Welcome to Wireless Radio

My mother lives in State College now, but missed listening to Baltimore news on the radio. Plus reception in the mountains has never been reliable (her house in NE Pa had cable decades before HBO because of reception.

She got something called a “wireless radio” which is a cool new technology, but not one which has yet crossed my Generation X radar. The “wireless” part refers to the fact that the radio can pull stations through an Internet connection, either wireless or Ethernet. We have a wireless network in the house through Verizon DSL, so we hoped it would work.

The interface for the set up was a little odd until I figured out that the “dial” is a device to scroll through menu selections, or the keyboard. Pressing the dial is like hitting the Return key. It’s ironic because the Onion had a parody of the iPod “keyboard” which basically replicates the function of this dial. Who knew.

In any case, the radio first scans for the network. Press dial to enter network, then press to enter WEP. Then spin the dial to the write password characters (ASCII only, but it does distinguish upper and lower case). Then find the End key, then press enter, and you’re in.

Now comes the fun part – selecting radio stations. You can choose by genre or location, and the list is huge. Genre’s include standard music decades as well as Bollywood, Christian and many others (never got much past the C’s). Locations are literally world wide including Armenia, Australia, Britain (hello BBC), the Czech Republic, the Middle East, Latin America and so on. Great for foreign language teaching. We were able to find the Baltimore stations under USA-W stations.

Connection times may vary with distance, but once you’re there, the sound is fantastic. Even though it’s a relatively small unit, it’s almost like listening to NPR on my aunt’s deluxe audio console. Sweet. The manual also says that it will also play songs for your Mac/PC’s music library (if the files are in the right place and available for sharing). I’ll have to experiment with that later.

The radio is from C Crane, and this model is under $200. It’s really like having satellite radio without having to pay for extra subscription fees. Maybe it’s good that wireless radio is still under the radar…

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