Friday, July 31, 2009

BBC World Service: "Global Business" interviews Matthew Szulik, Chairman of Red Hat

In the current edition, host Peter Day interviews Matthew Szulik, Chairman of Red Hat, the most visible software vendor for Linux for business. I know many shortwave enthusiasts are also Linux
enthusiasts; Szulik sounds like an interesting guy.

Peter Day does a good job staying out of the way to let Szulik talk...something Mr. Day doesn't always do well...



Worth a listen: BBC Radio 4: "MI6: A Century in the Shadows"

Radio 4 has begun a three-part documentary series commemorating the 100-year anniversary of MI6, the UK's analog to the USA Central Intelligence Agency. Considering the importance that radio has played in the communication of information between field agents and headquarters, folks here might find it worth a listen. Bletchley Park - the codebreaking center for British intelligence - is mentioned in the first episode of the series.

The first episode, "Gadgets and Green Ink", is available on-demand until roughly 0900 UTC on Monday, August 3rd; that's when the second episode, "Heroes and Villains", goes to air; that episode will then be available online for a week.


Thursday, July 09, 2009

CC Wifi radio now can incorporate your Pandora of charge for first 40 hours/month

If you can access Pandora's online streaming music discovery service where you live, and you own a CC Wifi radio, you can now add your Pandora account settings to your CC Wifi radio.

You'll need to upgrade the firmware on the WiFi radio, then log into the Reciva website and update the "My Radios" link, even if you aren't making a change to the radio. Apparently that step is needed for Reciva to recognize that you've upgraded the firmware.

Then you should see a link within "My Stuff" called "My Pandora"; you can then enter your Pandora ID and password, and all your Pandora channels will be available on your WiFi radio.

Bandwidth for Pandora is only 64k mpbs, but the audio quality seemed decent for me.

It's also worth noting that folks listening to Pandora for more than 40 hours/month will be asked to pay 99 cents to continue to listen that month once their listening hours exceed 40. This is a result of the recent SoundExchange copyright deal with web radio providers; see .

Also...I've started a new Internet e-mail reflector group specifically
to discuss Internet radio including Wifi devices.

Check out
for more details or to sign up.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

BBC Radio 4's "This Sceptred Isle" being aired on BBC Radio 7

BBC Radio 7 is a service of BBC Radio devoted to spoken-word programming, primarily programming that has aired previously on other BBC Radio services -- primarily Radio 4.

"This Sceptred Isle" is an audio history of the UK that has aired since 1995 on Radio 4, and the series has been rerun on Radio 7 since 2008.

The program airs weekdays, with each 15-minute program devoted to a single year in the history of Great Britain. The 20th Century series of programs has just begun this past week.

The series airs twice daily on Radio 7 -- at 1400 BST, repeated 0400 the next morning; that converts to 1300 and 0300 UTC.

Programs are available for one week in the iPlayer archive.

"Americana": The USA through British eyes

In my regular trawl of the BBC Radio 4 website the other day, I came across a recently-launched program, "Americana", that you may enjoy. The program is a weekly magazine of stories about the USA; quoting the program website, "Americana hopes to answer these questions by telling you what America is talking, arguing, fretting, laughing and, yes, dreaming about. We hope to surprise, entertain and inform. And by letting America itself do most of the talking we promise never to be dull."

The program airs Sunday evenings 715 PM BST, or 1815 UTC; the program is available via podcast and on-demand via the BBC iPlayer.

So far, all episodes since the program's May 31st launch have remained available for on-demand streaming.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

BBC switches to the Flash player as its basic audio platform…one step forward, two steps backward?

Back in the dark ages of streaming audio in the mid-1990's, the predominant media format was Real Audio; Windows Media was clearly in the minority, and MP3 had not yet become the de facto encoding standard for compact discs ripped for PC audio platforms.

Over the years, Windows Media and MP3 appear to have captured a significant chunk of the streaming audio market, based on my casual, unscientific observations. A recent arrival for streaming audio has been embedded Flash audio, developed by Macromedia and now owned by Adobe, the folks who developed the PDF format.

The BBC has kept with RealMedia for its default audio format, even as these other audio formats gained traction. However, since early June, the new default embedded audio player on the BBC website is Flash-based. This upgrade was implemented at the same time that the BBC increased the audio bandwidth for most of its programming; the result is high-quality audio across the BBC's universe of programming, and across the Mac OS, Windows, and Linux operating systems, all of which appear to handle Flash media with no issues. Thankfully, RealMedia and Windows Media streams are also available, at least for the World Service.

