Listening to Internet Radio

Remember the shortwave radio your parents (or grandparents) had in their house? You could skate the glowing needle along the numbers and pull in exotic music and strange voices from all over the world. That sort of magical radio still exists?inside your computer. Any computer with an Internet connection can easily be turned into a global radio receiver. All it takes is some software and some tips on where to look so you can listen. Let’s spin the dial.

First, some background. All over the world, radio stations and many individuals have created Internet radio stations. The CBC and National Public Radio are real-time or archived broadcasts of public radio programs you can hear like a normal radio (if you are in the range of the station). Others, like Crystal Radio, are “radio” stations developed specifically for the Internet.

In order to turn your computer into a radio, you’ll need to download a player like Winamp or Microsoft Windows Media Player. Internet radio also commonly broadcasts in RealOne and QuickTime formats, also easily downloadable programs.

It is pretty easy to start exploring different radio stations immediately. With winamp you’ve already found your first station here, but you can also go to Shoutcast which lists thousands of other internet radio stations.

With Windows Media Player. Launch the player and click on the Radio button in the top right-hand corner of the player. You’ll find a list of dozens of radio “stations” that have custom-built playlists of songs by genre, like Latin, Christian Hits, Jazz, Americana and Roots, or Rap & Hip Hop.

The Web is also a great place to search for music. Drop by and pick from dozens of genres and wild indie radio stations featuring exotica, drum and bass, trip hop, and jazz.

Or listen to your own favorite radio station anywhere in the house on your computer. Most major music stations now have Web sites where you can access their music and broadcasts in real time?whether it’s BBC Radio in England or C89.5 FM in Seattle.

Of course, once you start listening to the radio online you may want other peripherals to enhance the experience. To get the most out of the stations you select, consider hooking up a good set of speakers to your computer. You can plug them into your headphone jack (or in some cases a USB port). Speakers that used to cost a fortune can now be had for under $200.