All posts tagged KWGS

Background: Clark Gibson TCC Jazz Festival 3/25/2016

Background art: Program for Clark Gibson’s appearance at the TCC Jazz Festival, 3/25/2016

I’d been hearing tunes from this CD, “Bird with Strings: The Lost Arrangements” by Clark Gibson + Orchestra, for months on “All This Jazz” (KWGS 89.5, 9 pm-midnight Saturdays).

The host, Scott Gregory, announced a few weeks ago that Clark would be playing a concert at TCC Southeast campus.

Great job by Clark, director Reid Bennett, and the TCC Orchestra and Band. Clark is such a nuanced, unbounded player. I bet Charlie Parker (the “Bird” of the CD title, one of the progenitors of bebop music in the 1940s) would have loved it, too.

Of course I bought the CD. (Onstage, he mentioned it has been in the top 50 nationwide.)

These days, I regard the physical CD as a backup copy with liner notes, and a souvenir when autographed, like this one. Seems like way too much work to actually put in CDs(!)

Windows Media Player automatically ripped it into mp3 tracks (320 kbps for maximum quality).  In my setup, it is then added to Plex when you update the media library.

Above is a screenshot of our theater room TV. The album art was retrieved by Plex automatically. But there was no background art in the database. Luckily, I had the concert program.

I scanned it, but it was in vertical rather than horizontal format, as needed for a Plex background. I used free image software IrfanView to halve the vertical dimension, and allow the image to be compressed (unchecked the “Preserve aspect ratio” box when resizing).

You can see the result after I added this image as the background. A nice reminder of the show every time I play the album.

New Year's Eve in New York

New Year’s Eve in New York

(This post isn’t directly about cord-cutting or home theater per se, but about a side benefit of Plex, which itself is a very good cord-cutting/home theater move.)

New Year’s Day, I signed up at Planet Fitness in south Tulsa.

At home, we have a Diamondback 860Rb stationary recumbent bike, and a Schwinn Bowflex Comp machine. Both my wife and I have used them regularly.

The bike was originally for her, but I liked it as an rainy-day alternative to running, and have used it much more often in recent years. I can get a pretty good workout from the Bowflex, so much so that I let my All American Fitness membership lapse years ago.

But after using the Life Fitness brand machines on the ship during our cruise last month, I thought I might like to be in a gym again for all the muscle-specific machines that demand constant force throughout the range of motion with inertial resistance. It would also be an impetus to get out of the house more often.

Planet Fitness has Life Fitness machines, plus a nice setup in their huge aerobic area with 18 TV screens, set on 9 different cable channels. You plug your own headphones into the machine’s console, then select the sound for the screen you want to watch.

The 2 shows I missed while cruising.

On my smartphone.

Arnold on my smartphone.

PF also has free wifi, so while exercising, I can stream any of our Plex content (e.g., my recordings of KWGS’ “All This Jazz” radio show, or any movie, TV show or music album from our Plex library) from home to my wifi smartphone in the gym. (Also see this summer’s post Poolside fun with Plex remote access)

Of course, I can use any of the other phone apps, such as Netflix, YouTube, TuneIn Radio, etc.

Plex has another feature which would be useful if there were poor or no wifi. You can sync any movie, TV show, or album to a specific device (like my phone), then watch or listen when not connected to a network.

This has always been possible, but used to be a huge hassle, due to the need to convert to a device-friendly size and format, then load the media to a phone or tablet.

But with Plex handling the transcoding and downloading, it’s easy.

Most of the movies in our Plex library are ripped from standard DVD (480p resolution, 1.5 Mbps bandwidth). When selecting for download in Plex, I typically cut the bandwidth in half (to 720 Kbps), since it makes little difference on a small screen, and creates a smaller, faster processing and loading media file.

I just added a 64 GB microSD card to my phone, so I imagine I could get most of our video library on it if I so desired.

Right now, I have two of my favorite movies (“The Terminator” and “Dr. Strangelove”) and two “All This Jazz” shows downloaded to the phone.

