One of the many interesting talents that the Amazon Alexa possesses is the ability to allow users to listen to history, whether that be through vintage recordings, old-time radio, or learning new things. Here is a selection of free skills that show how Amazon Alexa can help you listen to history. These skills can be used in any setting, but would be especially great for a history classroom or retirement home.
Alexa, play one of these old time radio shows
Old time radio shows are fun to listen to and a great way to teach people about the golden age of radio. There are even more shows available on the developer page- just search “old time radio” on the Alexa skills page. Here are some shows that my friend recommended- just say “Alexa, play” followed by the show name below:
- Radio Mystery Theater
- Radio Abbott Costello
- Music Cruising Rock
- Radio Christmas shows
- Radio Lone Ranger
- Music Victory One
- Radio Superman
- Radio Texas Rangers
- Radio Gunsmoke
- Radio Green Hornet
- Radio Sherlock Holmes
Alexa, open Vintage Radio
Alexa, open History Podcasts
Podcasts are a great way to learn new things, and the History Podcasts skill allows for people in the present to learn about people and things from the past through a series of curated podcasts. There are 5-6 different podcast series available with several episodes of each.
Alexa, read from Kindle
This skill will read the most recent book opened in the Kindle library, and start reading from the page that was last opened. Alexa’s voice will read the text, as opposed to another audio recording. It can also start from the beginning of chapters if needed. Classic literature that’s in the public domain can be downloaded free of charge so that users can listen along to their favorite novels.
Alexa, launch Vintage City Sounds
Do you like to imagine yourself in Paris, Tokyo, or Mexico City in the 1950s? This skill plays sounds from the city streets, which would be great for a history class or similar. One of the reviews says the skill is difficult to turn off, though I did not have this problem.
- Enable the Vintage City Sounds skill
- How To Make Historical Documents Accessible For Vision Impairment
Alexa, enable The Jazz Groove
My middle school band director inspired many of their students to begin listening to jazz music whenever possible, but it wasn’t until I did a paper on jazz music in ninth grade that I really started listening to the genre more often, especially songs with jazz clarinet. Now, I listen to The Jazz Groove skill whenever I am wanting to relax or write for long periods of time and it helps me clear my head. The music is ad-free and unobtrusive and is one of the top rated skills on this list. It’s worth noting you have to say “the jazz groove” and not just “jazz groove” to ensure the correct skill plays.
Alexa, ask Artsy about Andy Warhol
Want to learn more about art history? Ask Artsy about an artist and listen to a bio about them in the context of art history. Artsy can also recommend local art events, but from what I can tell it only works for major cities. Users can also play the Artsy podcast and learn more about art in the past, present, and future.
Alexa, find this song on Amazon Music
Maybe there’s a specific song you want to listen to that you remember the name of, or a specific artist. Just ask Alexa to play the song title or songs by the artist you want to listen to. For example, I might ask “Alexa, play In The Mood” or “Alexa, play songs by Buddy Holly.”