Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Philly Public Stations Get (Some) Props on NPR Music

The NPR Music site launched on the iPad this week is pretty darned spiffy - opening a Pandora's box of content that really hits the Spot(ify). Philadelphia public stations are part of the freebie mix, though their commitment could be stronger.

Philly Public Stations Get (Some) Props on NPR Music

The NPR Music site launched on the iPad this week is pretty darn spiffy - opening a Pandora's box of content that reallly hits the spot(ify.) Philadelphia public radiio stations are part of the freebie mix - though their commitment to the cause could be stronger. 

Actually a fine tuning/focusing of the music component in the already popular NPR app, NPR Music offers listeners  instant access to dozens of public stations serving up  more sophisticated/mellow varieties of music - alt and indie rock (in many manifestations), jazz and classical.

A decorative on-screen menu also provides quick  access to specialty  radio programs  like "Piano Jazz." "Alt Latino" and WXPN's "World Cafe," as well as to streaming video mini-concerts and  short-form music videos that are well curated and ever tasteful. First to  grab my eyes and ears - one of the  "Tiny Desk" concerts spotlighting  tUnE-YarDs; a snappy, synthed up  set by alt-hip hop-bop  duo Shabazz Palaces;  and a dynamic session with  vibraphonist Walter Wolf's jazz quintet. All  fun to watch as well as hear, with fine picture and sound quality. 

Unlike the older NPR site for the iPad, NPR Music allows you to download some content (mostly interviews/reviews)  for enjoyment off-line, though it's launched with just  short segments.  Maybe for the same technical reasons, some of the video concerts billed as lasting an hour or so  actually prove a lot shorter.

Some occasional content stall-outs  were experienced on my first generation iPad, especially when I tried to multi-task - simultaneously listening to NPR Music  through a Bluetooth-connected foxL portable speaker while browsing Philly.com. (The app also supports wireless Apple Airplay streaming.)

 My gripe with the Philly radio contributions  - the three (distinct) channel streams of WXPN and two (jazz and classical) supplied from WRTI?

None code the music with helpful artist/composer and song title information - identifying visuals which  ARE available on-screen  from other NPR Music outlets like KCRW Eclectic 24, The Current, Classical MPR and Folk Alley more prominently featured  on the  site.

Maybe that's a reason why? 

Jonathan Takiff Daily News Columnist
About this blog
Jonathan Takiff covers all manner of high tech gadgets – and the entertaining stuff you play on them – for the Philadelphia Daily News, philly.com and the McClatchy Tribune News Service.

Jonathan Takiff Daily News Columnist
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