THE HISTORY OF INTERNET RADIO
The beginning of the era of radio is usually equaled to the advent of the FM standard due to the fact that the AM standard became quickly outdated owing to the poor sound quality and predictable programming. Radio was intended to have listeners experience high-quality sound and overall reliability of the technolo- gy. At first, the radio was focused on communicating a variety of talk-oriented formats to the listeners as the ultimate sound quality did not matter as much to the listeners as it does nowadays (Bessire & Fisher, 2012). Even though FM re- ceivers could not compete efficiently with the television in terms of the value of entertainment, a further decrease in price allowed the radio to expand its audience and improve the technology. FM stations became the most popular on the verge of the 1940’s, when FM receivers could be found practically in every household. At that time, customers began thinking about getting sound of the highest quality while listening to different musical genres – from jazz and classical to blues and Latin-influenced rhythms.

Another development stage in the history of radio broadcasting started ap- proximately around the 1960’s when the high-fidelity market became influenced by the growing population of counterculture. It was at that time when the AM radio was totally forgotten owing to the poor quality and excessive commercial- ization that distracted people from the main objectives of radio as a source of en- tertainment. With the help of traditional radio, people started treating music as an important practice because it gradually transformed into a concept that went be- yond mere money-making activities. It was at that time, during the 1960’s, when the consumer culture has been finally established and gave rise to the formation of audience tastes that would later contribute to the popularity of traditional radio even more (Bessire & Fisher, 2012). At the same time, this became one of the
1 Associate Prof. , Istinye University , michaelku[email protected]


central reasons why radio began stagnating and started slowly coming back to its commercialized roots.
As the time went by, somewhere around the beginning of the 1990’s, the whole radio industry got exposed to the outcomes of an economic collapse and had a hard time getting back on the track. The lack of resources and an economic decline seriously affected the traditional radio and it led to local marketing agree- ments that should have allowed the industry to create new programming hubs. At that time, economic recession gave rise to the Internet radio initiatives that later turned into streaming services and put the traditional radio to a serious test (Bessire & Fisher, 2012). The level of consolidation helped large corporations to gain more control of the situation and re-format the stations so as to make them more audience-friendly while also minimizing the costs of maintaining them. It allowed radio stations to come up with a number of other formats and diversify the streams.
The main takeaways from the history of radio are the following:
The Golden Age of traditional radio only lasted for two decades – from the 1930’s to the 1950’s – and gave the radio industry an incredible level of po- pularity that was later translated into other kinds of art such as drama, theater, movies, dance, music, and many more.
As soon as the majority of non-music programming has left for the televisi- on, at least 40 major radio stations appeared and took over the world. At that time, there were only several playlists that included a limited number of hit songs that were played over and over again because of their huge commercial success.
During the 1970’s, radio stations started utilizing the FM standard and swit- ched to the free-from stations in order to gain more audience and provide the listeners with high-quality sound paired with less restrictions compared to the AM standard.
With the passing of the Telecommunications Act in 1996, a lot of traditional radio stations became subsumed by commercial companies owing to the fact that Internet radio started developing rather quickly and there was a strict necessity to counteract and give the traditional radio market more profit and predictability.

THE DIFFERENCES: CONVENTIONAL RADIO VS INTERNET RADIO​

Conventional radio stations have always been perceived as something that people tended to grow up with. We are used to listening to it while cooking and


