Whither Radio
--including some of its progeny and other audio media:
PODcasts/MP3s, Internet streams, FM/SCA, Satellite, and audio CDs
Last worked on: August 1st, 2022
fast-find> Why, Radio of the future, Reviews, Recording programs, Great downloads!, General criticisms, Opportunity, Short wave, The news,
you're at: https://57296.neocities.org/radio.htm

* I sure hope you're listening to the Bradcast, Thom Hartmann and Ian Masters. "These are the times that try [our] souls." --Thomas Paine, winter of 1776.

* Today's smart phones, i-Phone/pads/things often have FM tuners, or the capability. Of course, there are also streaming versions of most current broadcasts that you can get via WiFi.

However, the emphasis on this page will be on the downloading of MP3 PODcast files (music or "talk radio" programs, perhaps via an automatic "Ap" if you're using a smart phone) --the content of which can then be woven into your life --as time and interruptions permit.

** The annoyance of paywalls around mainstream Internet news sources (NYT, Washington Post) has (IMO) contributed to the growing impact of (unpaywalled) PODcasts on our assorted grips on reality, events and developments. MP3s can be played privately into your ear, using a smart phone or a compact MP3 player, while making ample use of the pause button as you weave a newscast or talk show into your busy life. This works great when executing simple tasks like mowing grass, loading the dishwasher, vacuuming (using minus 38dB hearing protection muffs or ANL headphones, of course).

* For "mainstream" news source, try the BBC, but flesh that out with the Bradcast, Thom Hartmann or Ian Masters.

Simple through sophisticated MP3 players were cheap and plentiful just a few years ago.  They're still affordably available, some with excellent touch screen displays, from Amazon.com (last I checked). The most recent MP3 player we owned (a Phillips brand "GoGear") had an FM tuner as well.

* Downloading PODcast MP3s makes infinitely more sense than tuning or streaming the same programs "live" --if the downloads are freely available.

* It's my understanding that including an AM tuner in a compact device is not only difficult, due to the need of a bulky "loop stick antenna", but that the loop stick's directional pickup, plus an AM radio's inherent vulnerability to internal/external noise and hum, are simply unacceptable in a mobile device. (Car radios use a large, external, non-directional antenna, perhaps built into the windshield.)


Audio Media Reviews
(Well: more like just my comments)


* A person can get mighty news hungry in small towns like mine, especially on the weekends. (Our household doesn't subscribe to cable TV --$540/year --get out!) After Googling at length for downloadable NPR news PODcasts, it's my impression that they mostly put out live-streaming --which is pretty much useless if one's life is subject to interruptions (and that's pretty much how it is for most of us). For a half-hour chunk of straight "global news", I download the BBC's PODcast at:

> https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02nq0gn/episodes/downloads

There's no "save link as", but it's real easy. Left click on "Download", you get a choice of standard or high fidelity, then it goes to your default download folder/directory. Below the first Global News offering is a plethora of news segment downloads from over the past 30 days. The voice clarity is excellent, even via the lower fidelity choice. Unfortunately, much of the news is delivered via interviewed overseas witnesses and journalists. I can understand their accents well enough with good headphones, but not by using a single earbud --as I bang around the house, the shop, or drive around town. (For several reasons here I usually need to keep "one ear peeled", especially while driving, but I do go "full headgear" when mowing the grass.) Donations: the BBC is government funded and simply glad that you're in the audience.

* KPFK's PODcast archive service at:

> https://archive.kpfk.org/

--presents current and past PODcasts for some of the sources I've commented on below, and which can be easily downloaded. (This seems to be the only way to freely get at, link to and download the first hour of Thom Hartmann's PODcast as an MP3. (One can get at the whole Hartmann show by "signing up", but you don't want to bootleg clips, or send someone a link --with the presumptuous implication s/he should then sign up.)

KPFK Donations: They're all set up (of course) to take your donations on-line and your credit card by phone, but (--apparently--) they don't want you to mail them a personal check cold. You should first call their pledge phone line at: 818-985-5735 --and you might want to do that during a favorite show. They'll take your name, mailing address, enroll you as a KPFK (voting) member, then mail you an envelope for your donation. (I asked twice to verify that you shouldn't just mail them a check. I'm guessing that has something to do with security.)

