Radium: The Simple Menu Bar Radio

Radium’s grown up a lot since we first reviewed it, so be sure to check out our review of Radium 3, the latest version, as well!

I’m a bit of a BBC Radio 4 and World Service addict. We have a couple of digital radios in the house, and with the UK’s Freeview television network, it’s easy to listen to a number of digital stations via your TV. When I’m on the road away from any of my radios, and have access to a wireless network, I’ve used Phantom Gorilla’s unofficial BBC Radio Widget to get my fix.

That all looks likely to change, now that Radium has arrived. Read on for a walk-through of a simple and effective radio app that makes it very easy to tune in to your favourite stations – and discover hundreds of new ones – on your Mac.

Getting Started

When you first run Radium, it’ll show up as a radio icon in your menu bar:

Launching Radium

Launching Radium

Here’s a larger image of Radium’s main window:

The Main Window

The Main Window

As you can see, you start out with three different ways to add stations. The simplest option is to choose ‘Add All Channels’ and let Radium add the full list of stations it comes preloaded with.

If you instead chose to ‘Add Channels Manually…’, you could select particular stations to add from the list of those available. If you opted for the full list, it’s easy to exclude stations later by using the ‘Radio Networks’ tab in the app’s Preferences… – just hit [ctrl]+[cmd]+[,]:

Adding Channels/Stations

Adding Channels/Stations

Listening

You can use Radium’s Spotlight-like interface to search for any particular station you might want to listen to, or to filter the list by parts of a station’s name, genre, or the region it’s broadcast from. So for me to see which BBC stations are available, I just need to type ‘BBC’ and I have a narrowed-down list to choose from:

Searching

Searching

You then click on the station you want to hear, and that’s it: so long as the station’s currently broadcasting, Radium will tune in and you’re set.

There’s an option available from the gear icon alongside the search bar that lets you opt for the highest quality (and so highest bandwidth) stream available.

Those stars alongside the station titles work just like starred items in Google Mail or Firefox or Chrome’s Bookmarks/Favourites – just click in the stars next to any stations you want added to your Favourites. Clicking on the bigger star beside the search bar then filters the list down to just your favourites.

If you have Growl installed and you’re listening to music radio, you’ll see a popup with the details of the currently playing track as you tune in, and as new songs start. You can also see what song’s playing in the main app window.

Growl Notifications

Growl Notifications

Radium supports a number of Keyboard Shortcuts – from opening and closing the app window to switching between stations and even purchasing the currently playing song on iTunes, so you can keep your fingers on the keyboard and work with few distractions.

That’s really all you need to know about using Radium: it’s that easy. But there’s a whole lot of fun to be had by spending some time just playing around with the range of stations available. Take some time to search for some obscure station you’ve heard of – or tune in to the ‘Bollywood Music & Beyond’ of Bombay Beats India, or Russkoe Radio Online’s Russian Top Tens.

There’s a full list of stations available on the developers’ website, and they invite users to get in touch to pass on details of any they’ve missed.

Conclusion

There are some things I would like to see added to Radium – like some simple time-shifting and basic recording features. I know there are other apps I could use for these functions: Rogue Amoeba’s Radioshift, for instance, is a much more full-featured app, allowing recording live radio and subscribing to series of programmes. Unfortunately it’s heavier on resources, and exactly twice the price of Radium.

As a simple radio player, Radium’s pretty hard to beat; for casual, occasional listening, I’m pretty sure to choose to use it rather than either Radioshift or the widget I’d used before.


Summary

Radium allows you to listen to thousands of radio stations from around the world, right from your OS X menu bar. It's simple, functional, and an absolutely fantastic way to listen to the radio on your Mac!

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  • John

    I heartily recommend you try FStream before spending $16 on Radium, even though it looks like a great app.

    FStream is free and lightweight. It also offers basic time-shifting and recording.

    Most importantly for me it also has an equalizer which makes the often tinny streams of Internet radio sound much, much better.

    It is slightly more work to add custom/favourite radio streams but that is done once only.

    http://www.sourcemac.com/?page=fstream&lang=en

    Just to note, I am not the developer.

    • http://www.catpigstudios.com/radium/ CatPig Team

      Hi!

      The next version of Radium will have automatic volume normalizations, so that tinny streams will automatically sound better. And more stuff, too! =D

      CatPig Team.

