A Hacker’s Guide to Alexa

FM Transmitter 2 with Amazon Alexa Echo DotAnother meaning of “hacking” is to “clear a path”. In this case I want Alexa to perform the way I want. I warn you I’m the guy who disabled the annoying “Bixby” button on my S8 android phone by gluing it down with two small dabs of clear silicone. This glue can be removed in the event of some incredible cosmic event where Bixby has something to offer me. Smart phones are only tools.

I am also completely uninterested in smart speakers including Alexa’s even with its extensive abilities except one . . . radio. I have seen oral navigation to a favorite radio station end up in terse arguments with a robot which keeps adding perceived insults to the request. The app that downloads to your phone is a not bad as long as you are willing to press the button a few times until it makes a selection. You can scroll through your history to find your favorite station without opening your mouth. This is particularly good when changing stations in the middle of the night. We keep the Alexa mic off after reflection of some of our home discussions. Question:  Can two people download the Alexa app and control one device?

I tried plugging Alexa close to my CCRadio 2E so I can plug it into the “audio-in” port. Unfortunately, the Alexa’s switching power adapter destroyed AM reception. I prefer over the air radio when I can get it because internet radio advertising is many times more repetitive and demeaning (IMHO). Plugging Alexa into another circuit about 25’ away solved the noise problem. Using an FM transmitter from Alexa to my CC Radio solved the transmission problem and gave me audio clarity I enjoy and an expanded radio dial that has infinite possibilities. There are a few potential obstacles to be aware of before you try an FM Transmitter.

  1. Some locations have a full dial of strong FM stations. You can check https://radio-locator.com/cgi-bin/vacant for a vacant station slot or tune the dial for dead air.
  2. The FM Transmitter-2 is low power so it only goes a maximum distance of about 45 feet line of sight with no obstructions.  In my location I was getting less. You can search “FM transmitter 2 mod” for user solutions if you’re not getting the range you need.

My predominant source of enjoyment is news (BBC), podcasts and late night radio, but I do love good movies and books too. I don’t think I am the only one who has shut off their cable after realizing all they want is keep your eyeballs looking at a screen any way they can in exchange advertising dollars.

Enter to Win: Do you have a smart speaker? If so, which one and how do you use it most? Have you found any useful tricks? Please answer in the comments below and be entered to win the FM Transmitter 2. Drawing to be held February 9th. Thanks! Please only one entry per person.

Congratulations to Charles Arneson on winning the FM Transmitter 2!

89 Responses to “A Hacker’s Guide to Alexa”

  1. Debbie Young Says:

    I plug my Amazon Fire tablet (with Alexa) into my CCrane 2E Radio to stream talk shows. I got a loud popping noise until I started streaming my program. It scared me so I unplugged the tablet from it. Is this transmitter what I need??

  2. Rich Says:

    I do not have a smart speaker and would love to try one out.

  3. Tom McCoppin Says:

    Was interested in your article….I listen mostly to AM radio, often thru Alexa and the IHeart radio application. My problem is that some of the local stations that I would like to listen to are not available on IHeart (so I use my trusty CC Pocket). Any suggestions for AM? Please enter me in the drawing….I love all your products!

  4. Rosie McGowan Says:

    I don’t have a smart speaker yet, but I am very interested in disaster preparedness and found the article enlightening.

  5. Charles Arneson Says:

    Love crane products looking at New SAN sortwave radio looks like TH transmitter would begoodc

  6. freemattpodcast Says:

    I dont have a smart speaker. I would consider it if my privacy concerns were “made right”. Im not a conspiracy type person but these products push one closer to that ledge.

  7. Mickey Says:

    I have an echo and it works very well. I found out that you need to enable skills like pod buddy, any pod, tune in and i heart radio to get the full listening experience that you have in an internet radio. An are thet the echo lacks is the ability to use reciva,com. I found that reciva was the best service to use for listening because you could add podcasts, stations, streams by using the url. Tune in claims you can do this but alexa doesn’t always recognize the command.

  8. paclubout Says:

    I use my Echo to listen to news and play Jeopardy! Also as a timer.

