When I moved to Albany from the New York City area, I found the variety of radio programming here wanting. WAMC is great for news and interviews, and shows like Car Talk and Wait, Wait, though the signal quality is very poor where I live, and WMHT is great for classical music. I’m not a great fan of extremist political pundits, popular music, incessant, loud commercials or yelling DJs, which seem to be what most of the commercial stations offer.
The answer for me has been streaming. I recently discovered Tune In Radio, an Android app that lets you stream just about any radio station in the world, as well as specialized Internet-only programming, including infinite varieties of jazz and other non-commercially viable forms of music. For specific programs, podcasts are an option as well. I use them to make sure I don’t miss some favorite programs.
In order to easily listen to streaming programs away from my computer, I recently bought some Bluetooth enabled speakers. When I want to listen, I fire up the tablet or phone (making sure it’s set to use wi-fi, not cellular data), activate the connection to the speaker, and I’m listening to what I want, when I want. The phone or tablet is like a bed side or chair side remote control.
I imagine it’s only a matter of time before our phones will control many other household devices. The big downside I see to that is rapid battery drain, which will require users to be more attentive to keeping their phones charged. Another down side is that conventional stereo systems are being rendered obsolete; I know I haven’t used mine in months.