Art Bell. . . What the heck is he doing? He is going back on air July 20th, 2015!

Midnight in the Desert Art BellArt Bell will be broadcasting on Internet radio, shortwave and even some regular radio stations! What a wonderful unorthodox blend! He is dramatically reducing the number of commercial breaks so it will be very interesting how this meshes with a traditional broadcast station. Keep up with latest news and station list at Artbell.com.

Where can I hear him? Most people may already have their favorite way to listen but if not here are some tips:

The inherent streaming quality of Art’s stereo broadcast is high. You can listen on a phone, tablet, Internet radio, Shortwave or perhaps even a local station. Shortwave station WTWW at 5085 KHz puts out a powerful signal so those beyond any services can hear him. The small CC Skywave radio with 10′ of wire attached to the whip antenna works excellent along with our larger CCRadio-SW.

You can also listen to Dark Matter Digital Network on the CC WiFi Radio or the CC WiFi 2 Radio (available in classic black or gorgeous cherry wood finish).

How can I make Art’s audio stream sound great on a tablet or smartphone?

Speakers:

  • The Senta Ally Stereo Speaker can use Bluetooth or a patch cord from your smart phone. Audio on the Ally is particularly accurate and full for voice. Our price and the fact that it is portable make it a great value.
  • My “spoiled brat-best way” to listen in bed is a tablet directly connected to my CCRadio-2E for impeccable voice rendition. We offer a 1/8″ stereo 3′ heavy duty patch cord that works well for this and other similar devices.

Headphones:

  • If you have a tendency to mangle and destroy headphones you should try our low cost Voz. Many people think they are the finest for voice.
  • For audio connoisseurs check out the Senta-40 at a price that defies the quality.

Earbuds:

  • The Voz Earbuds are inexpensive but normally better than what you may have received with your smartphone.
  • Art Bell’s Hot Pick: The highly rated Voz-P Premium Wooden Earbuds are his favorite.
  • The CC Buds are a new invention of C. Crane that are tuned for voice but also accurate for music without heavy bass.

Tips for Extending WiFi Reception:

Crane has always specialized in long range reception and WiFi is no exception!

Art Bell is on 9-12 PM Pacific Time but you may not have good WiFi reception where you like to listen. There are inexpensive repeaters you can find that work very good for 30′ or more from your router. I particularly like Netgear’s wallplug repeater. But If you have a serious problem making an internet connection then C. Crane has some very powerful solutions to check out.

Good ‘Ole AM/FM Radio:

You can check out the station list on ArtBell.com and see if you can get any signal. The CCRadio-2E is probably the best radio for reception.

Art’s new show has all the signs of a great ride and the future is downright bright and mysterious at the same time. Please join the show!

If we can be of any help, please give us a call. That’s the job we love doing!

Why AM Listening is Better at Night

If you listen to AM radio stations at night that are just impossible to pick up during the day, chances are you’re benefiting from sky-wave propagation. Propagation is just the technical word for how radio signals travel through the air. Sky-wave propagation is the specific name given to radio waves that travel through the sky. Sky-wave propagation takes place between sunset and sunrise. It’s the flip side to the ground wave propagation used to transmit during the day.

During the day, ground wave propagation is preferable because the radiation from the sun causes so much ionization that radio signals sent into the air are absorbed into the atmosphere. When atoms in the D region of the ionosphere are ionized, you end up with free electrons and ions floating around in the air. It’s kind of like trying to walk through a room filled with dancing couples. When in pairs, there’s more room to walk through, but when they’re not paired, it’s easier to get stuck in a conversation with someone. That’s kind of how the ions and electrons in the D region work. When they’re not combined they look for something else to combine with and that’s how they absorb radio waves. At night, however, once the sun begins to set, the electrons and ions in the D region recombine rapidly – leaving more room for the radio waves to travel a little farther up. Above the D region, the F1 and F2 regions are also recombining, but much more slowly than the D region. When the radio waves hit those regions of the ionosphere, they have a chance to be reflected or bent (some prefer refracted) back toward the earth.

