Tech Rap: Station Spotlight
Posted on February 01 2020
Every once and a while I devote a Tech Rap article to some great and unique Internet radio stations for your listening consideration. It is very time consuming searching our data base to seek out and audition worthy stations, so I do not task myself with this undertaking very often. But based on past comments I have received, I know highlighting stations is appreciated by our customers. So, here are ten standout Internet radio stations (in no particular order) I have uncovered from my latest data base deep dive, organized by genre, and supplemented with interviews which I think you will find very interesting.
Jazz1. The Great American Songbook (128 kbps/MP3; The Netherlands)
It is ironic that a station dedicated to the great American songbook hails from The Netherlands. The Great American Songbook (“GAS”) is a non-commercial station specializing in easy listening and American vocal jazz stretching back to the 1950’s. A small sampling of the legendary artists I took note of during my lengthy listening sessions include Dean Martin, Shirley Horn, Nat King Cole, Peggy Lee, Paul Anka, Julie London, Sammy Davis Jr., Lambert, Hendricks & Ross, and Johnny Mathis. I could go on, but with more than 14,500 songs in their library, you get the idea. This classic music falls just as easily on the ears today as it did fifty-plus decades ago, perhaps more so. Further cementing the retro vibe are vintage radio jingles and commercials like Muriel Cigars (“pick one up and smoke it sometime”) and Bulova watches (“it’s Bulova time”). Once in a great while, this vintage vibe takes a brief detour when a contemporary artist like Dave Koz or Michael Franks is slipped in. GAS’s playlist skews heavily toward Frank Sinatra, but there is no such thing as too much of ol’ blue eyes. As you have probably discovered, stations with this kind of format are rapidly becoming extinct on traditional AM/FM radio. Mercifully, Internet radio and The Great American Songbook intervene to keep this endangered music alive. Play this station at your office, play it during dinner, play it for a romantic evening at home, or set your Como Audio music system’s Sleep timer to it when you go to bed, but just play it.
As you have probably discovered, stations with this kind of format are rapidly becoming extinct on traditional AM/FM radio.
The station’s co-founder, Rene Dussen, like myself, worked in the radio broadcast industry and has personally interviewed such luminaries as Tony Bennett, Dave Brubeck, Nancy Wilson, George Shearing, Les Paul, and Diane Schuur (the complete list is far too long to reproduce). I emailed Dussen with a few questions and took the liberty of editing his written responses due to a slight language barrier.
PS: Why did you start The Great American Songbook?
RD: The Great American Songbook Radio Station is ‘just’ a hobby (the whole business plan is my personal wallet). Its existence and format are the result of my professional radio life back in the day. I started [in] radio as a hobby (hospital radio), became a professional producer on public radio for many years (eighties & nineties), but these days it’s a hobby again…We simply carry the torch for this type of music since it’s the cradle of vocal jazz, adult contemporary, [and] easy listening, which shouldn’t be forgotten.
PS: Why does your playlist tend to be Sinatra-heavy?
RD: I’m originally a pop music guy, but Sinatra really changed my life. I even quit my steady job due to his existence. My friend was, and still is, a big Sinatra fan and I decided to help him produce a format since he didn’t know where to start. After six years of producing, we started on public radio with a radio documentary, “Sinatra”, which became a huge hit. Then they asked us, what more can you do? And then we started a three-year radio series every Sunday called “The Great American Songbook”. The focus was on the songwriters of ‘GAS’ music.
The Great American Songbook’s studio. Picture by Rene Dussen.
PS: Your station has good sound quality.
RD: If you ever listened to it yourself, aside from its special format, the audio quality is at a higher level than most other competitors…SiriusXM for instance, for which listeners have to pay. However, the stream quality is the secret of this [recipe].
PS: The station is Netherlands-based, but you give it a USA “feel”?
RD: Yes, you’re right…The whole format/concept, US voices only, real-time Manhattan temperatures every hour, the timeframe of the ‘on the hour jingles’, vintage US radio commercials, and last but not least, the music, gives the idea that it’s based in Manhattan. Worldwide listeners reactions always prove that and I love that.
