Avid radio listener and Hull resident Peter Skiera recently launched his own website and blog to expose fellow music lovers to “standout” Internet radio stations they may not discover on their own, and to make Internet radio technology less intimidating.
These unique stations feature many different kinds of music chosen for their broad appeal — from easy listening and classical to Frank Sinatra and Rosemary Clooney — and everything in-between.
“Although we may have different tastes in music, I have yet to meet someone who does not like some type of music,” Skiera told the Hull Times. “If there is one thing in this world that unites us, it’s music.”
Some of the content from his “Stop Searching. Start Listening” website, www.recommendedstations.com, is linked to Patreon, a service that allows listeners to provide monthly financial support to their favorite content creator — in this case Skiera.
“In order to help fund my website and blog content, I started a Patreon campaign and ask RecommendedStations.com readers to contribute $1 a month,” Skiera explained.
Skiera says RecommendedStations is the result of “a lifetime love affair with radio, audio equipment, and music, and it comes to listeners from my soul.”
He “cuts through the clutter” and recommends two different Internet radio stations every month to his RecommendedStations supporters on Patreon. “Every station I recommend has good to excellent sound quality, streams reliably, and usually has some unique twist that other stations do not,” he said. For example, later this month Skiera will be recommending a classic rock station 9,000 miles away that plays music most other classic rock stations do not.
In deciding which Internet radio stations to recommend, Skiera searches for “something different from what everyone else does.” Listeners can tune into his Recommended Stations using an Internet radio, an Internet radio app on their cell phone, or their computer. “My goal is to be the Roger Ebert of Internet radio!” Skiera said.
As preparation, he normally “auditions” between 10 to 15 Internet stations a day, writes down the names of the ones he especially likes, and then does some in-depth listening in the following days and weeks to decide which ones are the best fit for RecommendedStations.
Skiera explained what inspired him to start this service. “I listen to a lot of music on some of the more than 60,000 free Internet radio stations streaming all over the world, and I thought it would be helpful for someone to sift through some of them and make recommendations. Otherwise, it can be overwhelming to search and decide which ones to listen to,” he said.
Skiera’s website features interesting articles and blogs, mostly about music-related topics, with eye-catching titles such as “Album Spotlight: We Need a Little Christmas,” “A Cup of Coffee,” and “Musical Pumpkins & Stingy Jack.” Later this month he’ll be posting an in-depth article about the vintage detective show “Mannix” and its music.
Next month, there will be an article about a fellow who uses pay phones all over New York to record programming for his station. “He calls in to his recording device and talks about different aspects of his life,” Skiera said. “It’s a strange but fascinating story.”
On New Year’s Day, Skiera officially launched his own Internet station, Wind Chime Radio, which streams the sounds of the wind chimes on his own front porch in Hull in stereo. “I searched on the Internet and could not find a free, commercial-free, Internet radio station that solely played wind chimes,” he said.
Skiera does not make the chimes move artificially but rather, lets the wind “do its thing” naturally, recording them outside where they normally hang so the recordings are as realistic as possible.
This 3-1/2 hours of wind chime music is available 24/7. “Listeners can tune in anytime and can listen to it over and over again,” he explained. “This music also works well in gift shops, offices, or in waiting rooms, playing in the background.”
Skiera has worked in the audio industry for almost 25 years following nearly seven years in radio broadcasting.
While in college in the 1980s, Skiera interned at Boston rock station WBCN-FM and hosted a mainstream jazz show on his college’s radio station, WERS-FM, in addition to working at AM and FM stations all over New England.
He later left radio altogether to work for Cambridge SoundWorks, a company that pioneered selling made-in-Massachusetts loudspeakers via mail order and later on the Internet.
From CSW he moved on to various other jobs in the audio product management field. “I’ve been to China more than 100 times for my work in quality control, since most speakers are made there,” Skiera said. “It’s been fascinating meeting the people who live there and enjoying their food. It’s been a very interesting experience.”
His latest venture is not surprising considering he has worked in radio, sold radios, helped manufacture radios, and written about radio. Skiera also does voice work for Internet station JIB On The Web, a recreation of the legendary beautiful music station WJIB 96.9FM.
In addition to describing the featured stations’ format and music, Skiera presents “the story behind the station,” covering its history and bringing out interesting facts and trivia.
He also spotlights what he calls “hitchhiker stations” — unusual stations that would likely not exist were it not for Internet radio, he explained. Skiera refers to these stations in that way because auditioning Internet radio stations “is akin to picking up hitchhikers on the highway… You are never quite sure what you are going to hear when you select a station and stream it for the first time.”
Although “hitchhiker stations” are not ones that radio fans are likely to listen to on a regular basis, “many Internet radio enthusiasts have found some of them to be as equally fascinating and entertaining as my RecommendedStations, if not more so,” Skiera said.
He gets excited with he discovers a particularly interesting “hitchhiker station” because “they are few and far between,” in his opinion. A couple of stations that particularly caught his attention feature music especially for plants and one specifically programmed with music to calm your cat.
In addition to loving music, Skiera is a big fan of the Town of Hull. “It has the best wind for chimes,” he said. “In addition, I have great neighbors, and you can’t beat summer here. I love living by the ocean and going to the beach.”