If you have Windows XP Media Center Edition, Windows Vista Home Premium or Ultimate or Windows 7 Home Premium, Ultimate or Business, you have Windows Media Center already installed on your computer. You can use this versatile free media center to play free radio stations on your computer, both over-the-air or on the Internet. Setting up free FM and Internet radio stations in Windows Media Player isn’t complicated, but you have to make sure that you have the right equipment and services before you get started.
Listen to Free Over-the-Air FM Radio Stations in Windows Media Center
To listen to FM radio in Windows Media Center, you will need an FM tuner or a TV tuner with the ability to pick up FM radio stations. There are internal TV and FM radio tuner cards that you can install on your computer’s motherboard and external tuner cards that connect to a computer by USB. It’s much easier to install an internal TV or FM radio tuner card on a desktop computer than in a laptop. An internal tuner card is also a good space saver if you’re in a cramped room. However, the ease of installation of an external TV or FM tuner makes it very handy to use, especially if you want to use it on multiple computers or install it on a laptop.
Once your TV or FM radio tuner is installed, open Windows Media Center. Scroll through the menus until “Music” is highlighted. Select “radio” from the horizontal list. Select “FM Radio.” Select “Seek” or “Tune” to search for free radio stations in Windows Media Center. Alternatively, you can also use the “+” and “-” buttons to search for free FM radio stations or enter the radio station’s frequency manually. You can then use the Windows Media Center buttons in the lower right corner to play, pause, fast forward, rewind and record the FM radio broadcast. Be sure to set your favorite FM radio stations as presets so you can listen to them quickly and easily later on.
Listen to Free Internet Radio Stations in Windows Media Center
The best way to listen to free Internet radio stations in Windows Media Center is to use the Live 365 plugin which comes with the program. To listen to these radio stations, you will need a high speed Internet connection. You don’t need a Live 365 account to use this service. If you’re listening on a computer that is not directly connected to the Internet, you will also need a wired or wireless home network with a router and access points for each computer you intend to connect to the Internet.
To access the Live 365 free radio service, highlight “Music” in Windows Media Center. Click “More Music.” Select the “1000s of Stations” button for Live365.com. Select one of the Internet radio genres that appear in the window, choose “Genres” from the left navigation bar or select “Thousands More Stations” from the bottom of the screen. Scroll up and down through the Internet radio list then click on the genre of music that you want to listen to.
Click on a yellow “Listen” icon to listen to a free Internet radio station through Live 365. Don’t click on the gold “VIP” icons, as these radio stations require a paid subscription to Live 365. Keep in mind that a paid VIP radio station could change to a free radio station and back again, based on how many people are listening to the station. Check back later if a radio station you want to listen to is currently in VIP mode.
Click the “+” sign beside “Add to My Radio” to save the radio station for easier access. Click on the “radio” link in “Music” to quickly access this radio station again.
For more information, read How to Set Up a Wireless Home Network in Windows XP and Vista and How to Set Up a Wireless Access Point with Your Home Network.