2. Slow Jams Radio (128 kbps/MP3; USA)
Slow Jams Radio already has a well-worn spot in “My Favorites” even though I just I uncovered it. It sets a mellow tone just as its name implies. R&B and Soul is the soul (pun intended) of this Internet station. The station’s Creator, whom identifies himself as DJ Musizman, explained in an email to me that his station is one of “a vibe of connection…to keep the listener coming back for more...to touch the listener…to inspire the listener...I started Slow Jams Radio along with Jazz Vibe Radio and All Underground Hip Hop Radio back in 2015 because of the love for the genres and love for 'good music'...it's a great way to connect with people everywhere...I've always loved music since a child and I wanted to share that love...”. Some of the artists I heard I did not recognize, but others I was very familiar with, like Aretha Franklin, Teddy Pendergrass, Simply Red, Al Green, Keith Sweat, Natalie Cole, Otis Redding, Luther Vandross, and Earth, Wind & Fire. I even heard The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Prince, and the Bee Gees as part of the rotation. Musizman told me he determines the music he plays based on “what I would listen to and what I consider to be 'good music' that any generation would connect with and listen to...growing up in Detroit, MI...my favorite radio DJ was the Electrifying Mojo...and he would play what 'he' liked…not what the radio stations wanted him to play...that made him very popular with the listeners in Detroit...he was different...that's what I strive to be...different...not like everyone else...”. This broad playlist is artfully blended to create an intoxicating cocktail for the ears. Even Musizman’s soft voice, heard briefly when he identifies the station and invites you to sit back and enjoy the sounds, mates perfectly with the music. Musizman streams three other internet stations, including Purple Sounds Radio (a Prince tribute station), but I like Slow Jams Radio the best.
This broad playlist is artfully blended to create an intoxicating cocktail for the ears.
Unlike most of the other stations on my list, SJR airs adverts, and hearing Sprint and Home Depot commercials sandwiched between two slow jam songs disrupts the vibe Musizman works so hard at creating. But if that is what it takes for the station to exist, then so be it. Thankfully (for us, not for them), the adverts are few and far between.
Turn-down the lights, tune Slow Jams Radio on your Como Audio music system, and let it soothe your soul.
3. WFMU Rock ‘n’ Soul Ichiban (128 kbps/MP3; New Jersey)
Granted, so-called “Oldies” stations are as plentiful as Progressive Insurance commercials (there are literally hundreds of stations listed in our data base’s “Oldies” Genre). So why include WFMU Rock ‘n’ Soul Ichiban Radio in my list of discoveries? Because this station specializes in obscure rock bands from the 1950’s and 60’s, interspersed with vintage radio commercials for good measure. During my listen I can honestly say I had never heard of a single group or artist the station played (Pussycats, Sherlock, Sammy Taylor, The Dubs, Jackie Lowell, O.V. Wright, The Quests, Andy & The Islanders), yet without exception, every song was thoroughly enjoyable. “I started the Ichiban stream 10 years ago with my own 45s, LPs, CDs and compilations from friends. I wanted other music freaks to know that there were other versions of these obscure songs out there”, wrote Program Director Debbie Daughtry in her reply to my email. WFMU operates one FM station and three Internet-only stations out of Jersey City, all of which are listener-supported.
Daughtry searching through WFMU’s extensive music library. Picture provided by Debbie Daughtry.
…I can honestly say I had never heard of a single group or artist the station played, yet without exception, every song was thoroughly enjoyable.
WFMU’s Rock ‘n’ Soul is akin to the neighborhood diner’s bottomless cup of coffee…just when you think you have reached the bottom you get a free refill of more great music. You will note the station’s name includes the Japanese word “Ichiban”, which roughly translates to “number one” or “the best” in English. An interesting word choice considering the station plays none of the hits, none of the time.
If you want a break from those tired, repetitive “golden oldies”, Rock ‘n’ Soul is definitely deserving of a prolonged listen.
4. JIB on the Web (128 kbps/MP3; MA)
WJIB-FM was a long-standing, powerhouse beautiful music station in Massachusetts. It adopted the format in 1967 and remained loyal to it until 1990 when the station underwent the first of what would be numerous format changes, never again to revisit its easy listening roots. I have mentioned this station before but never included an interview with the Founder. Warren Schroeger, an Emerson College alum like myself, was hired as a part time DJ at WJIB-FM in 1968 and remained in their employ for thirteen years. “A well-run facility, and well-paying”, as he recalled to me. He started JIB on the Web (“Beautiful Music Done Right”) as a recreation of and tribute to the original WJIB-FM. Indeed, the all-volunteer staff is comprised of former WJIB-FM announcers. Schroeger is the primary voice of the station and still has great “pipes” as we say in the radio business.
