11 March 2008
South Africans at home and abroad can now easily use the internet to listen to and even record their favourite local radio stations, thanks to a free, small and easy-to-use programme, “AmaRadio”, that was created by local developer Gary James.
Based in Somerset West near Cape Town, James, the owner of a software company called StrategyOnline, last year developed an audio engine, which his company sells to other software developers.
The idea for a small, easy-to-use programme through which one can listen to online radio feeds came about as a result of his wife wanting to listen to a Sydney, Australia based radio station over the internet, as well as his aversion to proprietary media players.
James points out that while AmaRadio is only about four megabytes in size, players such as Windows Media Player and iTunes weigh in at over 40 and 50 megabytes respectively.
With James’ audio engine being capable of playing streaming feeds, he decided to develop a homemade player through which one could listen to online radio stations and various other audio streams over the internet.
“Then last week, I wrote an article for my clients explaining how I built this little programme for my wife, using my company’s audio engine,” James told SAinfo this week. “That article sparked the idea to build AmaRadio for South African radio stations.”
Over the past weekend, James released a new version of the player, which allows the user to record streaming feeds straight to their hard drives in MP3 format.
“In the near future I’ll be adding the ability to schedule recording, so at the start of the week you’ll be able to tell it to record 5FM on Tuesday, from 6pm until 7pm for example,” he explained. “That way, users will be able to listen to their favourite shows when it’s convenient for them.”
James said his plan was for AmaRadio to always be free software, even though his company could not afford to spend a huge amount of time on a project that did not generate income.
Income would be generated from advertisers, radio stations and corporates, rather than from the users themselves.
“I suppose there is always the possibility of keeping the free version, and then releasing a paid-for version that has extra features, [such as] the ability to synch directly with an iPod, more advanced scheduling capabilities and more options for how it records stations,” he added.
Six hours’ work
He said that he built the first version of AmaRadio last week, in the space of about six hours. With the majority of South African computer users using various Microsoft operating systems, AmaRadio currently works only on various Windows platforms
“If there is enough interest, we will look into building versions to support Mac and Linux, though this could be in several months’ time,” James said.
Over the past three days, he said the product had received plenty of attention, mainly through several South African blog and technology enthusiast sites, and over 200 people had already downloaded the small piece of software.
“I announced AmaRadio on my blog, and within 24 hours had received numerous e-mails from users who loved the product,” James said. “Not bad considering it was released three days ago, and we haven’t done any advertising!”