NPR One: Radio fit for Millennials

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(photo courtesy of npr.org)

For someone who has never been too big of a fan of radio — probably because of my lack of patience and need for visuals — I was pleasantly surprised with the NPR one app. When I first signed up to use the app, NPR immediately took note of my location, affording me with stories pertaining to my local community. After listening to many different stories and marking some as “interesting” while completely skipping over others — usually ones pertaining to global finances — my stream subtly became more personalized. Once I had a stream more tailored to my interests, these are the stories that were offered to me:

  1. Apple CEO Tim Cook: ‘Privacy Is A Fundamental Human Right’
  2. There’s a Way to Help Every Child in Michigan Save for Education
  3. Write A House gives its second winner keys to Detroit Home
  4. The Secret Club to Stores’ Success: Breaking the Rules of Retail
  5. 3 Scientists Awarded Nobel Prize in Physiology
  6. Meet the Man Who Invents Languages for a Living

Local stories, culture stories, education stories, and technology stories all fall under the umbrella of topics that interest me; as made clear above, stories fitting into these categories started to make their way into my stream after I spent substantial time working through the app. Number 5, however, is a scientific article that does not fit my interests, which could have been a glitch in the algorithm, or simply NPR encouraging me to read news on topics outside of my interest level. I did, in fact, like the article — not just because it is in the “goats and soda” category on npr — but because it updated me on malaria research and work being done globally.

My absolute favorite story I heard while streaming npr was the article about the “Write a House” program in Detroit. The story provided insight on initiatives Detroiters are taking to rejuvenate the abandoned city. The program itself provides stability to members of the Detroit community while also bringing outsiders in to the community;  if you get a chance, you should totally check it out.

One of the houses renovated for the program: 

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(photo courtesy of Michelle and Chris Gerard Photographers, via writeahouse.com)

Now, to get back to the discussion of the app, there were aspects of the app that I both liked and disliked. To start, the customization that the app does to tailor to listeners’ interests is not only convenient, but keeps people coming back to the app. For me, personally, I used the app three times today because I knew that out of the plethora of stories available, there would be some that were very interesting to me (and probably not too political). Also, I liked the option to rewind and fast forward in a story; I was genuinely surprised when I found out that I could rewind a story to hear parts of it again since other modern apps do not allow listeners to rewind. Spotify is one example of an app that requires listening — since it is a music app– but for those who have the free version, it is not an option to rewind a song to listen to the chorus again.

As for the dislikes, one of the biggest aspects of the app that bothered me was not being able to view the full title of a story on my phone. When I had the app open as it played a story the title was cut off. Yet, when I was listening to a story with display screen off and turned my phone on to check the time, the full title would stream across the top of my phone.

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Lastly, I found it hard to go back and find a story that I previously listened to. If I had just listened to it then it wasn’t a problem to find it again, but if it had been a few hours, then sometimes I struggled to find a story again. All and all, I would definitely repeat this experience of using the NPR app; it was easily accessible, highlighted stories that interested me, and ran smoothly. Perhaps if they created a folder to which I could save different categories of stories, which would even further personalize the app to my interests, the NPR one app would gain even more of my praise. For a person who does not usually prefer radio, I have to say that this app definitely fuses the life back into radio, or at least does so for me.

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