      • John

        Normalization is not quite the same as equalization, I would urge you to consider offering a manual range of adjustments too!

        Thanks for the reply though, nice to hear from you.

      • Jay

        i love this App. Work nice & easy.
        And it would be great if Radium support more radio stations in Thailand.

    • http://www.catpigstudios.com/radium/ CatPig Team

      What kinds of adjustments did you have in mind? We’d love to open a line of communication here, so please feel free to email us with more details.

      CatPig Team.

      • John

        Will do. Without wanting of course for you to be influenced overly by another app as you do your own great work, do take a look at FStream. I have tried Radium today and just can’t get it to sound as nice. By playing with the equalizer you can really mitigate hiss and echo/tinniness.

        Also, I can’t help thinking that $16 for a pure listening/menubar app is a little steep. That’s half the price of SnowTape, which is a heavier app but offers some killer features like Airport Express streaming, and has a lickable interface.

        I hope you don’t take offense – this is intended to be constructive criticism. I still haven’t found the perfect radio app!

    • http://www.catpigstudios.com/radium/ CatPig Team

      Which particular stations did you find to have poor sound quality?

  • http://muppjavel.webs.com Robin Lundgren

    Personally I hate radio, but a great app for all them radio listeners!

  • everlast34

    The support for this app by dev is absolutely incredible.
    I bought it, had a few problems, and shot them some support tickets.
    They responded near instantly every time.
    Plus, the app is fantastic.
    If you listen to Interent radio, this app rocks.

  • toyid

    Doesn’t work when you’re behind a proxy like most menu bar apps. Oh well.

  • Mike

    I would totally buy this in a heartbeat if I could set it up to record audio streams for me TiVo style.

    In a perfect world, I would be able to set this app up to record multiple shows (on BBC radio 1 specifically) then record them and dump them in a playlist I define inside iTunes so I could sync it with my iPod/iPhone. Even better would be if there was a small helper application that would open the application if I had it closed so I wouldn’t miss recordings. Either way this is a great start guys!

  • http://www.rusiczki.net Janos

    Hey, it looks I’m the only one here *not* wanting recording abilities for Radium. I prefer my app lightweight – just the way it is now. If you want recording and the whole shebang go for Snowtape.

    I will emphasize the fact that support for this app is excellent. My e-mail got a response almost instantly.

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  • http://www.airlinetickets.org/ click here

    I’m not much of a radio person either, I usually just click on the television and that’s enough for me. Seems pretty cool though, reminds me of the aol side bar feature that had a radio on it.

  • Camilo Hoyos

    There is a well designed and bit cheaper alternative available: miniRadio. http://janten.com/radio/

  • chris

    its annoying that i just paid for this app, and you dont have the station i want most? i dont understand, and there is no way to get a url for the station because they run it through some annoying flahs thing called liquid compass..
    any help????
    99.9 the fan is the station
    http://www.wralsportsfan.com/999thefan/

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  • WPHead

    Love radium! :) Use it to listen to BBC Radio 1 and Ministry of Sound :)

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  • Bran

    I love Radium interface, it’s one of those apps that I just would love to have because they are so thoughtfully designed, however I don’t want to use an app without a good reason. So I ask, what functionality do you find in Radium that can not already get from iTunes?

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  • Mike

    $16? Seriously? I give me shout when it’s $5

  • Mike

    What? $25? You guys are crazy…

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  • SaxnFlutman

    I like it as a radio, but sure wish it was capable of recording. I listen to a good deal of talk shows, and can’t always listen to each entire show. I too, wonder, other than perhaps more stations, why iTunes wouldn’t be just as good, & free, to use…

  • SaxnFlutman

    When I open the program I see no “Welcome to Radium” with the option to load all the stations. Where is it?

  • WalterW

    World Radio Player is only 5 EUR instead of the ridiculous 22 EUR for Radium, and works excellent – probably just as well as Radium, which I haven’t tried, indeed because it was way too expensive. One great thing about WRP is that all radiostations’ stream adresses can be manually edited in case they are changed by the stations themselves. Plus WRP lets you choose your own list of Favorite stations AND edit that list. Perhaps Radium matches that – but only at 4+ times the price of WRP.

    I’ve tried MiniRadio as well, which someone mentioned above. That was a complete waste of my money, as its implementation of Favorites was as bad as I have ever seen – couldn’t edit the list…!

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