An increasing number of people are abandoning their old radios and listening to their favourite stations via the internet
16.9 million adults in Britain now say that they have listened to the radio via the web, according to the latest survey from Radio Joint Audience Research (Rajar). The study also found that the number using personalised jukeboxes, such as Last.fm, Spotify or MyClassicfm, had risen by a million in the past nine months to four million.
The research, entitled “Measurement of Internet Delivered Audio Services”, polled 1,153 respondents during May, a month before the Government issued its Digital Britain report, which pledged that by 2012 there would be broadband for all at a minimum speed of two megabits per second and that by 2015, FM and AM would be switched off in favour of DAB radio.
However, with the many problems that may besiege digital radio switchover, couldn’t internet radio be the solution everyone has been looking for, especially if the Government achieves its “broadband for all” ambition?
DAB now accounts for 12.7 per cent of all radio listening, and although internet radio lags behind at just 2.2 per cent, more and more devices, from mobile phones to stereos, are now connected to the internet.
Here we highlight some of the stations that are leading the internet revolution, and the best radios for tuning into online music away from your computer.
Yahoo!’s internet radio service allows you to listen to more than 250 radio stations through your browser window. Offers an eclectic mix of tracks, ranging from current chart-toppers to R&B, indie rock or Latin pop.
Not a radio station in the traditional sense of the word, Sound Transit is more like an audio journey. Choose a start point and end point from a list of countries, and the number of “stopovers” along the route, then listen as you’re taken on a musical voyage across the globe.
One of the most comprehensive internet radio directories available, Live365 makes it incredibly easy to find the music that suits your taste. You can search by song type and genre, or take a lucky dip pick from the site’s list of daily recommendations.
Choose from thousands of songs to build customised playlists – you can use Spotify free if you agree to listen to an advert every 20 minutes or so, or pay £9.99 per month for ad-free music. Exceptionally easy to use and with a very good selection of music, Spotify is fast becoming a favourite for dinner parties and barbecues. If you want to listen to Spotify on your home stereo, invest in an Apple AirPort Express Base station (£79, Mac and PC compatible, apple.com/uk) and hook it up to your speakers. Install a piece of software called Airfoil on your Mac or PC (www.rogueamoeba.com/airfoil, £18 to buy, free to try), and you’ll be streaming internet radio, including Spotify, through your hi-fi in no time.
The gentle sounds of the dawn chorus proved a huge hit with listeners, with more than half a million people tuning in every day to listen to a looping track of bird song. There was a public outcry when the station disappeared from the airwaves last month, but it’s back, available online through its own internet radio station. You can even buy a CD of chirruping and tweeting.
A wonderful way to expand your scientific and philosophical knowledge. The hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich tackle some of the big questions in science and human experience, and attempt to help their listeners to expand their mind, and think about these topics in more detail on their own. An accessible show that manages to both make you laugh, and make you think.
A blog which the creators call “not about Radio 4, but of it.” The Speechification blog is a large archive of what they deem to be the wittiest and most thought-provoking parts of Radio 4 over the years. Samples of other international radio shows are thrown in for good measure. The result is a great collection of hand-picked radio treasures.
Broadcasting from New Jersey, Rolling Stone magazine called WFMU “the best radio station in the country”. Programming ranges from genre-bending music to popular jazz and rock standards. Always a pleasure to listen to due to its spontaneous and humorous nature.
This self-styled “radio art station” is on a mission to cover “the new, the undiscovered, the forgotten, [and] the impossible.” In short, Resonance is a refreshing radio station that plays alternative, obscure and always pleasant world music. Between the songs, the presenters will use their knowledge of the arts to discuss and cover either the music they are playing, or anything from archaeological discoveries to sociological debate.
This listener-supported station has 14 channels, all based upon a different style of music than you might be used to. Some of the more quirky themes include ‘Secret Agent’, which plays tracks suited to the soundtrack of a spy movie; and ‘Boot Liquor’, which explores traditional American for who they refer to as ‘Cowhands, Cowpokes and Cowtippers’.
For those more inclined to classical music, this station brings you a schedule filled with programs dedicated to different periods, composers and genres.
If you want variety in your internet radio, then Shoutcast is where you want to be. With hundreds of stations within its 24 genres and countless subgenres, covering everything from Bubblegum pop to Impressionist Classical, it will take you a long time to exhaust all the options.
Offers a great selection of stations within each genre. Great for classical listeners, with different stations dedicated to various instruments and periods. An alternative music streaming radio to Last.fm
This site allows the users to construct their own playlists based upon an artist or a genre of their choosing. For example, type in ‘The Beatles’, and Last.fm will play you artists such as The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, The Who, and a number of slightly lesser known artists. It’s an opportunity to create a station around your own interests, and to introduce you to artists you may not have heard of before.
You can listen to internet radio on your mobile phone too. Spotify, a music-streaming service, recently released an application for handsets running the Android operating system, and an iPhone application is said to be in the works. If your device runs the Symbian S60 operating system – that’s the software found on most modern Nokias, for example – and you’re up for a bit of technical tinkering, why not try installing the S60 internet radio client to access all of Shoutcast’s stations? You can find full instructions online. Alternatively, give Mobtuner a whirl. It’s free to install (although, as with all internet radio access on your mobile phone, you may incur a charge for data use if you’re not on an unlimited data tariff) and works with all Windows Mobile phones – get it by visiting mobtuner.com in your phone’s web browser.