Beyond its wide range of music-streaming capabilities, did you know that your favorite Alexa speaker can also function as a tuner for local radio broadcasts? If you want to add some variety to your next listening session, or are sick of Spotify and Apple Music, Alexa sports an entire medley of awesome radio skills for you to enjoy.
You’ll need to ensure you’ve got the most up-to-date version of the Alexa app on your smartphone, and naturally, you need an Amazon Echo smart speaker or display. If you own the latter, you’ll also get some visual information about what you’re listening to on-screen.
How to set up Alexa to play radio stations
The process is quite simple and easy, though depending on where you live, you may have different options for Alexa Skills that are available to play radio stations.
Step 1: Open the Alexa app on your phone. Tap the More menu button in the bottom-right corner of the app.
Step 2: Choose Skills and games, then look for Featured categories boxes along the top of the app screen.
Step 3: Next, use the search feature in the upper-right corner to search for "radio."
A list of available radio tuning apps for your area will appear on the display, including popular favorites like radio.com and MyTunerRadio, or check out our list of the best internet radio stations.
In Canada, you may see RadioPlayer Canada or similar options. Click on Enable to use. You may see Launch if you’ve already enabled this Skill.
How to play local radio stations
Using a few easy voice commands, you can get Alexa to fire up your favorite local stations.
Step 1: To access your radio stations, just say, “Alexa, ask MyTuner to play X92.9 Calgary,” or whatever the name is of your favorite station. You can also say something like, “Alexa, ask radio.com to play NPR,” and it will automatically locate the affiliate nearest to your location. Of course, if you live in Topeka and want to listen to the Washington affiliate, you can just specify that in your request and Alexa will deliver.
A word of warning that in some cases, Alexa may not quite recognize the station name and you may end up listening to a different station with a similar name, call sign, or frequency number.
Some Alexa users report that some of these services can be intermittently accurate with voice commands, which may not be surprising given the limited number of frequencies and the high number of radio stations across the globe.
Step 2: If you're unsure of what call sign or frequency your station is using, Radio-Locator.com is a great tool for figuring out what on-air credentials your favorite broadcast is using.
How to travel back in time (with Alexa-powered radio skills) and more
In addition to national, international, and local broadcasts, your Alexa-powered speaker or display is also capable of some pretty impressive radio skills that add a bunch of entertainment options to your listening experience.
Step 1: Want to hear a full day's worth of radio from 1939? Alexa's Radio Complete Day skill takes you back in time to WJSV's September 21 radio programming, including music, news, and everything else that was wedged into the date's broadcast.
To enable, you can search for the Skill in the Alexa app or ask your Alexa-enabled device to add the skill by saying, "Alexa, add Radio Complete Day skill."
Step 2: Looking for music curated by actual human beings instead of algorithms? Ask Alexa to add Radio Paradise to its assembly of skills.
Blending multiple genres, Radio Paradise delivers top music and underground gems to your ears in a randomized fashion. The idea here is the serendipity of hearing something brand-new.
After adding the skill, you can even ask Alexa to skip tracks and identify what song or artist is currently playing.
Step 3: Sometimes there's nothing better for a case of the blues than a show-stopping musical. For your next rain-spattered Wednesday, ask Alexa to add the Sounds of Broadway skill to her roster of radio abilities.
When enabled, the skill will have Alexa playing theatre hits from Broadway, off-Broadway, and London stages, and it's completely free!
Why has Alexa stopped playing radio?
One of the most common causes of an audio dropout when using an Alexa device is that the smart speaker or display is experiencing some kind of Wi-Fi issue. Fortunately, there are a number of quick fixes you can use to get around this trouble.
Step 1: For starters, if your router is being obscured by furniture or is locked away inside a cabinet, it's best to relocate it. Routers perform optimally in open-air environments where network transmissions can be broadcast without object-based interferences.
Step 2: In situations where you're running two network bands (2.4GHz and 5GHz), your 2.4GHz band may become overwhelmed by the amount of devices connected to it. Try to connect your Alexa device to the 5GHz band to see if the issue goes away.
How to set music and radio alarms with Alexa
Want to wake up to Metallica's Enter Sandman or your favorite local station? Alexa has got you covered. In addition to quick streams from your favorite music platforms and radio skills, you can combine these music add-ons with Alexa's alarm function to start your day off the right way.
Step 1: With dedicated music streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music, you can ask Alexa to wake you to a specific artist, album, song, or genre.
To do so, say, "Alexa, wake me up to Metallica at 7:00 a.m.," or, "Alexa, wake me up to metal at 10:00 a.m." You can also specify whether you want this alarm to wake you every Tuesday or every single morning by clarifying so in your voice command.
Step 2: You can also use Alexa to wake up to your favorite radio stations. Just say, "Alexa, wake me up to NPR at 5:00 a.m.," or "Alexa, wake me up to WGBH at 8:00 a.m.," and the voice assistant will get you up and running with the broadcasts you love the most.
There are all kinds of listening options on an Amazon Echo smart speaker or speaker with a display screen. You can choose music, news, or podcasts, or venture down the rabbit hole of relaxing audio Skills: Fall asleep to the sound of a cat purring, a clock ticking, rainforest or nature sounds, or ocean waves crashing.
These audio options can also be a great alternative if you want something playing in the background, but without a lot of voices and talking so you can focus on writing that report that’s due at the end of the day. Relaxing audio or internet radio can also be useful for drowning out the guy in the next cubicle who’s loud-talking on his Zoom call.
Surf the entire list of Skills and Games inside the Alexa app to see what else you can access, or just ask your Echo smart device, “Alexa, what can you do?" for an updated list of options.
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