ccrane

What that means for AM radio listeners is that they’ve experienced the remarkable ability of AM radio signals to travel hundreds of miles farther than during the day. Listening to AM, and scanning the AM dial between sunrise and sunset is a fun way to discover how far a sky-wave signal can travel to reach you. During the baseball season, you can use the sky-wave to tune in some night games played in different parts of the country. In Northern California (where C. Crane is based), as in other places around the country (even up into Alaska), people use the sky-wave to listen to stations like KGO which is a 50,000 watt station located in San Francisco. If a signal reflects off the ionosphere and then bounces off the earth and then reflects off the ionosphere again, it can travel even farther than with just a single reflection. So, as you can see, sky-wave propagation makes it possible to tune in stations that you might not even know about when tuning your radio during the day.

If you ever come across a DX website, or even a shortwave radio website, where someone is really happy about intense solar activity (or lots of sun spots), it’s because more ionization during the day makes for better sky-wave propagation during the night.

If you want to make the most of sky-wave propagation, we’d suggest the CCRadio-2E and if you’re into shortwave, our CCRadio-SW is also an excellent choice. Since these radios have fine tuning capabilities, thanks to the built-in Twin Coil Ferrite® AM Antenna, you may be able to find a new station almost every night. A smaller version that works great for portability would be the CC Skywave. It’s a lot more fun than you might realize, with something as simple as a radio. Here’s a sample personal station log you can use to keep track of what you hear.

We’d love to hear how far away you’ve received an AM signal from its source, and on what radio!

Happy DXing

Gift Guide for Dads and Grads

giftguidedadsandgradsShopping is supposed to be fun, but when it comes time for Father’s Day or Graduation Day, we know even the most savvy shoppers are often left wondering “What the heck do I buy this person?” C. Crane is here to give you some suggestions for the man in your life who might seem to have everything or the graduate who seems to need everything. 

Ideas for Dad

CC Skywave – Great for the traveler. It’s small and portable, with excellent overall performance, an intuitive layout and great sound for the size. Easy to stash in a carry on or take to the ball game. Covers AM, FM, Shortwave, Weather (with weather alert) and Aviation Band.

CCRadio-EP – Perfect for when less is more. Larger radio with a flip up handle. Analog tuning dial, great AM and FM reception, clear sound from the large speaker with separate wide and narrow audio control. No clock to set or memories to program, just turn it on, tune the dial and listen. External AM antenna jack.

CCRadio 2E – For the man who wants it all. The top of the line digital radio with extra bells and whistles. This is the best radio we have for AM Reception and it also has really good FM reception as well. Audio tuned for clear voice. 5 one touch memory presets per band, clock, alarm, sleep timer, programmable timer, separate bass and treble. Weather band with WX alert. External AM antenna jack. 2 Meter HAM band for emergency listening. 

CC Pocket – For the man on the go. Small, lightweight pocket radio with excellent reception for its size. Your dad can listen through earbuds or the built-in speaker. AM/FM and Weather with Alert.

Garden Noise Reduction Headphones and Radio Kit – For the man who does it all and wants to listen to his radio while he does! Kit includes the CC Pocket Radio above along with Noise Reduction Headphones and a made in the USA harness is also available to keep the radio in place while working around the house or weed eating in the yard.

Pillow Speaker – This may be more for your Mom :). Allows your dad to listen to his favorite radio show at a volume level that doesn’t disturb the whole house (sorry we can’t help with snoring).

Ideas for Graduates

Senta 40 Headphones – Awesome set of headphones that are a great value for the money. If your graduate is more interested in sound than in a brand name these are the right set of headphones for them.

VOZ Wooden Earbuds – A favorite among staff and their families. Great sound, comfortable to wear and the no tangle wires are such a relief.

Senta ALLY Portable Bluetooth Speaker – Great for listening to a favorite smartphone app using Bluetooth. Whether working out or sitting by the pool, it makes listening to any audio from a Bluetooth device so much better. Also works with SD cards, USB or direct line input. Bonus – it has a replaceable battery!

