October 5th, 2010 → 11:24 am @ Rekha at PRX // Comments Off
We know, you’ve waited patiently (and sometimes not so patiently) to be able to do other things on your devices while listening to the Public Radio Player. Well, it’s here. If your device/OS combo can background other applications, it can now do that with the Player. This includes certain iPods as well.
Why did it take us so long? Well, while we were in the code, we couldn’t stop ourselves from making other improvements. Better one update than many! Not only has the alarm clock been fixed (some people were having problems with it), we made it better. We made significant updates to audio stream handling, which will improve connectivity and performance and support more formats. Supporting more stream formats means more stations will be able to join in the fun. That’s a win for you, too. (Stations, view all supported formats here).
So be sure to keep an eye out for the app update — to version 2.1.3 — and if you like it, consider giving us a nice review in the iTunes Store. Tell us all things, good or bad, on our Give Feedback page.
If you’re reading this while listening to the Player, let us know that too.
Now go on and listen to more great radio!
Apple made several interesting announcements yesterday during its music event.
Here’s one that we’re particularly looking forward to: iOS 4.1. This update to the relatively new iPhone/iPod operating system releases next week, and we think it will improve the experience of 3G iPhone owners using the Public Radio Player and other apps, too. Simply put, iOS 4.0 does not play well with the older, 3G iPhones. For some people, this means your apps, including the Player, may move more slowly or crash more often.
While one never knows how a software update will work until it’s ‘out in the wild,’ we suspect many 3G owners are looking forward to next week. Public Radio Player users have something to look forward to as well in a couple more weeks: An update to the Player that will enable multitasking on your devices.
August 20th, 2010 → 12:52 pm @ Josh Andrews // Comments Off
Go Figure, the blog of NPR’s Audience Insight & Research group, posted some very interesting data showing hour-by-hour audience patterns for visitors to NPR’s online and mobile channels, and compares them with public radio broadcast listening.
The first slides (embedded below) show the number of listeners to NPR member stations side-by-side with visitors to NPR.org. On weekdays, rush hour commuting boosts radio listening and delivers the largest audiences to local stations in the morning and late afternoon. In contrast, visitors to NPR.org shoot up around 9 AM, after folks get to work and find themselves “occasionally” browsing the web. The NPR.org visitor numbers stay strong throughout the workday hours.
NOTE: On the NPR blog, they emphasize that the slides with radio and web numbers have two separate axes (red for web, blue for broadcast). Looking closely at the numbers, you can see that NPR broadcasts on local public radio stations remain NPR’s largest source of audience.
Moving forward in the slides, you see the data for NPR’s mobile offerings. The NPR News iPhone app brings in the largest number of visitors and shows a significant peak during the weekday morning commute. You may be surprised to find NPR’s mobile formatted website (m.npr.org, counted separately from NPR.org here) sits well ahead of the NPR apps for Android smartphones and the iPad. The iPad and Android apps are more recent additions and it will be interesting to see how this data evolves over the next year. And I like how the iPad has a bump in traffic around 10 pm. It looks like many iPads spend the night on the bedside table!
I’ve been working under the hood of the Public Radio Player this week to organize our database of programs, stations, and streams. In the process, I’ve come across a number of programs with titles that simply jump off the page. By their names alone, I am willing to count myself among their fans.
Here are some of the great ones:
August 5th, 2010 → 4:48 pm @ Rene Dongo // Comments Off
Tapping through the Public Radio Player I found myself diving into guilty pleasures — pop culture and celebrities — and being pleasantly surprised with KCRW’s Guest DJ Project. You can find it by going into On Demand, then Categories, then Pop Culture.
Artists, entrepreneurs, chefs, and an array of other cultural icons share who they are through their personal musical tastes. From Tyler Perry to Cillian Murphy to Anthony Bourdain, KCRW gives a unique twist to the idea of celebrity by having them bring and explain five music faves. While these people are public figures, the intimate setting of the KCRW studio brings out deeper stories that make me feel like I’m a fly on the wall in their one-on-one conversation with the host. When Tyler Perry recalls his mother calling him right after she heard a Boyz II Men song, I could tell this wasn’t just another publicity interview. Finding meaning in specific songs is something we all can relate to.
Each guest DJ gets around 10 minutes so each program is short, sweet, and straight to the point. The Guest DJ Project website has playlists, information, and a transcript of each interview.
Rene Dongo is a senior at Emerson College majoring in Film Production. He’s interning at PRX this summer, and he’s always asking to borrow the iPod.
July 30th, 2010 → 10:30 am @ Josh Andrews // Comments Off
The famed Newport Folk Festival takes place this weekend, and the Public Radio Player is your all-access pass. WFUV, in New York City, and Folk Alley will both be live-streaming from the festival on Saturday and Sunday. This year’s lineup includes Levon Helm, Andrew Bird, The Avett Brothers, The Swell Season, and Blitzen Trapper. The complete performance schedule is posted on the festival’s website, so make your plans for a music-filled weekend. You can find WFUV and Folk Alley in the Live section of the Public Radio Player.
