iPod Nano with radio integration: too little too late?

I will confess, I haven’t thought about the radio much in the last few years. The only station I listen to in my car is an all-Classical station that doesn’t play commercials. When I’m not listening to WCPE, I’ve got my iPod Shuffle out and, most importantly, I have complete control over what I listen to.

On the rare instances I have been subjected to mainstream radio, I’m rather astonished at the commercials, the horrid voice-over advertising (GIGANTIC MERCHANDISE BLOWOUT!), and rather unimpressive selection of music. It’s become so consolidated over the years that the idea of little independent radio stations in local areas has nearly vanished. It’s virtually impossible to find non-syndicated stations that have any modicum of originality. Smart local folks, like Clockwork Cabaret here in North Carolina–a steampunk music menagerie–both stream and broadcast. Clever!

Now, for a brief time, I had XM Radio. Admittedly, I loved it. But then came the Sirius merger, and I lost half the stations I really enjoyed and couldn’t actually rationalize the extra cost, so I got rid of it. If I could have listened to the stations anywhere else than inside my car, that would have been a major plus. (For what it’s worth, there are plans in the works to Integrate iPod and Sirius radio.)

So I was rather surprised to see that the new iPod Nano includes a radio at all. It seems like this would have been the smart move, you know, a few years ago. As it is, it’s almost like including a bunch of envelopes and paper with a new email account. Over the last ten years, the radio has been fazed out of our musical lexicon. We’re so used to being in total control of our music these days that the radio feature just feels painfully dated. Not to mention that programs like Last.fm and Pandora are far better at suggesting new music than a radio can ever be.

Sure, the new Nano comes with tagging capabilities (for stations that are iTunes compatible), and a host of other well-touted improvements (video, camera, Nike Plus integration) but the radio just seems plain weird to me. While the Nano isn’t compatible with Pandora, for instance, the iPod Touch is. So, for an extra $50, I’d just go with the latter and skip out on the Nano altogether.

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