Just in case the FCC has missed the point so far, the National Association of Broadcasters just filed another batch of comments criticizing the commission’s planned hike in regulatory fees for U.S. broadcasters.
“The NPRM imposes a steep increase in radio station regulatory fees disproportionate to other fee payor categories, as well as the increase in the commission’s overall budget,” NAB wrote in its latest filing.
“The proposed radio fees are also based on flawed data.” Nor is the potential harm limited to radio, NAB continued. “The NPRM does not explain significant changes in regulatory fees for both satellite and VHF television stations.”
The nation’s state broadcast associations have also been vocal on this issue, as we’ve reported, and the latest NAB filing reiterates their argument over how the commission is calculating “payment units” in the radio industry, which affects the fee schedule significantly.
“NAB simply asks the commission to show its homework by explaining its calculations of the radio regulatory fees, instead of merely issuing a chart of final fees,” it wrote. “It is frustrating that the commission has not seen fit to issue an interim public notice or some other document with additional data that could help inform stakeholders’ responses to the NPRM. Given the apparent inaccuracy of the NPRM’s count of radio station fee payors, and the lack of information and clarity, affected parties are simply unable to provide meaningful input into the regulatory fee process.”
The NAB also warned the FCC to “carefully consider” the potential impact of the proposed changes for certain television stations.
Read the NAB’s latest comments here.
A media professional since 1972, I eventually found myself in south Florida in the new millennium, working as an audio engineer for the Miami Dolphins and the Florida Marlins. A move to central Florida several years later forced me out of the media business and into education, where I have been ever since.
At Dunnellon High School, I teach intensive reading to seniors and AP world history. The reading students who motivated me to create a “reading for radio” program about five years ago.
I had been searching for an incentive to motivate students to improve their technical reading skills and, of all things, a 250-foot radio tower on our campus sparked the process. Although used by the transportation department, I looked into an LPFM license for the school and was encouraged, until I started the budget — no way! As most readers will know and understand, we in education barely have enough money for essentials, not to mention trying to fund a project like that.[Community Broadcaster: College Radio Shows the Way]
But the idea of combining radio with the academic needs of my reading students still seemed like a great concept. Imagine, having a school radio station run by students and then opening the on-air auditions to students who are struggling as readers.A student-produced segment called “That’s a Rap” allows students to record their own raps.
I started researching internet radio, and suddenly this idea had legs. Still, funding would be a challenge, but it would be nothing like the cost of trying to implement an over-the-air presence.
This is where CenturyLink Communications entered the picture. The company sponsors an annual grant competition through its Clarke M. Williams Foundation. These grants are open to public school teachers who blend technology and academics to benefit their students.
It seemed like a perfect fit. However, as a traditional broadcaster, I had a significant learning curve ahead, trying to wrap my head around a new-to-me, method of delivery.
I applied for the grant in the fall of 2015 and received word that I had been successful in April 2016. My first reaction was: “Now that I have the money, you mean I actually have to do this?!”GETTING OFF THE GROUND Principal Wade Martin records one of many messages produced by staff members in support of The Growl.
I spent the entire summer of that year doing the research; and there was plenty of it.
First, investigating what the technical aspects of putting a station on the internet was all about. What, if any, were the government regulations; what licensure was required; how are royalties covered — basically learning how all the pieces fit together.
Next, of course, came a design and a location within the school. The administration came through with an unused office, and I designed the equipment configuration around that space.
Next came a meeting with the school system’s head of IT to explain the project and learn if the infrastructure would support streaming within the school (bandwidth being the potential problem). I explained that we would be sending our outbound signal to a web hosting company for streaming and that our IT requirements were minimal. One potential problem eliminated.
Next, I had to survey and select equipment that would meet our needs at a reasonable cost. I enlisted the help of Guitar Center Pro and found them to be very helpful in the selection process.[College Radio Station Flies Overseas for Remote Broadcast]
Finally, I needed to find a software automation system that would fit our needs and our budget. You probably know that this market has become very active in the last few years, and there are dozens of products to choose from in every price range. I was fortunate to come across a talented young developer in Texas who has created a program called NextKast Pro. The program is sold as a download with program key and is incredibly reasonable and both powerful and flexible.Student singers produce another segment of “Cover It,” during which kids cover popular songs.
