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Radio in the Internet age

How to expand your listening horizons

Created date

December 5th, 2013
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Radio in the internet age

Years ago, while on a family vacation, we happened upon the perfect radio station. It was as if that particular station understood each family member’s unique taste and mixed up the music just enough to keep all five of us happy. Of course, when we returned our rental car, we had to say goodbye to our new favorite radio station since it wouldn’t be available back in our hometown 3,000 miles away.

Now, with the advent of Internet radio services, no one will ever have to say good-bye to a favorite radio station again. Internet radio brings any radio station from anywhere in the world to your computer. There are a number of Internet services that give you access to radio programming—some are free; others charge monthly fees. Some services allow you to listen to existing stations; others allow you to create your own. Whatever your listening preferences, there’s bound to be an Internet radio service that matches your interests and your budget.

The basics

Any radio program on the planet is now accessible though televisions, home computers, smartphones, tablets, and even in some of the newer cars. One thing to beware of—when you are listening to Internet radio on your computer at home or accessing the internet through Wi-Fi, you only pay a fee if the Internet radio service charges you a fee. However, if you access Internet radio through your smartphone or any other device that charges you for the amount of data you use, you should know that streaming audio in the absence of Wi-Fi uses up a good chunk of data, so if you have a limited data plan, your service provider will probably charge extra for the data overage.

Here’s a rundown of some of the most popular Internet radio sites:

TuneIn

Music, news, talk, whatever you like to listen to on the radio, you can do it with TuneIn. It offers over 70,000 broadcast and Internet only stations. A must have for college football fans, TuneIn has the most comprehensive, free college football coverage available. Just download the app and you’re ready to go. The company has partnerships with the likes of General Motors, Ford Motor Company, and BMW, so it may be in the next car you buy (tunein.com).

Pandora

Pandora’s mission is “to play only music you’ll love.” Have a favorite genre or artist? Pandora lets you customize the music you listen to. Tell the service who your favorite artists are and Pandora puts together playlists based on your preferences. Don’t like the song that’s playing? Give it a “thumbs down” and the program skips ahead to a different song. Pandora is free and has about six ads per hour. If you prefer ad-free listening, you can upgrade to Pandora One for $36/year (pandora.com).

Spotify

Spotify combines customizable music with social media. Create your own playlists and share them with your friends. It’s fun to keep up with what your grandchildren or buddies are listening to and it’s a great way to share your own favorites. To listen to Spotify on your computer is absolutely free, but it does have ads. Spotify Unlimited is $5/month and enables you to skip those pesky ads. If you want to take Spotify on the road through your smartphone, you’ll need to upgrade to Spotify Premium, which costs $10/month (spotify.com).

Live365

Whatever your passion, share it with a global audience through Live365. This unique service offers radio buffs a multitude of options. Listen to a diverse array of stations for free. Want to create your own station? Live365 lets you do it relatively inexpensively. Starting at $4/month, you can reach five listeners who don’t subscribe to Live365 and an unlimited number of Live365 VIP subscribers. Other tiers of service that give your station greater reach and power are available for more money. VIP subscriptions cost $5/month and provide ad-free listening. Live365 gives you a chance to try its “create your own station” service with a free, seven-day trial (live365.com).

michele.harris@erickson.com

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