WiFi Calling When You Have Poor Cell Service – Guest Post by Jessica Crotty

wifi5bars

CC Vector WiFi Network  – 5 Bars!

Recently we were visiting my Father-in-Law at Quail Lodge Lake Almanor in Canyon Dam, CA. The lodge has decent WiFi through most of the property except where we were staying. Since I work at C. Crane I figured it would be the perfect time to test out our new CC Vector RV System – so I set up our system and went from one bar (in some cases none) to 5. Mission accomplished.

We were fortunate enough to meet our neighbors who were parked staying in their 5th wheel. I checked with them to see how their WiFi was in case they wanted to connect to the hot spot I’d created. Their problem wasn’t WiFi but it was no cell service. So we got to chatting about possible solutions and I remembered that while in China last year I had an issue that I was able to resolve by enabling WiFi on my iPhone SE. I am able to send and receive calls over WiFi when it’s available (like at the lodge). For many travelers this is a great solution, since so many remote places have poor cellular service but do have WiFi. In our case, with Verizon you do have to contact them to enable the setting and there may be a fee so it may not be something you want to have on all the time. I’m sure each carrier varies. To find it on an iPhone SE go to Settings -> Phone-> Calls -> WiFi Calling and enable the WiFi Calling on This Phone.

fbmessengercalls

FaceBook Messenger App – Make Calls by clicking the phone icon in the app.

The other option I shared, was the Facebook Messenger App. It requires that the other person also have the app, but I’ve used it with my Mother-in-law when she’s traveling internationally. It is much less expensive than adding an international data plan and there is even video calling available if you have a strong enough WiFi signal and it works even without an iPhone.

One of our resident WiFi gurus, Isaiah, also had this story of another solution – A couple years ago I added $10 to my Skype account for calling anywhere in the world and to any phone when I needed it. I’ve made many many calls .. some even to China and New Zealand and some just to family when I couldn’t find my cell phone.. I just used my computer and plug-in gaming headset. My audio was much better than using my phone and the other party could always hear me clearly because of the high quality microphone in my gaming headset. Anyways.. to this day I still have $4 remaining on my Skype account in case I need to make a call.

I hope this helps someone out there with similar issues and if you’re ever near Quail Lodge, tell my Father in Law, John and his partner Debbie that I sent you!

What are your biggest pain points with WiFi or Cell service while traveling and what solutions have you come up with? Tell us in the comments below and be entered to win a CC Vector Home Repeater System. Drawing September 8th. Please only one entry per person.

Special Note: Although we do have the most AMAZING U.S. based tech support (in my humble opinion) and we love to help, we only support our products and are unable to troubleshoot your cell phones.

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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

Super USB WiFi Antenna 3- It’s easy to install!

The Super USB WiFi Antenna 3 may seem a bit intimidating to install but really, it is quite simple. We created informative videos to better represent the Super USB WiFi Antenna 3 and how easy it is to set up. Before you know it, you’ll be connected to the WiFi hotspot and cruising your favorite websites.

As always, please feel free to contact us with any questions and we appreciate your feedback.

This video provides information about waterproofing the Super USB WiFi Antenna 3

Below is our amateur Super USB WiFi Antenna 3 install video recorded right in our very own C. Crane building. We had a little too much fun! 

Staying Connected on the Road

My husband and I lived in our 5th wheel for 3 years while traveling from one rural town to the next, working on different road construction jobs. This left me with a lot of free time on the weekends. Most of it was spent trying to pay bills online, check my email and the bank statements and the occasional online shopping.

The one thing I hoped for in each RV Park was a WiFi signal. WiFi is what keeps you in touch with the outside world when traveling. Some parks didn’t know what WiFi was and others had a signal but it was limited range. Another big problem was we were considered “long term” parkers so we were always thrown in the back, furthest from everything. I was forced to create a weekly routine- wake up, get my coffee and walk up to the office and park it on a picnic table so I could cruise the internet while sitting as close as I possibly could to the WiFi signal. When the RV parks didn’t have WiFi, I had to get in my car and drive to the closest hotel parking lot just so I could get a signal.

