I love the radio. Not internet radio, that awkward bastardization of the format bleating out unending playlists without human interaction. No, I mean actual turn-the-dial-and-find-a-voice radio. If you want news, music or just the sound of someone you disagree with talking about sports or politics, radio is there for you. It's a truly beautiful thing.
Unfortunately, the radio game isn't what it used to be. While I'm blessed to live in a city like Atlanta, Ga., that features a host of solid local stations, not everyone is so lucky. That's why the Radium app for iOS was such a joy to discover. Radium is a simple app with plenty of extra features for those who want to dig a little deeper.
Upon opening the app, viewers are met with a simple screen offering a search bar at the top and your current list of favorited stations at the bottom. Searching is simple: just type in whatever genre you're looking for and hit done. Radium will offer up a list of station names with their respective content sub-genres listed underneath. The app draws from an international list of stations, reportedly around 6,000, to find exactly what you're craving.
You can find rock stations from around the world, stream NPR if you don't have a local affiliate or discover what the kids are listening to in Japan these days.
For this news and music fan, the best feature is the ability to stream the myriad different stations offered by the BBC. The BBC produces some of the finest radio content available anywhere, from news to music to in-house dramatic productions. Simply hook up your iOS device to your home stereo and sit back for hours of programing. All for free.
Radium also features the ability to stream subscription radio services, allowing you to log in to Sirius XM and stream your favorite stations on your iOS device. It currently also supports subscriptions to CalmRadio, DI Radio + SKY Radio, JazzRadio.com and Live365.
Once you decide on a station to listen to, Radium has a number of features available to improve your listening experience. Listeners with picky sound preferences will be happy to find an equalizer setting for optimized sound, including a delightful "auto" button that automatically adjusts the settings to match your current song or station. This feature can be turned off if auto equalization isn't your cup of tea.
Radium also allows for Last.fm track scrobbling and iCloud device syncing. For users who have Radium for both their Mac and their iPhone, iCloud syncing is a nice way of keeping your favorite stations updated on each device. Listeners are also able to share what tracks they're listening to via an integrated Twitter function.
At US$3.99, the app is might be seen as a splurge, especially given the wide number of free streaming internet radio options out there. However, for obsessive radio devotees or just music fans looking for playlists that are curated by human beings and not algorithms, it's a small price to pay. Radium is an example of how mobile devices and apps can connect you to ideas and voices from around the world. That it can also play dance music on top of those features is simply a scoop of ice cream on an already joyful experience.