Have you ever tried tuning a radio in Hong Kong? Personally, I love listening to the radio and it is always on in our home, while I work, cook, play with my child and do just about anything. In every country I have lived in, I quickly found my favourite radio stations, selected which shows I pair up with which activity and got to know the deejays in no time. It is a great way to keep up to date with local events, news and the populous mood.
The radio is the ideal companion to my day: always available with a choice of voices, news, entertainment, music and information to make even the most mundane task a little easier. As our last home was in London, I was spoilt for choice and quickly learnt to take digital broadcasting for granted. When the time came to move to Hong Kong, I obviously packed our two DAB radios, never for a minute thinking they might be completely useless in a city as modern as Hong Kong.
What I did not realise, before actually moving here, is how much of a bubble the English speaking community actually lives in. This community is not comprised of expats exclusively, nor does it distinguish itself by English mother tongue speakers. I am referring to all those who use the English language as a means of communication, from the Pilipino domestic helper to French bankers at SocGen and everyone in between. Is it possible that we listen to the radio so little that the English language channels are now mostly relegated to the AM waveband and the internet?
RTHK, the government broadcaster has a dedicated English language station (RTHK3) and is a great source of commentary, local information, music and entertainment. If you want to know what is going on in Hong Kong, other than the latest restaurant opening, that the station to listen to. Now the question is how do you listen to it, and this is where this week’s app comes in handy.
A quick survey conducted amongst friends and acquaintances, highlighted the lack of actual radio appliances in the modern Hong Kong Home. Luckily there is no lack of app-enabled phones, computers and laptops for TuneIn to run on.
TuneIn is what is known as an “aggregator” and boasts over 40 million users worldwide. The app comes in two versions, Light and Pro, and both allow you access to an incredible collection of 70,000 radio stations from every corner of the world. The only difference between the two is that the TuneIn Pro app allows you to record what you are listening to. Ideal for those like me, who like to walk around Hong Kong and drown out the constant sound of jack hammers, coughing and sneezing old busses and impatient taxi drivers. If you have come across a woman walking around town with earphones in and a big grin on her face, it was probably me. Comedy shows are my favourite walk-about-town companions.
Of course, listening to the radio on your phone or computer is nothing new, and almost all big radio stations now have their own app or online listening capability. What makes the TuneIn app particularly interesting however are some of its features that allow you to seamlessly browse through stations by location (your local area, continent, country or city), type (talk, music, sports, news) genre and language. Depending on your mood you are bound to find something to listen to at any time of day.
In our home, I dug out an old iPod touch that was not being used and docked it for our helper to listen to radio stations from the Philippines. She absolutely loves it, and I was thrilled to see someone made happy with such a small thing.
In the nursery I have another docking station where I put on children’s music channels from around the world and expose the little one to music that she enjoys in a variety of languages, keeping us both happy. Sure she cannot understand any of them, but I like that she hears different accents and sounds.
As for me, some days I like to go on an exploration of new sounds and voices from around the world and others I like to hear my “companions from the past”. While I write, I find stations such as my current one, [D] Lounge from Palo Alto, to be the perfect smoooooth and uninterrupted sounds I need.
Additional features are a favourites tab to easily store your most listened to stations and the ability to search a for a particular song or artist being played at that time. You can even purchase the song you are listening to via iTunes.