The studio is broken into two halves utilizing two Windows-based PCs. One is dedicated to running the NextKast software and is our “broadcast” computer. The other is our “production station,” utilizing an Allen & Heath analog mixer, Shure and AKG studio mics and Audacity editing software for our production needs.
The last piece of the puzzle was our access platform. We have chosen TuneIn Radio utilizing either their mobile app or their internet presence at www.tunein.com.
At the beginning of the 2016-17 school year, students first were recruited to join “The Growl” (We are the Dunnellon Tigers, hence the name). Our goal was to get on the air prior to Christmas break. On Dec. 13, 2016, “The Growl” went live for the first time and has been on 24/7 since. Our format is eclectic as we attempt to provide both music of all genres and some very creative original student programming (written, produced and performed by our students).
For information contact Barry Carrus at firstname.lastname@example.org. Radio World welcomes stories about the creation and building of your radio station or media facility. Email email@example.com.
LONDON — Shutting down the United Kingdom’s FM Radio broadcasts may be the real purpose of the U.K. radio review, which starts soon and is scheduled to conclude sometime in mid-2020.Margot James is Minister for the Department for Digital Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). Credit: UK government official photo
Announced by Department for Digital Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) minister Margot James at the annual U.K. Radio Festival on May 13, 2019, the review’s official rationale “is to look at the ways people listen to the radio in the digital age,” said Paul Chantler. He is a radio programming consultant and co-owner of the Fix Radio DAB station in London, who heard James speak at the festival. “In reality, the government are responding to pressure from the big radio groups to turn off FM to allow them to focus on digital broadcasting platforms,” Chantler told RWI.
Minister James made no statements about shutting down FM nor any other forms of U.K. analog radio broadcasting. But she did tell festival attendees that “Digital radio now accounts for more than 52% of all U.K. radio listening and we need a legislative structure that reflects this change, and gives us flexibility to deal with the change that lies ahead.” James added that the parties to be consulted during the radio review include the BBC and commercial radio broadcasters, radio manufacturers, the car industry and others in the radio supply chain.
With U.K. radio moving strongly into the digital realm — not just over the air, but also via smartphones and web-connected “smart speakers” — having the review now makes sense, according to John Evington, a partner at The Radio People consultancy and low-cost DAB solutions provider Viamux.John Evington is partner at The Radio People consultancy and low-cost DAB solutions provider Viamux. Photo courtesy of John Evington
“There needs to be a clear strategy for radio as the lines between traditional linear radio, streaming services and podcasting become increasingly blurred,” said Evington. Reflecting on the likely topics to be raised during the radio review, “the focus will inevitably be on platforms and delivery and the technological advances that are likely to impact on the listener experience.”
For his part, Chantler believes that a complete “switchover” from FM to DAB — rather than the FM/DAB simulcasts taking place today — will dominate the radio review discussions; driven by Britain’s big radio groups.
“The reason there is so much pressure from the big groups for a switchover is that for many years, radio companies have been financing dual transmission on both FM and DAB,” Chantler explained. “This is extremely expensive. Now that DAB radio covers 90% of the U.K. and listening via digital platforms accounts for 52% of all listening, the government feels that now is the time to consider ‘forcing’ a full migration to digital radio.”Paul Chantler is radio programming consultant and co-owner of Fix Radio DAB station in London. Photo courtesy of Paul Chantler
Chantler predicts that the U.K. radio review will set a date for turning off British FM broadcasting, and that this shutdown “will probably happen in 2022–2023.”
He is not in favor of this option: “My own view is that there is still a place for FM radio alongside digital,” Chantler added. “Although there are some small-scale opportunities for smaller community and niche stations to cost-effectively transmit on DAB, I still think some use could be made of FM for small non-profit stations.”
Evington agrees. “I believe that FM needs to remain for at least another 10 years,” he said. “However, there are some interesting scenarios that could be developed during that time. For example, we would like to see a phased digital migration for BBC national services beginning with Radio 3, which still occupies a large portion of prime bandwidth despite a listening share of just 1.2%. This would free-up space for a range of new commercial services benefitting the consumer and the exchequer.”