Long Range WiFi at the RV Park

WiFi with the X Mile at the RV Park

Now we are based back home in Fortuna and the 5th wheel is used for vacationing. Strangely enough though, RV Parks still have a problem with WiFi, even with the increase in knowledge and technology. Thank goodness I work at a company that knows a thing or two about WiFi.We have options for several different configuration and I can simply mount one of our outdoor antennas like the CC X Mile to the the 5th wheel and the cable from the antenna connects directly to my computer’s USB port. The cable runs through the window and viola, internet at my service.

 

This summer is our next vacation so you bet I will ditch my routine (picnic table and all) for the comfort of my own RV site and one of our WiFi antennas. If you aren’t sure which antenna is for you, give us a call or email us and we’ll be happy to help you figure out the best configuration for your situation. You can also visit our sister site countrymilewifi.com for more information on WiFi.

AM Reception Tips – Part 2 – How to Improve AM Reception and Boost the Signal, By: Dan Van Hoy K7DAN

Whether you are a casual AM radio listener or a radio hobbyist trying to hear distant or low-powered stations, there are many steps you can take to improve AM reception. Before we focus on a few of those steps, let’s take a look at a few myths and misconceptions.

AM RADIO MISCONCEPTIONS

Misconception: The retractable antenna of a radio works for AM. The whip antenna attached to AM/FM or AM/FM/Shortwave radios is not connected to the AM circuit and has virtually no effect on AM reception.

tca from radio

Ferrite Bar AM Antenna found inside a radio

Misconception: You should receive the same AM reception in your home that you receive in your car. Most cars have reasonably good antennas and receivers for AM.  Your car radio will sometimes outperform your portable radio in the house because the car body and antenna together form a very efficient aerial which is outside with no physical objects in the way and is far from noise sources found at home and around buildings. On the other hand, depending on the situation, a high-performance AM radio might equal or outperform a car radio.

TIPS FOR BETTER AM RECEPTION

One of the best ways of improving AM reception is experimenting with different placement and orientation of the radio inside or outside the house.  A little extra effort can lead to improved signals by reducing noise and increasing signal levels.

Almost all AM radios have a built-in antenna.  The antenna i s made of a ferrite bar or rod with one or more coils of very fine insulated wire wrapped around it.  The combination of the ferrite bar and coils of wire make the antenna tunable at the low frequencies used for AM broadcasting. These AM radio antennas are highly directional.  Depending upon how the radio is oriented, you can reduce noise, boost signals or both by just moving the radio around.  So, if the station you want is weak, just move the radio around in a half or full circle to see where it gets stronger and then leave it there.  Moving the radio near a window, especially if you are in a brick, concrete or stucco building may help as well. Also, to help improve the AM reception you can couple your radio with  a good AM antenna signal booster. An antenna is ideal for boosting most AM radio reception problems.

If you know the direction the station is broadcasting from, then your location can make this process a little easier by aiming the front or back of the radio towards that signal. If you don’t know where the transmitter site of a particular radio station is located, call the station and ask. Often the studio is downtown and the transmitter many miles outside the city. If you try some or all of these techniques and still can’t receive the station you want, do your best to reduce interference from noise sources and static and consider buying or making an external antenna that will boost the signal for you.

SOLUTIONS TO A FEW COMMON PROBLEMS

PROBLEM: Good AM signal in the daytime, poor signal at night, or vice versa.

Possible Solution(s): Some AM stations operate daytime hours only or go to lower power levels at night. Others actually change the direction of their signals after dark. A good source for station information, listening distance or range is radiolocator.com. If you don’t have access to the internet you could call the station to confirm their operating hours and ask about night time power reduction. If you live outside the prime coverage area of an AM station you may also hear other stations on the same channel at nighttime that are stronger. Try adjusting the orientation of your radio for possible improvement. This will help to block out those offending signals that override yours.

Stations that have poor signals in the daytime (at your location) but good signals at night are generally because they are far away. They benefit from nighttime conditions on the AM band that often favor distant stations that operate on high power and can reach you easier at night. For a solution to this problem, give the tips we mentioned earlier a try or add an external antenna.