The other day at the gym, I tried streaming “Diamonds Are Forever” from one of our home Plex servers. During the 30 minutes I pedaled, there were a couple of momentary freezes, but they weren’t a significant viewing problem. If I didn’t care for that, or if wifi bandwidth were a problem, I could have just downloaded the movie before heading out the door.

Which I need to do in about 15 minutes.

Happy Plexing and Flexing New Year!

iHome portable speaker and wifi-only smartphone with Plex app running.

iHome portable speaker and wifi-only smartphone with Plex app running.

Yesterday, I visited a friend with a swimming pool at his house. To provide musical entertainment, I took along my wifi-only Samsung Galaxy Note II smartphone (formerly my wife’s), and a portable iHome rechargeable speaker.

All my music content is currently stored on my laptop at home.

As described previously, the laptop and a couple of other household computers are running the Plex server software. That allows stored music, TV shows and movies to be played by devices running Plex client software. Up until recently for me, those devices were the Roku boxes and the Raspberry Pi running PleXBMC software.

But other devices can be Plex clients, too, such as a browser, a smartphone or a tablet.

With the free Android Plex app on my smartphone, the phone can play my music in the workout room or out on the patio via our private wifi network.

However, it can also work at remote locations, like my friend’s pool.

To achieve this, you must enable remote access on the Plex server. Here are the directions: Enabling Remote Access for a Server, and if needed, Troubleshooting Remote Access. This can be tricky, depending on your router. With my old warhorse Linksys WRT54G, I had to do Manual Port Forwarding as described in the second link to make it work.

The result was delightful. My phone had internet access via my friend’s wifi. I had used my DIY radio recorder to capture “All This Jazz” from KWGS the night before (I could have selected any of my music content). At poolside, I started the show and it streamed from the laptop in our house, 3 miles away. It played until it was time to go.

Just for kicks, I kept the music going in the car to see how long it would last after losing wifi access. I got to 61st & Memorial, still going. 71st & Memorial, still going. Got home, still going! Checked the phone, and it had reestablished access to our wifi and continued to play on.

Evidently Plex buffered at least 10 minutes of the show. You may recall that I chop the three-hour program into twelve 15-minute segments for convenience with Roku, where you can’t “rewind”. (Reminds me of an 8-track player when it switches to the next track.) Did Plex buffer an entire segment, or more? I don’t know.

But it is a lot of fun to use. All of this fits into a sandwich bag for safe and cheap transport to and from poolside.

Plex client playing ATJ's 1st 3-hr show.

Plex app on a Galaxy Note II

I recently mentioned my free, PC-based DIY internet radio recorder, which I use to record an .mp3 of “All This Jazz” on KWGS @ 9pm Saturdays (now expanded to 3 hours).

In an earlier post, ‘All This Jazz’ in the home and on the run, I described how I used FTP to copy the show from my PC to a hand-me-down, wifi-only smartphone. I then plugged the phone into a radio in the kitchen or a boombox in the workout room to listen.

Now that my wife has moved up to an iPhone and an iPad, there is a better way. I am the proud owner of her old devices, a Galaxy Note II phone and a Google Nexus 7 tablet. Both are capable of running the free Plex client app, unlike the older smartphone.

Plex lets me stream the recorded show directly to the Note II from my laptop running free Plex Media Server software.

To celebrate the expansion of the show and the new devices, I spruced up Plex’ presentation by associating a photo of host Scott Gregory with the show name.

In addition, I can listen through a media room Raspberry Pi computer running PleXBMC software, or via the Plex channel on a Roku box or TiVo.

Even if I were at a Starbucks in Hong Kong, I could stream the show to either new device from our house using Plex. Pretty amazing.

Here is a new “All This Jazz”-related story I posted over on Tulsa TV Memories@Facebook:

Our nephew Jared (and also nephew Jordan) have been spending time at our house doing some scanning/archiving work for my wife. We added Jared’s preferred Pandora channels for his listening pleasure on TiVo. After he got tired of listening to what he wanted, he put it on Shuffle, which included my Pandora stations.

