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Listening to the Net.

Once upon a time listening to audio on the Web was like trying to tune in to broadcasts from the moon. Sound was garbled and scratchy. Connections often cut out. Sometimes the transmission even crashed your browser. Through it all, however, RealAudio (software that enables your computer to receive broadcast signals) has set the standard in the evolution of Internet audio. Now, with RealAudio 3.0, high-quality on-line sound has arrived. And for gays and lesbians, it's bringing with it some amazing services.

A new gay-owned site called GLOradio is a prime example: That's where you'll find the Internet's first daily gay on-line community talk show, Hangin'OUT. To get to Hangin'OUT, go to the site's Web address (www.gloradio.com or www.hanginout.com); there the on-screen menu lets you choose what you want to hear. You don't have RealAudio loaded on your computer? Not to worry; you can download the software for free, right then and there. It doesn't take much more thought than eating a piece of cheese.

Once your software is in place, you can start by listening to "The Daily Dose," a five-minute news bulletin that's updated every weekday. It's a good, quick source for global news about the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender movements. The segments have a certain improvisational feel, but they aren't fluff. And since you can't hear news on gay and lesbian issues from around the world this quickly anywhere else, credit the staff with breaking ground and chalk up any awkward moments to the freshness of the program.

Once you've gotten your "Daily Dose," it's time to click on the Hangin'OUT interview. Every weekday, site producer and gay Seattle radio veteran John McMullen and his co-hosts--lesbian activist Lucia Regan and lesbian philanthropist Chelle Mileur--talk to prominent gays and lesbians. Each Hangin'OUT interview ends with a few minutes of listener feedback gathered from E-mail and phone calls. When you're done Hangin'OUT, listen to fresh daily features on travel, politics, sex, relationships, the arts, or technology. For Hollywood gossip, connect with "Tinseltown Queer" host Nicholas Snow every Thursday. Technology and the Web your style? Listen to Digital Queers cofounder Karen Wickre host "Out Surfin'" every Tuesday. Sex your subject of choice? Every Friday, Dr. Ruthless, a.k.a. Malcolm McKay, answers listeners' questions. More new shows to come include the sports-oriented "Countdown to Amsterdam" and shows about lesbian health and personal finance.

Nominated for a 1997 GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Interactive Media, Hangin'OUT premiered in September 1996. Its first 14-week season ended in late December. But if you're just tuning in, don't worry; you haven't missed anything. With a click of the mouse, you can listen to any of last season's shows, such as October's remote broadcast from the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt display in Washington, D.C., or December's Christmas program featuring the Seattle Men's Chorus. In listening to these older shows, you'll notice that Hangin'OUT was originally presented once a week in two-hour blocks, as opposed to its current one-a-day assortment of 20-minute segments. The new, improved formula lets you single out topics you enjoy.

Created by Progressive Networks, which also has a hand in the production of Hangin'OUT, RealAudio 3.0 installs easily on both Macintosh and Windows computers. The improved technology of RealAudio 3.0 instantly recognizes your modem speed and delivers the highest-quality sound your computer can receive. And with RealAudio you can actually keep listening to Hangin'OUT while you visit other Web sites. (In other words, the show's home page doesn't have to be up on your screen in order for you to keep hearing it. You'll continue to see the RealAudio control panel as a small inset at one corner of your screen.) If you surf your way to another site that offers audio, you'll still hear Hangin'OUT. To hear the audio from the new site, end your Hangin'OUT connection and follow the on-screen directions to receive the new audio.

You can download RealAudio directly from the RealAudio site (www.realaudio.com) or jump there from GLOradio's home page, which also connects you with RealAudio's easy-to-use help pages should you hit any snags. Incidentally, if you're still using a 14.4 kbps modem, you don't need pricey software to improve RealAudio sound for slower connections. Even at this baud rate, spoken-word audio doesn't sound bad. It may just be a bit choppier.

No excuses allowed: No matter how basic your modem or your skills, you can tune in to Hangin'OUT So stop just hanging out in front of your computer screen and make space on your desk for those stereo speakers. You're invited to participate in the new sound of the gay community on-line.
COPYRIGHT 1997 Liberation Publications, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1997, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Internet's RealAudio 3.
Author:Fagan, Scott
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Product/Service Evaluation
Date:Mar 18, 1997
Words:780
Previous Article:Thibaudet: Conversations with Bill Evans.
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