A listener-supported station, Como Audio sponsored JIB on the Web for a good portion of last year as “the official Internet radio of JIB on the Web”. Like the original WJIB-FM, you will hear music by Andy Williams, Floyd Cramer, Living Voices, Herb Alpert, 101 Strings, Michael Legrand, and Nelson Riddle, with a modest sprinkling of vintage commercials. There are also brief “Artist Spotlights”; informative audio vignette’s on different artists the station plays.
I reached out to Schroeger via email to ask him some questions about JIB on the Web (not be confused with MA non-Internet station WJIB-AM).
A younger Schroeger on the air at WJIB-FM in 1974. Photo courtesy of Warren Schroeger.
PS: Besides the buoy bell and seagull sound effects, how authentic is JIB on the Web’s format compared to the original WJIB-FM?
WS: That's no ordinary bell! That's the AUTHENTIC bell of the USS Constitution heard on the top of every hour on JIB on the Web, just as it played for 23 years on the original radio station. A priceless, readily identifiable brand signature. The seagulls came from a record album by Frank Chacksfield.
Beyond that, the JIB on the Web recreation is identical to the former WJIB-FM, except for: no commercials, no hourly newscasts, and no public affairs program. With only minor modifications, the presentation is exactly as heard forty and fifty years ago. The music mix reflects a composite sound of the station over its lifespan. That mix evolved over the years on the original station as new music was introduced and older material was phased out. JIB on the Web blends them all in carefully arranged sequences that keep each hour properly balanced for consistency 24 hours a day.
Today, Schroeger announces from his closet (seriously), which he says acts as the perfect broadcast booth. Photo by Warren Schroeger.
PS: What’s the best thing about JIB on the Web?
WS: With its beautiful music format (also known as easy listening), it is providing a truly authentic re-creation of an extraordinarily popular radio station of the past that would not be viable on AM/FM radio today. It brings to those listeners disenfranchised by terrestrial radio, a realm of recorded music they would be hard-pressed to recreate otherwise.
Programming JIB on the Web’s playlist.
PS: Is it a lot of work running your own Internet station?
WS: Doing it RIGHT is a lot of work. It would be much easier to let certain things slide. Careful attention to detail was a hallmark of the original radio station and that concept has been carried over to JIB on the Web and can be accomplished successfully only by those who are familiar with and sensitive to the nuances of the beautiful music format.
5. Seeburg 1000 Background Music (128 kbps/MP3; CA)
I briefly mentioned this wild Internet station in my December blog article and it is definitely deserving of a spot on my list. The Seeburg 1000 was essentially a record player for businesses that played stacks of proprietary 9” mono records, mostly instrumentals. Each album side contained 20 songs, which translated to roughly 40 minutes of music per side. How could they achieve this with a record 3” smaller in diameter than an LP and a massive 2” spindle hole in the middle? Simple: The records played at half the normal speed of an LP…16 2/3 R.P.M. Keep in mind, this was intended as background music, not for critical listening. Each record was numbered so as to let the operator know what order to stack them in the machine. Records were shipped to businesses every quarter with instructions to return the old records to Seeburg under penalty of death (this is only a slight exaggeration). The Seeburg music catalog was divided into three formats: Basic (medium tempo), Mood (medium-slow tempo), and Industrial (medium-fast tempo). Seeburg even issued their own Christmas music. The music was designed to keep workers working and shoppers shopping. Did it work? Considering the machines were in use for close to thirty years, they must have had some kind of an impact.
The Seeburg 1000 playback machine itself held twenty-five records and resembled an industrial strength microwave oven, with a small lighted window in the door to reveal the vertical rotisserie of records. The machine was capable of playing its stack of records indefinitely. Think of it as a rudimentary version of music streaming. The machine’s unique cartridge had two styli; one on the bottom and a duplicate on top, negating the need to manually “flip” the records. Seeburg had been a major manufacturer of jukeboxes for years, so they knew what they were doing.
