Internet Radio

Internet radio

P lease send me URLs to good Internet radio stations and other stuff related to Internet radio. This nblog is intended to help you and me approach Internet radio
with a sense of how we can find what we want, what's out there, what apps we can listen to it with, what apps we can process it with, what info sources are out there, and so on.

06/05/09What's New

Recent links to streams: - links to streams
WREK - Georgia Tech, Atlanta - Rock
WWOZ - New Orleans Jazz - Hip Hop, Drum & Bass - Drum & Bass, Jungle
Sites: - radio art network - San Francisco avant garde
Filter Music - links to streams - links to streams

30/01/07Internet radio in iTunes

i Tunes, which is available for the PC and Mac, is a free, downloadable Internet radio and media manager/player. It is made by Apple. It's extrordinarily popular on the Mac.

Concerning it's Internet radio capabilities, it's very similar to Winamp but lacks a couple of features Winamp supports. The stations are not searchable in iTunes (as of version 7.02) and there is no link to the Web sites of the stations, although the URL is displayed at top. I don't see any way in iTunes to get the stream URL (as opposed to the Web site URL) at all. Also, you can't see how many current listeners a station has.

iTunes radio (click for larger image)
Internet radio in iTunes (click for larger image)

iTunes is a slightly less featureful version of Internet radio than Winamp, which is reviewed below.

29/01/07Internet radio in Winamp

W inamp is a free, downloadable Internet radio and media manager/player for the PC. It is a product of NULLSOFT, which has the best corporate
homepage I've encountered. Very like a piece of net art. It's a bit surprising, then, to learn that Nullsoft was purchased by AOL in 1999.

Nullsoft is also the maker of SHOUTcast, which is the most popular Internet radio broadcasting software. The freely downloadable SHOUTcast software is used by thousands of Internet broadcasters.

Display the Winamp Media LibraryYou can use Winamp as a radio receiver for thousands of SHOUTcast stations around the world. Here's how.

After you install Winamp, click at the top left of Winamp so that you see the menu to the right, and click "Media Library". This opens the Winamp "Media Library" that is not only your radio receiver but a way to view and manage other media types such as video, TV, and your personal collection of media on your computer.

Incidentally, the "View file info" menu item above provides you with the URL to a station's stream (and other info), when you are playing a station in Winamp.

Once you open the "Media Library", in the left pane, click "Shoutcast Radio", which is under the "Online Services" menu.

The Winamp Media Library (click for larger version)
The Winamp "Media Library" (click for larger image).

The right pane of the "Media Library" will then display your radio receiver.

The Winamp Quick Genre menuYou can look up stations in several ways. If you click the "Quick Genre" drop-down button, you see the menu displayed at right. If you click "Top 500" the 500 stations with the most current listeners are listed. The rest of the categories describe types of radio content.

If the sort of station you're looking for isn't described by any of these categories, then try the search box at the top right of the "Media Library". You can search this using any term you like, whether it's a location, a station name, a type of content, or whatever.

The "Media Library" window displays several pieces of information for each station:

  • Name: name of the station
  • Now Playing: artist and song name (for instance)
  • Genre: type of station.
  • Bitrate: quality of the signal. The higher the better.
  • Type: information compression format
  • Listeners: current number of them

If you click "Listeners", then that column will appear sorted by number of listeners. The other columns are similarly sortable. Depending on the speed of your Internet connection, you may want to sort the "Bitrate" column and limit your choice of stations to those that your connection can handle.

The "Now Playing" column is handy to see what's currently playing on all the listed stations. You may want to click the "Refresh" button at the bottom of the "Media Library" if the screen is old. This info doesn't often seem to be right up to date, though, in any case.

To tune a station in, double click it in the "Media Library". If the station can handle another listener, it starts playing and a little window opens with more station info. If you want to visit the Web site of the station, click the link in that little window.

If you want to bookmark a station, right-click the station and select "Bookmark".

OK, now you're ready to rock and roll. Or samba, polka, legong, tango, rigaudon, tandava, twist, mazurka, yang ge, shuffle, waltz, cha cha, rhumba, foxtrot, merengue, zydeco, punta, lindy hop, hustle, swing, boogie, hip hop, mosh and...and if you can't find that type of music on the Internet radio dial, I'll be surprised. Internet radio is vast. It is marvelous. Enjoy it. Explore the musics of the world.

Can you explore the poetry of the world or the philosophy of the world via Internet radio? Well, the music is amazing. But other sorts of programming are not easily found. Why is that? The only non-musical category in the "Quick Genre" drop-down is "Talk". It would seem that the SHOUTcast categories and perhaps the other SHOUTcast metadata are not well-suited to describe non-musical content. The search box presumably could find the term 'poetry', for instance, among the metadata, were it there amongst any number of several fields broadcasters must populate when creating their stations.

So it seems that the lack of arts programming in SHOUTcast radio is probably a mixture of both an inhospitable categorization schema and a lack of awareness about how to create such stations.

Tomorrow I'll have a look at another Internet radio: iTunes, which is available for the PC and Mac.

28/01/ Smart hot radio app

P andora is an easy-to-use Internet radio service that you listen to through the browser; it lets you construct 'stations' that you 'guide' in their
recommendations to you of music. They call their project "the music genome project"; they classify each piece of music using hundreds of properties. The interface is constructed with Flash.

