I posted previously about how to listen to radio station streams on an Android phone. In the time between then and now, somebody has come up with a much better way to do it. TuneIn Radio is both a website for streaming and a mobile application for Android and iPhone users alike.
I have found that every local radio station that has a web stream is listed. The major overseas broadcasters like the BBC, CBC, Radio Netherlands, and so on as well as all of the non-government US owned shortwave stations are listed. As their website states:
With over 30,000 FM and AM radio stations from across the globe, TuneIn Radio makes radio local, no matter how far from home you might be.
Far easier than what I posted before. Further, this is exactly the type of service that terrestrial broadcasters needed the most; a concise consolidated listing broken down by genre and locality, to compete with Pandora, Slacker, Last.fm, et. al.
In order to download TuneIn Radio, point your mobile web browser to http://tunein.com and it will automatically direct you to the proper download source. Or one could search through the Apple store or Android Market to find the app.
The NAB (National Association of Broadcasters), in trying to reach a settlement with the music industry, has decided that cellphones are part of the problem. No kidding, the fact that smart phones like the iPhone and Android do not have FM tuners seems to be a part of the negotiations, even though the cellphone industry has nothing to do with music royalties. The argument is, more people will listen to, and more importantly, buy music if they have an FM tuner in their smartphone.
I don’t know about that.
My HTC Android phone does have an FM tuner, it also has a metal detector. I have found both the be novel applications. Even though I work in radio, I have used the FM tuner twice. Technically speaking, I find it to be adequate. In order to receive anything, a pair of headphones or earbuds has to be used, because the headphone wire acts as the antenna.
That being said, I cannot count the number of times I have used Pandora or other online audio applications. Several times a day at least. Why? Because the content it better.
If consumers want FM tuners in their cellphones, they will ask for them. Cellphone manufacture’s will gladly comply, and make them. The real problem is, most people don’t care about radio because most radio programming is boring and uninspired these days. Let me paraphrase that:
HELLO, BROADCASTERS! ARE YOU LISTENING? YOUR PROGRAMMING SUCKS!
Offer a better product and listeners will return. If there were a compelling reason to build FM tuners into cellphones, it would already be done. Forcing the cellphone manufactures to do something they don’t want to do will simply drive up prices.
The NAB has led the radio industry astray for years now, we really should stop listening to them.
Update:There is a better way: www.engineeringradio.us/blog/2011/03/tunein-radio/
Ahh, since I posted about my android, a few readers have emailed me and would like to know. If you have tried to stream audio using a smartphone web browser, you have found out that it simply doesn’t work. The web browser is unable to decode the radio station stream because most of them are in AAC, AAC+, HeAACv1 or some other codec. At this point, most people give up on the idea and move on. I, on the other hand, determined that it should be doable.
First, I attempted to down load a few apps, but they either crashed or didn’t do what I wanted or weren’t in the right language, or something.
Clear Channel has something called iHeartRadio, which is a clearing house for mobile users that want to listen to Clear Channel radio streams on their iPhones. I don’t know, once you have heard one Kiss-FM station, you’ve heard them all as far as I am concerned. Most other Clear Channel programming is boring and uninspired.
What I finally ended up doing was going to Moodio and reading up on a few things. Here is a good step by step way to use Moodio to listen to radio station web streams on any mobile device.
- Be aware that not all data plans are the same. ATT, Sprint, and others now cap data transfer and charge extra if a subscriber goes over. Know your plan.
- On a regular computer, go to Moodio (http://www.yourmuze.fm/)
- Set up a user account
- Select from there list, the stations you want to listen to. They have many US stations as well as many from Europe. If the station you are looking for is not there, you can request that it be added.
- Select the default data rate. Since I have unlimited data, I chose the highest rate for the best sounding audio. Others may want lower data rates so as not to exceed data caps.
- Point your mobile device web browser to www.m.yourmuze.fm
- Log into your account
- The stations on your listen list will be displayed.
That is a lot of steps to take. Somebody has to be very into radio or a radio station to do something like that. A forward thinking radio station or group will be writing or paying somebody to write mobile streaming apps for their stream(s). A forward thinking radio station or group would then feature links to these apps prominently on their web pages. Very prominently if they are in a PPM market. Ahem, very prominently if they are in a PPM market.
That is what a forward thinking radio station would be doing…
I read a very good and interesting post on James Critland’s blog. He is somewhat concerned about the trend for mobile wireless providers to no longer offer unlimited data service for a flat fee. I find it interesting that all of these companies seemed to have reached the same conclusions at the same time. But anyway…
The general surmise of James’ post is that the average person will not be able to afford online radio through a 3 or 4G device because of the limited minutes available and the additional charges incurred. (35 quid is about $50.00) To make that meaningful to a US audience, I decided to redo some of James’ math.
Iphones are primarily serviced through ATT. ATT has two different data plans that are coupled with voice plans in a bundle. For example, a 450 minute voice plan and a 200 Mb data plan will cost $55.00. At 900 minute voice plan with a 2 Gb data plan will run $85.00.
Here are a few interesting tid bits and some good math:
- A 64 kbps stream runs 7.68 kb per second, or 460 kb per minute (1 kilo bit per second = 0.12 kilo bytes)
- 1 hour of online listening equals 27,640 k bytes of data transfered
- The 200 Mb plan cost $15.00 with voice plan, the 2 Gb plan cost $25.00 with voice plan
- The 200 Mb plan would allow for 7 hours of listen time if no other data use occurred
- The 2 Gb plan would allow for 72 hours of listen time if no other data use occurred
- Beyond those data transfer amounts, extra charges are incurred
Almost 50% of the time spent listening to all radio source (terrestrial, satellite, online) is in the car. The average person in the US listens to radio about 3 hours per day, or 90 hours per month. Half of that time would be 45 hours or so.
Clearly, anyone who is more than a casual listener of online radio will need the 2 Gb plan. However, given the paucity of entertainment available from traditional radio sources, this is not an outlandish amount to pay. I remember in the 70’s when folks were saying cable TV would never catch on.