Seeburg 1000 Background Music’s playlist covers late 1950’s through the late 1980’s. The station plays digital files of original Seeburg recordings as well as records played from actual restored, working Seeburg machines. A lot of effort has been poured into this station and it shows. The station successfully transports you back to a simpler time when people went to actual department stores to do their shopping and worked side by side with their coworkers, not isolated in cubicles staring at computer monitors.
Station co-founder Denny Hankla is about the nicest guy I never met. I contacted him by email to help me unpack his most unique station:
PS: The proprietary records for the Seeburg 1000 machine were supposed to be destroyed after they were returned by businesses, so where did you find the music you play?
DH: We found the records at Antique Coin Op shows, former Seeburg distributors and operators, and eBay.
PS: How did your Internet station originally come about?
DH: Many, many years ago, we started collecting the records and machines and basically rescued the library from extinction. The public did not know about it, only operators, and they didn't care. The machines and records were hauled to the dump regularly. I heard stories over and over about this. Thankfully, not all of them met that fate...then internet radio stations starting sprouting up everywhere and we started our station. The entire project is a labor of love for all involved.
A Seeburg “Basic” music record from 1967. Note the generous 2” spindle hole and the unusual 16 2/3 R.P.M. playback speed.
PS: You have some famous listeners, like the drummer for the band KISS?
DH: Yes, Eric Singer is one of my best friends for over 30 years and we're neighbors. He really does listen to the station, and records promos for us. There are others, but he is our "celebrity spokesperson". We have listeners worldwide.
PS: Why do you think this type of music appeals to people so many decades later?
DH: Many folks have commented how they remember hearing this music when they were young. Shopping with their parents in a mall, or hearing background music while standing in line at a grocery store, bank, etc., etc. We receive email regularly from listeners telling their stories and thanking us for keeping the music alive.
6. Mi Generation Radio (128 kbps/AAC; Columbia)
With winter upon us, heat up the cold days with Mi Generation Radio, a recent addition to our ever-growing radio station data base. Export your ears down to South America for some authentic Salsa (the music, not the sauce). This station broadcasts in Spanish, but that just adds to the authenticity. As the saying goes, variety is the spice of life, so spice up yours with a dash of Salsa from Columbia.
7. Payphone Radio Network (192 kbps/MP3; New York)
Last month I celebrated a Birthday (I won’t tell you what year). I only mention this because I am old enough to remember using rotary dial public payphones and phone booths with thick telephone books dangling from a chain. Coincidentally, I purchased a refurbished black 1950’s Western Electric Model 302 rotary dial telephone last month from a seller on eBay who restores antique telephones. Right now, it is just a display piece, but I had it retro-fitted with a modular jack so I could actually use it one day.
My Western Electric Model 302, manufactured between 1937-1955, was the VW Beetle of telephones.
Returning to the topic at hand: According to a 2018 CNN “Money” article, payphone revenue topped $286 million in 2015. As of 2018 there were 100,000 payphones remaining in the USA (down from 2 million in 1999). Given the fact that 1/5 of those are in New York, it follows that Payphone Radio Network is based in NY. The station’s founder, Mark Thomas, who is also a classical music pianist/composer, randomly calls in to a recording device from various payphones memorializing certain aspects of his life. Think of it as a spoken private journal, broadcast for the entire world to eavesdrop on. Some of these one-way calls are rather pedestrian, such as how his day went at work and tossing his baseball cards. Other calls are more remarkable, like the call in which he recounts the 9/11 terrorist attack (one of the jets flew over his head that morning), recollections of his time working at CNN, and apologizing to his parents for making a painful decision he knows will hurt them. These “confessions” quickly become addictive, like a kind of one-man telephone reality show, and a part of me felt guilty for listening in. The meta data shows the phone number of each payphone he calls from along with a summary of each call (e.g. “Rockefeller Center Rambles”). I wondered when the calls I was listening to were made, but unfortunately, Thomas does not include date information because he feels Internet-savvy listeners are too preoccupied with what is “new”.
Thomas is well spoken, has a pleasant voice, and speaks in a monotone, occasionally letting loose with an unexpected expletive or two. His down-to-earth, unscripted calls make you feel like you are really listening to a call from him. Oftentimes I find myself wanting to talk back. Call quality varies from remarkably clean to just audible, and often abruptly ends with the classic loud noise of the receiver being hung up. His spoken entries are occasionally interrupted by a recorded message from the female operator prompting him to deposit another twenty-five cents. Perhaps she is Alexa or Siri’s grandmother.
