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Internet Radio is dead

June 25, 2012

I’ve been thinking about replacing my stereo receiver.  It’s about 25 years old, with an AM/FM analog tuner.  It has phone and tape deck inputs, as well as line iputs.  I’m mainly using it as an FM receiver these days.  I’ve repaired it a few times, but it’s reaching the end of its useful life.  What should I replace it with?

New and better technology should be the answer, but I can’t find very much programming that’s available free.  AM radio is going away.  The stations I listen to are also available on FM with better quality.  I have no need for AM anymore.  I understand, however, that there’s no pressure on AM radio stations to migrate to newer technology because there’s no other use for the AM radio spectrum.

FM radio is still going strong.  Stereo is a big step up from monophonic.  The next steps in quality are smaller.  Stereo is sufficient for me, and probably for most people.  I haven’t heard of any plans to phase out FM broadcasting.  My replacement will still  need FM capability, presumably with a digital tuner.  The only new and free broadcast technology that I could find is Internet radio.  If it’s useful, my replacement should have that too.

I’ve been searching the Interweb to see what is available.  There doesn’t see to be much.  Of course, the same stereo receiver I have now is there.  The only difference seems to be that they come with a digital AM/FM tuner now.  I did find a few small Internet radio receivers.  These seem to be replacments for clock radios, not for stereo systems.  They also don’t seem to be serious products, but more like novelties on the market.  They’re not really what I’m looking for.

There are also devices that require purchases of music or subscriptions.  Some are just an amplifier for a portable audio player.  I’d have to download audio files from the Internet to the player before I could listen to them.  That’s not what I want.  The others are satellite radio receivers.  No doubt all of these require a subscription.  Satellite radio may make sense in my car, but why do I need it at home when I already have Internet.  That’s not what I want either.

What is available now on the Internet?  I have a computer.  At least that will tell me if I like what’s already there.  I was quickly disappointed.  Only a few Internet radio stations are listed in Rhythmbox.  Some of them don’t respond.  I assume they’ve disappeared.  The ones that did respond didn’t seem to have any programming that appealed to me.  I like to listen to classical music with a knowledgable commentator.  I couldn’t find anything like that.  I don’t want to buy an Internet radio receiver just to be disappointed again.

There’s also the new CBC audio channels.  They have a wide range of programming and music available.  This might be exactly what I’m looking for.  The only problem is that they are not Internet radio.  At least, I can’t find a way to listen to them in Rhythmbox, the Internet radio player on my computer.  I can only get them in my web browser, using the CBC’s player.  I understand that I could also receive them on a mobile audio device.  This isn’t really what I want to replace my stereo receiver either.  I suppose I could feed the audio from my computer into an amplifier.  I suppose I could buy a mobile device and feed its audio into the amplifier.  I suppose I could dedicate a computer to web browser audio service.  Maybe I’ll have to wait until some company puts a stereo receiver on the market that has a built-in web browser.

In any case, there seems to be nothing available to replace my old stereo receiver except for what I already have.  Internet radio seems to be dead.  What are people listening to these days?  Perhaps technology has passed me by.  Am I the only one in this predicament?

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