I have an alternate life in Second Life, an open ended virtual world... parts of it are pretty out there (and those are invariably the parts that get media attention), but what I enjoy most are the historic recreations and fantasy alternative spaces... ROMA (a very active community patterned after ancient Rome), Caledon (a huge Victorian steampunk community), and Winterfell (another large community devoted to dark fey, medieval, gothic and fantasy).
Through these last two I was put onto some of the best streaming radio online, and I'm mentioning it here because you needn't be IN Second Life to take a listen to it - Radio Riel is a highly professional collection of streaming channels, each devoted to a specific theme, and guaranteed to provide musical enjoyment you won't get listening to the radio, MTV or VH-1.
I like listening via my iTunes program as I go about my day - you may hear intriguing ads for places like Babbage, and Caledon and Winterfell... feel free to ignore them although I think they may be starting to advertise non-virtual shops, as well - but should they pique your interest enough to check out Second Life, that's good too! For the creative person, SL can be a fun playground.
(note - this entry is not in exchange for anything from RR - I just really enjoy their stream and think others might too)
The six channels currently on offer (and you can check them out by clicking the link to start the stream):
Radio Riel Main Stream
This is like a wonderful sampler of all of their channels - the website will show you what's being played, and there are special collections and themes happening all the time. This is also where live SL events are aired - parties, concerts, you name it... Radio Riel's DJs will be happy to spin the tunes for those looking to get their virtual dance on.
The website blurb for Main Stream says it "primarily carries traditional music, and material generally written prior to 1950. A different Radio Riel Presenter creates a unique programme every day. Tune in to hear: Early Music, Baroque, Classical, Light Music, Early and Later Jazz, Late 19th Century Popular, Folk, Celtic and more. We also offer regular radio drama and World Music programming."
Right now, I'm listening to a collection of "Musica Mechanika" - lots of carnival style mechanical music.
Radio Riel Steampunk
This is my favorite station ever - it carries a collection of Steamwave, Goth, Electronica, Alternative, Industrial, Dark Cabaret, Mechanical Music and some Classical and Baroque. Mostly contemporary, but not mundane at all - I highly recommend this for a bit of modern Halloween mood music.
Radio Riel New Toulouse
This chanel 'features the music of New Orleans and Jazz. Tune in and you will hear: Ragtime, Early and Later Jazz, Blues, Big Band, Cajun and Zydeco.' I don't know what Zydeco is - but I do know that this station is cool, baby, cool.
Radio Riel Dieselpunk
When I'm not on Steampunk, this is my second favorite go-to channel. It 'features music from 1920–1940, including Pop Standards, Big Band & Swing, Burlesque & Cabaret, and a dash of Film Noir soundtracks.' How fun is that?? Dieselpunk is the film noir era as it would have been if it sprung up after a Steampunk era - WWII never happened, and instead there is an ongoing cold war of ideologies taking place, diesel is king, and Mickey Spillane is god.
Radio Riel Reverie
This is the station of my beloved Winterfell... darkly fantastic and gothic. Medieval, Fantasy, Darkwave and Celtic music - New Age with a dark twist. If you like Emilie Autumn you're going to love this. Excellent Samhain mood music here.
Radio Riel Volksmusik
Their newest offering, this stream just came online and offers traditional and contemporary folk music of Eastern, Central and Northern Europe. Looking for some Octoberfest sounds? This is the place for it!
I'd love to know if you gave them a listen and what you think? It is one of the wonders of the world to me that it's possible to dive into niche music and unique broadcasting in spite of commercial radio's homogenizing Top Ten mentality. If you ever suspected you might have been born in the wrong era, give Radio Riel a try.