Thousands of ad-free radio stations accessible through a few taps on the mobile phone sounds like a great deal. Radiogram, a simple, fast and intuitive app, is making FM cool again.
In the age of online music streaming, does radio stand a chance?
Well, not unless you re-imagine and repackage it in a form palatable to the mobile-obsessed millennial user. Radiogram, a free radio app, does precisely that, and could bring radio back in vogue.
It allows users to listen to thousands of local and international radio stations over the internet without ad intrusions. It looks like any other music-streaming app but is a lot simpler, cleaner, faster, and most importantly, ad-free.
The app is listed on Google Play Store’s Early Access section, and has notched up over 50,000 installs. That is a significant number for an early access app. Radiogram is also available on the Amazon App Store, enabling streaming through Fire TV Sticks. It offers Chromecast support too, and can even be connected through Bluetooth for in-car listening.
Radiogram Founder Miles Stephens tells YourStory on email,
“Radiogram has no display advertising, no banners, no pop ups, no fullscreen ads; the only adverts you'll experience are audio ads the radio stations broadcast themselves. It features an easy to use 'Material Design' interface and has very fast load times. I am hoping this wins the app users from competing apps which have lots of adverts and older, less intuitive interfaces.”
Over 7,000 radio stations from 18 countries, including the US, the UK, Australia, India, and Pakistan, are presently on offer. More stations are being added as Radiogram continues to be in “active development”.
The app houses some of India’s leading radio stations - AIR FM Rainbow, Radio Mirchi, Radio City, Big FM, Hello FM, and more. Users can play local language streams in Hindi, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, and Kannada.
“We’ve been very thankful to our Indian audience who make up over 40 percent of our current 100,000 users (which is growing by several thousand users daily). We also receive the most station requests from India so are always adding new stations we never knew existed.”
Radiogram utilises modern audio libraries for reliable music playback and features an interface which adheres to Google’s material design principles. This makes the app beautiful and intuitive, and listening to music a hassle-free activity. All you need is a good internet connection.
YourStory took a closer look at the app.
To begin with, you choose a country. While this doesn’t restrict you from accessing international stations, it helps Radiogram curate a localised playlist for you.
You can use the country selector on the top-right of the screen and change to international radio stations instantly.
The ‘Stations’ tab organises stations by genre, making searching for your favourite destination easier.
There are multiple genres and sub-genres to choose from. Besides music, users can also listen to news, talk shows, streams on religion, as well as community radio. Every genre lists multiple stations under it.
The ‘Home’ tab houses the top stations with most listeners.
You can save your ‘favourite’ stations by clicking on the three vertical dots next to each listing. Stations can be removed from favourites as easily. A single tap also allows you to visit the website of the station you play.
There is an option to play a ‘random station’ too. This feature is aimed at helping users “discover” new stations that they may not typically access.
You can also ‘find a station’ through the Search bar on the top. It crawls the entire Radiogram universe (and not just the country you’re in) to display results. You can browse by genre or name or location. This eases discovery and spurs cross-border listening.
What works and what could improve
Simplicity and ease-of-use are Radiogram’s trump cards. Its ‘tap-and-play’ feature is a perfect antithesis to the age-old practice of tuning a radio using the antenna.
The app loads very fast too, reducing data usage. Not surprising then that Indians form a significant part of its audience already.
At 12 MB, Radiogram is lighter than most music-streaming apps. It can be controlled through the lock screen too, and music can be played in the background while other apps are in use.
One feature that is a glaring omission perhaps is ‘Shuffle Station’. It is meant for the lazy listener but something all music-streamers tend to enjoy. Radiogram is still in the development stage and more features are being added. Shuffle could be one too.
As an Indian user, other welcome additions would be more local language streams, and a wider array of content in music, news, podcasts, and more. Potential partnerships with handset manufacturers wherein Radiogram comes pre-installed in phones could also drive usage.
How will Radiogram survive the era of music-streaming?
Founder Miles says,
“I am confident radio apps have a strong future even though streaming services are now one of the main ways users access music. With streaming services you often create a playlist and listen to the same songs many times over. Radio gives you the ability to discover new music and connect with the DJs - you get more of a human connection. Radio has been around for decades and I don't see that changing for the foreseeable future.”
Nobody minds a free service. And “radio on the go” is a good one at that!