One thing appears certain: “Most people in the industry have been expecting this review for a long time and welcome it,” said Chantler.
“Certainly, if the big groups get their way and a date is set for an FM switchoff, they will be able to save money by only broadcasting on DAB. They have been preparing for this for many years with the creation of big, well-branded national stations such as Heart, Capital and LBC (owned by Global) and Magic, Kiss and the Hits Network (owned by Bauer). Earlier this year, Wireless Group/News UK (the third biggest player in U.K. radio) invested heavily in revamping Virgin Radio — which is a national DAB-only station — by recruiting BBC Radio 2’s star DJ Chris Evans.”
“Today I’d like to speak with you about the Berlin Schnauze,” declared Walter Benjamin on Radio Berlin in 1929. “This so-called big snout is the first thing that comes to mind when talking about Berliners.”
With this essay, I begin my Walter Benjamin radio diary, a commentary on the radio shows for children that he broadcast from 1929 to 1932 on Radio Berlin and Southwest German Radio, Frankfurt. I have written a brief backgrounder on Benjamin, just to get my little project started. A much better introduction can be heard at the BBC Archive on 4, produced by Michael Rosen. It includes conversations with scholars about Benjamin’s radio scripts and the very first English reading of them by Henry Goodman. I am quoting here from Lecia Rosenthal’s edition of the talks. And, full disclosure, I am really just going riff on these programs, think about them out loud, meditate on what they remind me of, while avoiding any grand conclusions.
Having said all that, Benjamin’s first radio essay is really interested in a certain portion of the Berlin snout: the Berlin mouth, with all its smarty pants jokes, comments, snarky observations, and cracks. It is a mouth designed to defend oneself from being pushed around in a pushy world. Here are some examples Benjamin offered, such as the tongue of this beleaguered horse-drawn cab operator.
“My God, driver,” complains his latest passenger. “Can’t you move a little faster?
“Sure thing,” responds the Berlin cabbie. “But I can’t just leave the horse all alone.”
Or this bartender, perhaps a bit exasperated with some of his drunken clientele.
“What ales you got?” demands one inebriant.
“I got gout and a bad back,” replies the barkeep.
“Berlinish,” Benjamin explained, “is a language that comes from work.” It is a way of speaking for “people who have no time, who must communicate by using only the slightest hint, glance, or half-word.”
I am very familiar with this language, because I grew up in the Berlin of the United States, otherwise known as New York City. I was raised on apocryphal tales of the smart assed waiters who presided over Manhattan’s Jewish restaurants and delicatessens. I offer these vignettes from memory. For example:
A waiter walks up to a table of four men in a Lowest East Side kosher restaurant. “What will you have, gentlemen?” he asks.
“We will start with water,” one says.
Then another adds with a slightly irritated tone: “And, waiter, in a clean glass, please.”
The attendant bows, then returns in five minutes with the water.
“Ok,” he says, “which one of you guys wanted the clean glass?”
Another example: a waiter humbly approaches four elderly women eating at a Jewish deli.
“Ladies,” he gingerly asks, “is anything all right?”
But what I find most interesting about Benjamin’s first commentary is that it offers a very selective and limited definition of the Schnauz. Wikipedia defines the snout as “the protruding portion of an animal’s face, consisting of its nose, mouth, and jaw.” Yet our radio storyteller seems decidedly uninterested in two out of three of those attributes.The Kaiser and his celebrated snout.
Why? I can only guess, but hovering over this discussion was one of the great noses of German history, that of Kaiser Wilhelm the Second. Remembered by one historian as a “bad tempered distractible doofus” in charge of the German empire, Wilhelm appears to have been primarily concerned with two things: first, his wardrobe, which consisted of 120 colorful military uniforms, and second, the endlessly waxed and fussed over mustache which adorned his nose. It even had its own name: “Er ist Erreicht!” or “It is accomplished,” which, as you may know, also happens to be the last thing that Jesus supposedly said on the cross at Golgotha. When not preoccupied with the decoration of his own beak, Wilhelm obsessed over those of his colleagues. “Fernando naso,” he dubbed the ruler of Bulgaria, whose proboscis he found unacceptably pronounced.
