TUAW has a review of the updated NPR app, written in a style that reads like someone pushing cold Play-Doh through a cheese grater, and if you’re an NPR fan, you’ll want the update. I’m about ready to drop $7 on Wunder Radio, despite the stupid name and the world’s ugliest icon, because it seems to have all the stations I want. Finally! Glorious! I need no longer cart around an AM radio as well as a camera and phone and a cooler and a can of dessert topping. We’re getting close to the day when everything not only fits in one device, it’s as good as the standalone alternatives.
That said, anyone who’s used the XM/Sirius iPhone app probably wonders where their stations went. Right? There was a gigantic outcry when people learned Howard Stern wouldn’t be on the app, although I could care less. But a few of my favorite channels aren’t present, including Radio Classics, an old-time radio channel. Can’t be a copyright issue; everything they play is in the public domain. I’m sure there’s an explanation - the number of voices used in the radio dramas makes the signal to wide to fit through wifi, or some such nonsense - but it decreases the app’s utility.
This may sound like a ridiculous complaint, but here’s how modern life works: you’re in your car, getting the clean signal from space of a 1956 radio play about, say, space. Dimension X, or X-Minus 1. You’ve never heard this one before. But! You’re home. The minute you pull in the garage, you lose the signal. If your portable device could pick up where you left off, then you could keep listening. But since it doesn’t, you go to your computer, call up archive.org, find the episode, download it, transfer it to iTunes, and pick up where you left off. Or, more likely, forget about it entirely.
In the old days before the blessings of technology, you either caught it while it aired, or waited for a rerun. That was it. Hey, did you hear Dimension X last night? Naw, I missed it. Too bad, it was swell. Well, let’s go look for blasting caps down at the quarry.