If you've got an Echo/Echo Dot or related Amazon Alexa device, The Public's Radio has two offerings for you:


 


FLASH BRIEFING vs SKILL: What's the difference?

 

Flash Briefing 

You can add multiple different on-demand audio podcasts to your "flash briefing". So when you say "Alexa, what's the news?" it will automatically play the podcasts in the order you set them up. This can include NPR newscasts as well, but if you want to know what's going on in Rhode Island and the Southcoast of Massachusetts, put the The Public's Radio local newscast first in your Flash Briefing list.

 

Main Skill 

This is a more robust skill that will, eventually, allow you fuller access to our webcasts and podcasts. For now it's just the live webcast.  Once you’ve enabled the skill, tell your Echo “Alexa, open The Public's Radio,”then follow the prompts from there.

 

You can also say "Alexa, tell The Public's Radio…

  •  …to listen live." (hear our live webcast)
  • …to play local newscast." (hear the most recent local newscast)
  • ...to Political Roundtable." (hear the most recent episode)
  • ...to play Scott MacKay." (hear Scott's most recent commentary)
  • ...to play Artscape." (hear the latest episode)
  • ...to play This I Believe, New England." (hear the most recent essay)
  • ...to play Mosaic." (hear the most recent podcast)
  • ...to play One Square Mile." (hear the latest episode of the annual series)


Additional voice commands include:

  • While playing a program, you can skip forward to the next episode by saying “Alexa, next.”
  • To skip backward to the previous archive, say “Alexa, go back.” 
  • To stop the audio playing, say "Alexa, stop."
  • To set the volume, say "Alexa, set volume to X" where X is a number between 1 and 10, with 10 being the loudest.
  • For instructions on interacting with this skill, just say “help.


Why do I need to install a Skill? I can already listen to The Public's Radio on my Alexa?

There's two reasons to install our free Skills:

  1. The Skill is the best way to always get The Public's Radio webcast. Without the Skill, the Alexa is using the TuneIn database and that can be problematic. With only TuneIn to refer to, not all Alexa devices will understand what you mean when you say "The Public's Radio". Installing the Skill ensures your Alexa knows what you mean.
  2. The Skills give you extra features beyond our live webcast, like the ability to listen to our most recent local newscast at any time you want. Or to listen to podcasts of our local shows.


What if you have a Google Home device?

Simply say "OK Google, stream The Public's Radio" and it should play our live stream via TuneIn. Alternate invocations that may work include:

  • "OK Google, stream WNPN."
  • "OK Google, stream The Public's Radio WNPN."
  • "OK Google, play WNPN 89.3"
  • "OK Google, stream 89.3FM in Providence."
  • "OK Google, play Rhode Island Public Radio."

Google has "Actions", which are their equivalent of Alexa's "Skills". Unfortunately, Actions do not support live streaming except in very specific circumstances. We've been working with NPR on this; especially because there is an NPR "Action" that can do live streaming, but it relies on the Google Home's ability to geolocate you and pick the nearest public radio station. Unfortunately, the Home's geolocation abilities are woefully inadequate and highly random. We've heard of Homes that will geolocate only to WGBH across all of Rhode Island and most of Eastern Massachusetts (including Boston), just ignoring that The Public's Radio (or WBUR) even exist. Others will geolocate to WICN, a Worcester Jazz station, when the Home is in Westerly RI.

We're hoping that eventually Google will allow custom Actions to be created by individual stations the way Alexa has Skills. Until then, we don't recommend using Google Home devices to listen to The Public's Radio; it's just too unreliable.


What happened to the Rhode Island Public Radio Alexa Skills?

If you downloaded our Alexa Skills for your Amazon Echo/Echo Dot/Sonos/etc before October 2018, you probably have the Rhode Island Public Radio Skills. These were deactivated on May 1, 2019. Please uninstall the RIPR Skills and install the new The Public's Radio Skills - links are above.

We had to create new Skills to respond to the different spoken invocation ("The Public's Radio" vs "Rhode Island Public Radio") and we didn't want to cut things over right away when we changed branding last fall. But it did cost us money to maintain both sets of Skills, and the old RIPR Skills were limited in what podcasts they could access; so we're asking everyone to migrate over to the new Skills.