Over the past few years, audio-based media have become increasingly important to me. This isn’t a totally new thing: I fondly remember listening to Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me and Car Talk while driving errands with my Dad on Saturdays, and I discovered podcasts as early as 2006 when I stumbled on The Dice Tower. Things didn’t really pick up until grad school, though, when podcasts started crowding out my TV watching and keeping me company on my growing running habit (I still have fond memories of nearly tripping over my own feet on the Lansing River Trail because Total Party Kill was making me laugh so hard.
Even as I started getting more into podcasts, though, I also began to appreciate other audio-based media. Just before leaving my parents’ house after a weekend visit, my Dad gave us the login and password for his Audible account—not so that we could listen to a book, but so that we could listen to the BBC Radio 4 comedy Cabin Pressure, which he’d just discovered and which he warned us could lead to a hilarity-induced car accident if we weren’t smart enough to turn it off in heavy traffic. My own Audible account is now home to more BBC Radio dramas and comedies than actual audio books (though I’d like to start patronizing Google Play or, even better, Libro.fm to avoided the dreaded DRM).
Even more back to basics has been my discovery of how easy it is to just listen to plain-old radio stations via the Internet. I discovered Radio Télévision Suisse through the podcast format of some of their news shows—which is a great model for those of us in other time zones—but I’m now a happy listener of their Option Musique station—partly because I like the music, and mostly because it helps me keep up my French-language and Francophone-culture skills. This weekend, while visiting the Lexington DiverCity festival, I was reminded that Lexington has its own community radio station. While I’d heard of it through a local civics organization that I’m using to try to boost my understanding of local issues and politics, it occurred to me that regularly listening to Lexington Community Radio could be a great way to learn more about my new home.
Early on in grad school, I used the Fluid app to turn web radio interfaces into standalone Mac apps, but I recently discovered the fantastic Odio radio streaming software, which is has been my go-to way of listening to RTS and other world radio stations for the past few months. This morning, I decided to check whether I could get Lexington Community Radio on there and was disappointed to see that it wasn’t available. It didn’t take too long to figure out, though, that Odio pulls its collection of radio stations from the crowd-sourced www.radio-browser.info, so within five minutes, I had added a local station to the database and was listening from my favorite radio app.
I write all of this just to say that despite everything, the Internet is still amazing sometimes. How great is it that it’s so easy to find radio streaming software that I can use to broaden my cultural and linguistic horizons and even easily add some local radio to add some background music to my office and connect myself a little bit more with my surroundings.