Slacker Radio

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I love music. Because of this simple but true fact and much to the chagrin of those around me, I need music with me at all times. I’m not talking about walking around with a transistor radio rocking out AM, I’m talking about having a solid, uninterrupted stream of good music beamed to my ears. For me, Slacker radio is the only option that gives me what I want.

My relationship with Slacker isn’t a honeymoon-phase affair. This is a long-term, comfortable- enough-to-fart-in-front-of-you relationship. The process of learning about Slacker is foggy at best. I can’t remember the first time I typed in the URL, but I remember the moment that I figuratively locked eyes with my love.

Winter 2008. Oh, what a world it was. I was on the cusp of change as my pregnant wife considered how a child would change our lives, and I was left scrambling following the merger of Sirius and XM. I suppose that no story about my new love can exclude my previous love. I loved Sirius. I always felt that Sirius was the cooler, edgier option in the satellite radio market. The first song I ever heard on Sirius was Arcade Fire’s Neighborhood #3 (Power’s Out). My first experience with an amazing band and satellite radio made for a perfect pairing.

I had Sirius for years across a number of devices with several drawbacks: dropped reception in the car, no reception at work, limited time shifting options, and oversized and clunky hardware. The music was eye-opening and ear-popping, though. I headed to Left of Center and Alt Nation to get my music. I needed nothing else.

Then Sirius met XM. She walked out of my life and took Left of Center with her. My favorite station replaced by the XM-leaning Sirius XMU. I was deceived and led astray. The union of XM and Sirius left no room for me. My subscription and I looked elsewhere. But, where to look?

FM? Ha! Commercials?!? What kind of fool do you take me for? Not to mention the completely insane playlists. Yes. I agree. Stone Temple Pilots are a good band, but after 10-15 years, it’s time to take Interstate Love Song off repeat. Pandora? Pretty boringly, repetitious. I need new music flying into my ears at all times.

Slacker? Okay, I’m listening. I remember hearing Nada Surf’s Always Love early in my experimentation. What struck me was that I loved Nada Surf the summer before ninth grade. It was the summer of my musical revolution and Popular was on heavy rotation on my parent’s 13 inch bedroom TV while they were at work. I just assumed that the members all spontaneously combusted following that song’s success. Turns out that instead of being a pile of carbon, they were churning out extraordinary albums. Slacker clued me in to Lucky, which let me work backwards to The Weight is a Gift and then Let Go. All three wonderful and all anonymous to me without Slacker.

Getting Slacker’s own portable music player that Christmas gave me the freedom to take 20 stations with me, and though the set up was quite ugly, my commutes, days at the office and walks outside were supplied with the required jams.

As my tech-sessions grew, I moved to the ipod touch to the Iphone. Slacker came for the ride with the deal-breaking feature – station caching. Not only does Slacker allow you to save songs for playback but entire stations programmed by DJs. As far as I can tell, this is a feature exclusive to Slacker as it is not a playlist or album. For the $3.99 per month this element of the app costs me, I lose the ads and gain hours of playback per station. It’s the best money I spend all year. The amounts are determined by your listening and space available on your device.

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My Slacker plays in the car through Bluetooth with my phone in my pocket and at work with my phone docked on my desk as tunes beam to a Bluetooth speaker across the room. My workday would be impossible without it. As people come in and out, I can tailor the music to their tastes in a seamless way without their knowledge of what’s happening behind the scenes. Along with my Pebble smart watch, I can skip songs and change volume discreetly.

The stations continue to develop with the app and I feel like Slacker has stayed true to the original purpose, as I understood it all those years ago. Slacker allows me to be a music slacker. I don’t have to constantly seek out the music I want like some kind of musical Indiana Jones. No boulders rolling at me. No weighing bags of sand to swap with golden idols. No snakes. I hate snakes. Just sitting on my butt like a museum or the hapless tribe waiting for my prize to arrive. Like Indy, Slacker always delivers.  If you consume music, you need Slacker

Consume.Review.Repeat. EP – 9.2 Napsters out of 10

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