Have you always dreamed of being a radio DJ or hosting your own radio show but you don’t have the connections to be a professional radio DJ? Now, you can be a DJ by way of the internet. You can now establish your own Internet Radio Station right in your home or your room, garage or spare office space.
So this is good news for any frustrated radio DJ or independent or DIY radio stations but, you are unsure of how to go about this or even where to begin. Plus, what tools do you need to broadcast your radio show? If you’re having this dilemma, then the following guide is for you. The article will also provide a bit of an introduction into the world of internet radio. We will talk about the history of internet radio, cover the basics of how internet radio works and cover some of the tools that you need to get started.
Internet Radio Introduction
Internet radio is also known as net radio, web radio, online radio or streaming radio. It is a kind of audio service that is transmitted via the Internet. Broadcasting on the internet is commonly referred as webcasting since the broadcast is not transmitted traditionally through wired means.
Internet radio includes streaming music or videos and presenting its listeners with a continuous stream of audio that can’t be paused or replayed as compared to traditional broadcast media.
Internet radio is also different from on-demand file serving and from podcasting where downloading content is involved rather than streaming.
Internet radio is still broadcasted in much the same way as traditional radio in regards to its presentation and format – it offers sports, talk, news and different genres of music. Every format that is offered and available on traditional broadcast radio stations is also offered on internet radio.
Internet radio can be accessed anywhere in the world as long as there is a good internet connection. Anyone can listen a radio show from England, or the US or any country anytime anywhere.
But with the technological advances over the last 20 years, just about anybody owning a computer, a fast enough internet connection and a good music collection can broadcast their own radio station from home or wherever they have the needed hardware and other equipment.
Before, the ability to broadcast was only limited to people who have access to professional, commercial radio studio or the traditional radio transmitter equipment, which everyone knows is quite expensive to have.
Internet Radio History
Internet radio was started and pioneered by Carl Malamud in 1993. He launched Internet Talk radio which was the first of the computer-radio talk show genre. The first internet concert was broadcasted on 1993 by the band Severe Tire Damage. In 1994, the British rock n’ Roll band, The Rolling Stones made the first major cyberspace multicast concert.
Scott Bourne established NetRadio.com in 1995 as the world’s first internet-only radio network, then it was followed by Virgin Radio in London in 1996. It was the first European radio station to broadcast simultaneously its full program live over the internet 24 hours a day.
From 2000 up to the present, many internet radio stations have increased their stream quality as the cost of bandwidth became more affordable.
The Tools You Need To Get Started
If you’re really convinced that it’s an internet radio show you want to start and not a podcast, you need to invest in some hardware. An existing PC or a laptop should get you started at first, but you may need to think of buying a dedicated device so that you can keep the online radio station running without any interruption from your other computer tasks while broadcasting. You should be able to find something good and suitable in between $1,000 – $5,000.
Next, you need a good microphone. USB microphones are becoming more prominent each year, and although USB will not be at level with XLR connected condenser microphones to audio interface setup, many are using USB microphones professionally. It’s easy to use and not complicated to setup, plus, it’s also affordable. Some of the USB mics available today are Samson Meteor and Blue Yeti.
Next is the mixer. While virtual mixers are becoming more widely used, having a dedicated device will reduce the load on your PC. but if you’re doing an internet radio show without much talking, then you don’t need a mixing console. If you’re streaming music, any between-track fades you need can be handled by the streaming software you have chosen. Mixing consoles are usually designed for established radio stations with dedicated broadcast studios but this stage, we’re assuming that you’re broadcasting at your attic, your room, your basement or your garage.
A good set of headphones is also needed. It may be a pair of earbuds or the best you can afford. This will help you in keeping external noise and distractions at bay, thus you can focus on hosting your radio show. One of the best and affordable radio headphones in the market today is the Audio-Technica ATH M30X headphones. It delivers great sound clarity with a comfortable feel and elegant look.
Before you can make your broadcast, you need to first sign up to a radio server. Gone are the days when you collate a playlist using Winamp and streaming it. For a more dynamic approach to streaming your own radio station from the comfort of your PC, below are some dedicated services that you can sign up to.
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Mixlr is one of the simplest dedicated broadcast services that you can sign up to. Set up is pretty straightforward, register, download the Mixlr broadcast interface and broadcast. There is a trial period to check how the interface works, once you get the hang of it, you can sign up for the premium services with 3 hours, 12 hours and 24 hours of daily broadcast. Once registered, name your station and put the necessary tags and artwork to make your station recognisable.
Adding songs is pretty easy, if you have mp3s stored on your PC, just click on the plus/add button to the playlist and you’re done. To start broadcasting, just click on start. You will also see how many listeners are tuned into your broadcast. Real time chat is also available thus you can interact with your listeners while having your broadcast. Once signed, you will also be included in the Mixlr radio directory. You can also share your station on social media with a Facebook and Twitter button on the virtual mixer/broadcast interface.
“Totally free, no matter how big your audience gets” is their tagline. Radionomy share your station with other popular radio directories and have covered your music regarding licensing because they pay the royalties on your behalf. You can choose to upload your own music or use the service’s own library. You can register using your existing Facebook or Google account, or if you choose, sign up to the site itself. After this, just complete your profile, name the radio station and wait for the station to be created.
You will get an email from Radionomy with two links for additional registration and a guide to using the service. After signing in, click “Planner” and head to the “Box Management” screen. From here, you can upload music, promotions, jingles voice tracks. You can also create a playlist and day templates.
It’s similar to Radionomy, but with a monthly subscription. Here, you can choose from a hobbyist account at $9.95/month with a 2GB storage, 64 Kbps quality and up to 10 listeners. The premium account goes up to $99.95/month, with unlimited listeners, huge storage, bandwidth and high-quality streams.
There is a 7-day trial and once registered, you will be able to create your station and log on in the dashboard. From the dashboard, you can upload tracks, manage a playlist and switch between automated service, scheduled, or broadcast live as traditional DJs do.
Getting Your Listeners
Once your internet radio is a go, you’re probably wondering how you’re gonna get listeners. Well, you can start with your social media accounts and many are into Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and so on. So share the link to your station on your profile or probably create a Facebook page dedicated to your station. You can also make a blog about your internet radio station and have CTA button for your internet radio station. Also, most services will have your station listed in their station directory.
Also, you need to consider your target audience. Choose musical genres or topics that directly reflect your target audience and what your radio station’s theme and plays.
Starting and having your own online radio station is simpler than ever before and can be done with little expense. It’s time for you to hit the virtual airwaves.