#4 Internet Blues Radio
Here in Albany, NY, there is one lone blues radio show I can get on my FM dial. Stormy Monday Blues is broadcast Mondays from 8 pm to 9:30 pm on WRPI, the campus station of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in nearby Troy. That’s it. And forget the AM band – rabid right-wing commentators rule that roost. Not the best of worlds for the music credited as the mother of Rock N’ Roll, is it?
Things couldn’t be more different online, though. You can log on to 24/7 radio shows, tune into weekly “webcasts,” or download shows as savable audio files you can play anytime. In this column we’ll find out how to do all this and more.
For the full range of Internet radio options, you’ll want to start by having the three main media players: Windows Media Player, Apple’s Quick Time Player, and Real Player, also known as RealOne. The Windows Media Player comes with PCs, and Macs feature Quick Time. Each player is available for both the PC and the Mac. Mac users can get Windows Media Player at www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/download/mac71.aspx; PC users can get Apple Quick Time at www.apple.com/quicktime.
That leaves Real Player, which can be downloaded at www.real.com. The website tries to sell you the full version, but also offers a pared down free utility. To get the freebie, click the “free realtime player.” link in the upper right corner. On the lower right side of the next page, click on the “download the free RealOne player.” (I installed the player, but being a stickler for online privacy, submitted bogus personal information when I registered. And who needs the spam, anyway? Even then, I found RealOne bundled with Gator, which is obnoxious third-party adware). Because shows are often formatted for specific players, it’s good to have them all.
Of the trio, only Real Player offers built-in blues radio. To tune in, click the Radio tab at the bottom of the player, and then click the Blues tab at the top of the middle column of the genre menu. This brings up a menu of over a dozen ongoing webcasts from locations as diverse as Seoul, South Korea, and Waco, Texas.
A much larger selection of blues shows for all three players can be found at www.thebluehighway.com/linrafra.html, a fine resource compiled by Curtis Hewston listing dozens of shows by the weekdays on which they are streamed. At the top of the page are links to listings for each day of the week, or you can just scroll down the top frame and read from Monday’s show onwards. Each show is marked with an “m,” “r,” or “q” to denote formatting for Windows Media Player, Real Player, or Apple Quick Time respectively. Real Player led the pack here as well, with shows in their medium outnumbering the other two.
There are other sources of online blues radio worth checking out, too. Winamp is a free music player downloadable at http://winamp.com. It’s easy to run, and, refreshingly, doesn’t want to know a thing about you. Winamp’s website offers ten blues stations, which you can get either by clicking on the Music tab on the top of the index page and following the links, or going directly to www.shoutcast.com/waradio.phtml?genre=Blues. Click on the link corresponding your connection speed, drill back down to the blues stations, pick one, and groove.
Another free player is Music Match’s Jukebox, available at www.musicmatch.com. In the player’s Search or Browse column, click on the Browse Artists by Genre folder, and then click on the Blues folder. You’ll see five 24/7 blues channels, including Piano Blues-the only such channel I’ve seen online. In addition to the five blues channels, Jukebox also has a blues option under the Radio folder.
Versions 7+ of the Netscape Web browser feature built-in radio software with blues offerings (download the latest version of Netscape at www.netscape.com) Clicking the Radio button on the lower menu bar will take you to a page with over 175 stations, including four nonstop blues channels in the Jazz and Blues section. Moreover, the Netscape radio window identifies which CD the track you’ll hear is taken from, and even offers a link to CD Now where you can buy the disc. Crass commercialism, no doubt, but a nice option nonetheless. I selected the Acoustic Blues channel and liked what I heard- in this case Mississippi Fred McDowell and Son House.
So far we’ve talked about shows you can get just by clicking on a link. Learning more about how media players work provides an even wider selection of music. Open up Winamp, and on the lower left corner, click the File button marked with a plus sign. This will open a popup menu with two options: a button marked URL, which opens a dialogue box where you can enter the URL of an ongoing webcast, and a DIR button, which opens a directory browsing window for locating a file on you hard drive. Many shows archive their webcasts as downloadable files, which can be listened to with a media player once you’ve saved them to disc.
The three main players have similar options on their menu bars. If you’re using Real Player or Windows Media Player, click File, and then Open on the dropdown menu. You will get a dialogue box where you can either enter the URL of an ongoing webcast or click a Browse button to search your hard drive for a file. With Apple Quick Time, first click File. On the downdown menu, click Open URL in New Player, or, for a file, Open Movie in New Player. Browse for the file, open the Files of Type dropdown menu at the bottom of the window, select Audio Files, and then click on the Open button.
Looking for other online blues shows, I inquired on Blues-L, a listserv I follow, and learned of a few not mentioned on the Blue Highway site. Try these:
24/7: Wagman Blues - www.wagmanblues.com.
Sunday: Bag Dog Blues – Hosted by Jeff Harris and Gary Reinhard on WITR-FM in Rochester, NY, from 3-10 pm ET.. Features over 60 hours of archived shows also. In Real Audio. www.baddogblues.com
Wednesday: The Jackson Buck Show-Hosted by Jackson Buck on KFAI-FM in St. Paul, MN, from 3-6 pm CT.. Archived for 2 weeks after date of broadcast. http://kfai.org.
Thursday: Chicago Blues Explosion live from the Kingston Mines. Hosted by Dave Herda at the club in Chicago, IL, from 10-12 pm CT. www.kingstonmines.com.
Friday: L.A. Blues Cruise: Hosted by Keith Castleberry on WYDH-FM and WBCA-AM in Atmore, AL, from 9:30-12 pm. www.farmersopry.com
Friday & Saturday: Early Jazz and Blues. Hosted by Fred Dabney on KRWG-FM in Las Cruces, NM, on Fridays from 10 till late and Saturdays from 9 pm till late. www.krwgfm.org
Also, our sister radio show, King Biscuit Time, hosted by Sonny Payne on KFFA- AM in Helena, AR, archives its recent broadcasts in Real Audio format at www.kffa.com. I’m informed that live webcasts are in the cards, so watch this space for an announcement regarding this.
As always, you’re invited to visit the King Biscuit Time website at www.kingbiscuittime.com, and my own online juke joint at http://www.celticguitarmusic.com/bluesmain.htm, where my previous Blues Online columns are now archived.
See ya in cyberspace!
© 2003 Glenn Weiser. All rights