PROBLEM: I can receive the station at work, but cannot at home, which is only five miles away. What’s up?

Possible Solution(s):  Again, some AM stations have very directional signals that cover a very specific area. It’s possible your home is in a weak signal area for that particular station. Mountains and forests between you and the station transmitter can also reduce signal levels, even if the difference is only a few miles.

PROBLEM: The station I want to receive is in Georgia and I am in California.

Possible Solution(s) : This one is easy. Check the stations website to see if the station streams on the Internet. If it does you could try a WiFi radio and listen 24/7 with no static or interference.

Let us know if we can be of any assistance with your radio questions. Happy listening!

C. Crane Attends Public Media Conference in Atlanta

My colleague Jessyca and I (yes, two Jessica’s, just with different spelling) had the pleasure of experiencing some real southern hospitality while attending the Public Media Conference put on in Atlanta July 2013. Talk about a change of pace from California. Don’t get me wrong; I love a lot of things about California but Atlanta was a fantastic city to visit. The people there were so incredibly friendly and everything felt like it was taken down a few notches. We didn’t notice everyone rushing to get to places or connected to an electronic device as much.

I did not have much personal experience with public radio or television outside of a significant amount of Sesame Street on our local PBS station. Jessyca listens to a local NPR station (KHSU) on a regular basis. We were both blown away with how connected these public radio stations are to their listeners. In thinking about it, it makes sense because many are directly dependent on their listeners to stay on air.

We attended as an exhibitor to offer our C. Crane products to stations as premiums for their pledge drives. The number one question we experienced was “Do you have an HD radio?” Many stations have invested a significant amount of money in HD only to have the problem of their listeners not being able to receive the HD signal because they can’t find a device to receive it on.

C Crane Booth Atlanta Public Media Conference

C Crane Booth at Atlanta Public Media Conference

When we answered “No.”, the second question was usually, “Why not?” The short answer is, most of our customers want good AM and FM reception and the HD radios we previously carried or tested do not play nicely with AM (if they even have it at all). The other problem was the return rate. The return rate for us was double to triple our average product return rate. Often the radio was returned because it was thought to be defective when in reality the HD signal radius is just a much smaller footprint. Our experience was that unless you were in about a 10 – 15 mile radius you were unlikely to receive the signal.

One station manager who recently invested in HD, summed it up for us as HD being like BETA when there was BETA and VHS. Whether this is true or not, remains to be seen but my boss, Mr. Crane, has been talking about the potential issues with HD for quite some time. We actually wrote a couple of articles about it back in its inception. We’ll write more in a future post about HD Radio.

Outside of HD, there was a lot of interest in the CC Solar Observer and our CC WiFi Internet radio. With the era of corporate radio consolidation, many of these public radio stations are the only stations that actually have backup power and local staff to stay on air during an emergency. Several of them are located in areas that experience tornadoes or hurricanes every year so offering an emergency radio to their listeners makes a lot of sense. The CC WiFi is an interesting solution to the HD issue since many of the stations also stream the HD content, this radio is a viable solution for listeners to receive the signal. It was a lot of fun to get to demonstrate our products and interact with people who love radio as much as we do.

We can’t think of a better way of serving the radio community than supporting public media. We were honored and humbled to be a part of such a great show and of such a great community. We offered a drawing at the show for participants and we wanted to congratulate the winners:

Jennifer Brake, St. Louis Public Radio
Patrick Smith, WPSU Penn State
Lisa Beckman, WUOT 91.9fm

Atlanta Skyline

Beautiful Night Sky Atlanta!

If you have a favorite Public Radio or Television show or if you just love Atlanta, please leave a comment and let us know,!

Pros and Cons of WiFi and Internet Radio

We’ve received a lot of emails and several comments about the confusion surrounding “internet radio”. What is it? How does it work? How do I pick the right radio? So we put together some of the pros and cons and then a few additional considerations. In this post, we aren’t recommending a particular radio over another but rather giving you some points to consider when making your decision so you can pick the right product for you.