These “confessions” quickly become addictive, like a kind of one-man telephone reality show, and a part of me felt guilty for listening in.
“Since college and even high school I had wanted some kind place on the airwaves, but discovered that neither the professional nor "alternative" world of broadcast radio in the 1990s (after I finished college) had any place for me, even though everybody I talked to in the business seemed to think I did. I had no ambition of being the next Casey Kasem. I rather wanted some small but unique place on the broadcast spectrum, preferably at the far-left end of the AM or FM dial. When no opportunity on the terrestrial radio seemed ever to await, and as the cost of streaming media made Internet radio more financially realistic (and artistically unrestricted), I turned to that format instead. My first Shoutcast stream was about 20 years ago, if I remember right.
I emailed Thomas a barrage of questions in order to help me fill-in the blanks, which he readily answered. Although he started Payphone Radio in 2010, amassing thousands of calls over nine+ years, Thomas only airs calls dating back to April 2018, as he feels the older calls would be a turn-off to listeners. Perhaps it is just me, but after randomly tuning in over the course of a few weeks, I found myself wanting to hear those older calls. That aside, Thomas estimates the period he airs his calls from accounts for over 600 calls. Some calls never see the fiber-optic light of day because they were inaudible, failed to record, or had some other issue. Such are the inherent risks when relying on public payphones. Thomas says the majority of calls cost him 0.25 cents, but some cost 0.50 cents, especially the live performance recording calls. More on that in a minute. In the meantime, please deposit another twenty-five cents.
The most burning question I had for Thomas was why he bothers to even do this at all:
I started Payphone Radio thinking I should be like Joe Frank. It didn't take long to discover that that's not possible. There will never be another Joe Frank, and in time I felt like a fool trying to imitate him, or any of my other radio heroes. I decided I should be my own radio star, carve out my own niche, just like Joe! You mention "confessionals". Only in the past few months has it dawned on me that Payphone Radio is inhabited by spirits from the old Apology Line, a telephone confessional I discovered in 1991 and which utterly captivated me for years. Listening back to some of my more confessional calls from Payphone Radio I realized, consciously or not, I was recreating an echo of, or rather a tribute to that Apology soundworld: the grey, monochrome sound of the landline, filled with mostly lonely voices -- or in the case of Payphone Radio, one lonely voice -- baring our souls from a safe, discrete distance.”
A moment of silence: A castrated public payphone on Hancock Street in Quincy, MA, which I drive past every morning.
Thomas explains on his website that he was also inspired in part by David Letterman’s skits of calling payphones in close proximity to The Ed Sullivan Theater “live” on TV and talking with whomever answered, sometimes inviting the person to walk over to the studio and be on his show.
Presumably, to prevent his non-commercial station from sounding like one long, continuous phone call, Thomas augments his calls with primitive recordings of musicians performing live in New York City subways (the subway location and name of the musician is displayed when known), using the closest available payphone handset as the microphone! Ergo, the sound quality is hardly high fidelity, but Thomas maintains “the coarseness of the sound quality gives it an impromptu, unexpected feel. As you would expect,” he explained, “it depends mostly how close the phone was to the action, or how loud the band played…I don't mind the haunting, far-off quality of the latter calls but you might be amazed how good some of those close-up calls can sound. I have a weakness for music that makes itself difficult, or even just a little hard to hear. I have "Musical Ear Syndrome" so I hear music everywhere, or I almost do, if you know what I mean. I hear Coltrane and Dr. John coming out of air filters and window fans, and Boccherini in the sound of shower water circling the drain. Listening to the payphone buskers is reminiscent of that sensation.”
As for how long he can keep this going, Thomas says “the inevitable reality is that I'll not be able to do this forever by sticking to the payphone-only conduit. I've broken protocol by making a small number of cellphone calls, probably less than 10 total all these years, but as payphones continue to dwindle, I expect to evolve into just using a home studio format. In fact, my next update may include just such a recording. I will never use those stupid LinkNYC kiosks for this.”
