Cut the Cord on FM Radio: and the best inexpensive way to stream Pandora

I’ve always been a big fan of “old fashioned” RF, i.e. over the air radio. But let’s face it, FM music radio can’t compete these days with what you can get streaming. For whatever reason, FM stations insist on including more clutter than what I can get from a free Pandora link, albeit I have to pay for my WIFI.

So what’s the best solution for in-home music? I’ve looked around and wasn’t impressed by dedicated appliances for web based radios like Grace.  Why buy a dedicated device that will likely become obsolete in a year?

Still a big fan of iPhone 4s.

Still a big fan of iPhone 4s.

Thanks to the massive success of iPhone, the best solution today is a used iPhone – running WiFi only – no mobile phone account needed.

Here’s where it gets a bit calculating: Apple is not stupid. They do use a bit of planned obsolescence in their business model. So you will need an iPhone that is new enough to run the Pandora app but not so new it costs $300+

As of this writing, the sweet spot seems to be the iPhone 4s which can still run IOS 8.0, and is still supported by Pandora. My used iPhone 4S 16Gb cost me $56 on eBay. It took about 20 minutes to configure my new/used iPhone with Pandora and connect it to home audio via the aux input. (Remember to disable cellular data or your iPhone will keep trying to connect that way.)

Now as Apple rolls out iPhone 7 and IOS 10 who knows how long this setup will last. But I’ve heard of people still using their iPhone 3GS’s for Pandora. The trick is to NOT update anything. Stay tuned and let me know if you have a better solution.


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2 Responses to Cut the Cord on FM Radio: and the best inexpensive way to stream Pandora

  1. Augustine says:

    Though it hasn’t been cut totally, since, unlike cable, it’s not a paid service, the time I listen to the radio had been decreasing quite a bit. The main reason is convenience. I’ve been gradually switching to on demand podcasts instead of talk radio and to Pandora instead of FM. Not only at home, but even in the car, the last bastion of broadcasting, due to my phone carrier not counting a myriad of music streaming services towards my data plan. At least in my case, I achieve what satellite radio promised, at the tune of billions of dollars launching satellites, without a monthly bill.

    • Greg says:

      I agree with you about on demand podcasts. I actually like more niche podcasts on business and politics. These are even better than music with less interruptions. It’s kind of a golden age of pocasting: a ton of content, all for free.

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