend edition” and the results are “From our own (BBC) correspondent”, “NPR Daniel Pinkwater reads…”, “NPR Columns: Simon Says Podcast” and “NPR Columns: Sunday Puzzle Podcast”. So it makes sense that I got the last two podcasts. But what the heck do Daniel Pinkwater and BBC correspondents have to do with me finding the “Weekend Edition” live show or it’s podcasts? Podcasts being lumped together with live shows is VERY confusing and frustrating – especially when you can rarely find the live show.

        Seriously guys, I’m upset because this was my all time favorite app. I loved the app. And I agree with Steve above, you’ve taken the “fun” out of the app. Now it’s been crippled. This new app is one step forward (it’s a very pretty interface) and three steps back. If you can’t at least give us the functionality we had, could you just revert to the old app? The app maker for Toodledo had bow to public opinion. Why can’t you?

      • Rekha at PRX

        1 year ago


        We tested out various mockups with individual users (we had put out a call for volunteers on our Facebook page), and we also have enormous amounts of data from the app analytics. We’ve been managing the Public Radio Player for 4 years, so we also get a lot of feedback via email, reviews, and comments. We read pretty much everything. We’re a small team, and this is a free app and service that PRX offers because we believe in getting public media out to as many people as possible. We appreciate your passion for the app, and we assure you our mission is decidedly not to annoy our fans. ;-)

        As I said earlier, we are considering how to best reinstate the ability to give people a ‘glimpse into another American community’s vibe’ (well put). We are reviewing feedback about the search, too.

  8. Don Maxwell

    1 year ago

    Gaaa! Version 3 apparently has no way to direct the output to Bluetooth or AppleTV. That makes it just about useless to me. I used the previous versions with a bluetooth headset when running and with AppleTV for listening in the house. Now I’ll be using a different app. Please let me know when you restore the airplay function.

    Oh, and please make possible again to edit the order of favorite stations.

    • Matt

      1 year ago

      Hi Don,

      You should still be able to use the AirPlay feature that allows the Public Radio Player to stream audio to AppleTV or other AirPlay enabled devices. You can access this feature by double tapping the hardware home button (this is the same action to switch apps), then swiping left to right so that you can access the audio controls, volume, play/pause and skip actions. If you are within range of an AirPlay device the AirPlay icon/button should appear.

      If that isn’t the case, it’d be helpful to know what version of iOS and which device you are using.

      Matt MacDonald
      Director of Project Management

  9. David Knutson

    1 year ago

    Will the makeover solve the problem with unreliable schedule listings?

    There is inconsistency on whether times are for the station’s time zone or your own. Generic schedules are frequently used, completely missing the station’s day to day variety.

    PRX shows Fresh Air at 2:00 on WBEZ, but it is actually on at 11:00. In this case, there are no time zones involved, and no local day to day changes.

    It is just plain wrong.

    • Rekha

      1 year ago

      Good question. PRX doesn’t manage the station schedule data. Stations manage it on their own using a tool by another organization, NPR Digital Services, which is not affiliated with PRX but has agreed to let us display the schedules in that tool. The Player displays the same time zone as your device clock.

      We checked WBEZ’s data (thanks for including an example). We are displaying correctly what we get from the NPR Digital Services tool: Fresh Air at 2pm Chicago time. I do see Fresh Air at 11am on WBEZ’s website. It’s possible they are using a different tool to maintain their website. All we can suggest is that you contact the station directly and ask them to update their “Composer” feed so it appears correctly in the Player. Hope that helps!