When I was young and my family was headed on a long trip, we would sometimes ride in separate cars. My dad would set up the big CB antenna on his ’74 AMC Matador, which meant I could use his old radio to talk to my mom and sister in the other car, engage in illicit conversations with truckers, or listen in one the local emergency channels. I was maybe 9 years old and thought this was the coolest thing ever.
This love of CB radio has followed me to this day; I’m always curious as to what’s happening on the local channels. Can I go put out that fire or help that accident? Certainly not, but there’s a good feeling that comes from being informed.
To capture that feeling these days, I’ve got a few options. I could buy a police scanner, sit in front of a computer to listen to live straming, or—thanks to Christopher Coudriet—I can load up Police Radio on my iPhone and get my fix no matter where I am.
The best part about this $1 app—aside from the obvious discount compared to the price of a police scanner and the convenience of having a tool that travels with me—is that Police Radio taps into Internet streams of CB channels. That makes frequencies from all around the country available to me. I can check in on the police chatter in my hometown if I want to or check out what’s going on just down the street from me.
The main screen on Police Radio is organized by state, each listing all the channels available for streaming. Among the different emergency radio apps available via the App Store, Police Radio seems to have a lot of channels available; the developer also seems to be good about adding new frequencies by user request.
Selecting a channel will load up the stream with a list of scanner codes to help you decipher the chatter. If there is a stream you listen to online but isn’t listed in the app, Police Radio also has the ability to play from a specific address, supporting most common feed types. If you’d like to listen to a stream while doing other things on your device, there is also an option to play it in the background, which will launch a Safari stream.
With an easy-to-use interface and great support, Police Radio could be just the ticket if you’ve got the citizens-band itch to scratch.
[Rob de la Cretaz is a full-time polymath and a proud resident of Pittsburgh.]