Friday, May 28, 2010

Satisfying my radio hobby with a Blackberry

About 2 hours and 20 minutes of every work day is spent commuting on the LIRR. This isn't as bad as it sounds. First of all, the trains are comfortable and rarely full on the line I take. Plus, since my destination is actually in Queens (I take the subway from there to work) I have a usable data stream for most of the trip. Crossing into Manhattan leaves you in "radio silence" for anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes.

I can remember trying to hack together a way to listen to streaming radio on the first Blackberry that AOL issued me. I was spoiled from my Windows Mobile device which would stream almost anything (with the assistance of an app called TCPMP). This proved to be close to impossible, even with one or more of the cludgy apps that had appeared to try to work around the shortcomings of those earlier devices. As the devices and BB OS revisions evolved though, so did the streaming abilities.

BB OS version 5 and up now offers many options. Some in the form of apps, but direct streaming seems to work sporadically too. The challenge of trying to find a way to get certain streams to work has added a level of difficulty to the process that makes it interesting. So instead of trying to wade through QRM and adjacent channel interference, I'm looking for ways to hack pls files and other stream links.

Several apps, most in BB app world, make this easier. Flycast offers a nice directory by area and genre, and offers podcasts, and other little extras. Some of the stations even allow for timeshifting. The paid version allows downloading and offline listening.

Nobex Radio Companion started as a way to look up what was playing on a radio station, and then added a streaming feature for most stations. Although not as reliable as other choices, there are stations here I cannot find anywhere else.

CBS and AOL have radio apps from the same developer. I've heard good things about these but cannot try them as they seem to only work on certain BB devices for now.

For podcasting I like Stitcher. Although the search too gets a bit strange, I have been able to find most podcasts I like in their directory and they cache quickly. Very useful for loading just before heading on to the subway.

The browser itself works too. By itself, certain streams work right from the links. A good example is Radio Paradise. Others can be obtained through (formerly known as Moodio). You create an account on your computer and then add stations through a search function. Then your stations show up on a custom mobile page that streams well to BB's.

I have an iPhone coming soon, so I may revise this a bit, but I hope this helps a bit for some of you BB radio fans out there. Happy listening.

Sent from my BlackBerry®

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