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Old Time Radio on your MP3 Player

For those of us that are fans of Old Time Radio (OTR), until recently there were very few options to listen to these classic programs. To listen to them, you would have to use a PC or laptop. This was not very portable or convenient. Personally, I like to listen to the shows at night before I go to sleep, but my computer is nowhere near my bedroom.

With the recent proliferation of CD and memory based MP3 players, a new option has emerged to listen to our favorite classical radio programs. These tiny devices can not only be used to listen to music, but can now be used to listen to Old Time Radio shows. As many of the OTR shows are recorded at low bit rates and frequencies, you can typically load several hundred hours of shows onto a single CD. If you are using a memory based MP3 player, even a 64 mb player will hold several half-hour shows.

Of course, not everything is perfect with OTR shows. As I mentioned earlier, because of the age of these programs (poor recording quality, mono audio, etc...) they are typically recorded at low bit rates and low frequencies. Many of the newer MP3 players have no problem handling these formats, but not all. If you find you're player can't handle a OTR program, you will need to re-encode the show at a higher frequency (e.g. 44 kHz) and bit rate. There are several freeware programs available that allow you do to this. If you have not yet purchased an MP3 player, ensure that it is capable of playing low bit rate (e.g. 32 kbps) and low frequency (e.g. 22 kHz) MP3 encoded files. My first CD MP3 player could only handle 44 kHz frequency encoded files, and I always found it cumbersome to have to re-encode files before being able to listen to them on my player.

As a fan of OTR, you'll no doubt be aware that there are literally thousands of sites on the internet that offer free downloads of almost every show imaginable. Most of these shows have had there copyrights expire, and are now in the public domain, free for you to download and enjoy. For those of you that would like complete collections of MP3 shows, many sites offer CD's and DVD's packed full of OTR MP3 files. The fees that are charged are quite reasonable, considering that the material being packaged is in the public domain.

Another source of OTR shows are on the various P2P (Peer to Peer) file sharing networks. I won't name any of them here, as there are many available. Using your P2P applicationArticle Search, a simple search of "OTR" will typically bring you a listing of thousands of files. The greatest thing about using P2P applications for this is that you don't have to worry about the RIIA coming after you for downloading copyrighted material. All these programs are free to copy and share as much as you want.

Dragnet never sounded so good!

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