Therefore, I am not surprised that the young Walter Benjamin, already so focused on language, class, and democracy, stuck to the mouth and left the nose, with all its autocratic overtones, to others.
The post Walter Benjamin radio diary entry #1: selective snouting appeared first on Radio Survivor.
In an effort to inform state and local emergency management authorities on how they can implement multilingual alerts for the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) system, the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau is hosting a public workshop on June 28 at the FCC headquarters in Washington.
The agenda for the workshop has officially been announced, including the panelists that will participate in the sessions.
The day will begin with a welcome from Zenji Nakazawa, public safety and consumer protection advisor to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, before heading into its first panel. The initial panel, which will begin at 9:15 a.m., is titled “Regulatory Framework for Multilingual Alert Distributions Over the EAS and WEA Systems.” David Munson, attorney advisor with PSHSB, will moderate a panel made up of Orlando Bermudez from the Multimedia Assistance in Spanish Program, Austin/San Antonio Weather Office, NOAA; Justin Cain, deputy chief, Operations and Emergency Management division at PSHSB; Gregory Cooke, the chief for the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs at CGB; Matthew Grest, vice president, regulatory affairs, CTIA; Al Kenyon, IPAWS Customer Support Branch chief, IPAWS Program Office, Continuity Communications Division DHS–FEMA; NCTA Vice President of Engineering Andy Scott; and Larry Walke, associate general counsel for the NAB.
At 10:15 a.m., the second panel, “Examples of How Various State and Local Journalists Provide Multilingual Alerting,” is scheduled. Cooke and Munson will co-moderate this panel, which is set to feature John Dooley, Minnesota Department of Public Safety; Fred Engel, chief technology officer at UNC-TV; Andy Huckaba, councilmember for Lenexa, Kan.; Jesus Salas, executive vice president of programming for Spanish Broadcasting System Inc. in Miami; Francisco Sanchez, deputy emergency management coordinator for Harris County, Texas; Aaron Wilborn, the marketing manager for Dick Broadcasting Co. in Savannah, Beaufort, Ga., Bluffton and Hilton Head, S.C.; and Adam Woodlief, chief technology officer for Georgia Public Broadcasting.
The final session of the day, slated to start at 1 p.m., is “Current Capabilities in EAS and WEA Equipment, and Complementary Technologies for Sending Multilingual Alerts.” Munson and Cooke again will moderate. Panelists for the final session include Dr. Edward Czarnecki, senior director–Strategy and Government Affairs for Digital Alert Systems Inc.; Brian J. Toolan, the director of government strategy with Everbridge; Xperi Corp.’s Vice President of Radio Technology Solutions Ashruf El-Dinary; Pat Feldhausen, offering manager with the Weather Company; and Harold Prince, president of Sage Alerting Systems.
The workshop, which runs from 9 a.m.–2:30 p.m., is open to the public, but admittance is limited to available seating. The workshop will take place in the Commission Meeting Room (TW-C305). It will also be broadcast live, with captioning in both English and Spanish, through fcc.gov/live.
The post Agenda Set for Multilingual Emergency Alert Workshop appeared first on Radio World.
National Federation of Community Broadcasters Program Director and Radio World contributor Ernesto Aguilar will participate in the 2019 edition of the Maynard 200 media diversity program.
According to a release from the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, the Maynard 200 program aims to make U.S. “newsrooms look more like America” by training 200 journalists of color over the course of five years.
This year’s cohort consists of 23 fellows, who Maynard 200 Director Odette Alcazaren-Keeley said “represent the inclusive voices and expertise of media professionals from ethnic, community-based and mainstream media organizations.”
The curriculum is divided into three tracks: Storytelling, Advanced Leadership and Media Entrepreneurship, taught during sessions in June and October at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism in Los Angeles.
Aguilar will take part in its Advanced Leadership track, during which he and other fellows will learn from a curriculum centered on strategy, financial capital and human capital, according to Robert C. Maynard Institute Co-executive Director Evelyn Hsu. The track’s executive-in-residence is Smith Edwards Group Principal Consultant Virgil Smith.
The 2019 program is funded by the News Integrity Initiative, Google News Initiative, Craig Newmark Philanthropies and the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.
“Best of Show Up Close” is a series about participants in Radio World’s annual Best of Show at NAB Awards program.
