Mobile Internet Radio

Classical radio in Milwaukee was never all that great since the departure of WNIB/WNIZ in Chicago/Zion, IL about 3 years ago… and now the local commercial classical station, WFMR, dropped the classical format about a year ago. Bummer.

The options:

  • HD radio
  • Satellite radio
  • The Internet

In Milwaukee, Wisconsin Public Radio’s WHAD has a second HD radio program with only about 6 hours of locally originated programming, the rest a canned satellite feed. Is that worth getting a mobile HD radio for? Not for me… though at home it’s nice to have the option on the Polk iSonic, an excellent tabletop radio. XM Satellite Radio (which I also get on the iSonic) has about 3 “okay” classical channels but I don’t know if I’d run out and get an XM subscription and mobile satellite rig just for them…

The Internet is by far the finest source of varied classical programming, which I’ve long known at home. But how to get it mobile? Well, surprise, a company discount on an all-you-can eat Sprint data plan came to the rescue. The phone is a Sprint Treo 755p, and with proper adapters, a cheap car amp, and speakers I get the world (literally) of classical listening with surprisingly few hiccups while on the road in a company truck. One piece of purchased software for the phone (Kinoma Media Player) handles internet radio fairly well, and Sprint’s connection at its best handles hi-fi 128kbps connections quite decently. AAC, mp3, and Windows Media formats are available with good smartphone software – Real formats are not as well supported, if at all, so the BBC’s fine programming on Radio 3 isn’t mobile friendly yet.

The quick list of favorites:

Once programmed into the phone, the list is easily accessible to punch in. Several of these have wonderful church music programs, my favorite being HR2’s “Geistliche Musik” from 6-8 am German time. See my list for more information over time.

Interested? Well, unlimited plans (including internet) are now the rage with the wireless companies, and you can get good smartphones for $100-200 after rebates. Check around for what’s available in your area – Sprint’s data service is the best so far, despite some bad press on Sprint in general, though others are catching up with new “3G” higher-speed wireless services in major cities. Of course you can always go for the expensive trendy iPhone from AT&T, which will likely do a great job on internet radio (although the less robust AT&T data network might not work as smoothly for high bit rates…)

Ready for the mobile Internet radio revolution?

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