How to Listen to Radio
Radio has become much more accessible since the advent of the internet. Traditional radio stations are broadcast over the "airwaves" and need a receiver, your good old radio set, whereas internet radio needs an internet connection and a connected device with speakers to play it on, such as a laptop computer or a smartphone. Whilst many of the traditional Medium Wave and FM stations are still broadcasting many now also broadcast via DAB - Digital Audio Broadcasting. There are now a number of ways you can tune-in to radio stations, and even though the quality of reception you can get will vary, whichever way you do it, there are likely to be plenty of stations available for you to listen to.
Desktop & Laptop Computers
Accessing radio stations over the internet via your desktop or laptop computer gives you access to a huge choice of stations from all over the world. In most cases this means listening via your web browser software with a suitable media player plugin installed. Two of the most common media players are Windows Media Player and Apple's Quicktime player. Many computers now come with these pre-installed, but if not use the links below to access free downloads of the most popular media players.
With one or more of these players installed then for virtually all of the radio stations that you can access through this website you will able to listen online, look out for their "Listen Live" link. If you don't have the necessary media player installed you will usually get an error message to tell you which one is required. Make sure that your speakers are connected and that the volume is turned up!
Listen via DAB Radios
DAB broadcasting is set to replace the traditional FM frequency at some point in the future, probably within the next few years. Whilst DAB radios are potentially able to give us access to many more stations than FM, this will depend upon where you live. Because DAB is digital the signal is able to transmit useful additional data such as the name of the song and the station in use, which can then be displayed on your radio's LED display. Whilst most of the time the audio is very clear, there have been concerns about the quality of DAB radio, since radio stations tend to use compression methods to reduce the size of the signal that's broadcast. Quality can also be impacted by interferance based where you position your radio in your home, so experiment a bit if you're having problems.
DAB+, the next generation, has been introduced in recent years and is able to offer improved quality, but the UK has not committed to using this as yet, so it's still a long way off.
If you're looking to buy a new radio set then most now include access to DAB radio, many go one better and are DAB+ compatible, meaning that if DAB+ does become available to the UK then you'll be able to take advantage of it without buying another radio. There are many models of DAB radio available to the UK, but the more popular brands such as Pure and Roberts are DAB+ compatible; just check the specification before buying.
Mobile Phones & Tablets
Many radio stations provide free apps for downloading to allow you to listen on your smartphone or tablet devices. You'll need to visit the station and look out for the relevant download link. You'll probably need to use headphones to listen to it though as most of these devices have very poor built-in speakers and background noise will be a problem, not to mention those around you!
Mobile phones increasingly are being shipped with FM radio receivers built-in and often it will only work with earphones plugged in as they double-up as an aerial. These receivers are able to work independently of the internet, saving your data allowance, but currently some phone providers do not enable them so internet streaming is your only option.
Listen on TV
Since TV became digital it has also been possible to tune in to radio stations via your TV remote control. Most of the more popular stations can be found there as well as some you'll not have discovered as yet. They are found grouped together on TV channels that you may not have visited before, so grab your remote and have a search around. Freeview currently offers 25 radio stations, if you're not sure about finding your favourites then visit the station website and see if they list a TV channel they broadcast on. For example BBC Radio 1 is on Freeview channel 700. Radio stations can also be accessed on Sky TV, Freesat and Virgin Media.
Listen via Podcast
Some radio stations provide a podcast feed which you can either subscribe to and receive it as soon as it becomes available, or download it when you wish as a live feed. The device that you listen on will need to have a podcast player installed, many do, but you may need to download and install a separate piece of podcast software. If you download a podcast file it can be listened too without an internet connection, and can also be transferred to another device. You can unsubscribe at any time if you no longer want to receive the podcast.