Wheatstone nominated the AirAura X5 processor. It is a processor aimed at stations with FM analog and HD Radio signals. Optimized for handling the unique mission of making sure that analog and HD Radio “blend,” it also offers the usual complement of processor tools such as EQs and limiters.
We asked Mike Erickson for more info.
Radio World: Wheatstone has said that the AirAura X5 takes into consideration the FM and the HD as “one experience.” What do you mean and how does it do that?
Mike Erickson: The HD section of the processor includes the tools needed to maintain alignment and the FM section gives you tools to maximize the experience when blend occurs. These include the built in FM/HD tuner to measure and maintain alignment in the processor without third-party boxes. It also includes our LimitLess technology that manages pre-emphasis in a way processing has never before dealt with it. Broadcasters are realizing HD is no longer in the sidecar. HD radio as standard equipment in cars is now above 50% market saturation. This means that for a large audience segment the listening experience now has to consider both modes. If the HD is out of step with the analog because of sonic or alignment issues, it can and will lead to tune-out. The X5 prevents this like no other processor on the market.
RW: This is a competitive market segment. What sets the X5 apart from other FM/HD processors?
Erickson: Our LimitLess technology, FM/HD tuner and alignment, how we designed our insert point technology (PPMport), and the LiveLogger function. As we enter the third decade of the 21st century, these exclusive functions come together to form a processor that deals with audio as well as engineering needs. When shopping for a processor, broadcasters need to look for designs that meet sonic as well as practical needs of their stations. X5 offers automatic time alignment, a built in full-featured RDS, our specialized insert point, and a logger to track preset takes and other activities. You won’t find another processor on the market that comes even close to fulfilling all those functions.
RW: You put a lot of emphasis on its LimitLess clipper technology. Why?
Erickson: Jeff Keith, Steve Dove and I were all talking about how we could achieve the kind of transient audio you’d get from the HD side of our audio processors into the FM side. This, of course, plays into our goal of making the FM/HD radio listening experience on compatible receivers the best it can be. The X3 was cutting edge because of its 31-band limiter and how that interacted as a separate entity to the clipper. Now these two functions are combined …plus our addition of a new and exciting pre-emphasis embedding algorithm in the clipper, one that makes the highs jump out at you with astonishing detail; something we have not been able to replicate with any other processor in our lab.
RW: Is the processor shipping? What does it cost?
Erickson: It ships July 2019. We already have some beta units on the air and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. List price is $14,500, but our Wheatstone dealers can offer our customers the best pricing as well as set up demos for X5.
RW: What else should we know about the box?
Erickson: I touched on it before, but the PPMport is very cool. It’s not just an insert point; it’s the end result of over a decade working with PPM technology, both in the field at CBS Radio when PPM was rolled out and Dom Theodore and I did a lot of testing of the gear. Add that to my work with customers since joining Wheatstone in 2010. Needless to say, the data and good practices I’ve cultivated in the field have gone into PPMport, at what point the watermark is inserted, and how it interacts with LimitLess to put the mark “closer” to the meter than ever before.
The Future Best of Show Awards program honors and helps promote outstanding new products exhibited at industry conventions like the spring NAB Show. Exhibitors pay a fee to enter; not all entries win. Watch for more coverage of participating products soon. To learn about all of the nominees and winners, read the 2019 Best of Show Program Guide.
The Association of Federal Communications Consulting Engineers is under new leadership, as John George was recently elected as president of the organization during the AFCCE Annual Meeting. The vote was conducted by the newly constituted board of directors, which also rounded out the rest of AFCCE’s leadership team.From left to right: AFCCE President John George; Treasurer John Lyons; Secretary Stephen Pumple; and Vice President John Edwards
George replaces John Lyons as president following his two terms in the position, though Lyons will remain as part of the leadership team having been elected as treasurer; Lyons replaces Bob Weller, who is leaving the board. John Edwards was voted vice president and Stephen Pumple is the new secretary. All of their terms will begin as of July 1.[AFCCE Honors Hashemzadah With Luddy Award]
In addition, new and returning board members were determined. Lyons was re-elected for a new four-year term and will be joined by B. Ben Evans on his own four-year term as a member and Jim Leifer on a three-year term as an associate member. Mark Fehlig is leaving the board following the end of his term.