8. Radio Free Brooklyn (192 kbps/MP3; New York)
In the words of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, and now for something completely different. Also based in the Big Apple, this non-profit had its modest beginnings four years ago in the basement of a bicycle shop. Today, Radio Free Brooklyn broadcasts over 75 original shows from a state-of-the-art studio. The format is Freeform, meaning the hosts are “not restricted by traditional programming formats or commercial concerns when they are developing their content and playlists.” The station’s website goes on to boldly state “management will never dictate what our hosts can or cannot say and/or play on the network.” This artistic freedom results in some pretty off-the-wall programming, such as “Badass Babes”, “Queer State of Mind”, “Dr. Lisa Gives a Sh**”, “Fallen Woman”, and “Famous Dead People”, where the host interviews dead celebrities played by local actors and comedians. I asked Executive Director Tom Tenney what the most popular programs were. “I'd say the two original shows that seem to be the most popular with listeners around the world are Crime Talk BK (Saturdays at 11am ET), which is a weekly live talk show that explores crime and criminal justice in Brooklyn. The other, a music show, is Aural Medication (Friday 11am ET), which is a freeform music show featuring lots of R&B, blues, and singer-songwriters. It's hosted by radio veteran Rina Kofman. Brooklyn Bandstand (all local music) and Democracy Now! (syndicated) do really well also. Those two shows air 5 days a week, while most of our other shows are weekly.”
Brooklyn-based trio “Bandits on the Run” (left to right: Sydney Torin Shepherd, Adrian Blake Enscoe, and Regina Strayhorn) performing live on Radio Free Brooklyn. Photo courtesy of Radio Free Brooklyn.
Within seconds of tuning in for the very first time, I heard the “F” and “P” words in the same sentence! Since the station broadcasts over the Internet and not over the public airwaves, it is not subject to the same FCC regulations. Do not misunderstand me- RFB is not a talk radio version of a freak show. As Tenney mentioned, there are some solid public affairs and music programs. I especially enjoyed “Mood Indigo”, devoted to melancholy blues, soul, and R&B.
Do not misunderstand me- RFB is not a talk radio version of a freak show.
The Freeform format is certainly nothing new, having first appeared on FM radio in the late 1960’s. You will find an extensive list of Freeform stations from around the globe by searching under Freeform-Eclectic under Genre in the Stations menu of your Como Audio music system, but none are quite like RFB. I recommend at least sampling RFB if not for the sheer novelty of it. Notwithstanding my years in radio broadcasting, I have never heard anything quite like this station before. Radio Free Brooklyn gives both music and the First Amendment a vigorous workout, so keep your water bottle and sweatband at arm’s length when you tune in.
9. Radio Broadgreen 2 (133 kbps/AAC; UK)
I never took the time to count, but I would conservatively estimate I worked at more than a dozen radio stations during my 6+ years in that field. At one point in my career when I was unable to find full time work in radio, I worked part time for three different radio stations. The industry had an affectionate label for such people…“radio whore”, a badge I wore with great pride. Point being, I am very familiar with the radio business, yet with the exception of Boston Children’s Hospital’s Seacrest Studios (started from a gift by the Ryan Seacrest Foundation) and a few other Children’s Hospitals in the USA, I have never heard of a hospital-based radio station.
RBG 2 is situated in Liverpool, England, and offers a full-time eclectic mix of music, old-time radio programs, live concerts, and comedy. When I first tuned in, I caught the tail-end of a comedy song by Peter Sellers and Sophia Loren, followed by a broadcast of a Faulty Towers TV episode. According to what Station Manager Paul Watters wrote to me, “Radio Broadgreen 2 is intended for hospital patients as an alternative to our main music entertainment/information service, Radio Broadgreen. As we broadcast to some gerontology wards and to patients suffering with dementia/Alzheimer’s, it was decided to see if a service with Old Time Radio shows and some specific programs made for elderly patients (music and news items through the years) would help with their recovery. Music can stimulate and act as a trigger for some patients. One example was the day a patient suffering with dementia was visited by our team and as we chatted, she suddenly seemed to awake from her daze and said the song she would like to hear. She then immediately started to sing it. The nursing staff were taken aback as she had been quite non-responsive all morning. The power of song!” Having one elderly parent of my own with Alzheimer’s, I can attest to that.
The industry had an affectionate label for such people…“radio whore”, a badge I wore with great pride.
Broadgreen Hospital, Liverpool, England. Photo courtesy of Broadgreen Hospital.
