NPR at my fingertips

Admittedly, I don’t listen to NPR as much as I should. While interning at The Hollywood Reporter in the summer of 2013, I started my day with All Things Considered and ended it with Fresh Air during the ridiculous commute to downtown. But without a car, my NPR consumption has fallen significantly.

With the NPR One app, this depletion has been remedied. Opening on the app for the first time, a voice told me how the app works and then directed me to the hourly update, where I heard a briefing of the Wednesday’s top news as of 1:00 p.m.

Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 8.59.19 PM

Screenshot from NPR One’s website.

Next came the organized chaos. A flurry of stories, ordered one right after the other, filled the queue — and I welcomed them. Confused as to how I can show my preference to different topics as the voice told me immediately as I opened the app, I noticed an “Interesting” button that I began clicking during pieces I enjoyed. I pushed this button several times on stories like one about the Obama Administration no longer pursuing the end of the 529 college tax break or others about ongoing irrigation issues in Southern California.

Since the app had me sign in with my Facebook account, it somehow only gathered I was from California, though I now live in Michigan. The stories “best for me” were mostly ones on the Golden State. Though I appreciated the throwback, my news interests lie mostly on Michigan, as my reporting focuses are on the state of Michigan while working on The Michigan Daily. I tried searching “Ann Arbor” with hopes it would give me an option to add that location, but nothing came up.

Though the geography feature was not perfect, once I started marking certain pieces as “interesting,” I came across more “interesting” ones — primarily a Fresh Air piece on Ghettoside, a book examining the unexplored and forgotten murders of Los Angeles.

Sceenshot from an Los Angeles Times review of 'Ghettoside.'

Sceenshot from an Los Angeles Times review of ‘Ghettoside.’

The interview with author Jill Leovy examined homicides in Los Angeles that often go unnoticed or underreported. The timeliness of such a book is remarkable. Leovy noted for some Black communities in Los Angeles, more police enforcement is needed, rather than less in places like Ferguson, Mo. and New York City. It was an intriguing conversation, and one I didn’t have to stop by getting out of my car. I played the full 40 minute interview as I cleaned my room, did laundry, and other chores, making a mental note to use the app more often.

Though the search engine and features on the app are a bit confusing, I found NPR One to be overall a great app to add to my “News” folder on my iPhone. I spent the day after listening to NPR’s content daydreaming about listening to it while walking to class and work.

While there are some glitches, it appears to be NPR’s attempt at developing catered, up-to-date content for its listeners. As someone with many interests, the app may not need such attention on the catered content. But as a journalist, I believe it’s a step in the right direction in not only maintaining current listeners, but gaining new ones.

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