Seeking Your Ideas For WBUR iPhone App


What do you want from a WBUR iPhone app?

We’re excited to announce WBUR is working with PRX — the developer of the Public Radio Player (iTunes link) and PRX.org, based in Cambridge — to create a unique WBUR iPhone app that will do far more than just stream the station — though it will do that, too.

For iPhone users among you — and anyone else interested — we would like your ideas, wish lists and suggestions for what you’d most want in a WBUR app.

  • The latest news from Boston, the nation and the world?
  • Access to archives on demand?
  • A map of member discounts?
  • A Bob Oakes ringtone?

The app will be released in the coming months. In the meantime, share your ideas with us in the comments.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on wbur.org.
  • http://jp4mobile.blogspot.com/ JP

    I’ve taken a look at a number of the different iPhone apps for public radio: NPR News, NPR Addict, Public Radio, Stitcher, WERS-FM.

    The base stuff that I’d like to see:
    1) Push notifications on news briefs
    2) Ability to stream WBUR

    Things that I’d love to see:
    3) News headlines
    4) Archives that can be browsed
    5) Archives that can be searched
    6) A way to set up a playlist and play stories that you like
    7) A way to bookmark where you are in stories that you’re playing in your playlist
    8) Possibly a way to work with twitter or some other medium to communicate with the show.
    (The last isn’t as clear as I’d like, but what I’m imagining is listening to OnPoint or OnlyAGame – to list two great shows that WBUR produces – and being able to send in comments to add to the discussion.)

    And the #1 thing that would make me a monthly subscriber to the service to be able to listen without fund raising messages, if I pay a certain amount a month. I appreciate NPR and support it and wouldn’t mind paying for an app to help support it.

    I’m thinking in terms of the Guardian newspaper app in Britain to get access to their content online.

  • http://twitter.com/cadill Christopher Carrillo

    Oh I’ve been waiting for this! Please consider my two ideas:

    1. I’ve wished so many times to have supplemental visual information that compliments your LIVE radio broadcast in real time! I will be listening to the radio simultaneously, and I want to see the name of the program, picture of the host, the names and pictures of the guest speakers with links to their bios, pictures that are mentioned, map of the country to which the news pertains, names of songs that are played, links to other shows about the same topic, streaming webcam of studio, and any other real time information that can be streamed down to make your programs even more engaging.

    2. Build the “audio bookmarking” button right into the app so I can mark what was playing live (song, program) for coming back to later via your website or via the app itself.

    3. PLEASE release an Android app as well as an iPhone app. Many of us have phones based on Google’s OS, so let’s be inclusive here…it’s not just about Apple! :)

  • troy b

    new apps have ‘razzle dazzle’ and i’d like to see my favorite station have an app of consistent with its high standards of quality. i’ve seen another NPR app have an alarm set to news in the AM (very cool). but really, the media has to jump on social media and start investing real $$ to be relevant. bring in real artists to collaborate on your app. beauty and function are inherent in the iphone–so should your app.

  • Kev

    Live Stream to WBUR programming.
    Bios of WBUR on-air
    Ability to listen to WBUR programs NOT live. In other words, listen to, say Robin Young’s program on demand once it already airs on WBUR
    Now that you have all of these outlets, please consider bringing back James Issacs. He was terrific and is missed.
    Why not offer WBUR premiums, such as baseball hats or other items w/WBUR logos for those who donate?
    Good luck! Love the station.

  • bob

    It’s kind of tough I’ve got all the other apps and can get all the on-demand and live streaming I need. I guess it should be Boston/BUR centric, maybe provide additional stuff from locally produced stories, maybe even some web/app only content…also, one just can’t go wrong with coupons!

  • Fred

    I live in Toronto and love to wake up to WBUR in the morning from my IPOD Docking Station on my alarm clock radio. I currently use the Tunemark app alarm feature for this.

    You already have some good ideas from the comments made above.

  • Mearns Launner

    Fred, if you’re in Toronto it would be better if you tuned into Canadian news, no? After all you’re in Toronto!

  • http://www.penguinsix.com/ Andrew Leyden

    Ambient information displays while the stream is playing, for example:

    news feeds

    The Capitol FM radio application for the UK displays stuff while the music is playing. Not so much that you are compelled to look at the screen, but a few interesting (and changing bits) such that you’re not just staring at a spinning thing saying ‘buffering’. You could even scroll through and have a paypal link to take donations.

    You should also enable the app to play while you are doing other things (i.e. quasi-multitasking). Some app makers have been successful in enabling audio while someone is checking email, etc.

  • Tom

    How about a way to tell you when each pledge drive segment is over. This way if you already support the station you can miss that. Or better yet, a stream that is free of the pledge drive. Again only for those that have already given this year.

  • http://WBURiPhoneapp Yael

    I’m with everyone else’s suggestions plus I would add a feature that allows you to select you favorite programs and reminds you of the upcoming topics with the ability to set up reminders in you calendar. I can’t tell you how many times I hear announcements about and upcoming episode of a program and I just can’t schedule listening while driving. And I really like the idea that you should be able to listen while in other apps.

