I am a big fan of talk radio shows, but find that I miss out on many of them. What I needed was some way to record these radio programs so that I could listen to them when I could. However, I don't have a tape recorder (and I don't have space for one either!) and none of these could record long enough for most talk shows. Ideally, I also wanted an option that would allow me to listen to these programs while walking or riding my bike. Here are two alternatives.
Since I already had a computer, the most elegant solution is to use it as an audio recorder! A quick search on internet revealed numerous software programs that allow "recording" from your sound card. I even found several that had a timer so that you can preset the recording start and end times. I downloaded several programs on a trial basis and finally settled on AudioMagic. The program is only $15 and allows you to save the audio file as a WAV or MP3 file with various levels of audio compression. It has a one-event timer, much like the original VCR's - all of the programs I tried only had a one-event timer. Using MP3 mode, mono and 32kb/s encoding (more than adequate for audio), a four-hour talk show takes less than 60MB. The only thing I had to do was go to Radio Shack and purchase a two-pack of 3.5mm audio jacks, and use some spare wire to connect them together to make a patch cord. Taping a talk show is as simple as setting the timer on AudioMagic, turning on the radio (tuned to the proper station), and connecting the patch cord between the radio's earphone jack and the computer's microphone input. (AudioMagic has VU meters to set the proper audio level, you will want to experiment with this first.)
So, now you have the radio show recorded on your computer. Here are some options for "listening" to it. Of course, you can just listen to it though your computer. If you would rather listen through your D's radio or a nearby portable FM radio, go to one of the major electronic's stores (such as Best Buy) and get an FM modulator - they are under $10. The FM modulator is connected to the headphone jack on the computer. However, if you would rather be able to really "listen on the go", get yourself a portable MP3 player. These units are really small, and are not affected by "skips" due to walking/jogging/running. The amount of memory determines how long of a talk show you will be able to listen to - and also what algorithm you used to record the MP3 file. Unless you want to also use your MP3 player as your personal "jukebox" - storing many hours of music - you can find an early version MP3 player that will do just fine at a garage sale or at one of the internet auction sites for as little as $5. These early players - with only 32MB or 64MB of memory - are rapidly being replaced with MP3 players that have integrated hard drives for mega-storage. Also, some PDA's and digital cameras can also function as MP3 players.
Another recording option is to use your VCR as an audio recorder. In this case, you will have to make up a patch cord to connect your radio to your VCR. You will likely need a 3.5mm audio plug for your radio, and an RCA audio plug for your VCR audio input jack. Just tune in the radio to the desired station, and set the VCR recorder and you are good to go! You can either listen through your TV or use the FM modulator described above to listen through a radio.
Of course, you can also use your VCR to record your favorite music off your satellite for playback while you are driving.
- Submitted by Bob Cook
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