Today’s must-reads from around the Internet.
As connoisseurs of history, we sometimes find styles, habits and turns of phrase from the past that we wouldn’t mind bringing back to the present, Doc Brown-style. This time around, we’re dusting off listening to sports on the radio.
It’s the oldest predicament in sports: You care about your team, but you’re not going to make it to every single game. So you check out the sports page, or the highlight reels, or the steadily updating scores trickling onto your phone. You check every few innings, and accept anything else as lost in translation.
Unless you happen to have a radio.
As connoisseurs of history, we sometimes find styles, trends and turns of phrase from the past that we wouldn’t mind bringing back to the present, Doc Brown-style. This time around, we’re dusting off the snow-day roll call.
If you were in grade school before the internet era, you might remember a certain pre-dawn ritual for days like this. We’re thinking of a radio and a seemingly unending list of snow-bound school districts…
Unless you heard your school on the list, you had a bus to catch. Unfortunately, the names were fast and if you missed your school, you’d have to wait another five minutes for the whole thing to repeat—making for one of the more dramatic radio broadcasts since Orson Welles.
We wouldn’t usually gush over a Mini mini-truck, but the upcoming Countryman has one feature that’s got us interested: a very large radio dial.
When the Mini Countryman hits the market later this year, each model will come with a web radio plugged direct into the dashboard, which means you’ll be able to tune into just about any radio station in the country, along with a growing cohort of podcasts.
We’ve been excited about streaming radio for a while—largely because of New Orleans’ WWOZ and New Jersey’s WFMU, which we otherwise could never manage to catch at the same time—but listening to the radio on a tabletop device will only get you so far. For the past couple decades, the dashboard has been the most important place to have a radio, and it looks like it’s about to take a big step forward.
In the spirit of the wood radio, an enterprising Dane (via NotCot) has set up this radio out of rock and a few choice wires. It’s minimal—just two knobs and three connectors in the back—but it gets the job done, and it’s bound to look better on top of your receiver than whatever you’ve got currently. And the Flintstones would most certainly approve.
Internet radios like this one have been a favorite with the CES crowd for some time, but they haven’t quite had the content to break through to the mainstream. A box lets you stream audio feeds through something a bit more lush than computer speakers, but so far, most of the feeds come from FM stations, which isn’t quite tempting enough to make us toss out our antennas.
But it’s coming along. Amazing Radio (via PSFK) just launched in the UK with a roster of all unsigned artists. The artists get the lion’s share of the mp3 sales, but mostly they get some much-needed exposure and a chance to get their songs on the airwaves…or audio streams, as the case may be.
Of course, the jury’s still out on their choice in bands…but at least they won’t have to worry about keeping their signal clear.
Radio has had a lot of fun jumping into the internet age, but Sirius XM has come surprisingly late to the game. Their satellite radio app is gradually making its way to the iPhone, which is good news for anyone who’s already a subscriber, but the timing could be a bit better.
By now, Pandora and a few web radio apps have already staked out the iPhone’s music section, along with the iTunes, which enjoys a pretty serious home-court advantage. Sirius has volume on their side—hundreds of channels broadcasting 24 hours a day adds up to a lot of tunes—and enough resources to put together something genuinely exciting. As to what they’ll come up with…we’ll have to stay tuned.
It looks like John Varvatos will be getting a bit more rock cred in the form of his very own radio show, kicking off this evening with a live show from the New York Dolls’ record release party in his Bowery shop.
Of course, we’ll have to wait to see what his picks are like, but indications so far are that the show will focus on Detroit bands and fellow travelers, which makes us pretty damn excited. From Smokey Robinson to Juan Atkins, the city’s done more for American music than anywhere else we could name—we’re looking at you, Memphis—so it’s nice to have someone on the airwaves spreading the gospel. Even if we get the feeling he’ll be sticking to the earlier end of the spectrum.
As new media gurus will line up to tell you, there’s a sea change going on and some industries will weather it better than others. The big surprise: public radio’s actually looking pretty good.
Jersey City’s WFMU—known to some as Yo La Tengo’s favorite radio station—just launched a project called the Free Music Archive, imagined as a curated source for the best free music on the internet. Of course, anyone with a server and a few industry connections can start stockpiling files, but when it’s a station that’s spent the past 50 years digging up some of the most interesting obscuro cuts on record, they have a lot more going for them than just technology.
We’ve had a love/hate relationship with the radio for about ten years now, but it’s still one of the best ways to tap into the musical zeitgeist. If only the FM dial were a little less crappy…
The internet’s teaming with great audio channels—including stations broadcast too far away for you to tune in—but so far it’s been hard to tune in without going through tinny computer speakers. But where there’s a market, there’s someone looking to tap into it, so CES has been full of companies jousting for what’s been called “iRadio.”
Our favorite, so far is Sonoro’s entry, a discreet plastic brick that lets you search by title, genre or location. It should be coming out stateside around April, but we’ll believe it when we see it.
Until then…there’s always the occasional mp3 blog.
The britmag Monocle has been churning through media pretty quickly, but they’ve finally gotten around to radio. Well, podcasts to be specific, but there’s definitely a BBC/NPR sheen to the latest product.
The first week’s topics include Norwegian finance and the philosophy of happiness, but it’s all more or less what you’d expect from an issue of Monocle, audio or otherwise. Of course, they’re coming a little late to the party, and we can’t help but feel like the public-radio ambition (right down to the piano jazz!) is inspired by a bit of friendly competition between Monocle’s Tyler Brûlé and Wired’s Kurt Andersen, currently working on NPR’s Radiolab.
Hear the first broadcast here.
Unlike a lot of modern gadgets, radio isn’t such a complicated technology. Not that long ago, people were building them in their attics for fun. But it probably never occurred to them to turn to carpentry.
This refreshingly crafty version comes from an Indonesian designer, who harnesses local materials and labor to make a two-tone radio that runs on AAs. It may look like a cutting board, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
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