  9. David Mills Says:

    I bought an ANKER bluetooth speaker, from Amazon, that works up to 66 feet away fom my CC2 radio that I plug a bluetooth transmitter/receiver into, from Amazon, I can then tune in my C.C2 radio to my favorite station or plug in my Echo Dot to auxiliary in port on the radio, plug the bluetooth transmitter into the C.C2 radio earphone jack, pair the transmitter to my ANKER bluetooth speaker then I can carry my ANKER speaker anywhere in or outside my home and listen to echo dot ALEXA streaming online or AM/FM radio. Works up to 66 feet away from my CC2 radio, fantastic! Enjoy!

  10. Douglas Easterlund Says:

    Control heating and cooling only

  11. lwc Says:

    I don’t personally have a “smart speaker”, but I gave one to a friend in appreciation for much of the help she gave me when it was needed.

  12. Robert Lilly Says:

    I’m planning to get a smart speaker! Need to save money to get it because I bought a radio for X-mas.

  13. Allen McGill Says:

    I have the full size Alexa and use it primarily to control lighting in my home via Wemo. Works great. Will soon hook it up to my security system.

  14. Brian Says:

    I don’t have one, but after reading these ideas I may have to get one. I do have the original CCRadio which is still working like new. I’ve had it since 2005! It has the discontinued TV receiver for when you could listen to local channels on your radio

  15. Randy Arstein Says:

    I don’t have a smart speaker, but i would enjoy one. I am loving my ccwifiradio…use it everyday without fail! Have had it for a few years no issues!

  16. Joe Rogers Says:

    Do not have one, but I want one after reading this article!

  17. Steve Schreder Says:

    Entry for transmitter Steve schreder

  18. Rick Says:

    I don’t have one and would like to see how well they work. Am considering getting one

  19. Diane Howe Says:

    I have not tried using my cc radio with alexa — rather, we just use alexa to play iheart radio stations we can’t get via radio.

  20. Thomad Vaughn Says:

    I use my Bose mini sound dock with everything – including Alexa. It’s bluetooth capable and works with iPhone, iPad, Amazon Echo Dot, TV, and devices friends and family bring over. Plus it works with or without power connection. Small enough to take anywhere!

  21. Paul Albert Says:

    Alexa. Use it for XM radio. No tricks

  22. Tom King Says:

    Don’t own a smart speaker yet, but plan to get one. Have four CCCrane radios waiting to be connected.

  23. David L. Says:

    Don’t have one, need to get one soon.

  24. Terry L Story Says:

    As it would happen, I have a bluetooth speaker from CCrane, the Senta, and I love it! I use it to run my phone into the speaker when I listen to Pandora, and also when I am using my phone to provide directions for travel via Google Maps, I port the phone to the Senta and I can then listen to the directions issued by Google to get to my destination without interfering with the radio operation. It is an amazing little speaker and the sound quality is very good! I think everyone should have one!

  25. Arvin Wynn Says:

    I would like to win one of the Fm transmitters.
    Love all the five radios I have from you fine folks.

  26. Rob Patterson Says:


  27. markotwo Says:

    Do not have a smart speaker and after reading over most these posts I believe I made a wise decision

  28. Jeff Edwards Says:

    Vizio, No bass speaker. Sounds good. Use it for blue tooth with my phone etc..

  29. Jonathan David Says:

    I do, it is a Denali S1002 Bluetooth pairing stereo. these are great, use phone, tablet, computer with Bluetooth dongle. the sound is fantastic and in Stereo. it also has a standard jack like headphones. either battery powered or USB mini so a cell phone charger runs them forever. LOVE IT. The Denali S1002 speakers, there are two of them and they pair bluetooth between them then the source. Good heavy duty well built.

  30. jim Says:


  31. Charles Lail Says:

    I have not tried using alexa.

  32. David Motley Says:

    I don’t think I have a smart speaker but I wouldn’t bet on it.

  33. John Graham Says:

    This would be a great addition to my Crane collection!

  34. David Fournerat Says:

    I do not have a smart speaker yet.

  35. Noah Nunberg Says:

    C.Crane is a great company. Love the radios I have bought from the company.

  36. Clay O Stiles Says:

    I have the Alexa smart speaker. I have started using the skills to get a specific radio station – tuned to the stations that I enjoy. Listen to the station you desire and they will tell you what to say to Alexa to get that station. It will be something like: “Alexa – enable Talk 99.5 skill”. She will enable it and then to play:” Alexa – play talk 99.5″

  37. Alan Knockwood Says:

    Love C.Crane. smart speaker too Bonus.

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