So far, so good, right? Yes, as long as you use your PC - whether desktop, laptop, or netbook - as your listening platform. Those of us who capture audio to our PCs and then transfer it to portable devices (MP3 players) have been inconvenienced by the switch - as most streaming audio capture software packages don't handle Flash streams well. Replay Media Catcher appears to capture the BBC's Flash audio fine. What it doesn't do, though, is transform the audio into the MP3 format that is common across portable audio players, whether you're talking the Apple iTunes or a budget MP3 player. The built-in audio converter in Replay Media Catcher can't handle the BBC flash audio; you need another Applian software product, Replay Converter, to convert the Flash (.flv) audio into MP3. Further, you need the current version of Replay Converter (v3.37), not the prior version (v2.80). I've updated both software packages to their current versions, and I can now capture Newshour - which is not directly podcast - and save to my MP3 player.

The use of the Flash streaming format is also problematic for Internet radios - none that I know of directly handle Flash-formatted content. Thankfully, the RealMedia and Windows Media formats appear to remain available, and the URLs for these haven't changed. No word as to whether these secondary formats will remain available for the foreseeable future. However, when I tried to listen to either the RealMedia or Windows Media versions of a recent on-demand edition of Newshour, I received error messages stating that the content wasn't available. I notified the World Service website team of the problem, but as of June 24th the problem had not been corrected.

Don't throw away your Internet radios due to the increased usage of Flash Audio / Video just yet; I know of very few web radio stations that don't offer alternatives to Flash streaming audio, and some that do have worked with the Internet radio database vendors (specifically Reciva) to provide URL information for non-Flash streams that Internet radios can handle.

Radio / TV Cameroon online

Quick: Who was the colonial power in this African country? France? Great Britain? Germany? How about all of the above? Why is this paragraph nothing but questions?

Anyway, the ODXA's Harold Sellers passed along a tip for online English-language audio from the state-run Radio TV Cameroon, available at . Click on the link labeled , then look for the entries. You'll be able to listen to three daily newscasts (6:30 AM, 3 PM, 7 PM local time) that are archived for at least three weeks back. Each newscast runs anywhere from 14 to 28 minutes in length; a recent 3 PM newscast ran 28 minutes. For local news from an African perspective, this is a very good online choice.

It appears Radio TV Cameroon uses a Flash-based media player, which might prove problematic for WiFi radio users; my favourite program for capturing Flash-based audio for later listening via MP3 is Replay Media Catcher, a $40 piece of software that does a very good job of capturing Flash media - an area where other software falls down on the job. Check out Replay Media Catcher at ; a Google search will also bring you there straightaway.

John Tusa's 3-part audio documentary "Iran: A Revolutionary State" now available at BBC Radio 4

Currently available from the BBC's domestic spoken-word Radio 4:

"Iran: A Revolutionary State", a three-part documentary series that aired Monday through Wednesday of this week.

BBC Radio 4 programs are usually available for on-demand listening for one week following their original air dates, so you'll need to visit the Radio 4 website promptly to catch these programs.

John Tusa was the well-respected managing director of the BBC World Service from 1986 to 1993.

See for access to the documentary series.

Radio Netherlands resurrecting its documentaries

Radio Netherlands, the Dutch international broadcasting service, has an extensive audio documentary archive. For several years a weekly 30-minute audio documentary on a global issue was presented.

Radio Netherlands is resurrecting some of these documentaries for weekly airing during the current broadcasting season.

Check out "Classic Dox" here: for the weekly edition,
available via shortwave radio, World Radio Network (on Sirius/XM and streaming) as well as via Radio Netherlands' own website.

The archive was not brought over directly to the new Radio Netherlands website, but can be found here:

Thanks to the Audio Documentary enthusiasts' website for this info.

Friday, June 26, 2009

CBC Radio's summer schedule begins June 29th

There are two documentary series airing as part of the CBC Radio One summer schedule -- Global Perspectives, the international co-operative that has aired programming on stations such as the BBC World Service, Radio Australia, and New Zealand National Radio; also, Crossing Boundaries, billed as a showcase of public radio documentaries.

Details here.

The BBC World Service comes to your cellphone

Back in the mid-1990s, when webcasts were in their infancy, shortwave radio enthusiasts quickly pointed out that webcasts weren't portable -- one was tethered to their Internet connection via a desktop or laptop PC. Fast forward a dozen years...the predominance of Wifi technologies has launched untethered laptops and spawned a generation of Internet radios. Shortwave enthusiasts could still claim that shortwave radios provided unmatched portability.

Enter cellular broadband can now install a USB card into a laptop computer and obtain relatively high-speed Internet access anywhere you can get cellphone access. AT&T has featured the former newsman Bill Curtis in a series of commercials touting where he's "found the Internet" using his AT&T laptop card. Verizon has a technology that allows you to create a personal Wifi "hotspot" which, in theory, could provide Internet connectivity to a battery-powered Internet radio.

If you live in India and have Reliance Mobile phone service, you can now access the BBC World Service via your cellphone 24/7 using the "R-World" service. Who needs a stinkin' radio, anyway?

Details here.