Jeremy Hylton : weblog : 2003-09-28

Online music

Sunday, September 28, 2003

I got a new set of speakers, and I'm listening to music and radio in my office. There is a problem with radio reception in our neighborhood. All of our radios suffer from an odd interference problem. One station comes in almost everywhere on the dial. We get a few other stations, but NPR and almost everything else I would listen to do not come in.

I got speakers for my Windows box at Best Buy. I decided to get the cheapest speakers they had, and came away with an Logitech Z-340 set for $30. My Cambridge Soundworks speakers got hijacked long ago for listening to music in the living room.

I like listening to NPR -- the morning and afternoon news shows, Fresh Air, Car Talk. I prefer to work with some kind of background noise, even when I'm not actively listening. NPR streams its content and has reasonably available servers.

Rhapsody is an online music service offered through my ISP, Speakeasy. It's also made for pleasant listening today. You can define a "radio station" by picking up to 10 artists. It creates a playlist based on those artists, but not limited to just them. You don't get to pick the songs or the order, but you can skip any song.

I've got a punk / alternative station and a jazz station that have both come up with some pleasant surprises. The punk station turned up a bunch of tracks from hard-to-find SST Records albums and several Mission of Burma tracks; none of them were on the list of 10 artists. I put Tommy Flanagan on my jazz playlist, and two of his tracks that I don't own came up in the first hour.

This is all a big improvement over the one radio station we do get: 99.9 The Hawk, a tiresome classic rock station that plays the Rolling Stones, The Who, and Led Zeppelin and the goes back to the Stones. (I like them all in moderation.) When I was in junior high school, the station was known as Q100 and was the "cool" Top 40 station. It seems I'll never escape it.