2015-03-18 / Columns

There’s good news—and bad—about recording streaming Internet radio

COMPUSCHMOOZE
STEVE LUBETKIN

Near the dawn of the streaming Internet radio station era, I stumbled onto a program that served me well for about eight years, a long time in technology terms. It was called WebRadio Recorder, from a German company called Magix. It allowed you to record a streaming radio station by choosing it from a database of thousands of stations. I wrote about WebRadio Recorder in August 2007 (http://bit.ly/1C2ZO95).

The program was great for recording “air checks,” the recordings of radio shows that broadcasters use to document their on-air work. When my friends and clients did interviews with far-off radio stations, it was great to be able to record the program for them. But all good things come to an end, and when I recently tried to reinstall the program on a new computer, I discovered that Windows 7 and 8 don’t support the eightyear old program, and Magix has no intention of updating it.

The solution was only a few clicks away, in a Google search for streaming recorder solutions. I found a program called RarmaRadio.

There are literally thousands of programs that will record streaming audio, but only a few allow you to schedule the recording, like a DVR. This is especially useful if you are trying to record a program being broadcast in the middle of the night and you don’t want to stay up for it. With RarmaRadio’s paid version ($29) you can program a start and stop time—and you can even record multiple streams at the same time, an enhancement I haven’t used yet. The program will also let you record individual songs from streaming radio stations, and also records streaming video programs.

Stations are organized by genre and region, and you can mark stations as favorites or add them to a collection of presets (like push-buttons on an old-style car radio). The program also keeps track of listening sessions and the history of stations selected. There is also a feature for adding radio or TV stations of your own choice. You can designate the folder where you want to save recordings.

It’s more fun than the shortwave radios we used to have when I was a kid, trying to tune in distant stations around the world. Now you have thousands of stations at your fingertips, so if you want to listen to news from Australia, or Al Jazeera in Arabic, you can do it, and the sound quality doesn’t suffer a bit.

That’s the good news. Now here’s the bad news.

If you are not technologically adept, the biggest downside of the program is that the installer package changes your search engine to a site called StartSearch. This is a no-no among reputable software companies.

Software that doesn’t behave according to the rules, like taking over your search settings without permission, is why StartSearch is widely regarded as malware. Even if you choose NOT to install the search engine during startup, by unchecking a box, it ignores you and installs it anyway. You can remove it with the Malwarebytes malicious software removal tool, but you shouldn’t have to. The bad judgment by RarmaRadio’s creators to include this annoying software with their program will certainly keep many people from installing it.

Do you have questions about computer technology? Write to me at steve@compuschmooze.com. .

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