Web radio isn’t just about keeping up with your favourite progammes. It’s also about discovery: connecting with new musical genres and communities, whether distant or local. There’s a touch of the Radio Free Europe ethos about web radio’s lack of frontiers, with users accidentally tuning in to unexpectedly interesting characters and viewpoints.
And if you simply want to chill out with a playlist designed to take you back to your misspent youth, a few well-chosen terms into a portal or search engine can bring up endless gems.
As with online video, however, knowing what to look for and where to find it can be a problem. If you’ve got time on your hands and a yen for audio exploration, you’ll enjoy the process; if not, the following tutorial will help you reach stations you’ll enjoy with a few flicks of the dial.
1. Internet radio stations have been a part of Windows Media Player (WMP) for years. If you’re using WMP 9.0 then you can access radio by clicking the Radio Tuner tab on the left of the window. In WMP 10.0 the button’s moved to the top right, but in WMP 11.0 you have to do a bit more digging.
2. In WMP 11.0, Click Media Guide in the menu bar. There are five buttons located near the top of the main screen: Home, Music, Movies, Games and Radio. Select Radio. The main Radio page shows a small number of featured channels. You can see a wider selection by clicking Radio Tuner in the list on the right.
3. The Radio Tuner page lets you select stations by their genre or enter keywords and search for specific content. Clicking on a listed station brings up further information about its content, takes you to its website or simply plays its output. You can add stations of interest to your MyStations list, too.
4. Alternatively, the BBC’s internet radio services are available through your web browser. Browse to bbc.co.uk, click the Radio button and select a national or local station. If you haven’t installed RealPlayer on your computer, you’ll be guided through the installation process.
5. Carefully chose which audio and video file types you want RealPlayer to play – we suggest picking RealAudio and video files only to start with. You can now tune in and listen live to any BBC radio station, as well as recordings of most programmes for up to a week after broadcast using the Listen Again service.
6. To record an internet radio audio stream, you’ll need a dedicated audio stream recorder, such as Freecorder. Once the applet has installed, an extra toolbar is added to your browser. You can now record any audio stream directly from the website that’s playing it.
7. To record an incoming audio stream, click Record in the Freecorder toolbar. Click Stop to end the recording. There are Play and Pause controls to the right of these buttons. Hit Settings to adjust various options. These include specifying where recorded audio files are saved.
8. A file browser opens when you click the Play button. Handily, Freecorder automatically includes the date and time of the recording in the filename. Recordings can be made in MP3 or WAV formats. With Replay Converter, you can convert them to other formats.