NPR, Cut and Pasted

June 7th, 2012  |  Published in tech  |  2 Comments

I used to stream OPB live on my morning walks, but after spending a little time looking for interesting things to listen to, I turned to the NPR News iPhone app. It’s pretty nice:

NPR News App

It includes a list of the main NPR news shows — All Things Considered, Morning Edition — along with a selection of others you might think of right away — Fresh Air, Talk of the Nation, Weekend Edition — and a few you might not recognize. The app will tell you if the program is being aired somewhere and allow you to stream it from an NPR affiliate of your choice, add it to your in-app playlist, or get it as a podcast from the iTunes Music Store. 

Those options are all great, but my favorite part is the way many of the programs — particularly the two major news shows — are broken into their individual stories, each of which can be added to an in-app playlist. So before a morning walk I can open the app, go to the Morning Edition section, pick the stories I’m interested in (with an eye to filling up the 30 minutes I’ll be walking as closely as possible) then start playing my queue. 

The “pick a segment” capability works with a few other programs. For instance, I can get just the book, music and movie reviews from Fresh Air without dealing with any interviews I’m not interested in.

The one thing I noticed about my sudden ability to control the items I was listening to was that I had to think twice about a few things. Wednesday morning, for instance? I really just didn’t want to hear anything at all about the Wisconsin recall vote and I caught myself skipping that item. I finally decided that I needed to go back and make myself listen, because all I really knew about the story was what I’d picked up from Google News headlines just before going to bed the night before. So I made myself listen. I didn’t like what I heard: The cheers from the winning side were aggravating, and the moans from the losing side were pretty hard to hear. But I made myself listen, because not listening would have felt like I was  allowing it all to matter a little less. 


  1. nathan_letsinger says:

    June 9th, 2012 at 9:56 am (#)

    This isnt really to your point about widening your listening interests, but I found the UI frustraiting. NWhile I appreciate being offered choices of segments to hear, I wish it was easier to start listening to the complete show all at once. Unless I am missing something, I have to “add all to playlist” then go to my playlist and hit play – and hopefully my playlist is empty so I can listen to just the segments I’ve moved there.

    Granted the playlist gives you options like removing items or returning to listen later but audiobooks solve that by remembering your place too without a playlist.

  2. m. hall says:

    June 9th, 2012 at 11:26 am (#)

    Yeah, the playlist stuff could be a bit better. I’ve found myself pruning it each morning, because I don’t want to fuss with it once I’m out walking.

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