Real radio on my computer

For many of us young technophiles, terrestrial radio has lost its relevance. Radio stations’ ratings are down and the industry is struggling. Even while driving in the car you might listen to music or podcasts from your iPod, or stream satellite radio’s many offerings.  My crappy Jeep Wrangler doesn’t give me many modern options so I usually listen to FM radio, getting some NPR news and some local talk radio.

For example I really like the Dave Ross Show on Seattle radio station KIRO. He’s on from 9:00 until Noon, which means I wouldn’t listen since I wasn’t in my car very much for those three hours. I recently started listening to the Dave Ross Show through its web stream, and this worked well.  I would also play music from iTunes in the background, so I could turn the web stream’s volume down during commercials and still have something entertaining my ears.

But the problem with this system was the web stream sounds like crap.

RadioShark interface

Then I remembered  a nifty device I bought a few years ago: RadioShark from Griffin Technology. The RadioShark is a USB-connected radio antenna that feeds software for tuning and controlling.  The RadioShark software also allows for recording, even scheduled recording, and it even has Tivo-like functionality, allowing you to pause what you’re listening to.

Even better, it sounds great. Listening to KIRO radio on the RadioShark sounds way better than KIRO’s web stream.

I love the ability to pause the radio program and pick it up later.  I can run to the toilet, go get more coffee, go consult with coworkers, then come back and unpause the show.  I actually like getting a bit behind real time, because commercial radio loves its commercials, so I can just skip forward past them.

One thing that surprised me about the software was that Griffin took the time to make it scriptable via AppleScript. I wrote a couple of super-simple scripts and used QuickSilver to tie them to keyboard shortcuts, making RadioShark controllable from the keyboard no matter what application I’m using.

RadioShark in action

The scheduling feature is nifty, too, and I surprised myself by using it the other day.  I heard a promo for a show coming up on KUOW in the evening, during a time I would definitely not be listening live, so I scheduled RadioShark to record it in my absence.  It worked great!

If you find yourself needing to listen to AM or FM radio while you work I highly recommend Griffin Technology’s RadioShark.  I love mine.

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