Super WiFi Repeater Kit – May come in handy in the apartment or dorm room. Allows you to pull distant WiFi signals into your computer, smartphone, tablet and more. The best part is there are no drivers to install!

If all else fails a gift certificate is pretty safe. Our C. Crane Amazon store has a lot of stuff and depending on your recipient, it may make more sense to give them one from there. Especially if they have a Prime Membership, they can take advantage of their Prime Shipping options if they are enrolled. 

No matter what you choose, we hope all of you have a fantastic Father’s Day!

For those of you with loved ones or acquaintances who are graduating – Congratulations! What a fantastic way to kick off summer. 

Wireless Audio Demystified

WirelessAudio-ThenNowWe’re living in a world full of contraptions that were once considered futuristic concepts. For audio lovers, this is a particularly exciting time. With the development of digital audio technologies, we’ve experienced incredible reductions in physical device sizes, while data storage capacities have increased greatly. More recently, wireless technologies have enabled audio to be transmitted from source to speakers without cables; however, many of us may be confused by the many wireless audio options that are available. This article will hopefully help clarify the differences among the various technologies and may serve well as a platform for further research.

Wireless Audio- The Basics

Despite many differences, all wireless audio systems share some common components: an audio source (this can be a Radio, a television, a stereo receiver, a smartphone, really anything that has an audio out or headphone jack), a transmitter, a receiver, and an audio amplifier. The audio source is the device that contains the audio signal. The transmitter receives the audio signal from the source and then transmits the signal wirelessly. The receiver picks up this wireless signal and passes it to the audio playback device which plays the signal back as audible sound.

WirelessAudio-SignalChainKeep in mind that wireless audio technologies deliver audio signals, not power, wirelessly. Depending on the design, wireless audio devices may be powered with batteries or with a power cable.

FM Transmitters

FM transmitters are great devices that serve a wide variety of applications. These devices are typically connected to the headphone jack (or audio output jack) of an audio source and are able to transmit the audio on vacant FM frequencies. These wireless FM broadcasts can then be received by any FM radio.

WirelessAudio-FMTransmitter

FM transmitters are very popular due to their ease of use and wide compatibility. The audio quality provided by FM transmitters is limited compared to other technologies. Top-notch FM transmitters may offer a frequency response of 30Hz to 15kHz. The operational range (i.e. broadcast distance) of FM transmitters varies. Some are low powered and will only transmit audio a few yards, while others may be able to transmit a signal 50 feet. The FCC places limits on the output power for these devices to prevent interference with licensed FM radio stations. The FCC output power limit is 250 Micro Volts at three Meters.

FM transmitters are often used to transmit audio from source devices like MP3 players, satellite radio receivers, etc. to car stereos, home theaters, or portable radios. Many times they can be found in gyms or fitness centers where they are used to transmit audio from televisions. People who are exercising simply tune their radios to the FM frequency listed below each T.V. to hear the audio. One point of confusion that often exists, is transmitting an AM signal over FM. The transmitter doesn’t “care” what is on the audio signal, it just uses the FM frequency band to send that signal to other devices on that same frequency.

One of the greatest benefits of FM transmitters is the fact that the transmitted audio signal may be received by any and all FM radios within range. As far as the radios are concerned, they are receiving an FM signal just like a normal FM radio station.

Bluetooth®

Bluetooth is a wireless technology that uses radio signals in the 2.4GHz band to transfer small amounts of data wirelessly over short distances. While Bluetooth can transmit various types of data, we will focus on its usefulness for wireless audio.

Many new mobile devices like tablets, smartphones, MP3 players (etc.), may already have Bluetooth communication technology built in. These devices are also capable of storing music or audio files, thus making them “audio source devices”. These Bluetooth devices may actually perform two functions of our wireless audio chain: the source and the transmitter. There are also Bluetooth transmitter devices which may be connected to the headphone jack of an audio source to transmit audio to a Bluetooth receiving device.

