Tag Archives: Internet Radio

Bob recommends Radio Tray

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Bob Chandler (VE3SRE), who leaves the following reply to our WiFi Radio Primer:

radiotrayI have been streaming online radio using a PC for a number of years using a really simple programme for the GNU/Linux operating system called “Radio Tray“.   Radio Tray is a tiny programme written in Python that uses the Gstreamer “back end”.

This programme is so small, that you can turn that old 1990’s vintage Pentium II laptop that’ gathering dust in a broom closet into an internet radio.   Just choose a very “lightweight” distribution of GNU/Linux.

For instance, on an old “original” Asus EeePC netbook, with a 900 MHz. Celeron processor, 512 MB RAM and a little 4 GB solid state hard drive, I installed the “Debian” distribution but used the lightweight “JWM” window manager for the GUI.   JWM isn’t pretty, but it works great!

You can get “Radio Tray” using the package management system of just about any GNU/Linux distribution.   I know for sure it’s in the “repos” for Ubuntu, Debian, Arch and Fedora along with all of the derivatives.    Unfortunately, it’s not available for Windows and MacOS.   But, the GNU/Linux OS is “free as in freedom and free as in free beer” as they say!

All of your radio station “bookmarks” are stored in a simple “bookmarks.xml” file that makes it a breeze to copy your bookmarks from computer to computer.    Over the years I’ve accumulated a thousand or more (I’ve lost count) internetradio stations in Radio Tray.

Radio Tray is capable of handling just about any streaming format.

My online “dx challenge” is finding the “real” stream URL of the station that’s often buried inside of browser based “Flash” players.    But, since these days most radio stations outsource their audio streaming to one of about half a dozen streaming audio providers, once you’ve figured out the provider’s URL pattern for one station, you’ve figured them all out.

I’m able to figure out the “real” stream URL about 90% of the time.   Some are easy, while some require a bit of detective work.

That also means that I don’t depend on streaming aggregators, since stream URL’s are changing all the time and sometimes it takes the aggregator a while to do an update.   I can just update a station that I’m interested in myself.

Here’s the website for “Radio Tray

http://radiotray.sourceforge.net/

I also wrote a blurb about radio tray on my own (very much neglected) website a couple of years ago.

http://ve3sre.com/wordpress/radiotraysoftware/

Thanks, Bob! I was not familiar with this app–seems like a simple addition to any PC.

Internet Radio: Mark wants to know about your listening habits!

comoaudiosolo-internetradio

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mark Fahey, who shares the following reply to our Como Audio Solo review:

I am a heavy user of internet radios and have a few scatted around the home, the one most frequently used is the Grace in the kitchen. What stations do people listen to?

I listen to lots of different things while cooking, what I do is tune to a station local to whatever I am preparing. So that means a lot of Asian stations; Indonesia, Vietnam, India, Japan, China, Laos etc! A few months ago spending time in Southern California put me in the mood for Mexican food, so there has been a lot of Mexican radio playing in the kitchen lately. On the special occasions when cooking Grits for breakfast I usually listen to 103.3 AshevilleFM.

[Note to Mark: I’d like to think I have something to do with the fact you’re one of the only guys cooking grits in Australia! -Thomas]

The Logitech in the bedroom is usually tuned into European stations late a night as I drift off, and as I wake up and dress I’m usually listening to Japanese community radio stations.

In the main living area mostly USA alternative and indi rock, NPR or college radio is on.

I am a very serious flight-simmer and love exploring around the world this virtual way. I’m very serious about this so preflight and route planning takes up to an hour, so in the hours before a flight I quite typically listen to a station in the city my Cessna-404 twin turbo happens to be at that particular time.

I’m kind of interested – what are you guys listening to on internet radios?

PS. Oh and the Como Solo looks great – Im ordering one!

Your query is timely, Mark, as someone recently asked me the same question.

The Sangean WFR-28 WiFi Radio

The Sangean WFR-28 WiFi Radio

I primarily use Internet radio to listen to music and local news outlets.

