1. Computing
Launchcast Radio Still Sending Solid Streams
Dateline: 07/27/03
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• Launchcast Radio Station Guide

I was tooling around on the 'Net when I decided to visit Launchcast, a site I had not been by for a while. I just wanted to see what was new or at least if what I knew about the service was still current.

Launchcast has so many free choices for listening: 42 stations in most any format you could want including: Adult Alternative, Awesome '80s, Classic Rock, Reggae, Alternative Rock, Punk Rock, Pure Pop, Contemporary Christian, Kids Tunes, Oldies, etc.

The Launchcast player is fairly efficient. Depending on your bandwidth, you can choose a low, medium or high quality stream. While a tune is playing the title, artist, album it comes from, year and Album or CD graphic are clearly displayed. Clicking any brings you to the artist's page where you'll find track listings, artist links, and purchase options.

The player also includes a drop-down menu to choose other stations and you can choose an option to play or not play songs with explicit lyrics. Don't like the song currenly playing? Press a button and skip it or press another button on the player to never play it again. There's also a built-in rating system which you can take advantage of to provide feedback to the Launchcast programmers.

Now, in return for all these free stations and options, you will have to listen through an audio ad when you first fire up the player. But, the occasional ad is worth the service.

If, though, you prefer a commercial-free experience and have broadband, then a subscription to Launchcast PLUS might be what you're looking for. In addition to no commercials, it includes unlimited song-skipping, exclusive programmed stations (over 70 not available in the free version), and the ability for you to create your own "music moods". If you pay by the year, it's $35.99 or you can pay a $3.99 monthly fee. (Prices verified as of the date of this article.)

Launchcast is a great example of Internet Radio that is both accessible to anyone yet robut enough to provide extras for discriminating users who are willing to pay a reasonable fee for that priviledge.

- Corey Deitz

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