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.

Terry recommends the Public Radio Fan portal

PublicRadioFan

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Terry (VE7TEB) who writes:

You may have already posted this, but if not here is an excellent Public Radio resource, perhaps worthy of another mention: http://www.publicradiofan.com/

Indeed, Terry! Public Radio Fan is a fantastic resource–especially for SWLs who enjoy listening to public broadcasters who are no longer on shortwave. The site makes it easy to search for broadcasters; it has a very simple and responsive user interface.

Public Radio Fan was created in 2001 and is maintained by its creator, Kevin Kelly. I don’t know where he finds the time to curate this database, but I’m glad he does!

Definitely worth the mention. Thank you, Terry!

Click here to go to Public Radio Fan.

Radio Kiribati and WiFi Radios

Kiribati

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Paul Walker, who writes:

Thomas.. I know this isn’t quite SW news anymore, but Radio Kiribati usedto be on SW a while ago and is now on AM.

I just found out something to those of us interested in Pacific radio signals. Radio Kiribati 1440 JUST started a live web stream…JUST…as in, like within the last few days!

The audio levels can be a bit loud and overdriven at times, but i am corresponding with their Chief Engineer and the Radio station manager at the Broadcasting & Publications Authority in an effort to get levels set just right.

The audio is average and I wouldn’t expect much more, quality wise, then what they’ve got now.. as most of these stations have hare basics when it comes to some equipment.
The Radio Kiribati stream was just added to the Reciva.com database for internet radios and should be there soon if it isn’t already.

CC-Wifi-Radio

The stream is at http://202.6.120.13:8000/ The stream itself is of amazing quality at 64k vorbis, which sounds good to my ears via my CC Wifi Radio and CCrane Senta speaker.

Radio Kiribati only broadcasts local programming at certain times of day. Sometimes I’ll hear Radio New Zealand International outside of local broadcasting, other times I won’t.

TX times are as follows…most of their programming is in their native language, which is Gilbertese according to Wikipedia. It’s a Micronesian language of the Austronesian language family. They do three segments of English broadcasting every day, some 30 minutes long and one is an hour long.
Kiribati is UTC+14… at 416pm Thursday in Southwest Arkansas, where i am.. it’s 916am Friday morning in Kiribati.

  • Morning: 0700am to 0830am. English at 8am
  • Lunch: 1200 noon to 1330. English at 1300
  • Evening: 1700 to 2130. English at 1800

Feel free to post this to your own blog, website, Facebook group or page.. let’s spread the word!!

Thanks, Paul!

WiFi radios

Though pricey, I've heard the Pure Evoke F4 has fantastic audio and a meticulously curated database of Internet streams.

Though pricey, I’ve heard the Pure Evoke F4 has fantastic audio and a meticulously curated database of Internet streams.

This is one of the benefits of Wi-Fi radios and Internet streams: the ability to hear “local” stations–many of which used to broadcast on shortwave–from all corners of the globe.

I’m seriously considering purchasing a Wi-Fi radio for my wife to make it a little easier for her to listen to Internet streams in her office.

I’ve been looking at the C.Crane CC WiFi radio, the CC WiFi 2, the Grace Digital WiFi Music Player and the (much pricier) Pure Evoke F4 which my buddy, John Figliozzi, so highly recommends.

Any suggestions and recommendations are most welcome.

Web Radio and More? Amazon’s Kindle Fire on sale for $139 today only

At the Winter SWL Fest this year, several people talked about how great the Amazon Kindle Fire tablet works as a portable wi-fi (internet) radio. Typically, these sell for $199 on Amazon, new.  Today, and only while supplies last, Amazon is selling refurbished Kindle Fires for $139 as one of their “Gold Box Deals”.  That’s a great deal. Even Gizmodo endorsed this one.

Cricket – Muve ZTE Score: Our pick for a portable wi-fi radio, on sale at BestBuy

The Goal Zero Rock Out Portable Speaker and Cricket Muve ZTE Score

In our two-part series on Internet radio–Rethinking Internet Radio Part 1 and Part 2–we pointed out a very affordable and effective option for listening to internet radio: the Cricket Muve ZTE Score no-contract Android phone combined with the TuneIn radio app. Immediately after posting the article, the price of the Cricket phone increased to $79.99. For those of you who have been waiting for the price to drop again, you’re in luck. They are available at many BestBuy locations for $39.99–an excellent price.