RBG 2, along with two others (Radio Broadgreen and RBG Sport), is overseen by the Liverpool Hospital Broadcast Service, a charitable organization, and is funded through donations. Although the station itself is non-commercial, you might hear an ad or two after the station loads and connects, which emanates from the streaming service provider, not the radio station. RBG 2 is currently evaluating other provider options. I found the streaming quality sometimes fluctuated, reaching as high as 143 kbps and as low as 97 kbps, which is still excellent quality in the AAC audio codec.
As Watters mentioned, the station broadcasts some enjoyable music programs like the syndicated “A to Z of Pop Special! with Richard Smith” and “Ray Oxley’s Golden Years”, described as “sixty minutes of pure nostalgia”. Thanks to the miracle of Internet radio, you do not need to be a patient at Broadgreen Hospital to enjoy this station. RBG 2’s comedy programming will keep you in stitches (excuse the pun), and if laughter is the best medicine, it also just might help keep you out of the dreaded waiting room.
10. Classic Book Radio (97 kbps/MP3; MS)
I confess I am not a bookworm, which will surely come as a surprise to those who know me. Following considerable self-therapy, I have determined this literary aversion stems from the emotional trauma I suffered from profoundly boring high school reading assignments and dry (not to mention outrageously expensive) college textbooks that were required reading for four seemingly endless years. Being permanently saddled with eye glasses that served as the blueprint for the Hubble Telescope does not help. Enter non-profit Classic Book Radio out of Mississippi. From classic books, to short stories, to poems, CBR has a lot to offer. The genres cover Fiction, Westerns, History, and Mystery. Last month included readings of The Count of Monte Cristo, Anne of Green Gables, and Lincoln. As Executive Director Chris Howard explained to me, “We broadcast mainly public domain works from the free audio books internet site Librivox.org. We have done a bit of our own recording also. Getting broadcast rights to works still under copyright is a challenge.” CBR’s website succinctly states their format: “No rap music, no country western, no Rush Limbaugh, just people reading.” The station is funded through listener donations and underwriting.
The next time you think about curling up with a good book, try curling up next to your Como Audio smart speaker while you enjoy listening to Classic Book Radio.
As it happens, John Figliozzi, a proud Como Audio Solo owner, is also the author of The Worldwide Listening Guide. This comprehensive publication organizes radio stations and programs to make it easier to find programming you might enjoy. The listings are organized by UTC time, station, days of broadcast, the type of program, and their frequencies and web addresses. Additionally, there are 37 special Classified Listings to help find programs by subject such as such as Arts & Culture; History; News & Documentary; Science & Technology; Current Affairs; Music; Sports, etc.
Toward the back of his book, Figliozzi offers some of his own Internet radio program recommendations, including jazz/pop station FIP (128 kbps/MP3; France), world music station WOOC (64 kbps/MP3; NY), and Monocle 24 (128 kbps/MP3; London). The parent company of the latter is actually a UK print magazine of the same name selling over 84,000 copies per month. Their Monocle 24 radio station strikes me as somewhat of an extension of their publication, delivering global news and shows on current affairs, business, culture, design, and food.
Figliozzi owns more than one Internet radio, but of his Como Audio Solo he opines, “it has brought a whole new dimension to the concept of radio. The options it offers are almost limitless, whether it’s the 30,000+ stations it can access or the voluminous music library it gives through Spotify. And the sound it produces? Just magnificent, that’s all!”
Another effective method to discover Internet radio stations is to dedicate some time exploring your Como Audio music system’s Stations menu. Reading these blog articles hopefully also provides you some good direction. Whether you discover new stations through deliberate searching or by happy accident, Internet radio is your safe gateway drug to a stash of entertaining, informative, and unique programming you would never find on AM/FM commercial radio.
Your Support Counts!
Ordinarily, I try not to turn any part of my articles into a commercial. None of the fine people I interview in connection with this article asked me to say this, but even with all-volunteer staff, listener-supported Internet radio stations have overhead such as music royalties (if they play music), utility bills, and maintaining and replacing equipment. If you enjoy listening to any of these (or other) listener-supported stations, consider making a donation, and/or a purchase from their website, to help keep your favorites on the air so you can continue to enjoy the music.
Peter Skiera lives in southern MA, worked in radio broadcasting throughout New England, and also worked for Cambridge SoundWorks, B&W Loudspeakers, and Tivoli Audio for 15 years before joining Como Audio as V.P. of Product Development in 2016. Peter can be reached directly at email@example.com