By Martin Courcelles
Tired of the humdrum commercial-infested local radio stations? Simply want to listen to your favourite tunes, but don't want to bother with setting up playlists? Or perhaps, you want to visit radio stations spanning the globe? Today, we'll be visiting a few online options.
I remember the first time I listened to online streaming content about 10 years ago. It sounded like putting a transistor radio in a shoebox, then closing it in a cupboard in your basement and then going upstairs and listening to it via the air duct of your furnace.
Okay, of course I'm exaggerating, but it was pretty bad. With the popularity of MP3-like technology and Flash media, we can now enjoy CD quality audio content over the internet.
What you need:
Now for the fun stuff:
A good starting point for radio listening is:
Mike's Radio World has been around for a few years now. Although, not frequently updated, it does give you listing of most radio stations throughout the world. The interface is pretty straightforward and navigation with a screen reader is quite familiar.
You'll need a compatible audio player such as Windows Media Player or WinAmp. Some stations still use RealAudio.
And others will provide their own flash player called Stream The World.
Try the links underneath the call letters of the station that you would like to listen to. The bit rate number determines the quality of the sound. If those links don't work, press enter on the call letters to visit the page of the radio station and find the listen link therein.
There are many sites out there that stream out music and it's all commercial free. However, many of them are only available within the country of origin due to copyright laws. Here are my favourite 2 sites that are quick and easy to use.
First off, let me introduce you to The Radio dot com.
Want music coming out of your speakers in under a minute? TAB to Channels, press ENTER, TAB through the channels and press ENTER on the one you want to listen to. Descriptions are underneath each link and can be accessed with the arrow keys. Don't like the song that's playing? Press the refresh button on your browser; most likely function key F5. The next song will start playing in a few seconds. When you come back to this site, the last station you visited will start playing automatically. One caveat is you cannot find out what song is playing with a screen reader. So sometimes, the song can be a mystery.
Next up is a service called Songza.
You don't need to join this service to listen to music, but it does help to keep track of your favourites. Let's just test this thing out. On the main page, many popular stations are listed. TAB through the selections and press ENTER to listen to the selected station.
There are 2 controls which you'll get familiar with and they are the play and pause button and the Skip button.
Not happy with the selections on the main page? You can do a search for a particular artist. Here's where the magic comes in. If the artist is not found within the database of stations, then Songza will give you the option of creating a station. For example, I did a search for Mike Oldfield, but there wasn't a dedicated station for that particular artist. I told Songza to create one. I waited a few seconds and low and behold a station was created with some Mike Oldfield songs, but also with other artists with the same sort of style.
You can find out what song is playing by reading the title of the window with your screen reader. In JAWS, you would press JAWSKEY+T.
What about the IDevices?
Yep, there's a couple of APPS for that too. I'll suggest 2 for your tinkering pleasure.
Within ITunes, do a search for CBC radio. You'll find the free app which will let you listen to CBC Radio stations across the country, some TV station audio and even podcasts. VoiceOver works through all of this application.
Finally, for under $5.00, you can purchase OoTunes through the Itunes store. Once installed, make sure to turn on VoiceOver support under the settings menu with OoTunes to ensure complete compatibility. This app will let you listen to radio stations from across the world on your IDevice. It even has an alarm clock which will let you wake up to your favourite radio station.
All right, well, before this blog entry turns into a filibuster, I will sign off here. I hope this has given you a starting point for online music enjoyment.