by bob travers. 0 Comments


 For the first decade of the new millennium, radio was divided into two distinct spheres: terrestrial radio and satellite radio. Terrestrial radio is the traditional ground-to-tower-to-radio wave stations that are picked up by your antennae at home or in the car. Launched in 2002, Satellite radio-Sirius XM in the United States– is a subscription-based service that offers 200-300 unique channels only for its users.

But smartphones have create a third way- two simple apps that allow the listener to pick up hundreds of thousands of radio stations from as close as Frederick to as far as Australia or Asia. Unlike Sirius XM, no subscription is needed – and the apps are completely free to use. Best of all, they work on iPhones, Androids, BlackBerrys, and Samsung phones, as well as Windows and OS X systems.

If you like radio, you must get these apps. They’ll enhance your listening possibilities to a level you may never thought possible. Go to the App store on your phone or computer and download them both today.

TuneIn Radio and iHeartRadio are complementary, but slightly different, so you need both. The apps provide exclusive access to different stations (ex. DC 101 is on iHeartRadio, while KEY 103.1 is on TuneIn Radio). iHeart offers many of the Clear Channel stations, and TuneIn has most of the other options on its roster.

Keep in mind, however, that some stations are not on either service.

But again, they are free and don’t take up much space so it’s an easy call to double-up and make both part of your smartphone and computer toolbox.

I can listen to sports talk from my hometown of Pittsburgh, or I can listen to breaking news from local stations in London or Tokyo or Houston. That classic country station you fell in love in with vacationing on the Outer Banks? Here it is, crystal clear. For radio romantics, it’s nothing less than a miracle.

According to TuneIn’s website, 40 million monthly users enjoy over 100,000 radio stations worldwide, over 2 million on-demand programs, including podcasts and other specialty broadcasting.

As you dig into it, TuneIn also offers up police and fire scanners from across the country, shipping channel radio broadcasts between captains and dockmasters, air traffic control towers, and all sorts of odd and specific moments of humankind speaking into a microphone just waiting for ears to hear them on the other side. It’s endlessly fascinating.

iHeartRadio, owned by Clear Channel, has a slightly different mission than TuneIn, offering over 800 live Clear Channel stations. Different than TuneIn, iHeart allows listeners to create their own custom radio station through liking/disliking its 11 million songs and 400,000 artists. In that regard, iHeart Radio is a hybrid of TuneIn and Spotify or Pandora. But if it’s radio you want, iHeart does have 800 important stations you don’t want to lose access to by only using TuneIn. Their complementary nature is the main reason to download both.

One caveat to all of this, is that the quality and reliability of the broadcast is only as good as your cellphone reception. If you’re in a bad spot (talking to you, Gas House Pike) or far from a tower, you can lose reception and fight the Buffering Battle all day long. Home reception tends to be much more reliable, and if you’re in a strong cell spot, the broadcast quality is excellent.








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