How To: Use your iPhone to ditch AM Radio’s “tunnel blackouts” - Macenstein

How To: Use your iPhone to ditch AM Radio’s “tunnel blackouts”

Around where I live (the NYC area) there is a famous AM news radio station called 1010 WINS. While the station is famous for its “Give us 22 minutes, and we’ll give you the world” slogan, it is ALMOST as famous for its all but unlistenable signal. Despite living just 16 miles outside of NYC, somehow their signal is comprised of 80% static, not to mention 15% “fake news wire ticker from the 1930’s” background noise (yes, I think every big city has a cheesey news station like that). Yet despite the horrible signal and silly faux pre-WWII news ambiance, it must have something going for it as day in and day I out still find myself tuning in in a largely futile attempt to decipher the day’s events via the 5% of a signal I CAN get.

Of course the fates are cruel, and even that little bit of a signal is repeatedly taken away from me as I go under a series of relatively tiny bridges and overpasses, the signal cutting out, seemingly any time a bird flies overhead. While this provided a welcome break from the static, it certainly drove home the point that SOMETHING needed to change.

Above: You cannot deny that this is a cool icon

“If only there were a way for me to listen to a clear signal!” I thought. “And if only I could do it in a cool, geeky way!” I added. Sure, I could go out an buy an HD radio for my car (1010 WINS broadcasts in HD on the back of another CBS-owned station), but that would cost a lot of money and not really be all that geeky. Well, luckily for me, I accidentally downloaded an internet radio app called Tuner Internet Radio back when I was compiling my list of iPhone apps with well-designed icons. The app was pretty pricey at $5.99, but I finally found a good use for it.

Aside from having a cool icon, Tuner Internet Radio lets you listen to hundreds of internet radio stations from across the planet. Unfortunately, In general I found that maybe only about 60% of the links actually worked, as is often the case with internet radio, but one thing Tuner does that makes it pretty cool is that it allows you to add your own radio streams as well. So if the station you want to listen to is not one Tuner already knows about, in most cases (if you know the URL of the stream) you can use Tuner to stream it to your iPhone. I am sure there must be cheaper or even free apps out there that do this, (in fact, read the comments for a really simple, free solution) but if you are interested, the following steps likely apply to all players/stations.

Step 1: Find the stream

Some stations, like some of the Old Time Radio on the web I listen to, actually WANT you to listen to their streams, and make the address easy to find. Unfortunately the 1010 WINS radio player is really the CBS radio “Play.It” player, a monster of a player that streams all 500 million CBS-owned stations, and it uses Flash or something to do so, so I could not easily see the stream address. A little web poking though and I found a site that offered its own web stream of 1010 WINS using its own player. It was a Windows-only player, of course, but on the resulting error page I was able to use Firefox’s “View Page Source” to find the stream being called. It looked like this:

So I simply copied the “” part, e-mailed it to myself so I could copy it to the iPhone’s clipboard. I have found in most cases you can use the View Page Source trick to figure out an internet radio stream if it is not readily apparent.

Step 2: Launch Tuner

Step 3: Click “OPEN”

Step 4: Paste in your stream (thank GOD we have cut and paste on the iPhone now) and give it a title name.

Step 5: Verify you hear something

Step 6: Book mark the station so you don’t have to do it over and over each time you want to listen.

And you’re done!

It’s funny to think that nowadays I can get better cell phone reception in a tunnel than radio reception, yet since making the switch to “iPhone AM radio”, I have had a crystal clear signal to and from work no matter how many bridges I go under. Hopefully you should be able to take that basic concept and apply it to the station of your choice, or if you just want to listen to New York area traffic “on the 1’s”, tune into 1010 WINS using that address I gave.

5 Responses to “How To: Use your iPhone to ditch AM Radio’s “tunnel blackouts””
  1. Bill May says:

    Or you could just type the URL in MobileSafari and play.

  2. ‘Doh!
    I mean, yes, of course you COULD do that.
    Of course.
    Everyone knows that.
    But Safari doesn’t have a cool icon.
    – The Doc

  3. geWAPpnet says:

    But you are aware of the fact that there are hundreds of other radio apps with better functions like time-shift, lyrics, similar recommendations and even recording? See this article for more info:

  4. Colin says:

    @geWAPpnet: I think the point was that he had already paid for this app…for the pretty icon. :-p

  5. imajoebob says:

    Most amazing, it comes booming in on the Merritt/Hutch, even the Cross County, but as soon as you clear the Cloisters you may as well be in Terre Haute.

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