There's a lot of media streams out there and more coming each day especially with the incredible growth in internet connected mobile devices. But out of all the different forms of entertainment, I have to say that radio is still my all time favorite. I could listen to the radio all day long and often do. Since I've started working a manual labor job which is mostly solitary, repetitive work, the convenience of popping earbuds into my iPhone really helps pass the time. But how do I get radio on my phone you ask? Don't worry there's an app for that; in fact there's several. Here's a few of the best:
WunderRadio is by far the best app I have ever downloaded in terms of how often I use it. At $6.99 it might be a little pricey for most casual app store shoppers, but WunderRadio is well worth the price. It has over 50,000 different radio streams that you can pick up pretty much anywhere with cell coverage. And if you like talk radio as much as I do, you never get bored exploring all the streams. I've found nearly everything like icons of talk like Rush, great NPR from anywhere in the US, live sporting events from any team imaginable, far out conspiracy theorists, tons of music and in plenty of languages. This app also has GPS to locate local stations near wherever you are which is nice if you are traveling. Sometimes I'll pick a city at random and listen to their stations just because I find the commericials for local businesses interesting. There's also a ton of archived programs so if I miss Meet The Press on tv, I just listen to it on the WunderRadio app.
I know Pandora has been around for awhile now, but this free, personalized radio service still continues to impress me simply in the way it's revolutionized my music listening habits especially when I'm on the go. If you haven't heard of Pandora before, here are the basics. Pandora offers access to what it calls the Music Genome Project, which is a very sophisticated database of musical information. You tell the app what kind of artist or song you like and then it creates a never ending stream of songs similar to the qualities of that song. For example, if you make a Lady Antebellum "station" then Pandora will push Rascal Flatts and other popular bands on today's country music scene. Even better, if you have a variety of tastes, you can blend any number of musical styles together. On my Pandora, I'll often be listening to early 90s hip hop and then five minutes later Tom Petty comes on followed by a 1920s jazz song. Or if I only want workout music, I'll input a song that gets me pumped and Pandora usually does a good job keeping me motivated throughout my run. Pandora's musical taxonomy includes everything from the music of the Renaissance to last week's new releases, so it's always getting better. Plus it's not just a computer behind it all, Pandora employs a team of actual people with backgrounds in music theory and eclectic tastes to keep the Music Genome Project going. The only downside is that the stream now has ads which is often the same one repeated over and over, but the app is free and hearing an ad ever once in awhile is a small cost considering I've stopped buying music altogether because of Pandora.
This last one is another streaming service, except instead of music or talk, Audiobooks gives you hundreds of audio versions of books. Think of it as the 2011 version of books on tape. If you like to read but don't have too much time to do it in, this app can get you a healthy dose of literature in a convenient way. Audiobooks has the audio versions of over 3500 classic novels for free provided the works are old enough to be out of copyright. And thanks to a site called librivox.org, a volunteer organization whose goal is to record every book in the public domain, the number of free audiobooks is steadily growing. For myself, I stick to listening to the classics mostly while doing gardening or walking my dog. So far, I've gotten through Melville's Moby Dick, Joyce's Ulysses, and some lesser works like Vonnegut's 2 B R 0 2 B. Usually, the volunteer narrators are pretty expert readers as an added plus. Ulysses was especially engaging as they had a different reader take you through each chapter.
I hope this short list helps expand your connection to the amazing world of sound that's now available with streaming mobile internet. If you exhaust these three radio apps, some other great runners up are Spotify, Brain Wave, and the NPR News app.