Friday, March 7, 2008

Separating the Wheat from the Chaff, Part 1

The internet has grown so vast, so fast, that it is hard to comprehend. I was in on personal computers pretty early, cutting my teeth on an original IBM desktop (with two 5 ¼ inch floppy drives and NO hard drive) and various Tandy TRS-80’s (sold by Radio Shack in the late 1970s). I was adept with these early machines, writing batch files (.bat) for my friends and co-workers; developing menus to help them find their way around from the C:\ (or “C” prompt).

( a TRS-80, series one)

Early internet connectivity was, for me and most folks, a slow affair suitable for typing plain text on a BBS, or bulletin board. When I replaced my 300 baud modem with a new 1200 baud unit (yes, that’s 1.2K) I was amazed at my new speed.
(an AT&T modem, circa 1956. OK, this was before my time)


I didn’t mean to begin authoring a missive on the history of personal computers and the internet. Where I meant to go was to the internet today and the absolutely astounding amount of information and enjoyment available. I think, for example, of something my kids probably take for granted – multiple encyclopedia sites, dictionary sites, and the like. Nearly every home had a set of Encyclopedia Britannica’s when I was growing up. I suspect very few do now. All 26 volumes now fit on a single cd; or more significantly, on a continuously evolving, adapting, and growing on line version such as Wikipedia.

So, maybe what I’d do in my next few posts is to share a couple of my favorite places to go on the world wide web. Maybe you’ll find someplace new you like as well.

First: music. There are literally thousands of internet radio stations to listen to, providing virtually any format you can imagine. Some are rebroadcasts of terrestrial radio (regular AM or FM stations), but many are designed exclusively for internet broadcast. These latter stations may be simply replaying the contents of someone’s music folder, while others have disk jockeys, personalities and even commercials.

My absolute favorite example of a successful internet radio station is Martini in the Morning, owned by the Standard Media Group, and run by Brad “Martini” Chambers. If you tried to pigeonhole the format, I guess you might call it Adult Contemporary, but it’s really about the Great American Songbook – performed by classic artists such as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Ella Fitzgerald, and Judy Garland; and contemporary artists like Michael Buble, Harry Connick Jr., and Diana Krall.

This music is really enjoying a comeback – and while smaller radio markets cannot support such a station, the internet, with no signal boundaries, can.

I’ve been listening for most of year now – it plays on my office computer all day, and often at home on the weekend. Brad is pretty cagey about the number of listeners, but I’ve seen well over 700 just on Shoutcast alone.

So, check it out! Brad is live on the air several hours during the day, with the morning show co-hosted by the delightful Michelle. I enjoy it enough to have 'joined', and become a Lounge Lizard in Exile. Strange to join a radio station you can hear for free? Tell that to the millions of listeners who support their local National Public Radio station!

Click here to go to their website, and click in the box in the upper right hand corner to listen live. Or simply click here to open the site's player in a new window.If you have Winamp, search for Martini in the Shoutcast Radio section. You can also download Winamp here.