Bluetooth audio receivers are available in various forms. They may be devices which can be connected to input jacks on (non-Bluetooth) playback devices like home stereos, amplified speakers or headphones. Other times, they may be devices which are consolidations of Bluetooth audio receiver and playback device. These are typically stereos, amplified speakers, headphones, radios (etc.) which have integrated Bluetooth audio receivers.

WirelessAudio-Bluetooth

Providing 20Hz-20kHz frequency response, wireless Bluetooth audio offers better audio quality than FM transmitters. The operational range is about 30 feet with clear line of sight. A neat feature about Bluetooth is that because it can transmit data other than audio signals, it is possible for Bluetooth receiving devices to offer control of audio content such as fast-forwarding/rewinding, song skipping, pausing etc.

Most people familiar with Bluetooth may have seen the technology used in wireless earpieces for cell phone calls. (Some of us may just wonder why so many people seem to be talking to themselves nowadays.) Bluetooth is also used for mobile or home speakers systems. Since many new audio source devices (smartphones, MP3 players, tablets, etc.) feature Bluetooth technology, Bluetooth speakers offer a convenient and widely compatible way to playback audio without requiring special (proprietary) adapters, connectors, or docking mechanisms. This is one of the greatest strengths of Bluetooth technology in regards to audio. Due to the 30ft range of Bluetooth, audio products using this technology are typically optimized for single room (close range) environments.

WiFi

If you’re not familiar with the term “WiFi”, please click the link above to learn more. In regards to audio, WiFi offers the same provisions as Bluetooth, but the operational range is usually about 250 feet with clear line of sight. Compared to the mobile benefits of Bluetooth, WiFi is typically more of a home-based technology that is able to connect multiple devices together to form a network. This networking ability works out great for setting up wireless audio systems to serve entire buildings.

Many people may already have wireless networks in their homes. In these home WiFi networks, multiple computers, laptops, wireless printers, tablets, smartphones, etc. may all connect to a single WiFi router to share data between the devices. Music (or audio files) stored on one device may be shared via the WiFi network with the other connected devices.

WirelessAudio-WiFi-1

WiFi audio products follow the same basic signal chain as the other wireless audio technologies. WiFi audio source devices, WiFi audio transmitters, WiFi audio receivers, and WiFi audio playback devices are all available. Generally speaking, WiFi source devices are typically also transmitters. WiFi enabled playback devices (speakers etc.) are typically also receivers.

As with Bluetooth, there are also separate WiFi transmitter or receiver adapters which can be connected to external sources or playback devices.

WirelessAudio-WiFi-2

Proprietary

Some audio companies make wireless audio products which only work with other compatible products made by the same company. These wireless audio products are usually sold as transmitter and receiver kits. Often times, multiple receivers may be used to receive a wireless audio signal from a single transmitter or source. Products like these, which are only compatible with other products made by the same company, are considered “proprietary”. The benefit of proprietary products is convenience. Since the products are designed to work together, setting up and using the systems is typically an easy process.

Keep it Simple!

All of these mentioned wireless audio technologies provide great methods for sharing audio without requiring cables. No matter which type of wireless audio set up you’re considering, the easiest way to understand the system is to consider the signal chain.

WirelessAudio-SignalChain

Original article written for C. Crane by James Adams

Tips for Improving FM Reception

Tuning in an FM station isn’t the same as tuning in an AM station. That’s why, when you have a reception issue, the first thing you’re usually asked is “Which band or station are you trying to receive?”. FM transmissions are line-of-sight. That means that obstacles between you and the transmission you’re trying to receive can block the signal and leave you with poor reception on your radio. A hill, a coliseum, big buildings – all these things can get in the way of your FM reception and even leave you hearing the effects of multi-path interference. You get multipath interference when a signal meets an obstacle of some sort, such as a mountain. Depending on the broadcast strength, the signal might get absorbed or reflected by the mountain. Due to these issues your radio will end up with poor reception as the different paths taken by the reflected signal arrive at your receiver at different intervals.

Fortunately, multi-path interference usually happens when you’re in your car, so it tends to be pretty easy to overcome by finishing your drive around a city loop or the base of a mountain. Still, some people might experience all kinds of radio interference at home as well. That’s where a better antenna might do the trick.

