WAMU does streaming right

When I started working from home on Wednesdays, I dragged an old (from high school) bookshelf stereo system into our computer room to have NPR on for background noise. For some reason, I can’t work without some background sound. That doesn’t explain why sometimes at work I put on my headphones but forget to play any music. I think "putting my headphones" = "let’s get to work" for me.

But I digress. So sitting in our computer room is an eye sore of a stereo that only gets used once a week. Today, I remembered WAMU streams and I decided to install Real’s Helix Player for linux so I could listed directly on my PC. Going to the WAMU home page, after installing the player, I saw that quite prominently they have links to listen live via shoutcast/mp3 streaming in addition to Real and Windows streaming formats.

I’m wondering what’s the point of offering all 3, mp3 players are available across platforms (Linux/Apple/Windows). On the server end, a shoutcast server is available without licensing and other costs. Is it a question of scaling. Or maybe its quality – the realaudio stream sounds better than the mp3 stream but I can’t tell if they’re encoded at the same bitrate.

update: I do spelling wrong.