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The Worldwide Reach of Internet Radio

New streaming music products make tuning in easier

Summary:

  • You can listen for free to most Web-based radio stations
  • The latest Internet radios have simple-to-use interfaces
  • Web radio is also accessible through smartphones

 

In 1979, the British group the Buggles released the hit single "Video Killed the Radio Star" bemoaning the death of radio. But 30 years later, radio is alive and well and living on the Internet. First available in the mid-1990s, listening to the radio on the Internet meant being tethered to a desktop computer, usually with pretty awful speakers. But now the legacy of the golden age of table radios has caught up with the Internet age to provide access to a planet full of radio stations available with rich audio quality.

Vintage radio resting on the ground

The limitations of terrestrial radio are a thing of the past with Internet radio. — Jamie MacFadyen/Gallery Stock

You can access a number of ways the thousands of stations from around the world that put their streams on the Web. Many stations provide a "listen live" button on their websites. Radio player apps are available for most smartphone operating systems, such as "radio.com." Internet radios are available from makers such as Tivoli Audio and Livio Radio. But Internet radio is more than just finding traditional stations. With a service like Pandora, which is free, you can pick an artist you like and create your own station with songs from that artist and others that Pandora thinks are similar. If you like Sirius XM satellite radio, you can subscribe to that over the Internet or on a smartphone without needing a satellite receiver.

Tivoli Audio is effectively the successor to the famous KLH line of table radios first created by legendary acoustic mastermind Henry Kloss. His marvelous KLH Model Eight radio  was my first exposure to the mellow sounds from high quality FM tabletop radio, a far cry from the static-laden AM radio that dominated the early 1960s.

In his later years, Kloss teamed up with Thomas DeVesto to start Tivoli Audio, which still makes one of the best sounding and easiest to use table radios, Tivoli's Model One radio ($150). With its one big tuning knob, this is a great radio for seniors who just may want a radio with no complications. But for braver souls, Tivoli is now making the NetWorks Internet Radio ($300), with that same rich sound, but now with access to a whole planet's worth of radio. 

We've Only Just Begun 

Back in the day, if you wanted to hear radio signals from around the world, you needed a huge multiband shortwave radio. They were difficult to tune, the stations would fade in and out and the quality was often marginal. Today, Internet radio has become a way of listening to music from around the planet, or just getting a clearer signal from a local station. One result is that no matter where you travel, with an Internet radio or radio app you can often still listen to your favorite hometown station. Many of the radio apps and Internet radios make it easy to find a genre, such as jazz, classical or news/talk. But finding a favorite station isn't always that easy.

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