eating breakfast and turning it off when everyone leaves the home for work. In a way, conventional radio broadcasting is giving us a feeling of nostalgy because radio stations were always the source of new and popular music. Traditional ra- dio became so entrenched in the lives of people that even after the advent of television, we continued listening to radio stations. In a way, television slowed people down but traditional radio was always welcome in the morning because it merely allowed people to listen to the latest news without the necessity to see anything (Bathgate, 2012). Traditional radio has always kept its listeners engaged in the process and long driving sessions were practically impossible without radio stations as they were seen as the main source of entertainment. For the majority of people, traditional radio became an important technology that significantly improved their lives.
On the other hand, there is the Internet-based radio that only appeared and got fully developed throughout the 1990’s. It started making the best use of paid subscriptions and started including less advertisement placements in its streams. Internet radio removed the geographical boundaries and allowed us to listen to our favorite artists from practically any spot in the world whereas the traditional radio could not provide us with the same level of topographical coverage. Com- pared to traditional radio, listeners became able to skip songs and only listen to those tracks that they liked. Internet radio stations gave us a possibility to create customizable playlists instead of merely listening to what the station had in store for us (Bessire & Fisher, 2012). Even though traditional radio has not changed even a bit ever since, it is still rather popular among a lot of people from all over the world. The inability to obtain a large playlist from one artist became the cornerstone of the rivalry between the conventional and Internet radio stations because the latter did not play only the famous songs while ignoring other artists and their gems.
The main change that occurred in the radio business was that with the advent of the Internet radio, novice music creators started worrying way less about find- ing exposure on the radio stations that were labeled as traditional. Nowadays, Internet radios give exposure to all artists, not only to the established ones. We do not have to listen to monotonous hits that become less pleasant when you listen to the same song at least 10 times per day. Another important transformation that the Internet radio stations brought to the business was a smaller number of ads and jingles that had to be played in order to help the station earn some money (Bathgate, 2012). Therefore, listeners became able to evade long advertisements that they did not even want to hear in the first place when they turned their radio on. Internet radio stations allowed the listeners to focus on the music instead of paying attention to inconsequential advertisements.


Ultimately, the best change that came to the radio business with the advent of Internet radio stations was the power of choice that gave listeners the ability to listen to what they wanted to at that given moment. The level of customization predicted further growth of Internet-based radio stations and also created prem- ises for an even more effective radio environment where the listeners can easily choose the playlists of interest without even paying attention to the general radio stream. The question of abundant advertisements has also been solved as right now, the majority of Internet radio stations are either completely free (occasional donations are welcomed) or subscription-based. Traditional radio may have been around for quite some time but the situation is going to change because Internet radio gives us more possibilities and quality while being significantly cheaper from all perspectives.

THE SPECIFICATIONS OF INTERNET RADIO​

When speaking of the concept of Internet radio, it is rather important to de- fine the stages that have to be passed in order for a station to start broadcasting and outline the specifications that have to be followed if an Internet-based radio station expects to provide the listeners with high-quality audio streams with no quality losses. There are three key stages (see Figure 1) that have to be taken into consideration when setting up an Internet radio station.

Figure 1. A graphic representation of basic Internet radio stages.

The source is the basis of the radio station where the computer is used to mix all the audio together (that audio could be either music or live voice) and then convert all the digital data into a series of packets that are sent to the server. A server is also known as a provider because it is used to clean the data that was sent from the computer and dispense that data among the channels that were designed to share the data packets with the end users. End users are also called listeners be- cause they ‘listen’ – both their ears and computers – to the transmission when the stream is online (Taylor, Katz, & Grajeda, 2012). The radio station only requires the source to provide the listeners with a link that has to be accessed for them to be able to listen to the stream. The whole approach to setting up and getting


an Internet radio station to run is rather straightforward due to the reduced level of complexity compared to the conventional radio stations. At the same time as servers are used to push necessary content to the Internet, audience from all over the world can enjoy the distribution without any delays and complicated methods of connection.
The first thing that has to be addressed when talking about the specifications of an Internet radio station are the server costs. The majority of providers tend to use certified data centers to place their radio stations on servers because it is one of the safest ways to house a radio station. Nonetheless, hosting services are not given out for free and reliable servers cost a decent amount of money because of the necessity to pay attention to certain specifications such as storage, memory, and the other ones (Keith, 2012). There is no opportunity to make the best use of low-cost servers in this case because the majority of low-cost companies are recurrently trying to cover their own costs and may ultimately lose their assets which means, in turn, that the radio station will also become a part of history very soon.
Another critical element of any Internet radio station is the bandwidth. De- pending on the amount and quality of the content that is being streamed, one should be rather careful with their streaming activities because even the frequen- cy of broadcasting could influence the quality of streams in the long run (Keith, 2012). Before running an Internet radio, one should define the bandwidth that will be enough to stream painlessly and whether they have access to that band- width. Without these activities, it is practically unreasonable to set up an Internet radio station as all the previous efforts will go in vain.
The next two specifications of Internet radio stations go hand in hand because of their collaborative influence on the whole radio business. First of all, there is the concept of listener cap that directly relates to the limits of the server that has been chosen to host the given Internet radio station. The presence of these limits is totally justified by the idea that their absence would lead to constant failures (Keith, 2012). Therefore, listener caps can help the owner manage their station and prevent servers from becoming overloaded. The other concept that has to be considered here is the process of managing media. Knowing that the quality of streams has to be immaculate, one should always take care of the storage avail- able on the server – 10GB of physical memory is enough to store approximately 2,500 songs in the MP3 format and 50GB will be enough to keep around 13,000 MP3s on the server.
The next important specification is how easy is the process of tuning in for
listeners. Any given station should always be accessible from several places: for​


