Try to get WFMT in Chicago, the best classical station in the world.
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Also see about getting WQXR. Your local NPR station might also have some classical shows, though in my area (NYC area) they seem to have less and less classical programming.
A lot of stations, like FMT and QXR, are available over the internet--a friend of mine gets a ton of European classical stations this way, and they are tremendous. I haven't figured out how he does it, but I'm sure that there are A-goners who do this.
Satellite radio has one serious classical station (Channel 80 on Sirius) which is fairly good as far as content goes (there is also a light classics station and an opera channel), though it sounds distinctly "digital" in the bad sense to me on my car radio (highs sound steely, for example).
What you need is a Squeezebox or at least some way to stream stations from your computer. You'll have many choices then. I like WGBH in Boston.
Satellite isn't so great at least on Sirius. They have them niched into symphonic, chamber, and pops. It's just doesn't work for me. I don't think at Sirius that they know how to program classical.
Go the streaming route with a Squeezbox is my advice. The choices are nearly unlimited.
You can use also use an airport express (apple product) and connect it to your system and stream audio off the net. Similar to what Wireless200 suggests. Then you will have a whole host of Classical stations at your disposal from around the globe. I like Radio Swiss Classic and Interlochen Public Radio to name just a couple.If the station isn't on i-tunes you can download software called airfoil (ameba) which will allow you to stream any audio signal through the airport. I believe this is a cheaper alternative to the squeezbox suggestion but believe the squeezebox may provide better audio quality.
I'm not at all technically savvy. Are you suggesting that I can stream desired radio stations over the internet to my iMac, then have this stream transferred wirelessly to some external device (squeezebox or airport express) that hooks up directly to the preamp in my system?
(If this is not right, please describe the steps as specifically and simply as you can.)
Yes, you can stream the stations audio from your i-mac via i-tunes wirelessly to an airport express (located anywhaere in your house) which is hooked up to your pre-amps input. Just select the airport once it is installed and recognized by i-tunes and you then select the proper input on your pre-amp and you are good to go. Not real difficult if I can do I am sure you can. Just follow the directions that comes with the airport.
The airport can either be your wireless network or can join an existing wireless network. Pretty neat device bought mine on e-bay for 70 usd. I use a monster cable that I picked up from radio shack to connect the airport to my pre-amp. Now I have many choices of classical stations. The Swiss Channel I mentioned is not on i-tunes so I use airfoil to stream it from my windows media player the the airport.
My airport is plugged into an outlet next to my system which is hooked up to my pre-amp's aux input. It works great and I get all kinds of stations (classical). The airport even has an optical out so I can use an external DAC if I choose as the DAC on the airport is not the best although it is fine for casual listening.
Hope this helps.
if you have iTunes, you can stream radio stations. Take a pair of headphones and check their sound quality right on your iMac with iTunes. There are a lot of radio stations you can get over internet that aren't that bad sounding. 128kbps won't be as horrible sounding as you may think.
If your goal is to just listen and enjoy the music itself, the quality may be acceptable. However, this isn't going to be something you will sit down and listen to like you do with a CD or vynil. Depends on what you're used to, of course. WQXR is in 96kbps...right now they're playing Mahler's 5th, and it does not sound that bad.
The other suggestion that involves Squeezebox is also great.
My favorite and I think one of the best classical stations (and I have heard many over the years) is still WLRH Huntsville Alabama.
Sound quality via internet radio on a Roku Soundbridge is very good which makes it a practical option for a variety of good classical with well done, informative commentary as well wherever you might live.
For a classical radio lover, the SOundbridge could be the best $200 you can spend. Couple it with a good external DAC and you can really be in classical music radio heaven.