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for May 17, 2004

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Patching The Hole When Your Heart Gets Ripped Out
by Sean Carolan

So, you're one of the poor souls who've recently lost a local radio station that was the iconoclastic soundtrack to your life up until evil greedy corporate radio bosses (who break into nunneries to eat kittens, I might add) took control and started playing Hoobastank. "Internet radio doesn't work for me", you say, "because I've got a job and a family and responsibilities, and I can't vegetate in front of the computer listening to Internet radio. The only chance I get to listen to music is while I commute to work."
You wouldn't believe how important that commute time is. I use it to stay ahead of the curve by taping some of the web radio available on the open Internet and listening to them during the commute. It's really such a simple idea that I'm surprised more people don't do it, so I've helpfully provided some tips below, along with some links to products at Amazon (Full disclosure: I get a kickback on those links, so feel free to send 'em to your friends...) Without much further adieu, here's how I handle it...
If you don't have a cassette deck that you can attach to the line-out jack on your computer, get one - they're mighty cheap nowadays. Auto-reverse is a must; you want to be able to kick off a recording and walk away. I notice it's hard to find a non-dual deck at Best Buy these days, probably because the demand for single-well cassette decks no longer justifies the cost to manufacture and warehouse them. Still, even the best is only around $150, so you've got a bit of leeway. ( has a fairly well-reviewed deck by Teac for $80 or so lurking behind this link.)
If your car doesn't have a cassette player, get one. A new car radio is a bit more expensive, not to mention an installation hassle, so if that's not an option, get a cheap Walkman and a wireless transmitter you can plug into its headphone jack. (They're at Radio Shack; has the iRock Wireless Music Adapter as well.) That way, you can use your radio to listen to the Walkman, rather than headphones. A boom-box is a bad idea; it's more prone to sliding off the seat when you stop the car. Still, Home Depot sells some very nice velcro straps...
Get some cassettes, too. No need to use expensive tape, 'cause you'll likely be recording 56k streams and the extra frequency range on more expensive tapes will just go to waste, plus you're just going to keep recording over the cassettes you use. I'd suggest buying about eight of them, preferably C-120's (TDK's D120 cassettes are, strangely enough, the only 120 minute cassettes I can find these days. sells them for $9.99 per box of ten.)
Once you're set up, all you have to do is make it a habit to kick off a tape at least once every day. Do it whenever you know that you won't be spending the next couple of hours in front of the computer. Once you kick off the tape and walk away, do what you like - make (and/or eat) dinner, give the kids a bath (or if they're older, convince them to go take one), spend quality time with the family and the significant other of your choice. In the morning, grab the cassette before you head out the door, and you'll not just be listening to something interesting, it'll be something you never heard before - miles better than filling a multi-disc player with music from your own collection.
In fact, if you pick your streams correctly, you'll be even more ahead of the curve. Remember, your recently deceased station's programmers had to hear about the music that they played somewhere...

©2004 Sean Carolan

All material ©2001-2014 Sean Carolan, except as noted.


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