Sourcing PODcasts:
* Plying the waters for free PODcasts seems difficult. The unwary traveler is beset by snares which attempt to funnel your search and access through commercial popping middle-man operations/subscription services which offer to organize and list what's available by categories, artists/hosts and genres. They tend to hide direct links and offers of simple downloads (direct or indirect) --in favor of subscribing to and using their automated downloads.

* Automated downloads are probably more compatible with today's hand-held mobile device lifestyles --than the methods I use. Just be aware that you may be able to Google up the source, bookmark it, and manually download archived PODcasts.

* Another factor to consider: sometimes there's an arrangement with the source, such that the PODcast distributing middle-man sends the content provider payments, depending upon how many listeners the show brings in. You as a listener are thereby helping to support the source show simply by "clicking" on and listening to it.

* The Bradcast --at:

> http://bradblog.com/

* The Bradcast by Brad Friedman and Desi Doyen (who appends her Green News Reports) has long been my first stick-it-in-your-ear choice. At the end of each installment's web page synopsis is a "download MP3" link (right click, then "save link as").  Content is good and we get the whole of current and past shows for free. They hammer on familiar points and themes like black box voting and the virtues of hand marked paper ballots (which is fine by me). They're not only totally relevant to current events, Brad is involved in court proceedings to head off legislative assaults on normal elections reportage.

Donations: are requested and deserved. We have email and PO Box access for feedback (Brad reads his mail) and for donations by personal check.

* Ian Masters' "Background Briefing" --at:

> https://www.backgroundbriefing.org/

Having left the auspices of KPFK (Pacifica Radio --because they went against the majority vote of their supporting membership to install better by-laws and management), Ian Masters is now holding forth on-line with vital opinions and his excellent/relevant conversational interview style with top-drawer guests.

Donations: He's definitely worth your time and a donation. A PO Box is provided for donations by personal check.

Thom Hartmann:

* Hartmann delivers a 3 hour show by subscription, plus he pitches ads and his many book offerings. However:

MP3s with an hour of his current and past installments continue to be available via KPFK's archives for download.

* Example issue: Hartmann (and others) urge us to stick with regular Medicare --plus commercial supplemental insurance (for that 20% hole/deductable) --but at 70+ years of age, that was costing my wife and I $400+ per month! ($4800/year) --until we switched to a Medicare Advantage plan (now with Moda --at: $36/month ($18 each) --which, instead of guaranteeing we'll pay $4800/year, guarantees that we'll pay no more than $3900/year out-of-pocket --if one of us gets sick. (Of course, if both of us get sick, we'd be homeless and on welfare/Medicaid, no matter what coverage we might have had.)

* Hartmann can distance himself from the obvious, such as the nature of the events of 9/11. Be my guess that not crossing that particular red line is about not getting himself banned from his many mainstream and military media outlets --which excuse I can accept (in his case).

* Like Brad Friedman, Hartmann hammers on familiar points and old themes --which is fine by me.

Peter B. Collins --at:

> https://www.peterbcollins.com/

--has been an excellent, progressive, independent minded talk show option, but he's now retired. Peter B. didn't waste our time and attention with ding-dong call-ins. All of Peter B's content is now free to download and we're encouraged to bootleg it all out to others. Be sure to catch his:

* September 8th interview with Dr. David Hughes (on the occasion of Ed Asner's passing) --concerning the reticence and denial of academia, when it comes to the root of so much evil over these past 20 years: 9/11.

Also: https://www.peterbcollins.com/2016/09/09/interview-special-9/11-fifteen-years-on/

--and his 18th year update.

* Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman at:

> https://www.democracynow.org/shows/

Thom Hartmann has compared Ms. Goodman to Walter Cronkite. With the exception of not coming to grips with the events of 9/11/2001, she's certainly been a solid, reliable witness to our troubles. Democracy Now is widely available as regular broadcasts, YouTube, and through PODcast services, but the easiest way to access the PODcast is via KPFK's downloading utility.

Ms. Goodman's shows feature extended interviews (sometimes mercilessly long and monotone/academic). Her voice comes across crisp and clear. Production values sometimes suffer, like when her show runs flat out of time and a guest gets cut off mid-sentence.

Donations: Democracy Now provides a Postal mailing address for those of us who (perhaps without secure/private Internet access) prefer to donate by sending a personal check.

