GONZO Music! Turn it up. Put that tape on. DUKE What tape? GONZO Jefferson Airplane. "White Rabbit." I want a rising sound.
- Gonzo (Benico Del Toro) and Raoul Duke (Johnny Depp) have no concept of internet radio, with it being 1971 in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998).
I'm listening to SS Radio as I type. No, it's not a series of archive broadcasts from Nazi Germany. Far from it. This Net-based radio organisation plays lounge and chill, funk and disco, deep and soulful, tuff and twisted and hard and fast dance music, 24 hours a day. I can listen for hours, not hear the same song twice and chill out to good quality laid-back music. There are hardly any adverts and the presenters hardly ever speak. Yet when there is a presenter link, there are never any lame jokes, random stories or unfunny anecdotes- which are, for some reason, very popular with British radio presenters. SS Radio hasn't even dumbed down the breakfast show.
You'll be pleased to hear this is the case with a lot of web-based radio stations. Now that most people have broadband, they'll be able to dive on the net and find a station to suit their tastes. Here's a gem of a station that I've been waiting to enter my life since I was sixteen:
Back-to-back movie themes. Awesome. On the site's home page, you'll see the album cover featuring the film. Minimise the browser window while you work, and guess what film the music is from! If you're a movie nerd like me. Maximise the window to check your answers. Get ten in a row, and you are a true movie buff. So say I.
To prove the breadth of musical styles on offer online, I'll pick a genre I have no interest in whatsoever:
“Folk Alley”. Continuous folk music broadcast from Kent, Ohio. If you like that kind of thing.
As mentioned, I'm listening to this on my desktop computer at home. You could easily pick a station like Ibiza Global Radio, for instance, if you wanted to throw a party and not have to worry about adverts, changing CDs, crap overplayed songs or annoying DJs.
Just leave the station running, while you make sure your guests' glasses are full.
You've probably got a computer in your house, if you're reading this. You've also probably got a radio in the room, too (unless you're so much a technophile that you take your laptop to the toilet, and that's where you're reading this now). A lot of us now have mobile phone contracts that allow for a certain amount of internet usage per month. Over time, mobile phone companies will increase this access for lower and lower prices, giving people more freedom to stay tuned to internet radio stations.
The sound quality of these stations is perfect. FM's clarity is occasionally dodgy, especially in the hills of my home town Oldham, and DAB (digital radio) has surprisingly shocking reception. That's never a problem with web radio. Rarely you'll get the odd buffering problem, but most of the time you can pick a station and leave it running. Some stations will limit the time that you can listen for free- but there's always another station.
The more accessible the internet becomes, the more people will turn to it for radio. One other advantage I've noticed: I started to scour youtube for decent music channels a few years ago. This requires buffering many videos and searching down playlists. Now web radio is at my fingertips, I hardly do this at all. Sure, people will stick to their FM stations- those that they have grown up with- and the internet will allow people another way of tuning in to shows that they are already familiar with. The infinitely wider choice online, however, will prove tough competition for the traditional FM stations. In Oldham, the current heavyweights are Radio 1, Key 103 and Capital (formerly Galaxy). I expect that- eventually- all that will change as the internet has found another way of altering the way we live.