In terms of music, I love almost everything, but especially Jazz, Classic Rock, Big Band, Brazilian music, French, Mambo, Zydeco, Electronica, and, frankly, anything a little eclectic and musically interesting.

Some of my favorite music stations are: The UK 1940s Radio Station, RFI Musique, FIP, Radio Bossa Nova, KBON, Espace Musique (various outlets), CBC Ambient Lounge, Kanal Jazz, Radio Swiss Jazz, WNMB, RadioNostalgia, Celtic Music Radio 1530, WNCW, Radio 6 and Fréquence 2 to name a few.

In terms of news and talk, I listen to: CBC Radio 1 (Toronto, Montreal, St. Johns, Charlottetown), WFAE, WCQS, Alaska Public Media, Vermont Public Radio, France Inter, Radio Canada, ABC Radio Australia, ABC Northern Tasmania, Radio New Zealand National, BBC World Service, 7RPH, Federal News Radio, ABC Radio Perth and many, many more.

I especially love finding some random, local radio station and eavesdropping on their community news!

I have well over 100 stations/favorites organized in various folders on my WiFi radios.

Honestly, this 2016 election season in the States has so heavily dominated domestic news, I’ve focused almost exclusively on stations outside of the US to seek a little refuge.

Of course, I’m also a heavy shortwave listener. While using a WiFi radio lacks the “fun factor” and skill of SWLing, it certainly serves up a world of diversity and is the perfect compliment to shortwave listening.

elecraft-kx3-radioaustralia

Radio Australia serving up a blowtorch signal into North America this morning–a steady S9+20db on my Elecraft KX3.

As I type this post this morning, for example, I’ve been listening to the CBC and France Inter on my WiFi radio (the audio actually emanates from my vintage Scott Marine SLR-M via an SStran AM transmitter). I’ve been muting the WiFi radio from time to time to listen to the ABC top of the hour news and music programming on Radio Australia with my Elecraft KX3 (above).

Now…back to Mark’s question…

What do you, dear Post reader, listen to on your WiFi radio, mobile device or computer? Please comment!

The Como Audio Solo and Duetto radios on Kickstarter

ComoAudio-Solo

The Como Audio Solo

Alas, I find that I’m frequently blamed by SWLing Post readers who cite this blog as the reason they spend so much money on radios.

But for the record, I’d like you to know that such spending is actually a two-way street!  A couple of days ago, Post contributor Robert Gulley sent me a link to a cool Kickstarter campaign for two new multi-format digital radios: the Solo and the Duet by Como Audio.

Having just completed an in-depth review of several WiFi radios for The Spectrum Monitor magazine, the good-looking Solo in its wood casing really caught my attention! (the Duet, meanwhile, is a two-speaker version of the same rig).  At first glance, the Solo appears to be  compatible with a much wider range of digital formats than many of its competitors, so naturally I’m eager to determine if this is so. Here’s a list:

  • Internet radio accessing 20,000+ stations
  • Spotify
  • Bluetooth with aptX
  • NFC Android Bluetooth connection
  • DLNA WIFI
  • Music player allowing easy navigation and playback through a USB or network-shared library of music files, including AAC+, MP3, WMA, WAV, and FLAC
  • 4 High-Res inputs: 2 analog, 1 Optical, and 1 USB.
  • Google Cast-ready
  • Amazon Dot-ready

It even has a “high-performance” FM tuner and is DAB+ compatible, especially great if you live in Europe.

It also sounds like they’ve spent time designing a proper acoustic chamber/chassis and are fueling a 3″ woofer and 3/4″ dome tweeter with a 2 X 30 watt RMS amplifier. This radio should pack some audio punch.

The Como Audio Duetto

The Como Audio Duetto

The only obvious thing I see missing on the Como Audio WiFi radios is an internal battery.

Still, after watching the video and reviewing the specs, I backed the campaign to receive a walnut Kickstarter Edition Solo. If all goes well––and I never actually expect a campaign to produce and ship a product in the amount of time they expect––they may be shipping the radios as early as October.