Democracy Now!
Attn: Development
207 W. 25th Street - 11th Floor
New York, NY 10001

* The Young Turks --at:

> https://player.fm/series/series-2163996

( I don't see a direct MP3 download link on TYT's home page, so simply right click on the play arrow at their Player.fm page and save the first hour to your choice of drive.)

* Lively, humorously sarcastic, but later segments are behind a subscription pay wall. I see no provisions for donations. TYT is 20 years plus old and appears to be doing well.

* You'd think that listening to a socialist talking about economics would require propping your eyelids open with toothpicks. Uh-uh: this guy can talk! Try on Prof. Richard D. Wolff's "Economic Update" for size, fit and a few laughs. Simply use KPFK's downloading utility.

Again: my page here is oriented toward clean and simple downloads of MP3s. If you can afford a home or office ISP connection ($55/month here), then those of you with plenty of time to stream at or away from home will have no problem watching Wolff's streamed videos.

Then there's the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

--with lots to choose from, but unless I've missed something obvious, downloading an MP3 takes some doing --which see.

* I've used the interesting example of Justin Ling's new series: "Flamethrowers", a modern history of how formative (almost normative now) has been right-wing/populist talk radio, beginning with Father Coughlin and up to the present.

* Conspicuous by its absence (and I think I've listened to all 6 installments now) --is mention of the events of 9/11, their coverage and commentaries. (That's hard to believe. Best I go through it all again.) But noted: installments #4 and #5 are each 15 minutes short of the others (45 minutes). Interestingly, Spike Lee's HBO 9/11 series is also 30 minutes short.

* You'll want to follow and archive many of the interviews offered at "To the Best Of Our Knowledge" at:

> http://www.ttbook.org/

--and then click on "Get the PODcast". (Good stuff!)

*  That tremendous website: the Internet Archive, includes a vast collection of audio files. Start perusing them here:

> https://archive.org/details/opensource_audio?sort=-publicdate

--as sorted by date, or reselect them in title order.

* It would be nice if you're able to send at least a token donation to the above sources, should you enjoy and want to help support their offerings. Some have USPS mailing addresses for sending a small check or money order. (One must never do donations or make purchases via public WiFi --right?)

* Amazon.com and your public library might have audio CD versions of books written (and well read) by the author: Simon Winchester. Title suggestions:
    ~ The Professor and the Madman
    ~ A Crack in the Edge of the World
    ~ The Map That Changed the World

General criticisms:

^ * I'd much rather listen to the opinions of a show's host and her/his prepared, qualified guests --than to (often) clueless, tongue-tied, "I just wanna say--" call-ins. The Clark Howard show (via a weak, AM band radio broadcast here) sometimes shows us how to handle call-ins. Howard's screener will take the call off-air, write down the good, coherent, relevant ones, then read them on-air to Clark Howard. So much better!

* Talk show guests are often brought to the discussion via telephone, Skype, Zoom or some other remote connection, and the sound quality falls short. Sometimes the guest sounds like s/he's in a bathroom, an echo chamber, or talking into a metal trash can. The higher pitch of a woman's voice is more difficult since her sibilants are less distinct. I suppose there isn't much to do about it --except advise the guest to not go into a hard surfaced room. A walk-in closet full of clothes or a linen closet should work well if isolation is needed.

* Again: a "PODcast" refers to a "program on demand", meaning you can select and access an archived program (if only the current or last one). Preferably, you can download any of a number of past programs as well, such that you can play and listen to them at your convenience.

Again: many people use smart phone applications which automatically download, store and organize their favorite PODcasts, perhaps even allowing 15 second jump-aheads for bypassing unwanted segments.

** Since I've never succumbed to smart phones (I just have a hello-goodbye flip Tracfone which, averages $10/month), here's a link to more informed, modern times information:

> https://www.wired.com/story/podcasts-beginners-guide/

* We have precious resources in today's audio media: in the opportunities they afford us to stay on top of current events,  commentary/editorials, political and other cultural developments, literature (old and new) as "audio books", music and poetry. When I'm doing such scut work as manually surfacing an optical component, cutting the grass (while wearing -38dB muffs) or scraping paint --I can absorb a wide array of wisdom, opinion and information --as downloaded MP3 PODcasts.

