Guest Post: How To Speak Alexa

Today’s post was submitted by Echo owner Yancey Grantham, who’s obviously been spending a lot of time experimenting with his Echo! In this guest post, Yancey digs into the Echo’s voice recognition interface: what works, what doesn’t, and some surprising things to try that you may not have thought of yourself yet. Note that many of the radio station and program references here are outside the U.S.—but since Echo uses streaming radio, you can still access them from around the globe.


Keywords Matter
Echo looks for keywords in your requests. How you word your request can get different results. For example, “Play BBC News” gets a different result from asking “Play the station BBC News”.

Keywords to use: Play – Station – Radio

Try just the word “play” first, and if that does not get what you want try “play the station”, then if that does not work, try “play xxxx on TuneIn (or iHeart Radio or Pandora)”. You may also need to include the word “Radio”.



You May Have To Experiment To Get What You Want
Alexa, play Bloomberg. – No play, shows Michael Bloomberg Wikipedia info on the card
Alexa, play the station Bloomberg. – Plays Gimlet Media Streaming 24/7 on TuneIn
Alexa, play Bloomberg on TuneIn. – Plays Gimlet Media Streaming 24/7 on TuneIn
Alexa, play Bloomberg Radio. – Plays Bloomberg Radio on TuneIn

Here are some news examples:
24/7 News Technology (“Alexa, play 24/7 News Technology”)
ABC Sydney
Anderson Cooper 360 on TuneIn
BBC News
station BBC News
BBC News Hour on TuneIn
BBC Radio Scotland
BBC World Service
Bloomberg Radio
CBS News
International Edition
KAAA on TuneIn (Kim Komando Show)
KJJR (Talk Radio)
KONA (Information Radio)
PBS Newshour
Slate Radio
station Fox News
station KFI (news/talk)
The Takeaway
Talk Nation Radio (Talk Entertainment News National Syndication)
station USA Today



Echo Can Stream Your Local NPR Station
“Alexa, play NPR” will play your local NPR station. You can also ask for the station’s call letters or dial number. Echo will play my same local NPR station asking for NPR, 88.9 or KQED. I can also ask for KCHO for a different local NPR.

You can also just ask it to play these NPR shows:
All Things Considered – Morning Edition – Market Place – The World – Car Talk – The Splendid Table – Weekend Edition Sunday – A Prairie Home Companion – On the Media – TED Radio Hour


Love To Laugh?
Amazon is always updating their software so things will change. Saying “play comedy” used to start a comedy playlist but now it doesn’t.

Here are some specific shows you can ask for to enjoy some comedy:
Comedy 800 – Down Home Funny – Comedy Break – 24/7 Comedy – All-Time Comedy – Elvis Duran Replay Channel – The Kane Show Replay Channel – Mojo in the Morning

Echo Editor’s Note: If you have a favorite comedy podcast, try asking Alexa to play it for you. Not all comedy podcasts will be available, as there are many that charge by the episode after the initial airing (like Marc Maron’s WTF podcast). But it doesn’t hurt to try; this morning I asked, “Alexa: play Adam Carolla podcast” and Alexa responded, “Playing the most recent episode from The Adam Carolla Show podcast on TuneIn” and started playing it. I assume you could request a specific episode number too, if you know it, and if you’ve subscribed to a given premium podcast from within one of the Echo’s supported streaming services you would be able to access it through the Echo.



College Radio
To get these college stations to play you have to add the “iHeart” keyword. And it just sounds so natural to add the “radio” after it so I do: “Alexa, play WASU on iHeart Radio.”

Other stations to try: WASU, 88Five, WHOV, WSOU.

To get the most out of your Echo’s streaming radio functionality, spend some time playing on the web sites for iHeart Radio, TuneIn and Pandora.


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And now…

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