Radio Garden offers a fun way to explore places around the world

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This is one of the best things on the internet. Radio Garden puts the radio stations from all over the world at your fingertips. Explore the area where you grew up and find your hometown station or click a single broadcast in the desert of Saudi Arabia, and your ears will be instantly transported there. Hear local music and news from a place that you never expected to tune into thanks to this brilliant website. Talk radio from Mongolia. Oldies from Japan. Pop music from Norway. What will you listen to today?

Imagine looking at Google Earth and seeing thousands of tiny green dots all over the map, with each one representing a playable radio station. That’s pretty much Radio Garden, a mobile and web app offering a fun way to enjoy live radio from around the world.

What the Tech? App of the day: Radio Garden

I love Spotify and Pandora and Apple Music and all of the other streaming music apps. You can hear exactly what you want to hear at any time of day. It’s awesome.

Truth be told, it’s a little boring too. That’s why I love a little app that’s flown under the radar for even die-hard music lovers.

Radio Garden is a free app for iPhones and Android devices that brings in tens of thousands of radio stations broadcasting live 24 hours a day.

Here’s how it works: The app displays a 3D globe of the world with satellite imagery. As you rotate the world with your finger the app tunes in radio stations on the screen. It’s like the search button on a car radio. The screen is covered by thousands of little green dots, each representing a different station. A circle on the screen locates one of those dots/stations and begins playing what the station is broadcasting at that moment.

I scanned the globe and found a reggae station in France, an ’80s rock station in Bologna, Italy and more American rock/pop stations in Argentina, Bolivia, and Ireland. But I also found stations playing music from that geographical area. For over an hour, I listened to a station in Nuuk, Greenland playing music I did not understand. It was almost like I was there.

Radio Garden started in 2016 as an exhibition project commissioned by the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision. By 2019, the team turned it into a small independent company. The apps were completely redesigned in 2020 and the app is gaining in popularity around the world.

The Radio Garden team says they’re updating the “garden” daily by planting seeds (connecting more stations). The Radio Garden team says in the app description that they want to bring “distant voices close.”

The apps are free with only a couple of ads showing on the screen or playing before tuning in to a station. Give it a try. You may find something you love that you’d never hear otherwise.

“By bringing distant voices close, radio connects people and places,” says the Radio Garden website. “From its very beginning, radio signals have crossed borders. Radio makers and listeners have imagined both connecting with distant cultures, as well as re-connecting with people from ‘home’ from thousands of miles away.”

Simply navigate the global map by clicking and dragging the mouse. Each green dot is a radio station currently broadcasting live. You might spend hours clicking every dot you find around the area you grew up in or search in international areas for music and culture in places you’ve never visited.

Among the hundreds of stations, you can listen to music and chatting with broadcasts from:

Khartoum, Sudan

Ayabe, Japan

Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Novy-Urengoy, Russia

Darwin, Australia

After just a little bit of browsing, we’re delighted to find gems like Sleep Radio for insomniacs in New Zealand and a dance station in India.

The free service is available via Radio Garden’s iOS app, Android app, and website, though, at the current time, it doesn’t play nice with the Brave browser.

To get started, simply spin the globe and zoom in on a place of interest. When you bring a dot inside the green circle at the centre of the display, the feed for that station will automatically start playing. The name of the radio station will appear alongside suggestions for other stations in the same area, all of them playable.

You can also search by country, city, and station name, and if you find one you like, you can mark it as a favourite.

Some parts of the world, including China and parts of Africa, obviously have more stations than shown on the map, and Radio Garden says it’s working to expand its station offerings.

Radio Garden is the work of Amsterdam-based studios Pucker and Moniker and emerged from an exhibition project commissioned by the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision. Starting out as a web-only offering, the team released iOS and Android apps for Radio Garden in 2018. In 2020, the service underwent a major redesign to improve its look and usability. The work appears to have paid off, too, as the apps currently enjoy almost maximum star ratings on each store.

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