Dear Lifehacker, I'd like to set an alarm on my computer, but instead of a beep I'd like to assign a preset online radio so I can wake up to music every morning. Do you know how to do this? Sincerely, No Beeping Please
Photo remixed from an original by Alan Cleaver
This is actually pretty easy to do. Let's take a look at your options.
If you don't mind paying $US10, Awaken is a piece of software that's designed to help you create custom alarms with functional backups and other great features. If you don't want to pay $US10, you can do all of this with iCal — it's just sometimes not the most reliable alarm service. What you need to do is find the online radio station you want to listen to in iTunes (or whatever you use to listen to online radio) and drag it onto the desktop. This will create a file that'll likely want to open in your default web browser. Get Info (Command + I) on the file and change its default application to iTunes. If you don't see it in the list of options, you'll need to select "Other..." and browse for iTunes manually. Once you do this, opening this file in iTunes will launch the radio station.
Now all you need to do is assign this file to an alarm. In Awaken, when you're creating a new alarm, you can assign a launch file by dragging it onto a designated empty space in the alarm creation form window. In iCal, add a new event that repeats daily at the time you want to wake up and add an alarm that activates at that time. Make that alarm open a file and then choose the online radio file we just created. This should have the same effect as using Awaken, but I've had issues with iCal's scheduler and iTunes enough in the past that I don't trust it to be perfect. Awaken, however, provides you with backup alarms so it'll still wake you up should iTunes cause any problems.
On Windows you can use an application like PC Alarm Clock or Citrus Alarm Clock if you want to pay for seamless integration, or you can do the same thing as the Mac (opening a radio URL in iTunes automatically) using Task Schedule (here are instructions for setting up a task) or use free software like AlarmWiz to do the same thing.
Hope that helps, and happy mornings!