Lee Ritenour’s version of the Oliver Nelson jazz tune “Stolen Moments” came on at one point. I hadn’t heard my CD of it for years, so I found it and ripped it to one of our Plex Media Servers for later.

Since I had no handy liner notes while listening, I read the AllMusic review of the album and Lee’s followup, “Wes Bound” on my wifiphone. The reviewer snootily inquired why you should be listening to this when you could be listening to Wes Montgomery himself. I happen to like both Ritenour albums a lot, but was reminded of the monstrous Montgomery tune played on Scott Gregory’s All This Jazz show on KWGS a short time ago.

Since I save the shows and the playlists, I searched “Montgomery” on my PC with Agent Ransack and found that Wes’ stunning version of Coltrane’s “Impressions” was played at 11:08 pm on 5/23/2015. I listened to it again on my recording, and then bought “Smokin’ At The Half Note” on MP3 from Amazon.

What a guitarist! Disciplined, driving and musically brilliant. Wynton Kelly, Jimmy Cobb, and Paul Chambers made it a highly cohesive unit.

The musical journey started with Blake Shelton and ended with prime Wes Montgomery.

Software-defined radio (SDR) is a technique for turning a computer into a radio. But not just an AM/FM radio...

(Click to enlarge) Free SDR# software playing KWGS using a USB tuner. But it’s not only an FM radio…

Last week, I set up a Free DIY internet radio recorder on my PC to record “All This Jazz” on KWGS in .mp3 automatically.

In that post, I mentioned that I had ordered an $8 USB FM tuner from Hong Kong on eBay. It arrived yesterday.

RTL2832U-R820T USB stick

RTL USB dongle. You won’t need the remote or the disk.

More precisely, it is an RTL2832U+R820T DVB-T SDR+DAB+FM USB 2.0 DIGITAL TV Tuner Receiver HT.

(If you can’t wait the week or two it takes from Hong Kong, here is an equivalent from Amazon: KEEDOX® RTL-SDR, FM+DAB, DVB-T USB Stick Set with RTL2832U & R820T)

The RTL2832U part of the chipset is a TV tuner, which is useless, because it works on the European standard, not ours.

R820T refers to the radio tuner part. Unlike a normal tuner, it has a vast frequency range of 24MHz to 1850MHz.

With the dongle plugged into my computer and free SDR# software installed, my “software-defined radio” tuned in FM stations and NOAA weather radio (162.55MHz in Tulsa).

Ham radio including CW (Morse code), unencrypted police and fire radio, aviation, etc. should also be receivable with the right antenna. Of course, the antenna supplied was inadequate, but good enough to verify the product works. (A 2’9″ piece of wire, alligator-clipped to the jack, does much better for FM reception.)

I saw regular spikes in the police and fire band, but I presume their communications are encrypted.

I have also been able to record KWGS in .wav format. I converted the .wav file to .mp3 with free Audacity software, at about 1/20 the size.

If you acquire one of these RTL2832U/R820T devices, here is a complete tutorial on setting up software-defined radio on your PC:

Getting Started with RTL-SDR and SDR-Sharp

Caution: try this only if you are careful and fairly knowledgeable about Windows. It is an excellent tutorial, but I still shot myself in the foot last night, while trying to swap the USB stick’s standard driver for a special low-level access driver (I was in a hurry to get it working before our Date Night started.)

Today, I was able to extract the bullet, cauterize the wound, and finish the job, but just be advised, it can be a risky operation if you aren’t super-careful.

I opened Windows Media Center to see if it would recognize the tuner, but it didn’t. I will investigate later; this is our Sci-Fi Saturday!

(3/15/2015: I don’t think this device can integrate into Windows Media Center, unless you are on a European version of Windows. As it is, the SDR radio/recorder is cheap, fun and useful; it lacks only a scheduled recording capability. offers software that does scheduled recording, but with different hardware, such as FUNcube.)