  • TMacD

    Make one for blackberry too!

  • John

    I wish the website would have the each program’s daily content updated more regularly. Talk of the Nation and Fresh Air are not updated most days before (or even during) the program.

  • Sonia Hamel

    This is a cool idea! How about alternative programming during pledge drives for those who have already given or who give monthly, (even just automatically switching us back to the National News Feed for the duration?) I think this would encourage early giving and more uniform targeted giving.
    Also, a Karl Castle’s voice message for missed IPHONE calls would be great! (I’d pay .99 for that!)

  • http://shane.curcuru.name/blog/ Shane Curcuru

    - All the obvious newsy tidbits, both as general feeds, and as highlights that are associated with the currently playing news program. Keep the options for display flexible, and the content light – I want to hear the overiew here, and if I want more details I’ll clickthrough a link to a browser.

    - Boston area map with discounts or local story locations would be great. This is the kind of local information that’s useful on mobile devices (when you’re actually walking downtown) that WBUR staff could provide that other news sources couldn’t.

    - A “Fix my car” link. Pressing it instantly connects you to Click & Clack, to help get your car started when you’re broken down on Storrow on the way home.

    - Boston mode. Processes the current live audio stream to translate it into Bahstonian, when needed (i.e. for non-local shows). 8-)

  • Giuseppe

    Better mousetrap anyone?

    With all due respect, I can’t think of what you could build that a) hasn’t been done and b) needs to be done. While many of the listed options would certainly be interesting and novel, I hardly see people using them on a regular basis. Just because you can build it doesn’t mean you should. I already have an NPR app that provides me with a bevy of goods. As someone who works in software I get very scared when I see companies ask customers what they should build. A quote linked to Henry Ford says it best: “If I’d asked people what they wanted, they would have asked for a better horse.”

    You need to look at the landscape of existing apps and figure out what giant pain is not currently being solved. People don’t download and use apps that are marginally better. If you can’t find some giant pain(s), then save your money and invest it in programming.

  • Effie

    Ditto to comments of Giuseppe… (or perhaps increase the pay of your lowest paid employees.Just a thought.)

  • http://www.hear2.com Mark Ramsey

    What Giuseppe said.

  • Jack

    option to automatically stream station on launch. Think tap and listen. Lack of this features and too many clicks to get to listen to content is what makes the npr skyrocket app useless.

  • Paul T

    Make one for Droid.

  • DP

    Please do not develop an app for just the iPhone.

    Please also consider developing the app for Android, since it is less of a closed system, and is and will be widely available on all carriers (not just AT&T) and device manufacturers (not just Apple).

  • Jefrey

    Let the KCRW app be your guide.

  • GSE

    Port whatever you build to BB Storm II and Android, at least. Your listeners are not all on AT&T.

  • Anthony

    would love to see this app made for the Palm Pre and Pixi.

  • joe m

    easy access to archived programs

  • Coriborealis

    BUR related ring tones would be great! Also, maps of or other member discount information would be very valuable. If you can provide a commment box like this one that would deliver listener’s thoughts to the producer/host while a show is on air might be cool, too.


  • Anna

    An app for Android phones would be terrific as well! :-D

  • John Evans

    Here’s another vote for android support! The BBC app for android is pretty good.

  • http://www.jessefergusoncpa.com Jesse


  • Sarah

    I don’t have an iPhone but I do have an iTouch and I really like the NPR app. The simplicity and access is fabulous.

  • Jennifer

    It’s been well covered, just adding my request for an Android app as well. Many thanks!

  • Mark Dranias

    I am in Singapore for 2 years, dont exclude me!! I will pay extra!

  • amy

    A commment box that would deliver listener’s thoughts to the producer/host while a show! Sometimes a poll or specific question to answer!

  • amy

    A caption for what’s on at that exact time. Who is that person who’s being interviewed? How do you spell his name so I can look him up?

  • http://www.gallaugher.com Gallaugher

    Kudos on building your app! Suggestion: The NPR app is feature rich, but seems to require 4 clicks after start to navigate to WBUR-as-favorite. Flycast will load WBUR (or whatever I’ve last played) – directly from launch. The NPR app could use some usability testing to streamline the interface. Do make the WBUR app a single-click play of favorite or ‘last up’. Flycast’s bottom navigation menu makes it easy to drop out of the default play if needed. Thanks again – am a long-time member & delighted to see your great reporting is matched by continued innovation. Good luck!

  • http://www.conordoherty.com Conor

    [hopefully these aren’t repeats, I didn’t read above]

    1.) a feature that uses the phone’s GPS to find stories relevant to things around you… for instance if I were near the gardener museum I could look at the map on my phone and see an icon on the gardener that brings up a list: “museums going green – feb. 4, Gardern expansion jan. 21, etc. etc.

