Some notes from my technology slot on the Right Hook. I like the radio, more than almost all television at this stage. I’ve hardly started to explore the wealth of shows that are available, but I’m already a fan of New York PBS station WNYC. I’ve been following their On the Media show for a few months by podcast, and look forward to exploring other programmes.
Internet radio is the name given to the stations, mostly music, which only broadcast over the internet. They don’t have any other broadcast facilities. Usually these are tiny, one person, operations run to cover a particular niche of music. So whether you’re looking for baroque chamber music or Swedish Death Metal, you could tune in on your computer and listen away to your hearts content.
Or at least you used to be able to. There has been some controversy in the US, where most Internet Radio stations are based, over a change in the Royalty rates. These have now been jerked upwards at the behest of the record companies and many of these tiny operations are saying they’ll have to close.
There may be an Irish angle on this, as Ireland has, I’m told by people in the know, one of the best deals for paying royalties for this kind of broadcast in the world. So we may see US stations closing down only to reopen based in Ireland.
Radio on the Internet
As well as these tiny niche channels, if you have broadband, you’ll be able to tune into thousands of conventional radio stations from around the world which are streamed onto the Internet usually using Realplayer or Windows Media, at the same time as they are broadcast. There are 98 streams available for radio stations from Ireland at the moment, including Newstalk.
It can be a bit of a pain trying to track down the links to all the stations you like to listen to, let alone trying to find out what might be on in the UK or US. So helpfully, a site called the Reciva Radio Portal has collected together all the radio stations on the planet and lets you browse them
It also keeps a listing of all the Listen Again streams available. These are used a lot by the BBC, who make all their programmes available for 7 days after broadcast. So if you missed a critical episode of the Archers, you’ll always be able to catch up.
Finally we come to the question of how you’re going to listen to all those Jamacian Reggae radio stations you’ve come to love so much. Are you going to sit in front of your computer tapping your finger on the mouse?
Of course not- boffins have been working on our behalf to free us to move around our house, listening to those Kingston beats as though it were traditional radio.
There are two ways of doing this- the luxury way and the makeshift way. As you’d expect the luxury way is the more expensive, but also straightforward choice. Because now you can buy a radio, which looks a lot like a normal kitchen radio, but which connects to the internet through your wifi network and tunes in to all 6000 odd stations listed on Reciva.com. And to save you having to flick through all of them, they also come with preset buttons for your favourite channels. Argos will sell you one of these for about €140, but you can buy more elaborate models (at more elaborate prices) from the Internet (where else?)
And now, the makeshift approach; you can go into most electrical stores (I know Peats stock them) and buy a little plugin FM transmitter for about €20. These used to be illegal until very recently. They take the sound coming out of your computer and broadcast it around your house, letting you tune in on your everyday common-or-garden radio. All you have to do is set the stream running on your computer, plug in the transmitter in the headphone socket and head off to do the washing up humming along to Belgian Contemporary Rock.