* Keep an eye on library book sales as they bail out of audio cassettes. You'll find plenty of fiction and you might find a still current, college level, literature or other course for a dollar or two --one which might cost hundred$ to buy new on CDs. (And: you can get a deluxe cassette player at the Goodwill store for just a few dollars more.)

** The main problem is finding enough appropriate time for listening to it all. If I'm doing anything which requires alertness and/or thought, there's no point in listening to a spoken word PODcast. A secondary problem lies in getting at a particular audio program or piece of music that you're interested in, perhaps due to download pay walls. Day-to-day, live, radio news broadcasts and live talk shows might require you to endure mind numbing, insultingly stupid, repetitive commercials --should you decline pay walls around their commercial-free PODcast versions --the sharing of which is in turn restricted by claims of copyright. (There are exceptions.)

* The available personal tools of change are mainly the pressure of our collective patronage in the marketplace, and becoming more aware of what alternative choices are already available to the listener/consumer. These tools might make little difference to the world of media, but they can make an effective and immediate difference for the aware individual. ("With it" young readers of this page are more aware of smart-phone, notebook/i-pad/i-tunes and Spotify type options than I am and can run circles around barriers to and burdens upon cultural content.)

Smart phones, i-Pads and such: With an Apple product, we had to get onto area WiFi, select Google search services, and carefully select (or ask for, if voice command is optioned) --the desired PODcast. Access was the same but seemed easier with an Android operated phone. (I believe "i-Tunes" carries a fixed subscription charge, but I'm not aware if there are extra access charges. Again: I only pack a $10/month hello-goodbye TracFone.)

Short wave radio: * Some of us are old enough to remember when the night sky was filled with signals from far away places, requiring only an affordable "all band" radio and a few feet of wire clipped to the built-in antenna.  Working late in my photographic darkroom, I could clearly tune the BBC, Germany, Russia, VOA and several others. Thanks to interference, the Internet, mobile smart phone access, and the comparatively poor audio of distant AM radio signals, those days are mostly gone --along with the high power transmitter power that was aimed and timed to reach us. Here's the low-down at:

> https://www.radioworld.com/tech-and-gear/u-s-based-shortwave-broadcasters-eye-digital
 

Waiting in the wings is "DRM" and competing versions of digital radio --with the capability of delivering clear, FM quality signals using far less power --except that: interested parties won't invest in the transmitters to do it --without there being an audience --and the potential audience (us) won't go out and buy digital radio receivers unless there's something to listen to --especially when we've got plenty stuff to access using our computers and smart phones.

XM Satellite Radio: * I do appreciate that it avoids the vexing problem of stations fading as one drives, but I otherwise don't understand why XM/satellite radio is much of an alternative option. From reading commentaries about XM, I gather that you pay maybe $10, $15, (whatever the package) per month, but the music channels still have blabbering "DJs", the talk/cultural stations are locked into broadcast type commercial blocks of time, and maybe you end up listening to even worse commercial/break material to fill in between those blocks. (It was over 17 years ago that I last used a (pioneering, hackable) XM radio device, so my experience is way out of date.)

Recording broadcasts:

* The normal approach is to access an available MP3 download (a PODcast) --to your computer, smartphone, or other MP3 player device. There are a ton of software options for doing that, including automatic download applications for smart phones, i-PODs, and advanced MP3 players. After learning to reflexively operate the controls and fast forwarding, such a digital device becomes practical.

I manually download what interests me (using a Chromebook), then transfer it to and play it on a simple (think I paid $15, years ago) MP3 device, which holds a caboodle of files and remembers where I last left off. (My MP3 player's fast forward sucks, however, so be sure to check that feature before you buy a player. A small "graphic user interface" helps a lot.)

  ~ For downloading (say) a 50 megabytes of audio over public WiFi, you want a strong, near-by signal so your download doesn't get interrupted/delayed.

* Fortunately, full featured PODcast applications have "fast forward" --maybe even a 15 second jump ahead feature.
 

For live listening:

* Were it convenient to silence those blocks as quiet time, they might be spent thinking (oh my!) or talking to a friend about the program content you were listening to. "Muzak" type background music vendors long ago realized how much more pleasing and effective their content was if rather long pauses were periodically included. Those long blabbering commercial breaks might be just the ticket for a program break --if they could be easily and methodically silenced.