The Pandora (Flash) interface in the browser

Pandora has a featureful, simple interface. You create a 'station' by typing the name of an artist or a song. Pandora then plays a song that has a related profile. You give it thumbs up or thumbs down, can read a profile on the artist, see what sorts of musical properties the profile possesses, buy the song, connect to other people listening to the same sort of music, and much else, if you want. If you don't like the song, a new song starts playing momently (presumably 'learning' from your decision)--unless you've been nixing a lot of songs, at which point the free version of Pandora says that her music license doesn't let her play too many songs per hour for you. Sure, Pandora. You just don't like me cause I'm cheap. Create or play a different station if you want more songs now, she says. No, Pandora, I don't want to create a new station. I want to train this one so you aren't pushing so much music at me I don't like. I want the perfect radio station that is impossibly attuned to my every passing aural fancy. Well, then, she says, perhaps you should consider the premium service.

Actually, the premium service is reasonably priced. And it's great to be able to move on to another song or another Pandora channel before the current song is finished, so you don't have to listen to so many songs you don't want to listen to. Also, the social dimensions of Pandora are very interesting, the way it puts you in touch with other people who like the same music you do--you also can access the channels they've created.

Also, Pandora's box of music is high quality. It plays all sorts of music you may not have heard. Music that is usually audibly related to the choices you made to create your station, but often not music you would have guessed it would pick. This is exciting. It does actually help you find music you like that you didn't know about. The "musical genome project" is very clever and useful in its analysis of the DNA of songs. Pandora is a classy musical app that takes radio in exciting new directions.

The texts available on each artist are comparative, primarily, mostly drawn from the All Music Guide. There are profiles on the artists and also on individual albums. The reviews/profiles contain links when other artists are mentioned. You can also listen to previews of each song on a given album. So listening to Pandora can be either a mindless activity or an absorbed study, depending on your mood and schedule.

Also, I find myself intrigued with seeing how far you can take a channel you create. Can you actually 'train' it so that it eventually pumps out stuff that blows your mind quite a lot? I confess it's already doing fairly well on that count. But onward and upward, eh? And how big is their music collection? I guess it'll eventually get to the point where it's like looking at a good friend's music collection, a friend with whom you listen to a great deal of music together—but it's still fresh after a few days. One wants to discover the edges of it.

Pandora's music license apparently forbids it from offering music to people outside of the USA; Pandora asks you for a valid five-digit USA zip code.

Related automated recommendation and Internet radio services include and, apparently, Yahoo's music service.

Other reviews of

Postscript: As of July 2007, Pandora is only available in the USA.

27/01/07For Programmers

S describes how to get the current title information from a Shoutcast stream. I was looking into this to see if making a Director piece using Internet
radio is feasible.

Director will play a streaming Shoutcast broadcast via an SWA member. Just set the URL to the stream's URL (not to a pls or m3u).

Director has an undocumented id3tags property that lets you get the ID 3 tag of a regular mp3 file. As with all SWA properties, it's only available after the SWA file has been buffered. (use preLoadMember() & wait until state=2). But a streaming station is not a regular mp3 file, and I know of no way in Director to get this information concerning a streaming station. A pity.

It seems that you can't get the current artist and title information from a Shoutcast stream in Director. Apparently the same is true of Flash.

If I could, I could use dbcinema to get images somewhat relevant to the artist and song and display those while the song was playing.

26/01/07How to link to a stream

W hen you visit Internet radio stations, sometimes they have a page that tells you how to link to them. Such is the case with; if you
visit, at the bottom of that page are instructions on how to link to their streams.

If stations don't have such pages, then look in the status bar of the browser when you mouse-over the station's link that starts the stream playing. You should see the URL that you need to link to.

Usually such links are to pls files stored on the radio stations' servers. These seem to be the preferred method of initiating a Shoutcast broadcast. pls files typically provide several URLs your audio-player can try to play the station. Multiple URLs are provided when stations are popular and the station needs to distribute the listenership over several servers.

There are other playlist file formats, such as m3u. In its most simple form, you simply put one URL on each line of the m3u file and save the text file with an m3u extension. Such a playlist plays the mp3 on the first line first, the mp3 on the second line second, and so forth.

If you right click on All of the Above Streams and select "Save Target As" you can save and then open the m3u file in a text editor and view it. This is a very slightly more complicated use of the m3u format. Each mp3 uses two lines in the m3u. The first line is for having applications such as Winamp display something other than the mp3's URL before it is played.

m3u files are crazy simple to create and they let you stream your mp3's from your site, rather than the audience having to download the full mp3 before being able to listen to it. Just create a text file, put the full URL of each mp3 on a separate line, save the file with the m3u extension, link to it from an HTML page, and upload.

As you see in the m3U I've created, they can also be used to link together many streaming radio stations.

25/01/07Internet Radio and Net Art

It seems that the 'Internet radio dial' is more interesting than the regular radio dial in any particular place. The Internet radio dial is international and contains far
more stations and variety than the radio dial in any particular location.

The 'Internet radio dial' is vast. And there seem to be very few satisfactory representations of the 'Internet radio dial'. I have not really encountered any good way to explore Internet radio except by google and also tuning into pages such as Nick Wilson's music links and exploring, from there, blogs and stations, etc. It's kind of a cool exploration, actually.

Click to visit