Heavy. That’s the first word that comes to mind when unboxing the new Røde PodMic, a broadcast-grade dynamic microphone designed for podcast applications. The first time you hold it, you’ll realize you’re holding something that’s built to last, especially when compared to similarly priced microphones. It’s an all-metal construction with a solid, stainless steel mesh grille. While its appearance evokes the EV RE20 style broadcast mic, its shorter profile, built-in mounting system and $99 price tag set it apart.
As a podcast producer and engineer, I’m often asked by people looking to try their hand at it what equipment to buy — particularly microphones. The answer always boils down to budget. The podcast industry seems to be covered by the ubiquitous Shure SM7B, but as reasonably priced as it is, it’s often still out of range for beginners, especially those who will need more than one. With that in mind, Røde’s price point allows newcomers to purchase four PodMics for the price of one SM7B.But how does it sound?
As a starting point, I brought the PodMic along to a podcast session for a show I produce. The co-host has a smooth, rich, “radio-friendly” voice, so I chose to put it side-by-side with the Shure SM7B in front of him. Both mics were recorded flat. On playback, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that it truly held its own against a mic that costs four times as much. The PodMic had a pleasing high end and tight mids, but lacked a bit of bottom, though in fairness, I think this mic is made to benefit from proximity effect, and the co-host doesn’t stay that close. An EQ boost in the low end put it right up against the SM7B, but with a natural brightness that gets lost in the Shure, probably because of its foam windscreen.
Where the PodMic disappointed, somewhat expectedly, was with its built-in windscreen. The marketing of the PodMic mentions it as a selling point, but unless you’re a seasoned voice actor with really excellent mic control, this mic most definitely needs a windscreen to block plosives. I worry that a foam cover might take away from some of its pleasing top end, and would personally opt for pop filter on this mic. But that’s certainly not a deal-breaker when you’re talking about a mic in this price range.
I was impressed enough with the PodMic to do a more ambitious test. The next day, I brought it to Digital Arts in New York, the recording studio I work at for ad agency, film, animation and television clients. I took the bold step of putting it side by side with a Neumann U 87 during the recording of a TV commercial, with both mics’ diaphragms behind a single windscreen. No, I didn’t expect the $99 mic to sound as good as the $3,200 mic, but I’ve been using U 87s for over 30 years, so it gives me a good point of reference.
While it didn’t sound like the Neumann out of the gate, some quick EQ work brought it into the neighborhood, which really surprised fellow engineers that came into the studio to check it out. I don’t think you’d fool anyone by trying to pass PodMic off as a U 87, but the fact that it can deliver that large-diaphragm sound with some EQ know-how is impressive.[RØDE Microphones Acquires Aphex]
Given its affordability and quality, I started to wonder how the PodMic might handle non-voice recording chores. For fun, I put it on my acoustic guitar. Sadly, it didn’t do much. For comparison, I recorded the same instrument with my Røde NT1A, which gave a clean and rich sound with very little effort. I placed the PodMic in several positions, and I just couldn’t get a great sound. Keep in mind that this mic is designed for a specific task, so this was really just a test to see if there was any bonus usage, because honestly, I could see having a number of these on hand at this price point.
So who is this mic for? It’s a definite for podcasting beginners looking to hit the ground running with solid sound on a budget, but for $99, it’s a solid backup mic to have on hand for professional studios. The PodMic has an entry-level price point for a mic that will
last a lifetime.
Frank Verderosa is a 30-year veteran of the audio industry, fighting the good fight for film studios, ad agencies and production companies, but secretly loves mixing music most of all. These days, he plies his trade at Digital Arts in New York City, but you can also hear his podcast engineering work weekly on Gilbert Gottfried’s “Amazing Colossal Podcast,” which he’s handled since 2014.Product Capsule
+ Excellent sound quality for voice
+ Great value
– Needs windscreen or pop filter
– Poor nonvocal sound quality
Contact: Røde Microphones in California at 1-562-364-7400 or visit www.rodemic.com.