Most portable radios have a whip or telescoping antenna that works fairly well when the radio is set close to a window and away from sources of significant interference. However, if you always have the whip antenna fully extended, you may not be getting the reception you’re expecting. Sometimes you’ll get better reception for a certain station when the whip antenna isn’t fully extended.

Occasionally, pulling in the cleanest signal is accomplished by trial and error. You can experiment by extending the antenna to different lengths and also pointing it in different directions (if the radio’s antenna is designed to rotate, of course).

yagi antennaIf playing around with the antenna or moving the radio around doesn’t improve your reception as much as you like, you may need to move toward a more powerful indoor or outdoor antenna. An outdoor unidirectional antenna, also known as a Yagi, is a powerful option. A Yagi looks like a rooftop TV antenna and is ideal for tuning in distant stations and for reducing multipath interference. By aiming the Yagi at the signal you want to capture, you can tune out most types of interference – be it from competing signals, buildings or a weak signal.

Another alternative in outdoor antennas is an omnidirectional FM antenna. Though omnidirectional antennas might not reduce interference as much as unidirectional antennas, their ability to pick up stations cleanly from all directions make them a good choice for overall reception.

If you don’t have access to the outside of your building, you might want to go for a good dipole antenna. These T-shaped antennas offer pretty decent reception indoors and are easy to hide if necessary. C. Crane carries the FM Reflect antenna.

There’s often confusion around how to connect an external FM antenna to a radio that doesn’t have external FM antenna jacks. We’ve created this diagram to give you an idea of what these jacks might look like.

Whichever antenna you choose, be sure you’ve tried some basic things first. Sometimes just switching to mono rather than stereo, or putting a portable radio in a different location, can improve reception. You might also be lucky enough to improve your reception by just attaching a simple wire to the external FM antenna jacks. If these quick and easy solutions don’t work for you, or if you can hear a signal in your car but not indoors, you may want to consider one of the antennas mentioned above.

We’d love to hear from you – tell us about your FM Antenna setup in our comments (homemade or purchased) and be entered to win a CCRadio-2E AM, FM, Weather and 2Meter Ham Band Portable Radio. Drawing will be held June 16th. Only one entry per person.

Congratulations to James Lawrence! He’s the winner of the CC Radio 2 E! Thanks for everyone’s participation. ~C. Crane Company

Can You Boost Your WiFi Signal?

wifilaptopwithwomanSeems like this would be a really easy question to answer, but there are so many variables and pieces to this puzzle that it can sometimes become overwhelming. We’re here to help you break it down and simplify the process.

You’ll want to answer a few questions to get you started on the right path:

  • What are you trying to accomplish?
    • Are you wanting to share internet with a neighbor?
    • Do you want your child to be able to stream movies in the WiFi devices in their room?
    • Do you want whole house WiFi access?
    • Access the RV Park signal that’s 300 feet away?
  • Where do you want the signal to go?
    • This relates to question one, but you’d be amazed at how many people don’t have the answer for this.
  • What do you want to connect?
    • You’ll need specifics, makes, models, number of devices.

These may seem like straight forward questions, but correctly and honestly answering them can save you hours of frustration by getting you the right solution the first time. Below is a guide you can print out and use for reference when talking to anyone about possible WiFi solutions:

  • Do you have WiFi already? (This is a service that is often set up when you get broadband internet, possibly by your cable or cellular phone provider).
    • (This is a service that is often set up when you get broadband internet, possibly by your cable or cellular phone provider).
      • If Yes, what kind of router do you have? The make and model and knowing whether it has removable antennas or not can help you make an informed decision.
        • Some common brands are D-Link, NetGear and Linksys.
      • If No, how do you plan to access WiFi? Are you using public WiFi (like something at an RV park, coffee shop or hotel). You will not want to purchase any kind of accessory until you know how you are going to connect to WiFi
        • If you plan to use public WiFi there are several nuances you may encounter, we will save those for a different article.
  • Now that you know what router or WiFi access you have, where is it located in relation to where you’re trying to receive the signal? If the location is your house or office a rough diagram will help, especially with approximate distances. Is it 100 feet away through 4 walls and a refrigerator? Is it in the middle of your home but you’re trying to receive in the garage or the mother-in-law cottage next door which is 300 feet away? The more details you have about how far away and what’s in the way (walls, trees, levels of your home etc.) the better the solution will be. If it’s the coffee shop signal you want receiving may be more difficult.
  • The most important part is – what do you want to connect? The reason this is important is some devices like laptops can install drivers. Other devices like tablets, smartphones and gaming systems can’t. Those that cannot eliminate several possibilities for boosting WiFi. If you are planning on using the solution with a laptop, you will also need to know what operating system and version (this would be Windows 7 or MAC OS 9). If you want to connect multiple devices that narrows the solution options significantly.
    • Keep in mind that devices are only tested for operating systems that are currently available at the time the device is created. Sometimes drivers can be updated to work with new operating systems. Sometimes no updates are needed but other times major changes make older devices incompatible with new operating systems. Please be cautious when upgrading operating systems.

Now that you know the details, you can begin to look for the right solution.

  • For computers and laptops, you can choose from one of the USB antennas that connect directly to the USB port on your computer.
  • For routers with removable antennas, you can upgrade to a larger antenna system.
  • For creating a hotspot that multiple devices can connect to (such as smartphones and tablets), a repeater system would be a good place to start.
  • For specialty situations that are a distance of more than a few hundred feet or that require multiple access points (like a hotel or multi-office setup) a standard or custom bridge kit may be needed.

One more consideration: Not all makes and models are designed to work together (especially if you’re purchasing parts from multiple vendors). Compatibility issues may cause sub-par performance. Make sure to do your research and if you have any doubts, ask questions before making the final decision.

We’ve put together this really great chart to help you figure out the best solution for your situation. Still not sure what to do? Use the worksheet above that you’ve completed and give us a call. We can only advise you on solutions that we sell but we can certainly tell you if we don’t have anything that will work for what you’re trying to accomplish.

Not looking to purchase anything right now, here’s some ideas for boosting your WiFi for free.

What is your WiFi challenge? Tell us in the comments and you will be entered to win the Super WiFi Repeater Kit. One entry per person. Drawing will take place on June 1st.

Congratulations to Scott Goggin for winning the Super WiFi Repeater Kit on June 1st. Thank you all who participated! ! C. Crane

AM Reception Tips – Part 3 – Tips for Tricky Reception Areas

One of the toughest places to get radio reception is inside an office or apartment building. Construction materials like brick and metal, and noise from computers and other electronics can all combine to make radio reception nearly impossible to receive. Besides the construction of the building, you sometimes have to account for your location in the building as well. Often people are allowed to listen to music or radio while they work but a radio can be rendered useless by all the interference. Below are some possible solutions to this issue:

Conventional Solution:
The simplest way to improve radio reception it to put a radio in a window. If you can’t do that you still have several options. First using a CCRadio-2E, with its sensitive AM capabilities, is often enough to improve radio reception. If you’ve already done that, you can try running a wire from your radio to an antenna in a window. You could also try running cable along the floor or through the ceiling, or you could even wrap it around a few co-workers if you like (just kidding). But really, running a coax cable (like TV cable) from your radio to a well situated antenna might just do the trick. Two antennas to consider for this type of setup are the Twin Coil Ferrite® AM Antenna or the FM Reflect. If you have an “in” with the super, you might even be able to mount an antenna just outside your window. Not interested in purchasing an antenna? Try building your own for free, using our simple antenna plans.

