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Desktop radio takes on a whole new meaning

graphic April 17, 1997
Web posted at: 6:49 p.m. EDT (2249 GMT)

From CNN Interactive Writer David Mandeville

You don't need a HAM radio license to hear broadcasts from Malyasia anymore. You don't need a special set to pick up police broadcasts, either. Now you can pick them both up with your home computer.

Hundreds of local and national broadcasters send their signals to World Wide Web as streaming audio (continuously downloading sound feeds). And they aren't the only ones. More Internet-only broadcasters get on the Web everyday, adding some interesting alternatives to the usual radio fare.

'The Broadcast Network on the Internet'

AudioNet calls itself the Broadcast Network on the Internet, and it's a fair claim. The site offers a bit of everything, from live sports coverage to educational programming. The audio streams are divided into simple content categories. Each category breaks down into individual streams. AudioNet features daily events, live sports coverage, and shows.

The site also serves as a host for many smaller broadcasters like these:

  • - A service that lets you follow police and fire department dispatches from Los Angeles, California and Dallas, Texas.
  • Simuflite - Air traffic control broadcasts from the Dallas/Fort Worth area brought to you by a pilot trainer service.
  • DeadRadio - Music from the Grateful Dead, 24 hours a day, plus an ActiveX-based chat, and a virtual Dead show.
  • WNNX FM 99X - The daily broadcast from an Atlanta, Georgia alternative rock station.

AudioNet's set is user-friendly, offering simple navigation, troubleshooting tips, software links, and alternative pages for WebTV users. AudioNet maintains a second site, AudioNet Canada, featuring regional broadcasters.

You will need a RealAudio 3.0 plug-in to download the audio stream. AudioNet Canada requires a frames-capable browser. The ActiveX chats require Microsoft's Internet Explorer 3.0 browser.

Unlimited range

Internet radio goes beyond the normal boundaries of broadcast. No overlapping or low-power signals here. Each broadcaster can send its signal around the world. A quick search found sites in Malaysia, Ireland, Argentina, and Australia. Here are a few examples:

  • Radio Ipanema FM 94.9MHz - A Portuguese language site that offers live radio broadcasts from Ipanema, Brazil.
  • Kossuth Radio - A site in Hungary that also sends out a live radio feed.
  • CBC Radio Home Page - Canada's national public radio service sends out audio streams of news and sports as well as musical and dramatic performances. The daily broadcast is available in the standard mono format or in stereo. You have the option of French or English language streams, too.

Each of these sites uses RealAudio. You will need the RealAudio 3.0 plug-in to download the streams.

Nothing but 'Net

One of the best things about Internet radio is the new market it has opened up for broadcasters who never go out over the air. Instead, these broadcasts are only available on the Internet. CRUX Internet Radio sets a prime example. This advertising-free station sends out a daily broadcast and live shows from the Phoenix, Arizona area. An archive of interviews with performers is also available. The site's Java-based chat lets you talk via your browser to other listeners.


This site also use RealAudio. You will need the RealAudion 3.0 plug-in and a browser that is frames- and Java-capable to take full advantage of this site.

Two things to note about any of live broadcast site. First, streaming audio is a constant download. You may experience interruptions or lose your connection if you do not have a fast modem. RealAudio recommends 28.8 kbps or better. Second, streaming audio is becoming very popular. Since each connection is constant, they fill quickly. That means you may have trouble connecting to your favorite audio site. Don't give up. Just be patient and keep trying.


Related sites:

CRUX Internet Radio
CBC Radio Home Page
Kossuth Radio
Radio Ipanema FM 94.9MHz
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