After assessing the state and likely demise of the iTunes internet radio tuner, I started to consider what this means for listening to internet radio with a computer, rather than mobile device, smart speaker or appliance. Then we received an email from a reader who reported they still use iTunes for internet radio, in part because it allows them to curate a playlist of their favorite stations for easy access. The reader noted that using station websites doesn’t quite work the same way, and that those sites vary widely in design and how simple they make it to start a stream.
I’ll admit that iTunes does excel at that kind of radio preset-style tuning. It’s something I’d forgotten since I do most of my internet radio listening using my Sonos, where I keep my favorite stations bookmarked in the system’s favorites.
I started to poke around to see what kind of desktop radio apps are left out there. I started with macOS because that’s what I primarily use. I found that there are damn few.
Go searching in the macOS App Store and you’ll encounter about a dozen or so true internet radio apps. But the majority of them seem not to have been updated in the last three to five years. In fact, I found only one that is worth trying.myTuner Radio
myTuner Radio is free in the App Store and very simple. It has a reasonably comprehensive directory of a purported 50,000 stations organized by country. Besides that, they aren’t otherwise categorized. The search is decent, provided you know the call letters or name. If you’re searching by genre or format, you’d better hope that it’s in the name.
Stations owned by iHeart are pretty much entirely absent, though I could find plenty of Entercom and CBS stations, along with those owned by smaller groups. myTuner Radio has banner ads, but mercifully no audio ads. A paid version gets rid of all ads.
You can favorite stations for quicker recall, but there’s no provision to organize them, nor is there a provision to add a station’s stream URL like in iTunes. While using myTuner Radio is easier than bookmarking station webpages, you may not find all the stations you want, you can’t categorize the ones you bookmark and you can’t add additional ones not in the directory.TuneIn Radio
TuneIn Radio has a desktop Mac OS app that replicates the web or mobile app, more or less. To that end, it’s about as good as those. The directory is enormous, and organized by format, genre, location and language. But as I observed earlier, iHeart and Entercom stations have been removed by their owners.
There’s more flexibility in organizing your favorite stations, by putting them into folders. Yet, TuneIn still has no provision to add a station that’s not in the directory. If you like TuneIn on other platforms, you’ll like the desktop app, but it’s not quite a full iTunes replacement.Odio
Odio (not Odeo) is a free open source app that visually resembles iTunes more than the other apps. It’s directory is more idiosyncratic than either TuneIn or myTuner. I could find some iHeart stations, like New York City’s Z100, but not others, like Portland’s The Brew. I had similar hit-and-miss results with Entercom stations.
Stations are organized by country, language and tag. It took me a bit to figure out how the tags get added, since I saw no feature for doing so in the app. It turns out that Odio uses a directory called Community Radio Browser, where anyone can submit a station. That probably accounts for the idiosyncrasies, since you don’t need to affiliated with a station to submit it. Right now Community Radio Browser lists 24,582 stations, and the project’s webpage has an intriguing list of apps and platforms that use its directory, along with code libraries for folks who might build their own app.
You can maintain a “library” of favorite stations, but there’s no way to organize them.VLC
VLC is a cross-platform multimedia player app. In that way it’s the closest we have to a free, open source iTunes alternative – one that’s also continuously updated.
The app uses the Icecast Radio Directory. Icecast is an open source streaming audio platform, and stations using it can opt in to be listed. As a result the selection is very eclectic, though you may be hard pressed to find a lot of US broadcast stations. What you may find are live police scanners or Chicago Public Radio WBEZ’s all Christmas music stream. There is no organization – search is your only friend here.
Because it’s a perennially well-supported project, there are ways to add other directories, like TuneIn’s. However, plug-and-play they’re not. You’ll need to know your way around your Mac’s file system. It’s not crazy difficult, but it’s not as simple as installing most apps.
I would call VLC’s interface utilitarian. It’s built more for a power user than a novice, though there’s plenty of help to be found with a quick web search. Its two most iTunes-like features are the ability to add any station’s stream and to organize stations in playlists.Other Options, Caveat Emptor
Researching this topic I encountered at least a half-dozen other free and open source iTunes alternatives offering at least some kind of internet radio feature. However, they all seem to have little to no development for at least three years. They may still work fine for your, but an OS upgrade could easily foul up the works.
Is there a currently supported Mac OS internet radio app I’m missing? Please let us know.