We like to keep you up to date on the growing world of public radio mobile tools. WBUR , in Boston, has a great new iPhone app and it has a Public Radio Player connection. The PRX development team, the folks behind the Player and This American Life’s iPhone app, partnered with WBUR and led development of the app.
WBUR gathered the input of its audience when planning features for the app and, with the PRX team, sought to create an app that harnessed the power of the iPhone. More than just a tool for streaming audio, the WBUR app is meant to facilitate a new level of engagement between the station and its audience.
Here are some highlights of the new WBUR app:
Like with the Public Radio Player, PRX plans to release the code for the WBUR app under an open source license to assist other stations in the development of their own apps. The WBUR app is available for free in the iTunes App Store. You can see more screenshots of the app and watch a brief video tour.
July 14th, 2010 → 3:14 pm @ Josh Andrews // Comments Off
Radio has the power to stop you in your tracks. But some public radio programs go a step further — they grab you by the ears and don’t let go. You can find a number of programs of this variety under the Documentary category in the Public Radio Player’s On Demand section. Here a few to check out:
Third Coast Podcast — The Third Coast International Audio Festival has long celebrated the art of the audio documentary, and their weekly podcast is a great window into the genre. The program includes segments from their program Re:sound, along with a number of other audio delights collected from near and far.
Hearing Voices — Hearing Voices from NPR is a weekly collection of audio reports connected by a theme. Episodes can take a variety of forms and may include personal stories, sound-portraits, slam poets, docs, dramas, features, and found-sound.
RadioLab — RadioLab is a show for the curious. Recent topics: lucky lobsters, unintended consequences, and face-blindness. Each episode is an audio adventure, to say the least.
Changing World — A sister series of the daily international news program The World. Changing World offers in-depth radio documentaries from the BBC World Service that will enlighten your understanding of global affairs.
This American Life — Just when you think you’ve got This American Life figured out (i.e., David Sedaris, Sarah Vowell, and squirrel cops), they manage to astound you with new episodes. Their coverage of the economic crisis – most recently in a collaboration with the investigative non-profit ProPublica – has taken TAL’s journalism to new levels.
American RadioWorks — American RadioWorks is a longtime producer of top-notch radio documentaries and investigative reports. Recent productions have focused on coal and global warming, the war on poverty, and the politics of textbooks in America.
You can find these programs and more in the On Demand section of the Public Radio Player.
July 6th, 2010 → 10:35 am @ Josh Andrews // Comments Off
The halls of public radio stations have become alarmingly hip over the last few years. Once the domain of non-fiction authors in tweed, the egg-heads are now rubbing shoulders with rockers as public radio has become a sought-after stop for pop musicians on tour. You can find a number of great programs on the Public Radio Player where big name artists and up-and-comers alike play live for public radio audiences. Here are a few to check out:
KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic — MBE has been broadcasting a wonderful collection of tunes to LA listeners for over 30 years. A few times a week, they invite artists to play live in studio. Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Dr. Dog, and Broken Bells are among the latest musical acts to appear.
Sound Opinions — This rock ‘n roll talk show isn’t all talk. Weekly guests are known to belt out a song or two. Recent guests include Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders (at thepretenders(dot)com), French popsters Phoenix, and the British electronic trio The XX. (Sound Opinions is distributed by PRX, makers of the Public Radio Player. If you like the show, encourage your local station to carry it.)
Live in Concert from All Songs Considered — Curated by NPR’s All Songs Considered team, this series brings you live concerts from across the country. Check out the latest shows from The New Pornographers, The Kinks, and Hot Chip.
KEXP Live Performances — Seattle’s KEXP is known for being on the cutting edge of new music and their live performance podcast is a great way to keep pace with the youth of America. Get exposed to new artists like Unbunny, Giant Squid, and Spoonshine.
All these shows can be found in the On Demand section of the Public Radio Player, and be sure to browse through the music section to find more great music programs available to stream on your iPhone.
Good news regarding the iOS4 troubles! We have completed some improvements on the app’s server that should eliminate most timing-out issues for devices running iOS4. (Older devices might still have issues, and we’re working on those too.) The changes are live and anyone who has been having issues with iOS4 should try just launching the app. If problems persist, simply delete and reinstall the app and that should do the trick.
And a little icing on the cake — we expect to submit an update to iTunes next week that will bring multitasking to the Public Radio Player. We’ll let you know as soon as it’s approved.
UPDATE: The multitasking update for the Public Radio Player is taking a bit longer than expected, but we’re working on it.