It appears this promotion is good through May 5th. Click here for details.

Read our review of the Cricket Muve ZTE Score as a wi-fi radio here.

 

Rethinking Internet Radio, Part One

At the SWLfest this year, I attended a forum about web/Internet radio that resulted in my reconsideration (and, frankly, increased appreciation) of this now-conventional medium. If you’re already familiar with web radio, you may find this post a bit primary in nature; but if, like me, you hadn’t given the medium much consideration, I ask that you join us for a little rethink.

I decided, just to be fair and broad-minded, I really ought to take an exploratory plunge into the diverse world of web radio. True, we’ve never discussed this on the SWLing Post before; as our name implies, we usually stick closer to our classic shortwave medium. But as we do like to cover international broadcasting in our post, we must acknowledge that internet radio is now a significant part of that far-reaching landscape.

So, in order to cover the subject comprehensively, we’ve addressed it in two parts:  This first post focuses on the platform of internet radio, and attempts to dispell some misconceptions surrounding it in the SW community.  The second post will be a review of an ultra-cheap, rather unconventional web radio that will give you years of radio listening pleasure, should you wish to give it air time. I’ve also included some  insightful comments from our SWLing colleagues, also the forum’s presenters, so do keep reading.

Web Radio: a (very) short primer

The C.Crane Wi-Fi Internet Radio

First, a little terminology: There is no standardized name for the internet radio platform. Some people call the medium “web radio,” others call it “internet radio,” and manufacturers often refer to their purpose-built radios as “wi-fi radios.” All of these terms are correct and mean essentially the same thing, so we use them interchangeably here.

Everyone reading this post electronically already has access to web or internet radio–all you need is access to a computer, a smart phone, or an internet-enabled device with an application or web site that can tap into databases of stations around the world.  You’ve clearly got that.

The Logitech Squeezebox is a popular web radio/wi-fi player

However, when most people think of web radio, they think of a tabletop device that looks like a traditional radio, but links to your home internet connection and plays music from the web. This type of internet radio is, of course, very convenient.  You simply turn on the radio and literally tune across the world by means of a familiar tuning knob. By far, the web radio most of the SWLfest attendees preferred (and recommended) was the Logitech Squeezebox–for many reasons, including its comparatively open-to-development radio station server.

Tabletop web radios are great, but let’s face it–they’re a bit pricey, easily $100+, not really portable, and only deliver internet radio.  They’re the right solution for your kitchen, bedroom or home office, but you wouldn’t find it particularly convenient to travel with one of these or to move it from room to room.

Plus, there is the risk that if you buy a cheap purpose-built internet radio, and the parent company goes out of business, your radio will no longer have a database from which it can pull stations. Eager manufacturers jump into the market, as so many did in the early days of wi-fi radio, only to realize later that it’s not the right avenue for them and discontinue their radio service. Because many of these radios run on proprietary software and servers, when their companies fall out of the market, these radios are unable to connect to stations any longer. In other words, should your radio befall this unfortunate fate, your sleek, high-tech device could abruptly become no more than a paperweight.

Introducing TuneIn 

At the forum, the conversation quickly moved from wi-fi radios (like the above-mentioned Squeezebox) to internet radio applications for mobile devices. This applications (or programs) effectively turn your mobile device into a web radio. The one app name that received the most favorable mentions in our forum discussion is  “TuneIn.”  To learn a little more about TuneIn, I asked one of the presenters, Richard Cuff, why he likes it so much? Richard’s reply:

There are several different Android and iPhone apps that can help you navigate Web Radio, with TuneIn getting consistently high marks for its comprehensiveness and quality of listings — i.e., listings are up-to-date, and have few broken links.

The free version of TuneIn may be good enough for most people; the only notable restriction in functionality is that you can only maintain a personal list of favorites via the TuneIn website, not the mobile app; the paid version of TuneIn (99 cents for iPhone / iPad / Android / Blackberry), allows you to create and maintain a favorites list on your device itself.

