TheEC: Google Home Won't Play RIPR Webcast

May 14, 2018

A Google Home Mini at the RIPR Offices
Credit Aaron Read RIPR

UPDATE #4 (06/08/18): I have been in touch with both TuneIn help and Google Home & Google Wifi help.  Unfortunately, nothing is helping.

I even factory reset our Google Wifi, and the Google Assistant & Google Home are still playing Latino Public Radio whenever asked to "play Rhode Island Public Radio".   I am thoroughly confused.

Google has "Actions" that allow developers to create specific tasks within the Google Home architecture, but Actions don't yet support live streaming.  Supposedly later in 2018 they will, but not for a few months at least.

The bottom line is that we now recommend to all our listeners to NOT use a Google Home device for listening to Rhode Island Public Radio.  I don't want to expressly endorse a particular product, but as of this moment, the Rhode Island Public Radio "Skills" seem to work fine for listening to RIPR via Amazon's Echo, Echo Dot and similar "Alexa" devices.  Visit smart.ripr.org for more info and how to get the free Skills.

UPDATE #3 (05/25/18): I have learned something interesting but of questionable usefulness.  Our office wifi is through a trio of Google Wifi mesh access points.  Whatever is wrong with our Google Home playing Latino Public Radio when asked to play Rhode Island Public Radio, it's something wrong in the wifi access point.

I know this because I downloaded the Google Assistant app to my iPhone, connected to the Google Wifi, and told it to "play wrni".  It plays WRPA - Latino Public Radio.  (WRPA is the new call letters for 1290AM, which LPR used to lease, of course)

But if I turn wifi off and just use 4G LTE, then tell GA to "play wrni", it plays Rhode Island Public Radio.

It also plays RIPR's webcast if I use one of our Sprint 4G LTE hotspots and connect my iPhone's wifi to the hotspot.

Clearly there is some kind of caching going on within the Google Wifi itself, or in the relationship between the Google Wifi and the device (e.g. my iphone and/or the Google Home device).

I am interacting with Google Home's support to troubleshoot this further.  If I learn anything I'll let everyone know.

UPDATE #2 (05/21/18): TuneIn just got back to me, they have updated our entry in the database and things should be getting back to normal.  I know RIPR shows up correctly on our "home page" on TuneIn itself, but it may take several hours (even a day or two) for these updates to percolate out to all the various devices out there that use the TuneIn database: Sonos speakers, Google Homes, etc.   You may also need to manually perform an update on your device, or just reboot it, to make it see the changes.

Keep trying over the next day or so and let us know if you don't see any improvement.

UPDATE (05/21/18): In our work with TuneIn, we may have inadvertently disabled ALL streaming through TuneIn.  Google Home relies on the TuneIn system so it would be affected as well.  We're actively working on this and hope to have it fixed Monday or thereabouts.  Watch our Real-Time Tech Updates page for news.

ORIGINAL POST (05/14/18): Lately we have been hearing from some RIPR listeners (and we've confirmed it on our Google Home mini here in the office) that when they use the vocal trigger for RIPR's webcast, they get Latino Public Radio instead.

For example, you say OK Google, play Rhode Island Public Radio

And it replies, Sure, here's Latino Public Radio on TuneIn and it plays LPR's webcast.

This is not good.

One colleague of mine (in Nevada, so outside our geolocation range) says when he does the vocal trigger, it works fine.  So this may be a known issue with Google Home devices (see here, here and here) where it just randomly loses the ability to play the correct webcast.  This bug can and does happen even after months of proper operation.

We are actively working with TuneIn to try and see if we can fix the problem on their end, but if it's a Google Home problem then there isn't much TuneIn can do.

WHAT CAN YOU DO:

  1. First, send feedback to Google about this.  Tell the GH device: "OK Google, Send Feedback.  I ask to play the webcast for Rhode Island Public Radio, and it plays the webcast for Latino Public Radio instead."
  2. Second, try a variation on the vocal trigger.  Some options that have been confirm to work for at least some users are:
  • OK Google, play W-R-N-I-F-M.
  • OK Google, play N-P-R in Rhode Island.
  • OK Google, play One Oh Two Point Seven F-M.

Broadly speaking, for this reason we also do not recommend Google Home and instead recommend using an Amazon Echo/Echo Dot or other Alexa-enabled device.  We have a free Alexa Skill that is specifically designed to work with our webcast.  It also gives you on-demand access to our local newscasts, too!