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This Mason-jar radio picks up just one station

The Public Radio on Kickstarter comes pre-tuned to pick up a single station. You can choose the station, but it's geared for fans of "All Things Considered" and "Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!"

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
2 min read

Pubic Radio
The Public Radio wants to be your NPR listening buddy. Centerline Engineering

Most people have a polygamist relationship with radio stations. They scoot among the channels, switching between a few favorites and occasionally exploring other frequencies.

The Public Radio from Centerline Engineering on Kickstarter is promoting a monogamous relationship between you and your local NPR station.

The gadget is stripped down to the absolute minimum. It's built into a short, squat Mason jar. There's an antenna, a speaker and a volume knob. It runs on two AA batteries. There are no LEDs, no headphone jack, no Bluetooth, no extraneous parts at all. It's just a single-station radio and you.

Backers will be given the opportunity to send Centerline the frequency and call letters for their favorite NPR station. That station will be programmed into the radio prior to shipping. When it arrives, all you have to do is crank it up to get your fix of "Morning Edition" or "Car Talk" reruns. Of course, you could ask to have the radio tuned to your local spandex-rock or old-school country station, but the original impetus behind the project was based on tuning in to NPR.

The Public Radio will work for any FM station between 87MHz and 108MHz -- including outside the US. Sorry, AM-radio fans, you're out of luck. For a $35 pledge (about £22, AU$40), you can get the radio in a kit form that you have to solder together yourself. For a $48 (about £30, AU$55) pledge, you get the radio already put together and ready to share news, TED talks and snarky current-event quiz shows from the moment it arrives.

While Centerline is offering the radios to the public through Kickstarter, it has hopes of one day selling the radios wholesale to individual NPR stations. Those stations could then use them as incentives for fundraising drives.

Public Radio is a hit, having raised over $72,000 with 14 days left to go. The original goal was a mere $25,000. For a fascinating breakdown of costs, pricing, economies of scale, uncertainties and triumphs for an electronics Kickstarter, check out Public Radio co-creator Spencer Wright's post on Medium. It should be required reading for anyone who aspires to launching a new crowdfunding project.