Dennis BeaverAugust 14, 2020 • By Dennis Beaver

Today’s story will be of special interest to anyone who is tired of so many news broadcasts that are politically biased and want a different–and possibly more objective–view of the news from sources outside of the United States.

But more than that, college students who are studying foreign language but are stuck with remote learning and want real exposure to the language will find an answer to their needs, or music lovers who want to hear FM quality broadcasts from all over the world. And not to forget voices from home as just about any city that has a radio station is also streaming online.

I am talking about Internet Radio–that might even look like a clock radio–and if you have not heard of it, but are a radio fan, then there is literally a world out there of news, information, music and entertainment easily within reach.

For older readers, I’ll bet what just came to mind was shortwave radio, and that’s a good comparison. Before radio was streamed over the net–beginning in the early 1990’s–the only way to listen to foreign broadcasts was by shortwave, and clear reception depended on undependable sun spot activity. Today, shortwave is mostly a thing of the past.

Now, with an internet connection, Ethernet cable or Wi-Fi, and with the right radio, you will have access to over 100,000 internet radio stations.

Do your homework 

But shopping for an internet radio–and not winding up disappointed–requires doing your homework, as I learned from Greg Fadul, CEO and co-founder of San Diego-based Grace Digital Corporation. His company holds a commanding 75% of the U.S. market for internet radios and related products.

“There are literally dozens of manufacturers of table-top and portable internet radios, but many of them are using outdated software that is not supported.  And support is key to a purchase that will enable you to get all that internet radio is capable of delivering, today and into the future,” he points out, adding:

“Most companies are selling android-based, inexpensive products that have a 5 or ten year old operating system.  They buy modules from PC companies that are end of life or old. So customers are often getting second or third levels of quality with very old software that is not updatable.”

“Outdated software? Support issues?” you might be thinking. “What connection does this have to a radio?”

In researching this story, I was amazed at just how difficult it can be to find a good internet radio that does what its advertising claims, and so, just for a moment, let me draw a parallel between an internet radio and buying a new car, the key word here being “support.”

Poor support giveaways 

Could you imagine buying a new car only to discover that it used ten year old technology that was not capable of being updated?

But from several complaints from readers, that is the trap waiting for buyers of certain internet radios that I have seen advertised on Amazon.  As Fadul explained, here is the problem:

“Unlike an AM/FM radio–such as your car’s radio–which typically has two radio bands and stations that do not change their broadcasting frequency–an internet radio is dependent upon being able to find an accurate URL, which is the web address that specifies a broadcaster’s location on a computer network.

“Internet radio stations are known for changing their URL’s, and so if the company you purchase your radio from does not continuously support the product with a current data base, its functionality is greatly limited. Companies such as ours have teams that are constantly looking for dead URL’s or stations that have changed their internet address and we make that update available at no cost to our customers.

“Also, credible manufacturers work with ‘Aggregators’ who scan the net, looking for who is broadcasting, and making their URL available to us and the general public.

How to shop

So, how do you shop for an internet radio? Fadul has these recommendations:

(1) Look at the ads carefully. If a radio claims to receive 20,000 stations, it is likely not
able to give you current and accurate URL’s as there are over 100,000 stations online.

(2) Look at the star ratings from verified purchases and pay particular attention to those that are negative.

(3) Read the comments carefully. Look for quality.

Finally, purchase with a credit card so that if you get a lemon, and the seller will not take it back, you will have the right to contest the charge.

Dennis Beaver practices law in Bakersfield and enjoys hearing from his readers. Contact Dennis Beaver.