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Airwaves: February 18, 2011

Help for Talk Fans

I recently received a letter asking about talk radio and the internet:

Q: Although I have listened to radio on the Internet occasionally, it is inconvenient for me. I do understand that Talk Stream Live tracks talk radio shows on the Internet using server data and that one can buy a dedicated Internet radio device.

1. Could you explain to your readers how this works?

  2. I have a separate phone line for Broadband.  Could I use this same phone line for both computer and dedicated Internet radio?

3. What costs would be involved for the connection and the dedicated Internet radio? -- Barbara Allshouse, North Hollywood

A: Until you wrote, I had never heard of Talk Stream Live (found at, of course, TalkStreamLive.Com). After checking it out, I think you should really check it out. It’s a pretty impressive site, with a few minor quirks.

First off, you hit it perfectly. You don’t need a dedicated device, though. It works with your regular internet connection and your typical web browser.

The main page has a list of show streams currently available; clicking on one of the show names brings up a list of stations streaming on the internet. Or at least should be streaming. That‘s one of the quirks, in fact. Click on a show that is supposedly on right now, and you might find that it isn’t on until later. My selection of Phil Hendrie, for example, actually brought up Urbanski when I clicked on the stream provided by KPRC out of Houston Texas. Clicking on WTKK/Boston gave a “stream unavailable” message.

Another quirk is that sometimes you get the right show, but the on-line information says it isn’t on until later. But most of the time when I tried it, it worked. And a nice touch about the system is that it usually goes right to the station’s stream without having to click on links from a station’s home page.

You can download html code to put the stream links right on your own web page, if you know how to do that, or you can easily add the links to your browser’s sidebar or Google home page. Want something fancier? Download the iPod Touch/iPhone app that allows you to find the shows on those devices. But I saw nothing on the site that required a separate internet radio.

If a show isn’t available at the time you log in, you can search for it and find exactly when it will be on. A special browser add-on “gadget” will track your favorite show and tell you when it will be played, all without having to enter the website.

This site, and it’s gadgets, are in my opinion a must-have for talk radio junkies, especially those looking for shows that are hard to find, run locally at an inconvenient time ... or not at all.

Note that the limitation here is that you still cannot record your favorite show for listening later. For that you need the equivalent of a Tivo, but for audio only. Luckily there are numerous choices available ... unfortunately I have used none of them so I cannot recommend any.

Finally, if you do want an internet radio, there are many that can be purchased. Most rely on a wireless connection so you can just share you regular internet. You wouldn’t split your phone line, but you instead would run your internet connection through a wireless router and set your internet radio to pick up the wireless (wi-fi) signal from there. Again, there are many brands and models, and again I have used none, but I know that major brands like Logitech, Sanyo and Sangean, among others, have nice ones. Expect to pay $100 to $250.

One bonus solution is an inexpensive usb device that plugs into your computer and turns it into an internet radio. It doesn’t list the shows like Talk Stream Live does, but it will find stations and allow you to record the audio to your computer for listening later. I found one from Muzee on Amazon; similarly, with some extra programs (Radio Lover and Radioshift from Bit Cartel and Rogue Amoeba, respectively), the Griffin Radio Shark can record local stations as well as internet stations to any Macintosh.

So you really have a lot of choices to do what you want. The easiest, of course, is to go with your own original suggestion: Talk Stream Live. The rest just makes it more fun.


Copyright © 2011 Richard Wagoner and Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

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