The campaign has already met it’s goal of $50,000 and is now stretching for $100,000 with more incentives.

So, I didn’t really need another WiFi radio, but thanks to Robert’s email––yep, I bought one! Now the only question remains:  can you actually make impulse purchases on Kickstarter? I think I just proved that you can.

Your favorite radio stations that stream online?

The Grace Digital Mondo WiFi radio

The Grace Digital Mondo WiFi radio

Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time with WiFi radios.

You see, I’ve been preparing a three part series about WiFi radios for The Spectrum Monitor magazine (Part 1 will appear in the April 2016 issue). Not only have I been evaluating and reviewing several radios, but also station aggregators: the curated databases of radio stations to which WiFi radios link.

Internet radio = Local radio discovery

Internet (or Web/WiFi) radio is a fantastic platform for discovering small, even semi-isolated, community radio stations that, until the Internet, had never broadcast signals beyond their local communities. With Internet radio, we can enjoy these stations as if we, too, are locals. Local becomes international.

WHKY-AM-Radio-Tower

As I travel, I try to note the callsigns of AM/FM radio stations I enjoy.

Sadly, not all of my favorite local radio stations stream online as it’s a major expense for a small broadcaster and yields very little in the way of ad revenue. After all, who in South Africa is going to buy auto parts from a store in Homer Alaska? It’s a conundrum for sure, and one shared by private shortwave broadcasters.

Still, there are a number of stations that do manage to have a reliable streams online.

In no particular order, here’s a short list–a handful–of some of my favorite stations that stream (click on the callsign to listen to the station live):

  • WTZQ Everything from Glenn Miller to Steve Miller (Hendersonville, NC)
  • WXRC Classic Rock (Charlotte, NC)
  • WDRV Classic Rock (Chicago, IL)
  • WHGM Classic Hits (Havre de Grace, MD)
  • WFED Federal News Radio (Washington, DC)
  • CBAL French language music from (Moncton, NB, Canada)
  • CKUT McGill University radio, (Montreal, Canada)
  • CIAO World Music and Talk Radio (Brampton, ON, Canada)
  • 6WF ABC local talk and music (Perth, Australia)
  • Fréquence 2 (Ivory Coast, Africa)
  • CFZM Nostalgia (Toronto, Canada)
  • Saint-Pierre & Miquelon 1ère French music/talk (St. Pierre and Miquelon)
  • WNMB 1950’s music (North Myrtle Beach, SC)
  • KBON Cajun/Zydeco/Blues and variety (Louisiana, USA)

What are your favorite stations?

Please comment and share some of your favorite streaming AM/FM radio stations! I’m all ears!

Live365 is no more

Live365_logo

As of February 1, 2016, the Internet radio pioneer Live365 has closed shop.

I imagine many SWLing Post readers are familiar with Live365, especially if you have a WiFi radio with the Live365 app.

While I’ve never been an avid listener of Live365, I have certainly enjoyed a wide variety of independent Internet radio stations via the platform.

Why did Live365 close shop? Here’s what Forbes.com suggests:

“It is rumored that the service is being forced into early retirement because of new royalty rates that digital radio producers now need to adhere to. Late in 2015, the Copyright Royalty Board handed down its decision about what internet radio services will need to pay per stream, and it apparently hurt Live365 so much that it can no longer afford for the rights to play music. Companies like Pandora lobbied hard for the court to lower royalty rates for the next five years, and while certain kinds of streams will cost internet radio stations and services less, it will cost platforms more overall to continue to play music. This may not be the only reason why Live365 is going out of business, but it appears to have been a factor.”

I’m sure the new royalty rates had had a major influence on the decision to close down. Here’s a screen capture of the parting message from Live365’s web site:

Live365-Message

That is the conundrum of Internet streaming services: the more listeners, the more it costs to broadcast due to both bandwidth and royalties. Your success–especially when the music industry moves toward higher costs and more restrictions–might very well lead to your demise.

Perhaps this is where traditional over-the-air radio still has a small advantage–though the barrier of entry is much higher than Internet broadcasting.