This American Life gets a dedicated app

Ira Glass.A few weeks ago I was in a crisis. I had an 11-hour drive in front of me and for some reason I missed a week of my This American Life podcast. It took a good bit of scouring, but I finally found a place to download it (no, it wasn’t available on iTunes any longer). Well no more!

My favorite radio show (and many others’ as the podcast rankings prove) finally has its own iPhone app, replete with on demand access to any episode of the show. You can stream for free or download any episode for the usual $.99. The app itself will run you $2.99.

If you haven’t listened to TAL, you need to. It’s just that simple. There are some truly incredible stories on the show, and often some very informative ones as well. They did a show about the sub-prime mortgage crisis that simply blew my mind. For my money, there’s not really a better way to spend a long drive.


YouTube launches citizen journalism site

YouTube logo.This morning YouTube announced a new site aimed at connecting citizen journalists with one another and with larger news networks. Called YouTube Direct, the site also allows news editors to make requests for footage of events, like natural disasters and political rallies. I’ve not been a huge fan of citizen journalism in the past, mostly because of the unedited trash people tend to gobble up as truth. This, though, puts that news back into the hands of the editors, which admittedly is its own problem, but I’ll take it over the alternative.

The site allows editors to post call-out videos requesting footage from your average Joe, a service that’s being tested by large news sources like the Huffington Post and NPR. The new site isn’t about revenue, though, according to YouTube’s head of news and politics, Steve Grove. “It’s an incentive to upload great video, because of the recognition you’ll get from legitimate news organizations.” The blog post announcing the site linked to videos you’ve probably seen of a teacher slapping an autistic child and a Chinese earthquake.

You can check out more about the service at the official blog.


Top 3 – Free Music Apps for the iPhone

Pandora Radio

It’s time to break through the clutter and get down to business. This weekly post is going to list not the top 10, or the top 5, but the top 3 of anything gadget related. Why the top 3? Because anything more would be watered down.

So without further ado, here are the top 3 free music apps for the iPhone.

3. American Public Media’s – Public Radio Tuner
You don’t have to be a nerd to enjoy public radio. I do. And this app provides access to hundreds of public radio stations which will keep you up-to-date with the most honest and unbiased take on news available. So whether you prefer to listen to “This American Life,” “Marketplace,” or “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me,” this app will hook you up with free streaming NPR anywhere you go.

2. Shazam Entertainment Ltd.’s – Shazam
Who hasn’t ever been listening to the radio wondering what the name and artist of the song is you’re listening to. Well, use Shazam and you’ll never wonder again. That’s right, with Shazam you only have to open up the app, click “Tag Now” and in about 10 seconds you’ll have the artist name, song name, album name and more. You’ll also have links to download the song from iTunes, watch the video on YouTube or read reviews. Now that is sweet.

1. Pandora Media Inc.’s – Pandora Radio
Traditional music stations should be scared because with Pandora Radio you can get personalized radio stations for free that stream directly to your iPhone. No commercials. No bad music. Just create a station based on an artist or song that you like and Pandora instantly starts streaming music that matches your taste. Best of all… no commercials! Sounds crazy, I know. Pandora Radio even learns. Don’t like a song being played? Give it a thumbs down and never hear it again. Plus, I’ve never had an issue with songs skipping or slow playback, even while streaming over Edge. For all these reasons, Pandora Radio is the best free music app on the iPhone and also the reason I will be cancelling my XM account.