Radio in Chicagoland just isn’t what it used to be. First, too many stations. Second, too many commercials.
Third, creaky, antiquated AM & FM radio stations just can’t compete with what I can listen to on the internet or satellite radio—both of which run wonderfully on my Mac. This is the story of a few Mac apps which can change your radio habits forever. Except for one very important problem.
Goodbye, Radio. Hello, Radio
When television came along, everyone thought radio was dead. When the internet came along, everyone thought radio was dead. It’s not dead. Radio is pulling a Dr. Who and metamorphing into radio of the future.
My husband and I live in Chicago—the land of a few hundred radio stations.
Over the past few years we’ve changed our listening habits. Instead of the half dozen local stations, we’ve gone satellite radio, and internet radio. For each, we use Pulsar and Radioshift, two superbly crafted Mac apps that make radio fun again.
Internet Radio On A Mac
Radioshift lets you listen to and record internet radio. Check out Mac360’s early review of Radioshift from a few years ago. That is what got Nathan and I hooked on internet radio.
Radioshift is what you think it is. Internet radio but with all the features of a truly Mac-like app. There’s a guide. Bookmarks. Station info. Search capability. Automatic subscriptions. Background recording (multiple shows at the same time). Send to iTunes and iPhone and iPad.
Nice, huh? We quickly forgot most of the few hundred stations in the greater Chicagoland area, and get our radio the way we want—from all over the world, free, recordable, and playable anywhere at any time (almost).
What’s not to like?
Satellite Radio On A Mac
As it turns out, there are a few things not to like. Internet radio has great selection and plenty of commercials. And, as with everything on the internet, sometimes a station is there and sometimes it’s not.
Enter Sirius XM satellite radio and Pulsar, the little Mac app that does what you think it does. Satellite radio.
Pulsar is quite a bit different than Radioshift. It’s much easier to use, with far fewer options and features. Simply put, Pulsar plays Sirius XM satellite radio via their online stations. No browser window necessary. Pulsar runs quietly and efficiently in the background on your Mac.
Pulsar can be controlled from the Dock or from the small floating app window. The app gives you more information than the Dock controls, of course.
You’ll get station listings, current playing information, favorites, even station artwork. Both US and Canadian Sirius XM accounts are supported in Pulsar. Using the companion app Airfoil you can spread satellite radio around your house.
Unfortunately, the only recording capability is to use yet another Mac app, Audio Hijack Pro, which digs into your Mac’s sound system to record what’s being played. It’s a solution that’s extra cost and extra effort.
4 Solutions vs. 1 Solution
Very quickly you could have four very nice (yet not inexpensive) Mac apps just to listen to the radio—and you’d still be missing an important part of what makes up AM & FM radio, regardless of where you live.
Local radio news and weather. Here in Chicago, not all local radio stations have internet streaming. There’s not much local news on satellite radio, either, let alone weather alerts (in Chicago we have weather which requires alerts, summer or winter).
Pulsar, Radioshift, Airfoil, and Audio Hijack Pro are great Mac apps, worthy of your time, consideration, and money. Collectively, they complicate the old but very usable analog solution. Click on an AM & FM radio for local news and weather. Sometimes, simple is better.