First, let’s establish that there is a pre-requisite to using WiFi Internet radio –

  • You need to have a broadband connection. Most internet radios will work on WiFi or with a direct Ethernet connection (that network jack on the back of the radio that provides a connection to the router).

Let’s jump into the benefits for you as a listener –

  • First, a Crystal clear signal – no static, no fade.
    • Need your radio fix but you get terrible AM reception at your office or in your apartment complex?
    • Tired of listening to the whine of static on your favorite radio talk show or having it fade out right when something important is being discussed? WiFi Internet radio to the rescue.
  • The second benefit – stations from literally anywhere. It doesn’t matter if you’re 3 miles away or 3,000 miles away.
    • If you have recently relocated and you now live in Los Angeles but your favorite station is in Boston, WiFi Internet Radio might allow you to receive it.
    • Or let’s say your transplant was even further – you moved to the U.S. from Italy. You can listen to Italian Parliament right on your radio.
    • Maybe your local station stopped carrying your favorite host and now you can’t receive their show anymore – I can almost guarantee there is a station on WiFi Internet radio that is broadcasting that show.
    • If you just can’t get enough of the Beatles, you can choose from several Beatles stations that play all Beatles all the time.
  • Third, you can avoid entering personal information through a form to access the stream or trying to translate international web pages that have the stream you want to hear. They’re already on the radio and are easily accessible so you don’t have to get additional spam from strange countries because you want to hear their music.
  • Another benefit – no subscription fees. Yes, you’ll still have to pay your high speed internet bill but you don’t have to pay a subscription fee to listen to your favorite station.

We’re often asked if there are any drawbacks, and as with anything, there are a few.

  • First, there is a slight delay broadcasting the signal. So if you’re listening to a game on your AM radio and have it going on a WiFi Internet radio at the same time you’ll hear the basket being made on your AM radio a few seconds before you hear it on the Internet radio. Some people consider this a drawback.
  • Another inconvenience is some programming that is broadcast over regular radio is not broadcast on the internet due to licensing issues – primarily these are specific sporting events like MLB games, NFL and NBA. Every now and then, if you know the local stations that have the rights, there are exceptions but if you buy it with that intent, you will be disappointed.
  • This one is a blessing and a curse. There are currently several thousand stations on internet radio, with more being added every day. This means there is an endless supply of radio stations from around the world to listen to. It also means if you don’t know what you want to hear, you could spend a lot of time trying to find what you want. The best solution, to prevent overload, is to get a radio that has memory presets and use them. So with the touch of a couple buttons you can go right to your favorite station.
  • Buffering (the slow or intermittent load of stations) – depends on the signal from the station that is streaming. It is also dependent on your own network. If your child, grandchild (or your spouse…) is in the other room playing online video games you may experience more buffering.
  • Not portable – for some people this is a deal breaker. It just depends on what you need. If you like to take your radio with you, then this might not be the right product for you.
  • The radio is dependent on your internet connection, so if the internet is down, so is your radio.

When selecting a WiFi Internet Radio, take into consideration some of the same things you would consider for any radio like size, audio jacks, clock, alarms, etc.

Some additional benefits with an Internet radio are: if you like to listen to services like Pandora, Live365, MP3.com or Aupeo many of these radios will work with subscription based programs. You can also use it to stream MP3 and WMA audio files from your Windows computer. If you have special subscriptions for MLB baseball, Rhapsody, or others that require a graphical interface, you’ll want to find a radio that has a flash based interactive screen like Squeezebox (not available through C. Crane).

One last thing, there are some changes taking place in the industry where stations are only allowing their stream to be on certain devices. If you’re not sure about our radio and you want to see if your station is available, we have a Find Station tool on one of our sister websites at http://www.woodenradio.com/FindStation/Index.aspx.

For more on what you might hear on internet radio, check out our video.

*The company, product and service names used in this newsletter are for identification purposes only. All trademarks and registered trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

Before You Give Up Listening To Radio – by Ken Hoffman, Columnist, Hoston Chronicle

Frankly, I had about given up on listening to the radio.

