The End of “Radio as we know it”

There is a news item today in Tom Taylor’s daily radio newsletter that is very important and will sooner or later determine if this web site becomes really important or have no purpose.

Since the first days, I’ve had the vision that “Internet Radios” are the future of radio.   They are a device you can buy today (C. Crane offers several versions) that lets you listen to streaming radio without needing a computer and in ways that are more familiar – like being integrated into a bedside unit that behaves like a conventional clock radio.   The radio connects to the internet using your existing wireless WiFi (802.11) router, but I would expect that to evolve into working with 3G and 4G wireless used now for cell phone internet access.  Down the road, your car “radio” will probably work based on this technology too, so you can listen to any radio station in the world on your way to work (including internet-only radio)

The big flaw to Internet Radios is that there is no standard way to tell them how to connect in order to stream (the basic focus of this directory).    The manufacturer of the radio maintains their own proprietary list of “supported” radio stations, usually limited by the technical capability of the radio (is it mp3 only?  WMP?).   Since you are not using a computer, any player that requires you to have Flash or javascript or a web browser won’t work.  And radio stations constantly change the URLS…. and what is the business model for a radio station to stream to a non-computer that can’t show ads?

So today’s news is that a group over in Europe is starting to work on developing a standard for internet radio, so that your radio would not be dependent on a list from the manufacturer and radio stations could publish their connection information so that changes are picked up automatically.

This has definitely got my attention :)

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2 Responses to The End of “Radio as we know it”

  1. Terry Purvis says:

    The biggest flaw to Internet Radio is the streaming technology, because it delivers the same thing to every listener at the same time, across a world where there are 40 time-zones.

    What wakes you up in LA won’t work in New York when, at the same time, it’s the middle of the morning, or in London where it’s mid-afternoon.

    The further away from the time-zone of origin the more “unlistenable” any station becomes for the typical mainstream listener.

    It has never been possible to produce radio programming suitable for every listener in every time-zone regardless of the local time at the same time, and it has always been taken into consideration with terrestrial transmission networks.

    But, somehow the entire radio industry ignores this fact when it comes to the Internet.

    1. Radio is a “local” medium, and the absolute requirement of programming a station according to the time of day is what the true meaning of “local” is really all about.

    2. On the Internet every radio station is audible in more than one time-zone, so even in the US where stations are generally confined within the national boundaries it’s a problem.

    And there won’t be any viable business model for Internet Radio until that little detail is dealt with properly.

    • Art Stone says:

      When all the “local” radio station is doing is voice tracking or carrying syndicated programming, the points about time of day are not very relevant.

      I can see pretty clearly that “local” radio and streaming radio are opposite concepts. Almost nobody comes here to stream a local station. On the other hand, what is the value added of being one more station that streams Rush Limbaugh if the ears move to the internet? In the end, I see “real” radio as returning to being local with syndication moving to internet (especially if the FCC cracks down on diversity). Whether there is enough revenue in the local markets to sustain radio is hard to see at this point.

      Also, don’t lose sight of the fact that there is no FCC license, no large investment to start an internet-only radio station. When you view the “business model” of “radio” through the eyes of what is called radio today, of course you see no “business model”. How does Arbitron justify its existance when/if a large portion of a station’s audience is “out of market” listeners? Does an advertiser on WPLJ in New York City want to pay for a listener in Kansas City? What if the streams can target to the city where the person is, not where the radio station is?

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