BBC Listener iPhone App

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 28th September 2010.

The already competitive radio market in Australia just got a little tighter this week with the launch of the BBC Listener App for the iPhone. Whilst much of the BBC’s radio content has been readily available via podcast or live internet streaming, the Listener represents an increased accessibility to overseas programming which should make local broadcasters a little nervous.

The BBC Listener is available free via iTunes. The App includes a 30 day complementary trial, and following this, the monthly subscription rate is $3.99.

With the Listener, over four hundred archived programs are available for live streaming via WiFi, with more than twenty new shows added weekly. Programs can also be saved to be played on the run.

Unfortunately, the content is definitely not youth orientated at this stage, with almost all of the audio being magazine, discussion or documentary programming. Most shows run between thirty and sixty minutes, and have been sourced from the part-talk, part-music Radio 2 and the all-talk Radio 4.

That’s not to say that the BBC Listener is just for those old enough to be thinking about getting funeral insurance. There are a few gems for the non-baby boomers. My favourite is Desert Island Discs.

The second longest running radio program in history, Desert Island Discs was first broadcast in 1942. The premise is simple. A celebrity is asked which six pieces of music they would bring with them if they were to be stranded alone on an island. They are also allowed to bring a book and one luxury item. And no, a raft is not allowed.

The celebrity explains why the pieces of music are meaningful to them, and in the process, reveals much about what makes them tick. This week’s castaway is Jerry Springer. For the record, one of his favourite songs is Wind Beneath My Wings, his book selection is a family photo album and his luxury item is a cheeseburger machine, whatever that is.

The best thing about BBC programming is the absence of advertising, and just like podcasts, the ability to listen to what you want when you want is always appealing.

Those after more contemporary BBC music and pop culture shows will need to continue downloading podcasts and listening to live streaming for now, although I’m sure the Listener will eventually offer these shows too.

If you are over thirty and prefer to hear more talk than music, the BBC Listener is a great iPhone App. It will soon also be available for other smart phones. With almost all of the BBC’s radio content available for free online, the $3.99 monthly subscription fee may seem a little steep but for easy access to an almost unlimited array of informative and entertaining audio programs, the BBC Listener is probably good value for the non-techno savvy.

Published in: on September 30, 2010 at 07:30  Leave a Comment  
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