My favorite local sports talk show had turned into non-stop commercials for a weight loss clinic, with the host swearing, “I’ve lost 80 pounds in the past two weeks on the Speedy Diet Program, without exercise, and I’m eating hot fudge sundaes for breakfast, lunch and dinner! It’s unbelievable! The chicks won’t leave me alone on the beach!”

Yeah, right, and then the Speedy Diet Program folks get busted for insanely false advertising, and Mr. Ripped Talk Host puts the 80 pounds back on – plus 20 more for the pain and suffering he caused listeners.

My local news station had turned into a lunatic fringe political soap box. My favorite rock station flipped formats to some crazy language that only cab drivers understand.

It got so bad that I was using my clock radio as a … clock!

Desperate times call for desperate measures. I – gasp – started reading myself to sleep at night instead of listening to nationally syndicated kooks talking about Martians in Michigan. Nothing ever topped Larry King’s latenight show for putting me beddy-bye. C’mon, Larry, tell us that story about eating ice cream with Sandy Koufax again, for the 100th time, this week.

Just when I hit rock bottom and started ordering books on tape … I got a CC WiFi Internet Radio and put it on the night stand next to my bed.

Radio … I’m back, baby!

With this Internet radio, I’m not a prisoner of local radio’s Noah’s Ark strategy:  two talk stations, two sports stations, two rock stations, two country stations, two rap stations, two etc.

Now, I have the freedom to choose between, oh, about FIFTEEN THOUSAND STATIONS!

From across my hometown and around the world.

I’m a sports talk fan. I have two sports talk stations in my town, but I’m tired of hearing if the local baseball team has enough bullpen pitching. We’re in last place. Who cares? On this team, the “closer,” is the guy who turns out the lights after fans leave in the seventh inning.

With my CC WiFi Internet Radio, I get (ready for this?) – 1,012 sports talk stations spanning the globe. Last July, I listened to a London sports station talking about Andy Murray’s chances of winning Wimbledon. During the Olympics, you should have heard the stations in Jamaica bragging on Usain Bolt.

Whenever something happens, anywhere in the world, I tune to that city’s news/talk station and get the straight scoop from people who know what they’re talking about. There are 1,029 news stations and 661 news talk stations on Internet radio.

I listened to the news station in New Orleans during Hurricane Isaac. I heard real stories about the storm from local reporters, not some clueless New York hack sent by the network.

“Local officials say you should stay out of standing water because there may be snakes in there, plus you could be injured by an electrical shock. It’s very dangerous. This is news ace Geraldo Crackerjack, reporting from the middle of a flooded street!”

Smart, real smart.

I like classic rock. I’m a Beatles freak. Love the music from the ‘60s and ‘70s. Instead of listening to my local rock stations play the same 20 songs over and over, (Stairway to Heaven again?) I hit “Genre” on my Internet radio, and choose from, take a deep breath …

408 classic rock stations.

206 stations playing ‘60s music.

309 stations playing ‘70s hits.

959 stations playing the oldies.

I can even narrow down where I want to hear my ‘60s hits from – I usually go to London or Liverpool stations.  There are nine stations that play nothing but Beatles songs 24 hours a day.

You want some fun? Tune in a reggae station from Montego Bay, mon.

You want even more fun? Tune in a Pittsburgh sports station the night after the Steelers lose. Better make sure your smoke detector works. Those Steeler fans take their football pretty serious.

The sound from my Internet radio is clearer than my old clock radio. There’s a sports station in my city that I enjoy. But the weak signal and static made it unbearable to listen to, and I can practically see the station’s antenna from my house.

On my Internet radio, the station comes in crystal clear.

My local ESPN radio affiliate pre-empts the Scott Van Pelt Show for a local afternoon bozo. Local advertising makes the station more money that carrying the network. Now I click on ESPN on my Internet radio and get Van Pelt.

My Internet radio is a full service receiver. It’s got a night light, clock, alarm and full rich sound. I use it just like my old clock radio. When I go to bed, the radio sits on a night stand about two feet from my head. I imagine this is how most people use their WiFi Internet Radio.

Yet it comes with a remote control.

How lazy do the C. Crane people think I am?

Ken Hoffman

Columnist, Houston Chronicle