conventional-solutionWireless Solution:
If you can’t imagine setting up a bunch of wires in your office or home, or it’s just too much trouble to get a cable to run cleanly along the floor or the ceiling, you’re not alone. Another possible solution – go wireless. You can set up any radio that receives the station you want next to the window or in the location you receive the signal. Then plug our FM Transmitter-2 into the headphone jack. You can then send that clear signal – be it AM or FM, to any radio that is strategically placed around your home or office. If you opt for the FM transmitter solution, you can expect up to a 45-ft range in an office setting. That will probably drop about 10 feet for every wall or large object the signal has to pass through. You can view our FAQs to see additional ways to improve the transmit range.cc2-fm-trans-1-500WiFi Internet Solution:
If you have broadband access you can opt for one of our WiFi Internet radios that stream a variety of content. You’ll just want to check and make sure that the show or station you want to listen to is available prior to purchasing. We’ve written several articles explaining in great detail the pros and cons of internet radio and what kind of content you might hear to help you decide if that’s the right solution for you.

Bluetooth Solution:
If you know what you want to listen to is available on an app, like iHeart or TuneIn, you can use your Bluetooth enabled device (such as a smartphone or tablet) with our Senta Ally Bluetooth®  Speaker. It provides much better sound than phones or tablets. Here’s a quick video to explain how it might work for you.

You can also check out Reception Tips 1- Radio Noise Problems & Static and Reception Tips 2 – How to Improve AM Reception and Boost the Signal.

And of course, if you need help figuring out the right solution for you, we’re always here to help.

Poem to the Pocket Radio

CC Pocket RadioThis poem to the Pocket Radio came about when Bob was explaining how he didn’t quite understand exactly why pocket radios are so popular. This was news to us – we just assumed our radio expert loved radio regardless of its form.

We scoured past emails and reviews and pulled out several of the mentions of where and how customers are using these radios. Bob knows that people are passionate about their pocket radios. He mentioned that he’s never seen the gardener without his. We know Bob uses his for his important Sunday show. You sometimes see delivery and bus drivers with one wedged in their dash. This relationship seems very personal. So we’re asking you – why do you love your pocket radio and how do you use it the most?

Poem to the Pocket Radio

Oh Radio where art thou
I need your touch right now
Your companionship I desire
While I complete tasks so dire

You’re there when I’m walking
And when I can’t sleep
You’re with me in the garden
When the weeds are so deep

You are with me in the shop
And out on the boat
And once I cursed you
When you did not float

At the ballgames between cheers
The voices come through oh so clear
You travel with me everywhere
With you I have a love affair

Ah, yes my friend I owe to you
A true expression of gratitude
You’ve provided entertainment for years
You bring me laughter, joy and tears

Because of this I carry you
I never feel lonely and blue
Oh, pocket radio you are my friend
I’ll be with you ‘til the end.

The Madness Begins

Basketball Tournament BracketThis past Sunday was “Selection Sunday” which, for college basketball fans everywhere, means the madness is beginning. Whether you are an avid college basketball fan or you only watch/listen during this NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament time, the craziness that surrounds it is hard to ignore.

To say that people feel strongly about their favorite (or least favorite) college basketball team would be an understatement. This month ESPN has been running their 30 for 30 documentaries on legendary college basketball teams. One documentary was on the Michigan Fab 5 and another is on Duke’s team that had Christian Laettner and Grant Hill. In watching these you see that sales for Michigan merchandise during the Fab 5 went from something like 2 million to 10 million dollars. Someone actually wrote a book called “Duke sucks” because of how much they despise Christian Laettner and Duke basketball. This basketball fever is intense.

No matter if it’s because it’s your alma mater, it’s your family’s team or you just fell in love with the school, people just can’t get enough and the rivalries run deep. I was once told the reason people are so interested in basketball at this time of year is you just never know what’s going to happen. Single elimination. The upsets. The overtimes. The suspense. This is one of the most watched and wagered on annual sporting events in the United States and its continually growing. The crazy things are the odds. Check out this article on the odds of a perfect bracket – mind blowing but doesn’t stop us from filling one out!

If you’re like many of us and can’t watch because you work and your boss wouldn’t be thrilled at the prospect of you using all the company bandwidth on watching college basketball (not to mention the work you’re not doing….), you can still listen on the radio. It appears Westwood One has most of the rights to the actual games. ESPN Radio has a lot of coverage about the tournament but we didn’t find any games. I’m sure the local stations for the various participating (68) teams will have coverage of their games so find a bracket to see if your team is playing (better yet, fill one out in the many, many bracket contests and maybe win something :)) and tune in to listen.

