The RadioShark

I've been using my RadioShark for a few months now to listen to the radio at work. I can't stream radio at work due to bandwidth issues, nor can I get any stations through the 4 foot thick concrete walls that enclose the tomb I call my library.

Just in case you're unfamiliar with the power of the RadioShark, here's a 3 word summery: TiVo for Radio. It's a small white thing that looks like a glowing shark fin that plugs into my computer via a USB port. The hardware has a radio built in, and records to .wma files on my computer. The software allows me to record programs whenever they might be in the air here in the WNY area. The hardware looks quite nice, but has only a marginally functional antenna. Something in my house also interferes with it a few hours a week, and I have yet to track it down. I suspect something in the kitchen. The software is rather buggy and poorly designed, but luckily it doesn't require much regular work. The other downside is my computer must be on all the time. But none of that really matters, because I can finally listen to the radio at work! I can also listen to radio shows I'd never be able to listen to without the recordings.

I'm lucky here in Western New York because I'm also able to record most of the stations from Southern Ontario & Toronto as well. This means I keep finding new shows to add, and I'm having problems figuring out what to remove. I've managed to find nearly 14 hours worth of programming each weekday and another 12 or so on the weekend, and unfortunately I can only fit in 2 hours a day of half-listening a day at work (if I'm lucky) now, which means the files are really piling up. I have a USB flash drive that makes transporting my radio shows easy. I can squeeze in far more radio into my schedule that I could any other way.

The regular weekday shows I'm currently recording include To The Point, On Point, NBR, Market Place, Mid-Day Forum, Day To Day, Rush Limbaugh, Don & Mike, Ed Schultz, As It Happens, Coast To Coast AM. When there's no talk radio recording I also have a couple hours of music so I can see what's new on the music front. There's a few other shows I fit in a few times a week and several that are on once a week, usually on the weekend like This American Life and The Splendid Table.

We get a few of the Air America folks here now, and I had them on the record list for a few weeks but I gave up. I can't listen to Al Franken. He's completely talent-less hack as a DJ, and while he had some interesting guests, he's an even worse interviewer. It's actually painful for me to listen to all his constant "uuuhhhmm, uuuuhhhh" and stuttering all the time. The first time I listened I thought maybe I caught him on a bad day, but no, he's always like that. I'm truly amazed that anyone thought he would make a good Limbaugh antidote. Speaking of Rush, I hadn't listened in years, and now I can see why. Rush Limbaugh is a truly awful human being, a reprehensible, disgusting, brain dead, junky. Ed Shultz is about the only political dude I can stand listening to more than a few minutes a week. He seems to cover some original things regularly. But, I'm not really listening for narrow political view points, but rather looking to learn more about as many different things I can soak up in the limited time I have to pay attention. Most of the time it's just good to have some background noise in an otherwise silent library. I can also listen at home while I'm doing my LISHost work in the evening.

Picking my favorites, I think On Point stands out quite a bit. Tom Ashbrook is a fantastic interviewer and a few times a month he has fantastic topics and he really seems to know his stuff. I've been listening to Don & Mike for well over a decade now, and they still make me laugh. They've come and gone a few times in the WNY area market, and now they're on a southern Ontario station. They're probably an acquired taste, but they keep me entertained. Ed Schultz is the only political talk show that is listenable for more than a few minutes. Coast To Coast AM has a good topic about once a week, there's nothing like a good Bigfoot or conspiracy theory story to distract me from a mind numbing task. Did you know the Earth is hollow? Me neither. I also really enjoy As It Happens for the Canadian perspective. They ran an interview with Musharf the other day that was over 20 minutes long. They seem to be able to spend more time on a single subject than anyone else on the radio. Marketplace and NBR are good for the business angle, and This American Life has a story that blows me away about once a month. Unfortunately they also have David Sedaris with yet another story I find pointless and boring about once a month as well. I just don't get him. The Splendid Table helps me with my cooking and Zorba Pastor reminds me I need to cook foods that are better for me as well.

I'm probably able to listen to compress about 10 hours of radio into 2 hours each day and I feel like I'm really in touch with what's going on in the world. Bigfoot, UFOs, Canadian Politics, The Middle East, Balsamic Vinegar and just about everything in between, I've got it covered, thanks to my RadioShark.


Does this thing handle shortwave? Local radio is not so hot. Radio Australia and Radio New Zealand International are.

Can it work with MacOSX on a fairly new MacBook?

You have piqued my curiosity at my Pacific outpost...

From what I hear the Mac interface is much nicer, so yes, it'll work, but I don't see that'll it will handle shortwave, unfortunatly.

How's things on the other side of the planet?

Outside last week's earthquake...simply frustrating...

Alas, nothing on local broadcast bands is considered worth recording. A downconverter might help, I suppose though. That's getting into building hardware, though...