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.
When you first run Radium, it’ll show up as a radio icon in your menu bar:
Here’s a larger image of Radium’s 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]+[,]:
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:
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.
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.
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.