Internet radio can be used for many different reasons and to speak to many different audiences. Advertising can be interactive, allowing listeners to order immediately when they learn about products they find interesting. The inexpensive nature of Internet radio means that programming can be directed at small, special interest groups and even limited to a group of people who are authorized to listen to specific broadcasts. Training can be conducted via Internet radio without the usual geographic limits; people in several states or countries could be taught by an instructor using Internet radio. These broadcasts would be especially useful because the session could be interactive.
All this means that Internet and satellite radio could send local radio stations down the same path as local newspapers and bookstores: boarded up. Internet radio even is available in some new car models [source: Quain].
Starting an Internet radio station is more affordable than starting a tradition broadcast station. It can even be free if you already have some tech tools. A microphone is necessary if you want to talk at all, especially if you plan a talk-show or training format. The most obvious piece of equipment you will need to set up an Internet radio station is a dedicated computer with streaming media capabilities (that means a decent Internet connection, too). Then it's time to add some special apps to play your music, stream it and share it via a server [source: Miller].
You will also need various pieces of equipment to produce your radio programming. If you plan to broadcast interactive training or talk shows, you might need a mixer with a built-in telephone interface. If you plan to play music or other recordings, you will need a CD player or MP3 player and software that copies the music from the CD onto the hard drive in your computer. An audio mixer, a digital audio card and other audio equipment will be necessary to ensure sound quality and adjust your programming. Traditional radio gear such as microphones and recording and editing software should also be on your shopping list.
Finally, be sure that you're legal by licensing your station so that you have permission to play others' music or words. The rules change if you have advertising, too. Find out how to get properly licensed through your local radio amateur group or -- you guessed it -- on the Internet.
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