May 25, 2011 at 12:52 pm

All Apps Considered: 5 Great Non-Commercial Music Radio Apps

music radio appsWhen the Decemberists’ latest album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart earlier this year, more than one person pointed out that the folks at NPR and other non-commercial radio stations deserved at least some credit for the band’s sudden popularity.

Public radio stations and other non-commercial stations have become musical tastemakers in recent years, and some offer apps that allow people anywhere to tune in to their local stations from anywhere.

We’re all about the algorithms, because they scale to so much more music, but these human-driven listening apps function as yet another tool in your arsenal for entertaining yourself as you learn about new bands, so you can add them to the profiles that drive your recommendations elsewhere. (That’s the beauty of music apps; unlike MP3 players or smartphones, you don’t need to pick just one.)

And because they all come from universities or public radio stations, you won’t have to hear some guy yelling about local car dealerships in between each chunk of songs.

These five non-commercial iPhone music radio apps stood out from the pack (listed in alphabetical order):

KCRW’s Tastemaking Prowess Extends to its iPhone App

KEXP’s Programming Is Great, But Its App Could Use Work

NPR Music’s iPhone App Serves Up Music, Blogs and More

OPBmusic’s iPhone Music App Is Best of the Northwest

WXPN’s Simple iPhone App Is All About the Music

(Photo courtesy of Flickr/Lee Cannon)

  • Jimbochicago

    You left a big example out, when it comes to personalization and using technology to discover: Public Radio On Location http://store.ovi.com/content/113852 . Right, for now it’s a symbian app for Nokia’s Astound, N8, E7, but next builds surely will be Apple & Android.

    This one uses GPS and a roller-dial that you use indicate your flavor of story. Life Around Here? Famous? Humanity? etc. Then it feeds a stream, reaching back into NPR’s archives so you get feature stories and interviews (not old news, although these are often pegged on things like Katrina or 911). And it’s just fascinating to be driving through with NPR’s best schooling you on stuff you had no idea was right around you.