Surfing the Waves: Radio thrives on the Web

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Will radio be left behind in the digital age? Probably not. Radio survived both the television and video revolutions, and is now proving its staying power by adapting to the online revolution. Transforming radio waves into bits, radio stations far and wide are carving out a niche on the Net. The sounds echoing across these sites may not be quite up to broadcast standards, but they do stretch the boundaries of a medium still dominated by text and graphics.

Radio surfers need to first download Real Audio, software that turns bits back into sound. While you're in the Real Audio homepage, check out the story on the World Wide Web that ran on National Public Radio's All Things Considered. You'll be able to hear the recorded broadcast on your Mac or PC. National Public Radio has its own Web site featuring audio recordings of breaking news stories, transcripts, and listings of NPR affiliates across the country.

Several radio sites focus exclusively on the digital revolution. RadioNet, a regular program from Santa Cruz, California's KSCO AM, covers computer technology and trends, telecom policy, and privacy issues. On the east coast, PSEUDO! Online Radio, a show from WEVD AM in New York City, delivers a mix of industry news, analysis, and multimedia celeb interviews with guests like ECHO's Stacy Horn and cyberpunk novelist William Gibson. This show, which skates a fine line between poseur hip and delirious geekdom, is particularly interesting because it is interactive.

Smaller independent and alternative radio networks also have a presence on the Net, although often without the ear candy offered by larger services. Via Gopher, Pacifica Radio, the progressive national radio news network, makes available transcripts on a range of topics, including the communications revolution. Pirate radio, the clandestine do-it-yourself broadcasting movement, has also infiltrated the online community, where newsgroups like are at the ready for tech tips and war stories. One of the most unusual sites we found was the Radio First Termer Home Page, a 'pirate radio station that operated in South Vietnam circa 1971.' According to the host, the recorded broadcasts archived here provided an 'irreverent alternative' to Armed Forces Radio, but beware: listener discretion is advised.

Want to know if your favorite radio station is online? MIT's list of radio stations on the Net features links to over 500 stations that run the gamut of formats, from music (rock, classical, jazz, alternative, country) to news and public affairs to international broadcasting.