Category Archives: Radio

Listening to baseball online with Global Tuners radio

It’s not easy to do, but with a little bit of perseverance and a little bit of luck you may be able to listen to your favorite baseball team online without an MLB subscription by way of Global Tuners. Here’s how it works (and why it’s hard).

First, you’ll need a Global Tuners account. This service provides you access to dozens of AM, FM, and short wave receivers around the world. The way it works is that the receivers are hooked up to a digital front end that lets you tune them remotely and that plays back the audio through the net. In general only one person can tune in at a time, so it’s first come first served.

Second, you’ll need to have some idea of which AM and FM stations your favorite team’s radio network covers. For example, the Detroit Tigers radio network has AM and FM station ranging from Houghton in the U.P. to Toledo Ohio and Angola Indiana, and the Houston Astros radio network also covers San Antonio and Shreveport. If the Tigers play the Astros, you can possibly tune to either network’s stations – you’ll either get home or away team coverage.

Finally, and here’s the tricky part, you’ll want to figure out which of the tuners covers which of the stations you are interested in. As it happens none of the tuners cover any stations that the Tigers routinely broadcast on, but the Astros are on KTKR 760 AM Ticket 760 in San Antonio, and there’s a receiver in San Antonio that might be free to listen through to them.

Figuring out radio channels can be weird – some stations have higher power and transmit over clear channels for long distances, and others don’t cover much more ground than the city they are based in. So the “best” channel to tune in might be for a station that’s powerful but far away. When you search through the MLB.com site for stations, look for the “flagship” station listed, which often broadcasts with higher power and over a greater distance than the other stations in the network. As an example, here’s a report of hearing the San Francisco Giants from a tuner in Phoenix, AZ more than 600 miles away.

The signal was weak at a distance of over 650 miles, with little interference from other stations but some noise and fading. Nonetheless, the content was usable and the station IDs clear.

The hobby of DXing gets an extra boost when you can tune in to radios that are far away. It’s fun to scan the dial and hear what’s out there. Most tuners have a band scan listing that you can see what’s there. I listen to remote radio stations on Tunein as well, but there’s not the same sense of being there when the reception is too perfect, and the baseball powers that be block internet-based games over regular radio channels.

TuneIn: listen to broadcast radio from all over the world

Tunein-appicon-freeI'm fond of TuneIn, a free service that lets you tune in to radio broadcasts from all over the world. I used it last night to listen to Pacific Coast League AAA baseball, and I've previously tuned in hockey games, news stations from far-away places when there's breaking news, and the occasional music channel.

One of the remarkable things about TuneIn is that they have program schedules for the stations they are following, and so you can get real time updates for what's playing now and who's playing whom. The front page rotates new songs that if you're a quick click you can hear more or less in their entirety as they are being broadcast.

A particularly useful part of TuneIn is its "trending" tab, where it gives you real time feedback on which channels have the most activity. When people are listening primarily to music, it's a slow news day; when the top station is an all-news local channel, there's breaking news. 

The TuneIn Android app has nearly all of the features of the web site, and it takes advantage of knowing where you are to offer up local stations. In addition there's a "TuneIn Radio Pro", which gives you record and rewind for $4.99. There has to be a monetization strategy in there somewhere; they also serve up ads as you connect to some channels.

Recommended. For public safety scanner monitoring, Broadcastify is a good complement.

Software defined radio (SDR) for Mac OS X

I've started looking into software defined radio for Mac OS X. The goal is to take a cheap USB stick, plug it in to the Mac, and have it connect to software that will decode radio signals.

So far there's nothing obvious that's packaged as a single collection of software plus hardware, but that's not surprising.

My best notes to date are from Pinboard's t:sdr tag, which looks like it has a few dozen people sharing links.

I'll update this when I get more working details.

The Strait, AM 1610 The Station, Detroit Electronic Vinyl on Saturday nights 10 pm to midnight

One of my favorite radio shows is from an utterly obscure low power AM radio station in Hamtramck, which puts out an ultra lofi low power over-the-air signal on AM 1610 and a digital broadcast on http://am1610.org . The show is "The Strait", which features Detroit electronic vinyl. It's on Saturday nights from 10:00 p.m. to midnight, and it's always worth a listen. 

Some day I'll get to Hamtramck and do an air check and make sure I can actually tune this in – I don't know if they cover the whole city or just a piece of it.

Geek tour: WCBN-FM control room, Wednesday, November 14, 2012

a2geeks is hosting a tour of the WCBN-FM control room on Wednesday, November 14, 2012. Tours start at 5:30p, 6:30p, and 7:30p, and you should RSVP for your space. (I'll be at the 5:30pm tour.)

WCBN is an amazing student-run radio station at the University of Michigan, founded in 1972 and broadcasting from the basement of the Student Activities Building. Listen live to WCBN at 88.3 FM (all the way to the left on your dial) or online. You might need to go online to enjoy it if you live outside the transmission area – this map from the FCC shows an approximate radius of where the station can best be enjoyed, though I'm sure I've heard it from further away.

Map credit: FCC station database for WCBN-FM

Picture 92

Listening to five channels of CBC Radio 2


Picture 40CBC's Radio 2 has 5 channels of online music going at any time, reflecting the need to provide programming from the Atlantic Time Zone to the Pacific Time Zone. Newfoundland, a half hour east of the Atlantic Time Zone, gets a shout out from time to time but not its own time slot.

It's nice to have a choice of five channels, because sometimes you want to have mid-day classical music, and some days you want to have afternoon popular music, and in this way you can just time-shift your listening all from the same page.

 

Global Tuners – listening to far-off radio stations

Global Tuners is a worldwide project for people to share their shortwave radio receivers. There are about 50 tuners around the world, and once you create an account you can log in to each of them, change the tuning settings, and listen to the broadcasts that can be heard in that part of the world.

Global-tuners-perth-australia

I have an old shortwave set that was my stepdad’s, and so I’ve been trying to pull in stations from home. That’s been successful up to a point, but compared to the last time I was following this world (20 years ago) there’s a lot less in the English language and more in Chinese. Getting access to tuners around the world, especially to ones that have better antenna setups than I do, is remarkably handy.

The other thing that you can use a shortwave set for most of the time is listening to AM and FM stations that are aimed at a local audience. Here is where some of the most unusual listening comes in – it’s just plain fun to tune in an Australian FM station (via a tuner in Australia) and listen to what ordinary radio sounds like there.

For best results, you’ll want to pair this with some lookup tools that help you figure out what’s on the air at that time that’s likely to be heard in that part of the world. Short-wave.info has a nice real time database of broadcast schedules, so that if you are tuning around the dial on shortwave you can see which stations are likely to be broadcasting.  FMSCAN has global listings of AM and FM stations, and MWLIST has longwave, mediumwave, tropical bands and a shortwave radio database. It’s the kind of information that I recall from sorting through the back pages of the World Radio and TV Handbook, except that it’s all linked together (and more up to date than my 1980s copy).