Tune in thousands of radio stations over the Net

November 1, 2006

Considering the wealth of free radio available over the Net, I would not invest in a broadcaster or in a satellite provider such as XM Radio.

This led to a series of folders, each labeled with a genre of content, running the gamut from classical music to blues, religious and talk shows.

Within each folder were a number of radio stations that also were broadcasting their content on the Net - and some stations that broadcast ONLY on the Net.

I learned that there are thousands of radio stations broadcasting on the Net, and many of my favorite local and regional stations were on the Net. Now - over the Net - I can listen to news and shows from home, from anywhere in the world.

Using Audio Hijack Pro from http://RogueAmoeba.com/ I can schedule recording of programs such as local or national news, then listen to them when I return to my hotel room at the end of a day.

One problem I encountered with iTunes is that occasionally the radio signal would stop, perhaps because of a glitch with the Internet connection. iTunes does not do a good job of automatically reconnecting to the Internet stream, so I was forced to click on the radio station to resume the radio reception. The new version (7.0) of iTunes seems to do a much better job of staying connected, so be sure your software is up to date.

Tuning in

I soon discovered that http://rokulabs.com/ had developed a device that can tune in Internet radio signals without tying up a computer. The Roku 500 cost me $149 and has been a delight to use. I simply plugged in an Ethernet connection and used the included remote control to choose a desired station. I can use any Web browser on a computer connected to the same network to update the software on my Roku 500 or to add new stations.

The Roku automatically reconnects if the Internet signal is lost, so there is a steady flow of music and other content into my home and office. I can also stream music from my computer to the Roku 500 either via Ethernet or wirelessly. The Roku 500 has output jacks to feed its high-quality signal to my sound system.

Considering the wealth of free radio available over the Net, I would not invest in a broadcaster or in a satellite provider such as XM Radio. Indeed, I have noticed that the satellite providers are now selling subscriptions for accessing their content over the Net, allowing home and office users to tune their favorite satellite channels without needing to install and orient a satellite antenna!

Kevin C. Smith, M.D., is a dermatologist in Niagara Falls, Ontario. He may be reached at ksmithderm@aol.com
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