Streaming Radio – The Price is Right!

You may find this hard to believe, but some of us at Compu-Home (okay, ONE of us) is of a certain age and sometimes has a bit of a challenge finding the “right sort” of music on the radio.  We once went so far as to discuss a special and very expensive antenna, to bring in a larger selection of radio stations.  Luckily, cooler heads prevailed and a more knowledgeable member of the group came up with a far simpler and cheaper alternative that makes use of existing equipment and Internet service.  Radio through your computer can now be as simple or as elaborate as you want it to be, starting with a modest-bandwidth Internet connection and your computer’s built-in sound and speakers.  Then you have the option to bump it up a notch or two by adding a Bluetooth speaker to carry the sound anywhere in your home, or earbuds to keep it personal.  Desktop or laptop computers, tablets or smartphones are all quite capable of being your 2018 radio, bringing in stations from all over the world.

SINGLE RADIO STATIONS:  If you happen to know of specific stations that carry your preferred programs and music it is a simple matter to find their websites and copy shortcuts into a folder on your desktop.  The websites all look different but they usually offer at least a schedule and a button for live streaming and sometimes podcasts.  Often you can subscribe to podcasts or email programming reminders and special events and this can be a good idea, although sometimes public broadcasters’ reminders will include appeals for donations.

NETWORKS:  The advantage of a network of stations can be as simple as time-shifting, or local news from communities anywhere on the globe.  Other features might include specific programming, like CBC’s Ontario Today, or one of our personal favourites: Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me! on NPR’s WBEZ Chicago. There are lots of national and international networks, such as BBC and United Nations Radio that will provide differing perspectives on world events.

PACKAGES:  AccuRadio is probably the best known of the services that offer hundreds of international radio stations and the ability to categorize and search within the groups.  iHeartRadio is a relative newcomer, and RadioPlayer Canada is a homegrown version, with primarily Canadian content.  Sometimes these services can become overwhelming, with Internet-Radio, for example, claiming that it offers music from “37,465 radio stations worldwide!”  Often these services have a free version with advertising, or premium subscriptions that are ad-free and offer more features.

MOSTLY MUSIC:  If music is your primary interest there is a huge variety of services for you and we simply have to suggest that you try as many as possible of them before settling on one or a few that suit you best.  Our personal favourites and recommendations that have been passed on to us include CBC Music, Spotify, 8Tracks and Deezer.  (It is not lost on us that Deezer rhymes with Geezer.)  Don’t forget YouTube, which we explored in detail in a column last year, and which offers the added bonus of video.  Many offer a limited free trial, and then you have to subscribe for a monthly or yearly fee.  You might decide that the subscription is worth it, but we think it’s a good idea to try several services to make sure you have found the one that is best for you.

YOUR SUGGESTIONS ??  If you write to us with your experiences, suggestions and feedback, we will pass them on (without names if you prefer) in a future column and blog.

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