example, one should always keep a direct link to the stream ready and an Inter- net radio directory ready in case where the player located on the main page fails to stream the media. Internet radio stations should provide their listeners with several methods of accessing the stream because the lack of those could lead the listeners to choosing another radio station where there are no interruptions, for example (Voorveld, 2011). While owning as many directories as possible, one also could come up with a mobile app for their radio station so as to have at least one additional escape route in case where something goes wrong.
The last important specification of any Internet radio station is the ability to broadcast automatically for 24 hours seven days a week. It is evident that running a radio station live with no interruptions is an impossible task but this is where one may make the best use of automation and exclude the possibility of running into a scenario where they fail to play a song when necessary (Taylor et al., 2012). There are solutions online that can help Internet radio stations create 24-hour patterns of activities and make sure that the station is up and running while be- ing managed by experienced back-end specialists in case where something goes wrong.

THE PIONEERS OF THE INTERNET RADIO​

The first prototype of the modern Internet radio appeared in 1993 when Carl Malamud launched a radio talk show that was aided by the use of computers. Starting with talk shows with computer experts, Internet radio was then used to broadcast two big concerts over the Internet in both 1993 and 1994. Throughout that same year of 1994, WXYC, a radio station from Chapel Hill, NC, became the first conservative radio station that launched Internet-based broadcasting. In or- der to function properly, WXYC used specific software and connected it to a cus- tom-designed system that was developed specifically for the purpose of Internet radio broadcasting (Keith, 2012). After numerous test runs, WXYC became able to launch their Internet radio station almost at the same time with a radio station from Atlanta, WREK, who were also using custom software to broadcast. After these two radio stations, others started joining the bandwagon as the concept of Internet radio turned out to be rather promising.
Another turn that the Internet radio was able to take occurred later during 1994 when a radio station from the State of Kansas became able to start a live broad- cast and stream it continuously over its Internet radio channel. At that time, radio stations became realizing that they could make the best use of latest technologi- cal innovations in order to compress the audio digitally and deliver high-quality audio in real-time, unlike the AM/FM radio stations. It was at that time when


software companies started developing streaming audio players as they felt like Internet radio was the future of the music industry that could help us revolution- ize the way we saw music in general (Keith, 2012). This ultimately led to the advent of the NetRadio.com in 1995 that became the first radio that functioned solely online, without the use of any external hardware. In a way, NetRadio.com became the pioneer in terms of fully Internet-based radio stations because it was also the first radio station functioning online only that received a license from ASCAP. The majority of modern Internet radio stations are following the path of NetRadio.com. The first European Internet-based radio station was launched in London – its full program went live on the Internet in 1996 for the first time.
From that particular moment, numerous radio stations from all over the world switched to a 24/7 broadcasting model as they fully switched to broadcasting over the Internet. A year later, the first Canadian Internet radio station appeared, Radio306.com, that is still up and running even today. Since the late 1990’s, Internet radio became an interesting opportunity for investors from all over the world as they started seeing the potential that it could bring to the music industry. This ultimately resulted in one of the highest leaps in terms of stock offerings (from $18 to $68 within just one day of trading) in the history of the United States when investors turned their views on an Internet radio station called Broadcast. com (Keith, 2012). The company was not in a good position at that given moment and they tried to give themselves in for the best price possible. It all ended with Broadcast.com being purchased by Yahoo! for almost $6 billion on the verge of the 21st century.
With the growth of technical possibilities, numerous Internet radio stations became able to stream in the RealAudio format and gave up on the HTTP. One of the first pioneers of the RealAudio movement was the TechEdge radio that man- aged to broadcast its shows in three different formats: radio live, RealAudio live, and HTTP broadcasting. Soon, Internet radio initiatives got everywhere from the US to Australia and people started enjoying the benefits of Internet radio stations without worrying about the costs of this service and the presence of conventional radio ads that became totally unbearable (Keith, 2012). With the growth of the concept of Internet radio, more radio stations started appearing all over the world as the quality of streams was continually increasing and the prospects of the Inter- net radio business looked rather enticing. The advent of economical bandwidths also created room for more audience that could enjoy streams. Modern Internet radio stations mostly broadcast in CD quality, and it is now an evidenced fact that there are more than 8,000 active Internet radio stations all across the globe.


