More and more these days I’m using my BlackBerry as my personal music machine. Part of this is because my iPod died in its sleep a few months ago. I already had tons of things on my to-buy list, and the iPod wasn’t important enough to cut in line. Plus, since I have two smartphones, I can easily use them for similar purposes. This means using a microSD card — I have a 16GB right now and am thinking about a 32GB — and plenty of streaming music apps. We’ve gone over a few in the past, and will go over more in the near future. Today we’re talking TuneIn Radio.
What it is
Different streaming music apps accomplish different tasks. An app such as Napster, for instance, streams the songs you want when you want them. It also charges a monthly fee. An app such as Pandora streams songs as to resemble a radio feed, giving you control only in a general sense. TuneIn radio actually gives you even less control — in fact, it gives control back to the radio stations. That’s because TuneIn picks up feeds from radio stations across the country. You can search for a station by its name, the genre, or its location. Or you can start by selecting an option from the main menu. This is a pretty comprehensive browsing system when it comes to terrestrial radio. It’s great for finding local radio — hence the dedicated option — but it can also help you find a station from anywhere in the country. Whether it’s rock, hip hop, country, or talk, I haven’t found a desire yet that couldn’t be fulfilled by TuneIn Radio.
Finding local stations
TuneIn uses location technology to pinpoint you and deliver you content specific to your current locale. Once you click Local Radio from the main menu you’ll see a list of stations in your area, listed by station number. Most of them will even tell you what song is currently playing. Why not just listen to regular FM radio in that case? There are a few ways in which TuneIn is superior. First, it gives you a clear signal as long as you’re in cell range. As you can see in the screenshot, I’m listening to 89.5, WSOU. I love the station because it’s the only one in the area that plays punk and metal. The problem is that it’s a college radio station and therefore doesn’t have the best broadcasting strength. With TuneIn I don’t have to worry about traveling too far away. I won’t get any static. The second reason is that FM radios are a bit rarer these days. If you’re in the car, sure, you can just flip on the radio. But if you’re not, listening to FM radio would require another device. Using an app such as TuneIn (or iheartradio or whatever your favorite radio app is) means carrying just one device.
Maybe local radio doesn’t do it for you. If not, you can still make the most of TuneIn Radio. There are plenty of browsing options that will let you find what you seek. You start off by browsing genres. From there you can click in for a list of stations, though it’s not always a complete list. It does, however, allow you to get even more specific and browse sub-genres. Just scroll all the way down and you’ll see further lists. Click through and you’ll find an even more comprehensive list of radio stations playing the type of music you enjoy. This works in the same manner for talk, too. Sports is a bit different, as it basically needs no sub-genres. It’s just a list of sports stations across the country. My advice: avoid Mike Francessa on WFAN. Then again, I’m sure many of you would say the same of your local sports personality. Here’s another interesting feature: browse by location. You’ll need a few clicks to drill into the US, but once you do you can find a station from any location in the country. This is useful if you grew up between two markets. For instance, I used to love the rock station 94.1 in Philadelphia, but could only get it when I made trips down that way. It beats the New York rock stations, in my opinion. To find this I can just browse by location, go to Philly, and start listening. Podcasts Sometimes you might not want to listen to what’s currently playing. I don’t blame you. The internet has made us nothing if not picky. Thankfully, TuneIn has a podcast selection ready for the listening. Just click the Podcast option on the main screen and scroll through for genres. Then you can find podcasts specific to your interests. This used to be a weak spot for TuneIn. I used to find that the podcasts were days old, and on some days they wouldn’t update. Lately, though, I’ve noticed them to be a bit more up to date — on NPR at least. I’m sure some are more up to date than others, but in general this is a worthwhile feature. Hey, it’s free While TuneIn hasn’t yet replaced Pandora for BlackBerry as my main streaming music app, it certainly has found a place alongside it. I use it plenty for podcasts, but I also listen to stations, such as WSOU, that I don’t normally get otherwise. Plus, it’s free. You can get TuneIn Radio for BlackBerry by going to http://www.radiotime.com/bb from your BlackBerry browser.