Free versions of TuneIn are available as a web app, along with
versions for iOS devices, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone, and Palm devices.

In essence, TuneIn turns your smart phone, iPod Touch or tablet device (like the iPad or Kindle Fire) into a sleek internet radio that not only tunes in stations from around the world, but gives you access to scanner activity as well (fire, police and public utility transmissions, for example). How custom you’d like it to become, depends upon 99¢.

By the time the forum presenters had finished introducing this app, many of us in the room had already installed TuneIn on our phones and were checking it out for ourselves.

Other like applications were mentioned; I asked Richard about those he felt were stand-outs:

Another mobile app worth considering is the free FStream, but you have to build a list of stations yourself–it does not come with a comprehensive directory.

Many individual stations and station groups offer their own free apps, such as NPR, PRI, Radio France International, Germany’s DW, and Japan’s NHK; if you tend to listen to these specific stations, you may want the added functionality these individual apps may offer.

But is internet radio “cheating?” Is it really radio?

During the forum, I realized that many SWLers attending were more than reluctant to endorse web radio as an alternative to the familiar, trusted medium of shortwave radio. Prejudice, not to mention a certain amount of guilt, was detectable in the room. But as many on the panel were quick to point out, holding internet radio up to shortwave is really comparing apples to oranges–they not only don’t grow on the same tree, but shouldn’t be expected to.

The Worldwide listening Guide

I asked forum co-presenter John Figliozzi, author of The Worldwide Listening Guide, for his thoughts on the subject. After all, his radio guide is unique in that it includes not only frequency listings from across the traditional radio spectrum, but is also an authoritative internet radio guide.  Here’s what John replied:

The argument that only (pick one) AM/FM, [or] shortwave can rightfully be called “radio” is actually counterproductive to the interests of those who truly love radio.  Indeed, the success of radio as both a communications medium and art form is amply demonstrated by the manner in which it has blossomed into a number of manifestations–platforms, if you will–from its origins exclusively in medium wave wireless transmission.

Many have lost credibility as they’ve loudly heralded the death of radio at the hand of (pick the latest new technology over the last 80 or more years).  Every time, radio has remade and transformed itself into a more ubiquitous, flexible, relevant and contemporaneously useful medium.

For a traditional SWL[er], two of his or her key motivations for becoming an SWL[er] in the first place are even more fully addressed by today’s newest platforms embracing wifi internet radio:  (1) exploration of non-American cultures, ideas and societies; (2) that insatiable desire for more–more stations, more ideas, more voices, more styles.  (Certainly, the DXer will rightfully view wifi radio as “cheating,” but the DXer has arguably limited his or her sights to the point where content is meaningless.  In so doing, as broadcasters seemingly migrate away from shortwave, amateur radio transmissions should more than adequately serve as a substitute target for DXers and their interest.)

John makes excellent points here, and I must say that I agree.  In fact, I now see web radio as a platform for discovering small, even semi-isolated, community radio stations that, until the Internet, had never broadcast signals beyond their local communities. With web radio, we can enjoy these stations as if we, too, are locals. Local becomes international.  As ever, radio travels–radio opens doors and minds.

My (happy) conclusion? Web radio and shortwave radio listening are symbiotic–vitally linked, interdependent, nourishing one another, and growing in tandem.

As the SWLing Post is focused more on shortwave radio and international broadcasting, I asked Richard Cuff where listeners could go to be actively involved in discussions regarding internet radio? His suggestion:

There are several discussion and review-based websites on the subject of Internet Radio–there is a discussion group hosted at the Hard-Core-DX website that focuses on Internet Radio through the perspective of shortwave listening; check out http://www.hard-core-dx.com/mailman/listinfo/internetradio for specifics.

If we’ve convinced you to take the plunge into internet radio, and abandon any prejudice or guilt you may have about doing so, you must read our second part of this internet radio post.

Continue to Part Two of this post, which details using the Cricket Muve ZTE Score No Contract Android Mobile Phone as a highly affordable web radio.