Technology seems to be the natural enemy of traditional AM/FM radio. First came cassette and CD players, then Satellite Radio, and now wireless iPod connectivity, offering a completely customizable listening experience. But, in an ironic turn, Internet Radio apps could become the unlikely savior of AM/FM stations. TuneIn Radio is a new service that runs on most smartphones, Roku streaming boxes and Google TVs. It offers users a blend between satellite and AM/FM radio. Think of TuneIn as on-demand terrestrial radio (AM/FM). You can call up any station (about 50,000) around the world and stream it to your device. In the car, it means access to a Paris radio station while driving the entire Pacific Coast Highway in California, or your local favorites streaming in a vacation rental car--so long as you get a cellular signal.


Automakers have taken notice of TuneIn's popularity. BMW was the first to integrate TuneIn into their BMW Apps platform, which runs content from the phone to the car's iDrive system.

The app itself functions a lot like Pandora (also available on BMW Apps). You can find stations that play certain songs that you like, and can even find the ones that are playing a specific song live. From there it learns what you like and can offer suggestions of new stations. The benefit over Pandora is that listeners can tune into different stations programmed by entirely different people from entirely different cultures. The idea here is discovery –- just turn on, tune in, and drop out.

The only downside to streaming radio in the car is when you are out of network. Because the system depends on a cellular data signal, when driving through tunnels or mountains, signal can fade out.


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