Seeking "advanced basic" clock radio
April 8, 2019 9:52 AM   Subscribe

I need a new bedside clock radio, but I'm not sure that what I want in a clock radio exists, so I may also need options.

My usual wake-up is a clock radio tuned to NPR. My wife, however, has gotten to the point where she has determined that hearing news, particularly political news, is actively unhealthy for her, so she's undergoing a news blackout for a year in an attempt to re-center herself.

My current clock radio has two choices: the radio or a buzzer alarm. Most radio stations are hot garbage, especially in the morning; I can't listen to classical music to wake up, even though I like it, because it's not...urgent enough, it's too soothing. And my alarm clock's buzzer alarm volume is not adjustable, so I can sorta hear it but it doesn't fully wake me up, and I fear that at some point I'll condition myself to sleep right through it.

So I need an alternative. What I want is simple, or so I thought: I want a clock radio with HD radio, so I can set my alarm to play the HD station of my local NPR, which plays music exclusively (doesn't even really have DJ's), and would be a good wakeup.

Here's the complicating factor: I do not want to use my phone as an alarm clock. Tried it, hated it. I'm no luddite, but I do not want internet connectivity in my bedroom. So no IHeartRadio on my phone or anything similar, even though that's the easy way to go. I also don't want a dock for my phone; the whole point is to never have my phone where I sleep, for any reason.

A quick search of Amazon shows me several HD clock radios, but most of them seem to come with nanny cams, which...nope. I'm not super worried about cost, I guess, but less than $100 would be great. If I can't find a basic HD clock radio, I'll just get a basic clock radio with a volume-adjustable buzz alarm, but I feel like I'm just not searching for the right thing.

Does what I want exist? Or is there a way to will it into existence without using my phone?
posted by pdb to Technology (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I, too, have been searching for the perfect clock radio after wanting to not have my phone in my room.

I got this thing on Saturday and it does not have HD radio. It does have a slot for a microSD card, you could load that sucker up with classics and set alarms play from there. I will say this thing is kind of a pain to configure but could maybe be an option for you if you've got an existing digital music collection.

These alarm clocks look interesting but are definitely a little on the more expensive side. Again, no HD radio but maybe it would still be a nice thing to wake up to.
posted by sewellcm at 10:04 AM on April 8

The Grace SHD-T750 looks like it might meet your needs.
posted by exogenous at 10:09 AM on April 8

Not sure if this meets your standards, but I've found some success buying obsolete smartphones for single uses like this—like, pick up an ancient iPod touch for $20, put it in a Goodwill dock, it will be too slow and broken for you to want to do anything on it besides load up exactly the alarm you want.
posted by Polycarp at 10:37 AM on April 8 [2 favorites]

Some cheaper options include an Amazon Echo Dot, which can be verbally programmed to start playing a stream from the internet (of some all-music station, an Amazon-generated 'radio station', or your all-music npr feed, if it's available online). "Alexa, set an alarm for 7 AM to play WNPR2" or whatever. Alexa's routines, which are where it runs a list of instructions, would let you reduce likely annoyances from the dot, and you can even just mute the mic so it never responds. However, Echo Dot is overkill for your morning alarm alone, though, if you don't want the other functions of Alexa.

So How about a Internet clock radio, such as this model from Ocean Digital? It and appliances like it are clock radios without the radio tuner, and with a wifi connection. You'll probably want to test out how it goes off when there's no internet, because that'll likely happen once every couple years or so.
posted by Sunburnt at 11:00 AM on April 8

I have a Phillips clock radio with a CD player. That gives a lot of options as far as wakeup music.

We have it set to NPR as well. Our comment is that we begin the day listening to stories of death, destruction and mayhem, but it can only get better from there.
posted by yclipse at 2:25 PM on April 8

We've had two of the Zen alarm clocks over the last decade. The cases are made beautifully and they sound fantastic, but they have the cheapest electronic movements in them. The "travel" one comes with a really terrible wall wart rather than running on batteries? Note that neither of the models we bought have radios.

They have both broken on us. Not something I would buy again.
posted by bonehead at 4:10 PM on April 8

If you have an old phone, root it you can remove the browser, facebook and any other junk, and set up alarms.

There are sleep headsets that would let you set an alarm clock to NPR just for you, but that might not be appealing. I have a westclox moonbeam that has a flashing light and/or bell.
posted by theora55 at 6:26 PM on April 8

I use a blackberry playbook as my alarm/ereader/music player. It's not worth going online anymore but the alarm that I use allows streams as well as choosing any mp3 I have on the device as my wake up song (currently, Devo's Satisfaction).
posted by ashbury at 7:57 PM on April 8

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