Tuesday, 26 February 2008

More Clear Channel problems

It seems that last Friday, the proxy service we were using to allow international users to get around Clear Channel's unnecessary restrictions stopped working. We've now updated all the international links using a new proxy service.

We've had an influx of messages reporting problems and suggesting streams to add recently, so we have a substantial backlog to get through. If you haven't received a message back then we hope to deal with your problem or suggestion soon.

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Cumulus puts both feet on the streaming bandwagon

Cumulus, who own stations from San Francisco to Kansas City have begun rolling out streams for all their stations. No Cumulus stations streamed until the company purchased Susquehanna Radio, which owned stations such as KFOG in San Francisco and 95.5 WFMS in Indianapolis. These stations had been constantly streaming over the Internet for many years so it was good to see Cumulus didn't abandon their streams after the purchase.

Since then, a few of Cumulus' smaller stations started streaming such as 103.9 WFAS in Westchester and 107.1 WA1A in Melbourne, while the bigger stations in markets such as Kansas City and Nashville remained offline. Now word reaches us that Cumulus are to stream all their stations in reasonable quality using their new Cumulus Radio Player. Already streaming through the player are stations in Nashville, Kansas City and Toledo while the majority are expected to be rolled out in 2008.

So that's the good news. The bad news is that this radio player is fairly poor and I have yet to get it to work in Firefox, but the backdoor stream links work fine in Windows Media Player so this shouldn't be too much of a problem.

Meanwhile, still no sign of two of America's biggest stations, will Hot 97 and Power 106 ever start streaming?

Feedback form issues

After some behind the scene changes wit TSC's host server on 6 November, the feedback form stopped working and we stopped receiving your messages. It's taken a little while but we've now got it back up and running but any messages sent between 6 November and 10 December through the feedback form have disappeared into cyberspace so sorry we can't respond to them.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Tis the season for holiday music

Once again, it's that time of year when radio stations across the country abandon their normal playlist and start playing all songs related to Christmas. And once again TSC has listed which stations have entered the into Christmas spirit. Some markets such as Salt Lake City are spoiled for choice as KOSY 106.5, FM1oo and 97.5 The Oasis are all playing seasonal songs while some of the bigger markets like Chicago and New York have just the one at the moment with 93.9 WLIT and 106.7 Lite FM respectively. Meanwhile the award for the station that started playing All-Christmas-all-the-time goes to '93 Days of Christmas' in Indianapolis. Spot any more stations playing all-holiday music that we don't have listed, please e-mail us and let us know

Saturday, 3 November 2007

The importance of bitrates?

The vast majority of stations streaming at the moment use 32k bitrate, but over the last week or so Clear Channel owned stations in San Francisco such as Wild 94.9 and Star 101.3 have upped their bitrate to 64k.

So why is bitrate important for streaming? When you compare the station output on FM to the Internet stream with 32k bitrate, the difference in sound quality is noticeable. Previously, when most Internet listening came through rubbish computer speakers then this wasn't an issue. But now as listeners become more sophisticated by hooking their PCs up to stereo systems, using Internet radios or listening through headphones at work, sound quality is more important. Most people rip
their CDs at 128k bitrate or more and songs purchased through iTunes use the aac encoding to deliver superior fidelity, meanwhile streams of terrestrial FM radio stations are sound more like AM stations with less hiss.

Internationally, most European stations stream at 64k or more. For example in London, UK, Capital Radio, XFM, Choice FM and Virgin Radio all stream at 128k, while Heart 106.2, Magic 105.4, Kiss 100, BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 2 all stream at 64k.

So, will more North American stations catch up to their European peers and improve the quality of their streams?

Monday, 3 September 2007

Clear Channel annoys the bloggers

From friend-of-the-site Bruce's blog is a great post on the frustrations of being forced to use Clear Channel's pop-up players and the response (or lack of) he's had from Clear Channel when raising the issue with them.

Read it here:

Monday, 27 August 2007

The Stream Center's most wanted

From the many messages we get about stations not listed on our site, the two most requested that do not stream yet are Hot 97 in New York and Power 106 in Los Angeles.

The common link between these two stations are that they are both owned by Emmis Communications. Emmis, up until recently was dead set against streaming, blaming the added royalty costs associated with putting terrestrial programming online. But after investors criticised Emmis for their lack of streaming, a fundamental element of radio's digital presence, Emmis changed their mind and signed up with Stream Audio to stream their stations online.

Movin 93.9 in Los Angeles became the first Emmis owned music station to stream followed by Q101 and The Loop in Chicago, their Indianapolis based stations and a few of their Austin stations.

However progress seems to have stalled and some of Emmis's largest stations such as Power 106 and Hot 97's sister stations 98.7 Kiss FM and CD101.9. Hopefully getting their remaining stations online will become a priority.