However: my problem with simply turning off the radio during commercials is that I quickly get into some other interest and usually forget to turn it back on again. A "back on" timer function is exactly what's needed.

So how about that: a semi-automatic, radio commercial termination and restart system --?

** I think the radio broadcast industry has long passed up on a precious opportunity by not promoting what I call a "magazine format" for commercial content. Think about it: although newspapers and magazines charge plenty to carry ads, the reader does not have to read them ("choice": now there's an A-mazing concept!) --unless s/he is interested. Radio stations and programs would be far more popular (particularly with upscale demographics) if repeat, stupefying commercials could be easily silenced with a swat.

The Radio of the Future --how it might work: * All standard radios would be equipped with a blab-blare silence button on top --and such a button on a remote control for "table"/fixed location radios/entertainment systems.

* Each single commercial block of time would end with a "back on" tweet signal, such that no radio receiver timer is needed --nor any additional listener attention/distraction (so important while driving).

* Be my guess that TV/cable programming would soon get on board with something similar, probably affecting the sound but letting the video roll.

* But for now: * The best work-around accessory approach I can think of would be gimmicked earbuds --powered by the audio signal itself. There'd be a pendent button (where the volume control is sometimes located). Each push would add another 2 minutes of silence. For the long break at the bottom of the hour you'd push it 3 times in a row. (Hmmnnn: that's a simple enough device, and "dollar store" earbuds are cheap enough --as to have "cottage industry" potential.)

 The first car radio. (That thing is the antenna.)
Questions and comments:

PODcasts: * I think a popular willingness to send in a modest, one-time (at a time) token of support for alternative media PODcasts is very likely. Be my guess that vastly more money would be coming in to progressive shows by setting their suggested support levels at (say) $10 per year --and without placing "premium" content behind a "members only" pay wall.

* Of what value is pay-walled content --or even just sign-up-to-get-it content? Should you be signed up, and should you hear some really good stuff --you can't just post a link or email a link to it. Neither can you ethically/legally send an MP3 clip to a friend --and especially not to some authority or public office holder. That's a good way to alienate your friend and antagonize an official, since he can't use it either. (How self defeating!)

Earlier, I suggested that PODcasts could run commercials (which everyone who's in the product's market will listen to at least once, then simply fast forward as repeats come up). They'd of course have to avoid being time/date sensitive.

Let's hear it for FM radio! * While our car's AM radio works pretty good, our AM pocket radios are horrible, as well as being horribly directional. One has to stand just so (radio in pocket, "hold that pose!") to get the station loud and the hum/buzz down to a low level of annoyance. Add to that the din of repeat repeat idiot commercials and AM radio is simply a non-starter for many of us.

Meanwhile, our FM reception is excellent and non-directional (if a wee bit "zoney"). While there's been little by way of progressive talk (out here in small town America where I live) --just a few milquetoast NPR type shows, those tireless Bible thumpers, and music-music-music. A few local low power FM coastal stations are beginning to make better use of the FM wasteland.

* Surely: there's a dim future for commercial AM radio (since, be my guess, most AM stations would rather die than change), and a bright one for commercial PODcasting.


The CBC's MP3s:

* How the newbie finds his/her way to download an MP3 (and this might be out of date by now).

* Go to:
https://www.cbc.ca/listen/live-radio

* Use the Search utility (for example:

https://www.cbc.ca/listen/search?q=flamethrowers

End up at:
https://www.cbc.ca/listen/cbc-podcasts/1026-the-flamethrowers

* Click on "how to sub" and go to:

https://www.cbc.ca/listen/cbc-podcasts/1026-the-flamethrowers?subscribe=true

* Choose: "subscribe via RSS"

* Then choose your favorite subscription service or:

* Choose the RSS option to get your own MP3, which takes you to:

https://www.cbc.ca/podcasting/includes/theflamethrowers.xml

* Copy the URL.mp3

* Bring up a new browser screen, enter the URL

* https://cbc.mc.tritondigital.com/CBC_THEFLAMETHROWERS_P/media/theflamethrowers-8OrPBgPV-20210907.mp3

* Go there and hit play, then stop.

* Right click on the white area and select "Save as" (to your download folder)

* After which you can close the Play screen.

Sorry! That seems to be the only way.

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