Note: this was published in 2006. It’s ancient in Internet radio years.
Internet radio has revolutionized our ability to listen to music without the pesky limitations of terrestrial radio frequencies. It’s now possible to listen to a Berlin station in Australia, a Spanish station in Antarctica, or an Iraqi station in Peru. If you live in a small burg and love polka music, for instance, there’s a good chance that your city doesn’t have a shucking and jiving polka scene. Simply choose “Polish radio” from the Multilingual Books search bar, and you’re well on your way to polka-induced bliss.
Of course for the language learner, Internet radio offers a great opportunity to hear a foreign language as it is spoken in the native country. With just a couple of clicks, you can listen to fast-talking DJs from Bulgaria to Zimbabwe.
While listening to Internet radio is a vastly improved way to access distant radio stations, broadcasting via the web has also vastly improved. A musician can stream a live set from his bedroom with software like SAM Broadcaster, a “radio station in a box” available for $200 on Spatial Audio. There is also free software available from Shoutcast, which is highlighted below.
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Samurai.fm is the self-described “gateway to a new international soundscape…. Featuring the freshest sounds from the international scene as well as the finest home grown talent from Japan, [they] act as a portal for Japan to the rest of the world and the rest of the world to Japan.” What’s more, the site is a veritable smorgasbord of sonic information: there’s a shopping channel, music discussions, event galleries and party reports, artist and label profiles, a news page highlighting great music events throughout the world and live streaming, to boot.
Although a Seattle-based radio station, KEXP features programming and streaming that is global in reach. The station was founded in 1972 as KCMU, a grassroots college broadcaster, and was later acquired by Microsoft legend Paul Allen. KEXP was the first in history to offer round-the-clock web streaming. They have since won the Webby Award for Best Radio Website (2004), and continue to pioneer new innovations in web-based streaming. KEXP features a wealth of diverse programming; everything from indie pop and punk to blues and techno are represented. What’s more, all music is available in an accessible, user-friendly interface.
Shoutcast is a Winamp based directory for streaming audio from around the world. With 14,995 servers and 296,160 listeners as of August 2006, the site is a powerhouse of accessible music.
For a good Internet radio listening experience, it is best not to run heavy, mission-critical applications while streaming. Listeners should tune in using a player compatible with MP3 audio streaming.
Please note that some sites will require you to download software.
This article originally appeared on the Multilingual Books site.