Listening to radio used to be the main source of the latest news, communication, and entertainment. But it also used to require bulky devices with FM/AM tuners, which were slowly downsized over time. In the effort to make devices slimmer, those tuners were often removed and replaced with an alternative – Internet radio. It is accessible from any device that meets minimum requirements, and since you’re on an Internet subscription plan anyway, it doesn’t cost any extra. With that in mind, here’s how to listen to free radio.
What is free radio?
Free radio is a form of radio service that is available for free. Do not confuse the term “free radio” with the company or organization names. There are a bunch of companies using the same words. There are many radio stations that are exclusive, charging users for the subscription. A free radio station doesn’t have such a fee. They provide the radio service without charging the users and provided full or partial access to the programs.
Way 1. How to listen to free radio in browser
We’ll start with the most convenient way. It works across multiple platforms and devices. All you need is a browser such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, or even Edge. We have created a free radio music station list for that purpose.
If neither of those meets your criteria, we suggest doing a Google search. Type “pop radio station in Minnesota” or “country radio station in Texas” and go to the website of the radio station. In the majority of cases, there will be a play button somewhere. Click it, and a progress bar should appear. If it doesn’t and starts downloading a file, don’t worry – it’s not a virus. We explained that event in the next section.
Using InternetRadio.com to listen to free radio
To make things easy to explain, we’ve chosen a very simple, yet effective website. After just a little practice and a few explanations, you’ll be ready to use any other website of the same nature. These are the steps to listen to free radio using InternetRadio –
- Open InternetRadio in your browser.
- Right off the bat comes a hard choice. You can click on a genre from the Popular Genres list, and InternetRadio will only display those that fit the criteria. Or, you can scroll down and choose a radio station based on the state you live in, the genre, or a current song or artist that’s playing.
- When ready, simply click the Play button icon to the left of the radio station’s name, and music should start playing.
- Additional information. The Kbps number you see listed under the radio station is the audio bitrate. The bigger number correlates with the quality of audio you’ll hear. 48 Kbps is considered the lowest acceptable number. 320 Kbps is considered the best audio quality in comparison to the size and use of mobile data. Our recommendation? If you are on an unlimited data plan, shoot for between 256 Kbps and 320 Kbps. If you are on a limited data plan, anywhere between 64 Kbps and 192 Kbps is okay, but 128 Kbps is an optimal bitrate.
The above one is just an example of many free radio station websites. You can choose any one of them based on your requirements and the features they provide.
Way 2. How to listen to free radio on the computer
So, you clicked on a play button on the website of a radio station, and a file was downloaded. In most cases, it will be named listen.pls or listen.m3u by default. These are both unknown extensions to most people. Both file types are very lightweight because they’re only a link between the radio station and your computer’s audio player software. The file is constantly “streaming” data from one to the other when played. So, here’s how to listen to the radio using a music player software –
- Download the .m3u or .pls file. In the case of InternetRadio, you can click on tiny links under the play button icon, .pls, and .m3u respectively.
- Open an audio player software on your computer. If you don’t have any, download Winamp, AIMP, MediaMonkey, MusicBee, or any other that you like. Even audio/video players such as VLC or MPC-HC will work.
- Locate the .m3u/.pls file. Simply click and drag the file onto the music player software.
- Within a second or two, a new item will appear in the player. Data such as the station’s name, current artist, song, and duration should be auto-filled. Depending on the station and the player, it might also show an upcoming next song, podcast, or talk-show.
- The link doesn’t need to be removed from the player after you’re done listening. It will be there, but won’t consume mobile data unless played.
Way 3. How to listen to free radio on a smartphone
We kind of lied about FM tuners being removed from smartphones. But that’s because we’ve been lied to as well. Some manufacturers leave the tuners in their devices. But, because they’re not a highlight of the smartphone, they’re never mentioned. As for Internet radio in the browser, the process is nearly identical, although the website might be simplified.
There is no default Android application to listen to free FM radio. For that reason, you need to install one yourself.
- We recommend downloading Simple Radio for Android.
- You can pick a different one, but Simple Radio is an all-in-one app – it supports the Internet, FM, and AM radio. The app is free with ads, and you can purchase a full version to get rid of them. A great thing is that even if your smartphone doesn’t have an FM/AM tuner built-in, the app will stream those stations via the Internet. This allows you to listen to them even if you’re outside the area.
- As soon as you open the app, you will be bombarded with radio stations about news, music, sports, podcasts, and talk-shows. Each one mentions the location, and the type (Web or FM/AM, and its frequency). You can favorite the radio stations you love for quick access.
Apple has had a similar approach. Although they don’t advertise the capabilities of FM/AM radio in their smartphones, they added the option through Apple Music. You do not need to be subscribed to Apple Music to access FM/AM radio.
- Option 1. Summon Siri. Say “Tune in to NBC Radio” or “Play ESPN NY 98.7”, for example.
- Option 2. Open Apple Music.
- Option 1. Tap Search. Enter the station name, call sign, nickname, or frequency.
- Option 2. Tap Radio. Swipe up (scroll down) and find the heading named Broadcast Radio. Choose a station from the list.
- Option 3. Download Simple Radio for iOS. The app is nearly identical to the one for Android.
Radio has its advantages and disadvantages. Being an early communication technology, it has served us pretty well over the years. It is understandable that you do not want to pay for the service in the era of free music streaming services. So, one of the above methods can be used to accomplish what you are looking for.