How to set up a web radio station

Written by michael ryan
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How to set up a web radio station
While most web radio broadcasting is for fun, it is possible to make some money by selling advertising. (microphone image by Alison Bowden from Fotolia.com)

Setting up a web radio station is an exciting way to get experience in broadcasting without needing to make the large investment necessary to start a traditional broadcast radio station. As long as you have a broadband Internet connection and some basic broadcasting tools like a microphone, you will be able to start your stream and offer it to friends, family and Internet radio aficionados. While most web radio stations are started for the broadcaster's personal enjoyment, you may be able to make some revenue by selling advertising space on your stream.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Broadband Internet connection
  • PC or Mac with audio input
  • Microphone
  • Audio files for music
  • Mixing board (optional)
  • External audio sources (optional)

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Configure your studio. If you will be streaming audio from your computer and only need to use a microphone for speaking to listeners and recording promotional material like commercials, set-up is easy. Find a quiet spot and set up your computer. Next, connect your microphone to the computer. If you are using a mixing board and setting up external audio sources, connect the mixing board to the computer and connect other devices, like your microphones and CD players, to the mixing board.

  2. 2

    Install recording software. If you plan to record commercials and liners for your station, you will need audio recording software. Audacity is freeware that works well and is available for Macs and PCs. In order to save your files in the smaller MP3 format, you will need the LAME MP3 encoder, which can export your raw audio files as compressed MP3s.

  3. 3

    Select a broadcast platform. If you want Internet radio users to be able to search for your station immediately, Live365 is a good broadcast platform. It offers software that lets you automate your broadcast or go live. You will also get web space that lets you store files on Live365's servers and change your playlists remotely. Live365 charges a monthly fee ranging from £3.80 to over £65 per month depending on the bandwidth and simultaneous listeners your station needs.

    Pirate Radio, available exclusively for PCs, offers similar features but has a smaller listener base. You can broadcast live or from playlists. However, unlike Live365, you cannot store your files and change them remotely. If your stream is being broadcast, your computer must be used as the server at all times, whether you are broadcasting live or from an archive. Pirate Radio costs £25.90 for a digital download.

    SHOUTcast is similar in function to Pirate Radio, but is available for both Macs and PCs. SHOUTcast is part of the popular Winamp media player, so it has a large listener base. If you're willing to dedicate your computer to serving a SHOUTcast stream, there is no fee involved. You may also pay to have a company host your server, which reduces your bandwidth requirements, as you must only send the stream to the external server, which will then distribute your web radio station to listeners.

  4. 4

    Go live. Using the platform you selected in Step 3, get your broadcast live. Queue up your audio files in the broadcasting software and get your microphone ready. Simply click the Broadcast button in your software of choice, and your station will be live. Live365, Pirate Radio and SHOUTcast all have cataloguing tools that will show your station's availability to other users of their programs. You can also inform friends and family about your stream to grow your listener base.

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