New, improved Public Radio Player now live in iTunes

Here’s what we’re sending around the public radio system today:

The Public Radio Player iPhone app: Nearly 500 live station streams. One thousand on-demand programs. Downloaded millions of times.

And now new funding, new features, new opportunities.

We’re excited to announce that CPB has renewed support for the next phase of the Public Radio Player. PRX is leading the project and continues to work with Public Interactive as a source of station schedule data and on-demand programs from the NPR API.

As you may know, the Public Radio Player came out of a CPB-funded collaboration of APM, NPR, PRI, and PI, led by PRX. That first grant ended last summer, but the Player lives on with thousands of new users downloading the app every day.

Version 2.1 has just gone live in the iTunes Store, and we’re starting work on version 3.0 coming in June.

Get the app here:

For version 2.1, we’ve rewritten the code from scratch to greatly improve performance. PublicRadioPlayerAlarmClockWe’ve also added top-requested features – a sleep timer, wake-up alarm, and the ability to manage Favorites. We’ve improved the On Demand program player, and integrated Safari so users can browse station websites from within the app.

Version 2.1 will also include national banner ads on top-level pages, but not on station or program pages. CPB has encouraged us to find ways to sustain the project beyond grant support so this is our first foray into mobile advertising. We are working to make it possible for stations to sell local ads on their own Player pages. You can see a pilot of this on WBUR’s Player page now.

Version 3.0 will have additional enhancements and a broader rollout of local station ad support. While we continue to investigate ways to support donations, membership, and pledging, this is a complex issue due to Apple’s no-donation policy as well as stations’ own systems. Local ads could be a significant revenue opportunity for stations with local underwriters interested in the mobile audience.

No iPhone or iPod Touch but full of curiosity? Watch this demo video of an earlier version.

Over the next few months, we will be reaching out to the public radio community for Player feedback and ideas.

There are several ways to stay up to date with the project and share questions and comments:


Jake Shapiro and the Public Radio Player team @ PRX

3 thoughts on “New, improved Public Radio Player now live in iTunes”

  1. So, this isn’t a publicly funded project? You are supporting it through the sale of ads? Am I understanding this correctly?

  2. Thanks for asking.

    The Public Radio Player project has had two rounds of funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Grant funding is a great catalyst, but it can’t sustain an app over the longer term. So CPB has asked us to explore ways to make the app financially sustainable. To that end, in a couple of weeks national ads will appear on the top-level pages. Any revenue from those ads will support further app development and maintenance.

    In addition, we will be rolling out a service for stations who want to sell local ads to appear on their own pages in the Player. That revenue will directly support the local stations whose content and streams power the app.

    We are also exploring ways to enable people to donate to stations directly through the app. However, this is a complex issue due to Apple’s restrictive policies on donations and stations’ own local systems and practices.

    We believe that the Player should be free, like public radio. But, also like public radio, an app needs funds to continue to exist.

    Please keep an eye on our website, for upcoming posts on these issues.

  3. While I understand the app needs funds to exist, and I would happily pay for it like the This American Life app, how does an endeavor that was started with public funds turn to advertising for it’s next level of funding?

    Understand that, while this is partly criticism, this is also some real curiosity. I would think there would be more restrictions on how you can fund a project that is tied in with public radio, and that was initially supported by the CPB.

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