THE ADVANTAGES OF INTERNET RADIO​


Diversity​

The first advantage out of the top five (see Figure 2) that comes to mind when talking about the majority of Internet radio stations is the diversity of stations that are available worldwide. As the greatest strength of this type of mass me- dia, Internet radio diversity extends way beyond the genre classifications and leaves way more people contented as it does not focus on pop, classic rock, or any other generic musical genre. For example, one may listen to anything from the new wave to rap music if they are into the music from the 1980’s (Stark & Weichselbaum, 2013). Those who like electronic music could have a chance to choose from ambient, trance, and other genres that are close to electronic music in any way. The practical value of Internet-based radio stations consists in the fact that the diversity is real and it can help any person find their favorite stations, no matter how vague or strange their tastes are.

Less Ads​

Another critical advantage of Internet-based radio stations is the amount of advertising that plagues Internet radio broadcasting. While the costs of maintain- ing an Internet radio station are rather high, it is much more expensive to run a terrestrial radio. This is why AM/FM stations often broadcast commercials and interrupt music in order to earn money for maintenance and royalty collection. Compared to terrestrial radio stations, their Internet-based analogs are less de- pendent on advertising because they have less bills that have to be paid (Stark & Weichselbaum, 2013). The core supporting point for the majority of Internet radio stations are subscriptions and user donations that help them stay afloat. Some radio stations also choose to broadcast royalty-free music so as to get rid of commercials completely.

Availability​

The most ‘modern’ advantage among all five is the availability of Internet radio stations that can be practically reached from any corner if there is an Inter- net connection. With the lack of geographical boundaries, Internet-based radio becomes a perfect replacement option for the terrestrial radio that requires certain frequencies to remain active. Terrestrial radio station broadcast signals can only be caught when the receiver is comparatively close to the station, but this re- striction is not true for the Internet-based radio stations (Stark & Weichselbaum, 2013). Irrespective of the location, one may access Internet radio broadcasting without any delays and functioning errors. This is why several terrestrial radio stations are currently making an attempt to stream their broadcasts online so as to gain a bigger audience and reach them anywhere across the globe.

System Requirements​

Another important advantage of Internet radio broadcasting is that it does not require the broadcasters to buy expensive equipment and have a hard time in- stalling it and setting it up. Knowing that the first Internet radio stations appeared somewhere around the late 1990’s, it is rather thought-provoking to pay attention to the fact that the system requirements for setting up an Internet-based radio station have not changed ever since (Cordeiro, 2012). The same goes for the audience as they can listen to Internet radio irrespective of their hardware con- figuration and the OS that they use: Mac OS, Windows, or Linux. Online music streams can be accessed with the use of the software that comes pre-installed so it is rather easy to gain access to the Internet radio from any PC or laptop. Now- adays, even non-PC devices can be used to listen to Internet radio such as video game consoles, smartphones, and PDAs.

Sound Quality​

The last beneficial point of switching to the Internet-based radio stations is the quality of the sound that they produce. Compared to Internet radio, its terrestri- al counterpart is seriously affected by numerous environmental factors that can
deteriorate the sound quality or (b) disconnect the user from the broadcast completely. Terrestrial radio signals depend on weather conditions and on-road construction configuration: for example, a snow storm or driving through a tunnel respectively (Cordeiro, 2012). Another point regarding the conventional radio stations is that the influence of high-volume passages has to be fought by means of heavy compression rates that make the overall sound quality very close to poor. Internet radio, at the same time, broadcasts the audio in CD quality and does not compress the audio channel in order to achieve the best quality possible. For slower Internet connections, there are lower-bandwidth Internet radio stations



 

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