    2.) a reminder feature… google calendar sends a text to my phone each morning with my schedule for the day. A similar feature for shows that you choose would be cool, for instance for today, “On Point 10am: The Future of NASA, On Point 11am: Do Antidepressants Work?, Here and now 12pm: investigation of CT explosion, New credit card rules. etc. etc.” as a text would be fine… if there was a way to link to more info on the program that would be great too.

    3.) to help raise $, the ability to donate to the pledge drive via txt, or another method… maybe have some kind of pay-for add-ons or downloads… (for those of us who don’t have him on our voicemail yet… Carl Kasell ring or ring-back tone?)

  • Steve

    I’d like to see list of how to spell words used in pieces. I listen to BUR while I drive and at work. I just wish I knew how to spell the names of the people and places that are used in the stories.
    What would be even better is if the presenters and reporters would occasionally spell the names on air for those of us who are driving and shouldn’t be looking things up.

  • Keith S

    I would like to ability to make anonymous donations.

  • Joe

    Can you please work with a developer that embraces the open source free world and develop an app that will also work on the Android phone operating system.

  • Ryan

    Don’t forget about the iTouch! Would love to load (or automatically load) stories from the morning onto my ipod so I can read them on the subway or throughout the day without internet access.

  • Mark Kriegsman

    Ideas, ideas, ideas:

    * Ability to DONATE to WBUR from inside the app, even if that just means an embedded browser that takes you to a special ‘mobile-friendly donation page’ on the regular wbug.org site. In-app purchases, while easier, have the whole 70/30 split problem (Apple take 30%)

    ** Let people who have recently donated listen to the national feed WITHOUT INTERRUPTION during fundraisers!!

    * Pause and Rewind the live stream! (Buffer up X minutes of audio and allow pause, rewind, and ‘return to live’ functions) Help us out with the driveway moments when we have to get out of the car anyway

    - Record and save live audio stories (And share them)

    * Optional screen display that show useful ‘ambient’ information like time, temperature, weather forecast, webcam view from the BU Marsh Plaza ‘alumni webcam’, etc., so people can put dock their phone and use the WBUR app as their standard ‘display’ app

    * Alarm clock function: Wake to WBUR at a preset time (optionally different each day of the week?) A LOT of people who do this already anyway, but with a radio.

    - Push notifications of breaking news (CNN has a lousy idea of what counts as push-worthy news notifications… seriously:Tiger Woods?)

    - Push notifications that your favorite show is about to start in X minutes, with a button to launch the app and start listening

    - Ability to make custom podcast/playlists (a la Stitcher) so you could, for example, listen to the hourly news summary, then the most recent On Point, then the most recent Diana Rehm Show.

    ** Ability to listen to WBUR in the background! This IS possible (ish), even with the current iPhone OS, but opening a Safari page with an auto-play embedded quicktime stream. Safari will keep playing an MP3 audio stream even when you exit and go back to the home screen. The Wunderground Radio app does a good job of doing this. (Go to http://tinyurl.com/wburiphone from an iPhone to see.)

    - Photos and bios of the hosts of the current show, to put a face to the voices we know so well

    - Ability to cross-reference stories by tag or host, ie, Cokie Roberts coverage of the Supreme Court

    WE LOVE WBUR – Can’t wait to see all the things a WBUR app can do! And FWIW, I’m a developer and would love to help out in any way, including testing.

  • Ryan

    As a dedicated listener and runner, the only thing i would love is to have WBUR play in the background. I like all content, so simple streaming in the background would be perfect. Thanks for the great content!



  • Alan Capewell

    Not sure if mentioned yet, but simply: What’s on/playing now, by whom?

  • Jacob Mazonson

    It would be really great to be able to pause live radio like on Tivo. This would be especially convenient when your cell connection isn’t strong enough to listen live.

  • DR

    How about the ability to go back 30 seconds in a report, pause, or save for later function- record, save to playlist, etc. Also love to see more fun stuff like make the little interim song you just heard a ringtone, or have some NPR/BUR type ringtones to choose from. Great ideas all!

  • Helen Rose

    I’d like to see a mobile-friendly version of the arts calendar.

  • Roy Fuchs

    Another vote for a Droid app.

    Is there something unique you could add about the Red Sox (a Robin Young Report, or Bill Littlefield’s insights??)

  • Dan Essrow

    I would like to be able to toggle the settings within the app so that by default it starts playing the live stream as soon as I load the app. In the NPR app, it takes me like 5 or 6 clicks to get the stream going.

  • SB

    Somebody mentioned the Guardian newspaper from London – I think it’s one of the best news apps available. Do more of that . . .

  • http://oscar.ojb@gmail.com oscar

    regarding the proposed WBUR app..
    Is there a way you can have an alarm clock feature so you can set your alarm – either in the app or the other alarm clock already on the phone so it automatically turns wbur to wake you up just same way a clock radio works?? this would be pretty unique.

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