Contrary to popular belief, radio is not dead. It may seem that way. The modern economy and technology have changed radio. Not only are there too many radio stations in the U.S. for them to profit from advertising, radio is under assault from satellite radio, from the iPod and iPhone, and from the internet.
There is no shortage of ways to listen to radio. Even the iPod has a built-in FM radio receiver. There are many tens of thousands of radio stations around the world and they’re migrating in one direction. The internet. Here are four popular ways for Mac users to listen to radio.
Almost from the beginning, Apple made it easy for Mac users to listen to internet radio with iTunes.
In the left hand column of iTunes, under Library, is the Radio selection. Once clicked, Mac and Windows users are presented with dozens of internet radio stations.
Every notable music genre is available; from rock to pop, from talk to sports, from oldies to jazz, from international radio stations to college stations, and nearly anything in between.
Radio is not dead. It’s just moved down the street to a better location. Internet radio. For some popular stations, the audience has expanded from a local area or regional audience to a full world wide audience.
Tools of the Trade
The ancient analog technology of radio has adopted the digital technology of the internet. Mac users can now listen to many thousands of radio stations streaming on the internet.
Not only that, many radio utilities can record those audio streams and make them available for playback in iTunes and on iPods and iPhones. Truly, radio today could be considered better than ever.
What tools do Mac users have besides iTunes?
There isn’t much to like about AOL these days except the price of their software. AOL Desktop for Mac is free. AIM for Mac is free. iPhone and iPod touch apps are free or nominal cost.
AOL Radio is based on CBS Radio and comes with more than 200 radio stations, 25 different genres of music, plus the 150 or more CBS Radio stations.
If free and simple is your game, AOL Radio fills your day with plenty of music, news, sports, and talk. It will sit in the background on your Mac and play all day while you whistle and work. AOL Radio goes mobile for the iPhone and iPod touch, too.
One of the classier radio utilities for Mac users is Radioshift, from Rogue Amoeba. This slickly designed interface has the basic goods.
The idea is to be able to listen and record internet radio. There’s a Station Guide, search ability for genre, location, call letters, names. Even a world view to see available radio stations in other countries.
Even better is the ability to record radio station streams while you’re asleep. There’s even support for Griffin’s RadioShark to record and play live AM/FM radio. Of course, everything can be saved to iTunes which means radio stations are also available for the iPhone and iPod. Radioshift Touch brings radio to your iPhone. The caveat? A price tag.
With an interface inspired by Lady Gaga comes Gaga Factory’s Radio Gaga. It features 10,000 internet radio stations and the ability to multi-record many radio stations at the same time.
Everything gets saved in MP3 format, without DRM, so what you record can play in iTunes and find its way to your iPhone or iPod. The interface is truly gaga, not easy on the eyes, but easy to use.
This isn’t a comprehensive list of all the ways you can listen to internet radio on your Mac, but among the best is Snowtape.
This Mac internet radio station utility is similar to the others but also adds Windows Media Audio support, since there are thousands of stations that do not stream audio in MP3. You won’t even need to install Flip4Mac.
Snowtape features drag and drop into iTunes, instant recording with a click, click to export to iTunes, even album artwork access and ID3v2 tags (with metadata). The controller is drop dead simple and Snowtape lets you add radio stations using RadioURL.com.
Alas, Snowtape may be easier to use than any Mac radio utility other than AOL Radio, but there’s no scheduled recording capability built-in.
There was a time when my grandfather thought that radio would die when movies and television came along. Instead, radio prospered and expanded. When the internet came along we thought radio would die again. Apparently, humans like listening to music, news, sports, and talk over portable devices, so radio has reinvented itself. Again.