radio

All posts tagged radio

In our office: my old 1969 Sony AM/FM ST-80F stereo tuner & 1977 Kenwood KA 3500 amp, Select-A-Tenna & 1 of 2 white Realistic Minimus-7 speakers up top.

Here’s a nice way to spend a Memorial Day weekend afternoon.

KGGF-AM 690 is still a very old-fashioned radio station out of Coffeyville, Kansas. No online presence.

Tulsa is within its coverage area, but inside the house, I need a little help pulling it in.

This Select-A-Tenna connects directly by wire to the tuner. I bought this now-discontinued model from C. Crane Radio in the early 2000s.

Select-A-Tenna w/1964 Zenith Royal 40

It is also capable of working by induction without direct wired connection (see right), but this isn’t physically convenient with my tuner placement.

I simply dial 690 on the tuner, then fine tune the Select-A-Tenna. There is a big bump in the signal at a sweet spot on its dial.

KGGF carries Kansas City Royals baseball games, which is what I am now listening to.

Monday-Friday at 8:35-11 am, OpenLine (“the 4-state regions’ most popular and enduring radio program”) features news and sports plus a call-in show for people to sell stuff. This will really take you back.

You could imagine Herb Jepko and the Nightcaps coming on late in the evening. KVOO-AM in Tulsa carried this easy-going show for insomniacs 1969-71. (Link is to TTM comments and resources about Jepko)

Feels like the 1960s!


Later note:

I had to go out in the afternoon, so I tuned KGGF in the car.

On my radio, it sounded like an ionic storm howling in the background of the baseball game. Thinking of the 1960s, I noticed how many more wires and poles we have in the city today vs. yesterday.

My impression was that “the future” (today) was actively assaulting this remaining trace of a bygone era.

I may listen to a little OpenLine at home tomorrow morning. The prosaicness of the show is somehow comforting.

(Hmm, maybe that’s where the drug name Prozac came from.)

RadioIDL, a favorite on OSMC/Kodi

RadioIDL, favorited on my Raspberry Pi running free OSMC/Kodi software in our theater room

Home theater isn’t only about electronic and computer gear, and it isn’t only about video.

I found a worthy local online radio station, RadioIDL.com (for Inner Dispersal Loop).

The programming is mostly blues, and includes locally-based artists such as Cindy Cain.

Here’s what I have been listening to for the past 25 minutes:

08:08:34 Lil’ Ed & the Blues Imperials – S.D. Jones
08:05:42 Sonny Boy Williamson – Better Cut That Out
08:00:09 The Allman Brothers Band – Melissa (live)
07:57:11 Freddy King – It’s Too Bad Things Are Going So Tough
07:53:58 James Cotton – Midnight_Train_w/Gregg_Allman
07:53:51 RadioIDL Tulsa Urban Wilderness Colin
07:51:40 Howlin’ Wolf – Shake for Me
07:48:47 Joe Turner – I Get The Blues When It Rains
07:45:46 Cindy Cain – Papa Let Me
07:42:12 Lonnie Mack; Stevie Ray Vaughan – Double Whammy

RadioIDL also has its own local talk shows: City of Giants with Michael Patton, and The InnerLoopers with Mark Barcus and Mary Morrison Barcus.

Some of the ways to listen:

    Go to RadioIDL.com and listen via browser or pop-out player.

    Set up an account with Tunein and add RadioIDL as a favorite.

    Get the Tunein Android or Apple app.

    On Roku, add the Tunein Channel (free).

    If you have a Raspberry Pi running OSMC like I do (see image at top), get the Tunein add-on, then make RadioIDL a favorite for the device.

    Also, RadioIDL is coming soon to iHeartRadio, which would make it accessible on TiVo’s iHeart app.

If you are a blues fan, you don’t need to be from Tulsa to appreciate RadioIDL!

Give it a try. I find it a refreshing change of pace.

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.

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. SDR-Radio.com offers software that does scheduled recording, but with different hardware, such as FUNcube.)

I mentioned the DAR.fm (Digital Audio Recorder) online radio “DVR” in a previous post (‘All This Jazz’ in the home and on the run). It has become a paid service if you want to download the .mp3 files, rather than listen on your computer with ads inserted.