In the spirit of competition, we are hosting our own competition. Tell us your favorite sports radio moment (it doesn’t have to be basketball related) and you’ll be entered to win a CC Pocket Radio. The more detail the better. Limited to one entry per person. The winner will be announced April 7th.

Also if you find any additional resources for listening to the games – let us know.

A Secret Garden of Music

secretgardenofmusic“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” ― Plato.

Almost everyone perks up and starts a private inside dance, (or perhaps an evocation of sadness) when they hear a treasured song from their youth. The fact is we are all happy servants to the songs we grew up to. As far as I know, this human peculiarity spans every generation, state, country, continent and probably planet. Don’t feel the least bit slighted when you find out your music is not regarded as the “best ever recorded!”. My wife loves our CC Wifi time machine and says “It gives me the ability to go back in time and listen to something that was (or is) incredibly enjoyable. Good memories!”

Our music palette is not always as limited as I have portrayed. Most people respond to various music genres outside a personal world but may not have had the time or opportunity to learn more about it. As we mature, I think there is a combination of all music we have ever experienced, that leads us to a different kind of music enjoyment potential. I have never seen this theory in a scholarly paper but I firmly believe it is true for at least a large percentage of fellow humans.

How Do I Know? 

I still have affection for and was fortunate enough to see the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix live, among other big name groups. While very talented, I did not think the Rolling Stones or Cream had the same level of creativity. I also liked Buffalos Springfield and the Moody Blues and don’t know exactly why. I became apathetic to music in the late 70’s as it became more commercial. I found a chunk of heaven during that time when I ran across KFAT FM radio out of Gilroy (R rated). I had a disdain for modern country but I grew to love the much older country music (Hank Williams Sr.) and funny modern country they played. Back then 10% of a young Silicon Valley wore KFAT T-shirts and called each other Fat Heads! You can listen to the original broadcasts at KFAT.com including old commercials (you will have to download a player).

OK, What is available?

Beatles 101 RU from Russia:  If you love the Beatles you can hear a considerable amount of their music and off takes that you have never heard before. The Beatles played heavily in Germany and Russia while they were learning and it was recorded! I am not sure today how these stations are able to play these cuts legally.

Rock and Roll 101 RU from Russia:  Cuts are played from popular and/or obscure great artists but I have never heard most of them before. It is quite obvious someone in Russia knows and loves foundational American rock more than many Americans. The sheer quantity and variety of quality music from Russia on the CC Wifi is astounding. If you like classical music you are in for a quite a great ride!

Camara 95.9 from Columbia. This Spanish station plays very high quality music of tremendous variety.

Polka Heaven 24/7:  Yes, after a few hours of listening it becomes obvious the Polka music is recorded to produce pure fun and joy. My mother loves it and can’t stop being happy when she comes over.

Another favorite is African music. The best I’d found was streamed from Germany and disappeared one day and has never come back. See a tiny selection of African spirit music by searching YouTube for Kids of Sitya loss or see Simon and Garfunkle Call me Al Zimbabwe.

I love Cajun music as well but my favorite station disappeared around the time they started enforcing licensing fees. I like cuts from highly skilled musicians that have experience doing live concerts. Please let us know if you find any good stations like this.

Why is it secret/hidden?

Many Internet radio stations are not easily discovered, or do not play reliably from your smart phone or computer. You may find that true with a few of the stations listed above. I have the most success with the CC Wifi but there are a few other internet radios on the market as good or better. The CC WiFi plays the content from one of the original stream aggregators. I know at one point they had unique relationships with many stations and streamers worldwide. The ability to inquisitively play a station by country or genre works best for me.

I recommend you amplify the CC Wifi with a sound system or amplified speakers with generous bass response. The stream quality varies from bad to excellent so you don’t need the finest audio system to discover great new music.

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