The Things We Do Today, Part 5: Loose Ends and Listening

by Paul Edwards

Like the rest of you, my taste in listening is eclectic. I am a modern folk music junky. I will not bore you with a listing of those stations. There are a lot more out there than you might think and, unfortunately, “folk” as a genre has very few stations listed. This is a good place for me to use folk for my first search tip. Are there other genres that might actually include stations that are “folky?” Try acoustic or Celtic or Americana as a search term and you will find lots more stations than the few that are listed. In general, the more imaginative you can be, the more likely you will be to find surprising stations.
There is a lot of difference between apps in terms of the way searches work, too. So try several approaches with different programs. If you are looking for a particular station, use the call letters. You are likely to find it. Some stations have chosen to use play systems that won’t work with many portable systems. Again, try different apps. Some play more formats than others. Another good approach is to put the name of your city into the search box. Again, you will find variation from program to program. I found stations I had no idea existed till I put “Miami” into my search box. A lot of the stations that operate on low power and can only be heard close to their point of origin are now online. For larger entities like the BBC or the CBC, go ahead and put that in the box. You will find lots of options, though I should warn you that some of those options will only work in the country of origin. This is true of most of the CBC music stations. Most apps will also allow you to search by country, which can be handy if there are national networks as there are in the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, as well as lots of other places. Radio 1 in Canada has mostly spoken word rather than music and has some amazing programs on ideas and technology as well as some very funny comedies.
In the United Kingdom there are three mostly talk stations: Radio 4, Radio 4 Extra and Radio Five Live. All are BBC stations. Radio Four has lots of programs on current affairs, literature and has some drama and comedy as well. They also have a program specifically about blindness issues which is available as a podcast. It is called “In Touch.” Radio Four is addictive but, for me, not nearly so irresistible as Radio Four Extra. This whole channel is devoted to drama and comedy, and many of the plays are in stereo and quite wonderful. They will often do serials that will last a week. For instance, last week the Count of Monte Cristo was done in four hour-long episodes. Radio Five Live is a little more like the traditional talk station, though there are lots of interviews and lots of sports as well, just in case you are a cricket fan like me.
Australia has a national network, another station devoted just to news and local radio stations from each state that are all part of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). There are some specialty music stations from ABC as well which can be accessed from anywhere.
Putting “old time radio” into the search box will produce a pretty substantial list of options that you can try. I know I have more than 20 such stations on my stream. Most apps will also let you search for music by genre. I am not convinced that this is always a reliable of finding what you want because I am not sure that apps always do a good job of selecting which stations belong where. It’s a quick way to get stations you might like up quickly, though.
There are lots of blindness-specific stations available. iBlink Radio, an app I have already talked about, has some radio reading services on it as well as stations operated by people who are blind. There are also stations from Canada, the UK and Australia that you can seek out. They all have lots to offer. If you have the new Stream, you can load different special lists rather than the “North America” one and find most of these. I am not going to talk about ACB Radio again here, though I would hope that all of you are listening to all of its channels. There are only two other specific suggestions I am going to make in terms of listening, though I could go on for hours listing stations I enjoy. Both these suggestions have been created especially for people who are blind and both can be accessed on the Stream and on other notetakers as well. The first can be received on the HIMS devices. The last time I tried the second could not.
If you put “blindy” into your search box, at least five channels will come up. These are audio-only channels which feature five channels of described television programs. The five channels are “drama,” “sci fi,” “comedy,” “brain” and “et cetera.” These operate 24 hours a day and are great fun! There are fake commercials and comedy in between programs and some of this content is not for the faint of heart or for children. A lot of the content features description done in England.
Quite recently, another aggregation of channels has become available. You can find it on ooTunes and on the Stream and probably on the updated Braille Note. Put “listen factor” in the search box and eight channels will become available. Most of these channels feature radio and TV shows from all periods of TV history. Most are not described, but they are still fun. Some are, and there is a channel which features described movies and movies that are not described. There is an eighth channel that features music.
So there is a lot out there. My listening choices will not be yours, but I hope I have been able to show you that Internet radio is a hugely rich source of entertainment that is now open to us through a whole range of devices and applications. Since I have started writing this series, change has happened that blurs lines even more than they were among applications. There is now a premium version of TuneIn Radio, which allows you to listen to sporting events and to read audio books. It is amazing to me just how quickly Internet radio has matured. These articles have only scratched the surface in terms of what is out there and how we can access all of the tens of thousands of options that exist. So, go ahead! Get started! Happy listening!