Grade: B (design), A (content)
Looks like today is going to be off-topic Friday all the way through, but stick around: it’ll still be interesting.
I wanted to write about OTR Streamer because, along with Pandora, Inquisitor, MobileRSS, Mobi Net, and a few others, it probably gets the heaviest workout.
That’s because I’m a total OTR junkie. OTR is shorthand for “Old Time Radio,” and it refers to radioplays produced from the 1920s to the early 1960s. Collectors also tend to use it for modern radioplays, which are still produced by British radio.
You probably know some of the basic radio shows of the time: Orson Welles War of the Worlds, The Shadow, The Lone Ranger, Gunsmoke, Superman, Abbott & Costello, Amos & Andy, and maybe a few others. It was an entire art form that was born, thrived, and died in a span of about 40 years.
Not only was it brief, but it has also largely vanished. I believe only about 10% of the output from these 40 years has survived in some recorded form. That still leaves a whole lot of radio programming for anyone to collect, and the age of the internet has been a boon for collectors. The quality ranges from unlistenable to crystal clear, but there’s certainly no shortage of good programming out there for free on sites like archive.org. I built my collection many years ago thanks to traders on the usenet binary groups, but you can still fill in gaps and upgrade recordings if you hunt around.
OTR Streamer is a delight for any fan of radio, or for anyone who’d like to just explore it. It’s a simple interface with a generous selection of shows divided into 8 categories: Adventure, Comedy, Crime/Police, Detective, Drama, Mystery, Science Fiction, and Western. There are about 80 different shows listed, with any number of episodes for each show.
For example, there are only 17 episodes of Nero Wolfe, but 138 episodes of Sherlock Holmes, with versions of Holmes ranging from the 1930s up to the 1980s. I have a complete collection of all Holmes OTR, but OTR Streamer allows me to stream them without taking up any space on my device.
The streams are actually quite stable. They rarely fail, and even if they do they usually start right up again. The sound quality is good, and the download time is perfect. Although you can instantly stream any episode at any time, you can only download and save one episode.
This lack of additional save slots, as well as the bare bones production and interface, is what earns this one a B. The Vintage Radio Lite app has a far better interface, complete with show notes, but fewer episodes. I use them both, but OTR Streamer gets the heavier workout.
OTR may or may not be your cuppa joe, but you really should check it out. Once you get into the rhythms and narrative devices unique to radio, it becomes an incredible experience that you just can’t find anywhere else.