Being a bit of a skinflint, I have come up with a couple of new, free ways to time-shift my favorite radio show, “All This Jazz” on KWGS.

I’ve ordered a cheap USB FM tuner from Hong Kong. I’m looking forward to trying it. (3/15/2015: I did try it; see my post $8 USB tuner turns PC into FM radio/recorder. It covers a huge frequency spectrum and records in .wav format, but can’t do scheduled recordings. Still amazing for the price.)


I also found a way to record KWGS’ online stream at a scheduled time.

KWGS streaming on VLC Player

KWGS streaming on VLC media player. Click to enlarge.

The popular and versatile freeware multimedia player VLC can serve as a player and a recorder. I pasted KWGS’ .m3u URL into VLC, enabling me to listen, and record the stream as an .mp3 file. Here is a good tutorial showing how to do it.

Also, on the VLC player menu, go to View and click ‘Advanced Controls’ to add a record button.

Once you have VLC working as a radio recorder, you need a way to make it record at a scheduled time.

This I did by first creating a Windows batch file that uses VLC to record 2 hours of KWGS whenever you run the file. (See below.)

Then I added a basic task to Windows’ Task Scheduler to run the batch file every Saturday at 10 pm. Here is a useful tutorial for creating a basic task.

The result is a 42 MB .mp3 file of the show with a name that includes the current date, e.g., tonight’s “ATJ20150307.mp3”.

I recommend using free Notepad++ to copy, edit and save the text from my own ATJrecord.bat file. It will save you headaches over special characters and spacing. Standard Notepad is more trouble than it is worth for this purpose. Word and WordPad are worse.

Copy all the following, paste it into NotePad++ and save as ATJrecord.bat. Some of the code runs off the side of the page, but you will pick it up in your copy/paste operation:

“C:\Program Files (x86)\VideoLAN\VLC\vlc.exe” http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/kwgs/ppr/kwgs.m3u –sout=”#std{access=file,mux=raw,dst=C:\Users\TulsaTV\Music\1AllThisJazz\ATJ%DATE:~10,4%%DATE:~4,2%%DATE:~7,2%.mp3}” –run-time=7200 –stop-time=7200 vlc://quit

You would need to alter in the path (in orange above) to your own AllThisJazz folder, double-check the path to vlc.exe (in green) on your computer after installing VLC, and make sure the four double-quote marks are the straight up-and-down kind, not the slanted ones (it happens when you copy text from a web page like this). Also replace the apparent dashes immediately in front of sout, run-time and stop-time with double hyphens from your keyboard (another copy weirdness). The text colors won’t be copied; they are just for visual clarity here.

There should be only a space between each string of code. I count 6 strings and 5 spaces between them. The 3rd string is a long one, starting with –sout and ending with .mp3}”. If you have it right in Notepad++, you will see solid shading around the whole “paragraph”.

FYI, 7200 is the number of seconds in two hours. You can change it to adapt the .bat file for other shows, e.g., “Swing on This”, a one-hour (3600 second) program.

Test your ATJrecord.bat file by double-clicking on it. A black command prompt window will pop up to execute it, and then a VLC Player will pop up and start recording KWGS. You may want to change the 7200 in both places in the file to 20 for testing so you can see that both windows disappear when the recording is complete.


If trying this looks too horrible to you, other software exists to accomplish the same purpose. But after looking around, this way seemed best for my singular purpose and geekish inclination. If anyone has a favorite streaming audio recorder, feel free to tell us about it!

DAR.fm‘s free account still allows you to record any one show or station at a time and listen through their website. Their introductory Pro account is currently $39.95/year.

The KWGS stream sounds pretty good to me at a bitrate of 48 kbps. That isn’t too surprising, since a CNet blind listening test showed that a third of people can’t tell the difference between music encoded at 48 kbps and the same music encoded at 160 kbps. (Amazon’s .mp3s are at an average of 256 kbps)

The USB radio tuner/Windows Media Center method I mentioned at the top should yield higher fidelity. I’ll let you know how that works out once the tuner arrives on a slow boat from China.

Lately, Scott Gregory has been playing some really good avant garde jazz. 🙂