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World Wide Wireless

Last night, I took a tentative step into a new tech era. I tried out an Internet radio (a couple of these are on the market).

Like most guys, there's not a chance I'd look at the operation manual first but soon I got confused and needed a bit of help. By page 3, I was cruising and it's scary.

Internet radios stand alone, say on your kitchen counter. If you have a wireless setup with your regular computer, the radio simply picks up this signal. The blue-lit dial offered 35 stations in Argentina, one in Belize, three in Bolivia, 61 in Brazil.

I spun the rotary dial to USA: 987 stations! My hand almost shook as I tuned in one of the streams from KCRW in Santa Monica, Calif. I needed familiarity and found it, hearing the signoff of All Things Considered, at 10:00 p.m. EDT. I also realized I could hear KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic from the beginning anytime I wanted.

Now of course you can do this with any computer and a broadband hookup, but this looks like just a radio and they don't mention computers and the Internet. I do think the technology is somewhat ephemeral. It won't be long before you'll just think about a radio program and it'll start up on the speakers in any room in the house.