Compuschmooze August 2007: Webradio Recorder 2 Brings Distant Radio Stations Online

I’ve been addicted to radio ever since my dad arranged for me to visit the military radio studios at Fort Monmouth when I was a teenager. I graduated from making “pretend” radio shows with a reel-to-reel tape recorder in my basement to college radio and then to commercial radio. Today we call this “terrestrial” radio to distinguish it from satellite radio.

The most significant change in delivery of radio programming is that you generally don’t need a radio to listen any more. Virtually every terrestrial broadcast station provides a streaming audio signal over the Internet, so if you have relocated far from your roots, you can still catch those hometown radio personalities by tuning in on the Web.

The one thing that’s been lacking in most radio station web-streams is the ability to record what you hear so that you can time-shift it for a more convenient listening experience. That’s where Magix Software’s Webradio Recorder 2.0 comes in. It’s like a VCR with self-timer for radio (http://site.magix.net/english-us/home/music/webradio-recorder-2/).

The program comes with an installed database of thousands of web-streamed radio stations, categorized by country and musical genre. You can add or change categories easily. Each database entry for a radio station includes the web URL that links to the streaming audio channel, and most also contain the URL of the radio station’s home page.

You can record live streams by pressing a “record” button, just like on a tape recorder or VCR. Webradio Recorder even back-records about a minute before you pressed “record” – saving the beginning of that favorite song.

You can create scheduled recordings for other times by filling out a dialog form for start and stop times of the recording. You can also customize the name of the recorded file and its storage location. Once you schedule a recording you need to leave the program running, although you can minimize it. You can schedule and capture multiple recordings from different sources at the same time.

The clarity is as good as a CD – and makes listening to AM stations a surprisingly pleasant experience again.

The station database is international in scope – but not entirely perfect, because radio stations occasionally change the way they stream their programs and the stream information may be out of date.

But if you make additions or changes to the database, the program transmits the changes to Magix, which periodically issues database updates automatically.

When you try to add missing stations, however, you need to be sure that the stream URL you’re using is the right one for Webradio Recorder. Sometimes, radio stations use a special link for a branded audio player customized for the station. That player’s web stream URL won’t work in Webradio Recorder.

One good source for finding out the right web stream is a database website called Roku Radio (www.rokuradio.com). Roku sells wireless web radio components, but also keeps a fairly accurate database that helps you populate Webradio Recorder.

For example, the radio stations owned by CBS Inc., like KYW-Newsradio and WCBS-AM and FM in New York use links that don’t work in WebRadio Recorder. I found the “back door” URL for these stations in Roku Radio’s user forums.

Webradio Recorder uses the Windows Media Audio format for recording sound files, and these can easily be imported into a sound-editing program. Some radio stations also transmit text tags called ID3 that tell the artist and song name, and Webradio Recorder supports this technology too. You can create playlists and synchronize MP3 players, or burn CDs from the recordings you make. The program also includes sound equalization tools and supports a range of audio enhancement add-in tools.

The program sells for $29.95 on the Magix website, but it is typically discounted in computer stores.

 

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