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Web radio

From Academic Kids

Web radio (or Internet radio) is a broadcasting service transmitted via the Internet. Not every web "radio station" has a corresponding traditional radio station. Many web radio stations are completely independent from traditional ("terrestrial") radio stations and broadcast only on the Internet. Broadcasting on the Internet is usually referred to as webcasting.

Because the radio signal is relayed over the Internet through the World Wide Web, it is possible to access the stations from anywhere in the world—for example, to listen to an Australian radio station from Europe or America. This makes it a popular service for expatriates and for people who have interests that may not be adequately catered for by their local radio stations (e.g., country music). Some of the web radio services available via the Internet offer news, sports, talkback, and various genres of music—everything that is on the radio station being re-broadcast.

Dang Thi Thu Huong, writing a PhD on web radio at Bournemouth University, UK, argues that web radio is a particular form of media in itself, and cannot simply be the rebroadcast of on-air radio programmes via the internet. She suggests this definition: "Web radio is a hybrid of radio and the Internet, featuring professional output including live radio programmes online and/or archived radio programmes online, accompanied and supported by some text and/or images, and interactive communication via the World Wide Web".

Contents

Web radio technology

One of the most common ways to distribute web radio is via streaming MP3 technology, which uses the well-known MP3 music format. The bits are "streamed" over a TCP/IP connection, then reassembled and played within about 2 seconds. Therefore, streaming MP3 radio has about a 2 second lag time.

There are three major components to an MP3 stream:

  1. Audio stream source
  2. Audio stream repeater (server)
  3. Audio stream playback

There are many methods for creating the audio stream source. One of the easiest and most popular ways to compose this stream is by using the Live365 web service, which allows Internet users with very little technological know-how to begin webcasting legal audio streams in MP3 and mp3PRO formats within minutes. Those more technologically savvy may opt for the SHOUTcast service, which utilizes Winamp and the SHOUTcast DSP plugin to deliver MP3 audio at higher bitrates. Other methods include open source technologies such as Streamcast, stream-db, IceS, and MuSE. Using open source stream source tools allows for interesting web interface possibilities like phpStreamcast.

Two of the most popular Web radio networks are Live365 and SHOUTcast. Open source alternatives include Icecast and Xiph.org, which include Ogg Vorbis streamings (that can be played by Winamp and Zinf). Collectively, these Web radio servers list thousands of Internet radio stations covering an ever-expanding variety of genres. The purpose of the server is to repeat the stream source to the audio playback software.

Some sort of audio playback software, that is capable of reading HTTP data streams, is needed to listen to streaming MP3 audio. Some popular MP3 players are Winamp for Windows, iTunes for Macintosh and Microsoft Windows, and XMMS on UNIX/Linux.

There are also a small number of web radio programs that allow users to rate the songs they are listening to. This allows a user's music listening choices to be correlated against those of others, as with the programs iRATE radio, Last.fm and Radio Paradise.

History

The first Internet "radio station", Internet Talk Radio, was developed by Carl Malamud in 1993. Malamud's station used a technology called MBONE (IP Multicast Backbone on the Internet). In February, 1995, the first full-time, Internet-only radio station, Radio HK, began broadcasting the music of independent bands. Radio HK was created by Norman Hajjar and the Hajjar/Kaufman New Media Lab, an advertising agency in Marina del Rey, California. Hajjar's method was to use a CU-SeeMe web conferencing reflector connected to a custom created audio CD in endless loop. Later, Radio HK converted to one of the original RealAudio servers. Today, Internet radio stations such as VoyagerRadio utilize the technologies of web services like Live365 to webcast 24 hours a day.

WXYC (89.3FM Chapel Hill, NC USA) was the first radio station to start broadcasting on the Internet on November 7, 1994. WXYC used an FM radio connected to a system at SunSite running CU-SeeMe. WREK (91.1FM, Atlanta, GA USA) also started streaming on the same day, using their own custom software called CyberRadio1 (http://wrek.org/old/CyberRadio1/), although the stream was not advertised until a later date. KPIG also began to transmit a live, 24/7 feed, in August 1995, first using Xing Streamworks and later switching to RealAudio. Bill Goldsmith, who was KPIG's Operations Manager & morning DJ at the time, and the one responsible for starting the webcast, now operates the popular Internet station Radio Paradise.

Tuning in to a broadcast like a traditional radio is not possible on internet, so finding different broadcasts has to be done with a search-engine or a website that collects on-line radio (http://www.kabelradio.nl) broadcasts.

In 1997, Sonicwave (http://www.sonicwave.com), created by producer Edward Lyman, with licensing agreements from BMI and ASCAP, became the first legal internet-only station to broadcast live, 24/7 using RealAudio.

In 1999 a company called MyCaster released a tool that allowed anyone to Netcast in 10 minutes. The MyCaster tool was cleverly simple. It was basically a software MP3 player, similar to Winamp, that as the user listened to music it simultaneously sent a stream to the MyCaster Website. MyCaster then amplified the stream and listed it on its site for listeners to access. The free service allowed even people with little technical skill to easily go live with their own Internet radio station. Like many early Internet radio endeavors, MyCaster succumbed to the dot com bust in 2001.

A new technique for internet broadcasting via P2P technology called Peercasting will hopefully make it easier to start your own station and cut down on bandwidth costs for current broadcasters.

Mercora P2P Radio www.mercora.com

A combination of P2P and Internet radio, Mercora P2P radio is streaming only user to user in a legal format. No downloads, though some user's may use audio "hijacking" to record Internet audio signals, Mercora turns each listener into a Internet radio station if they so choose. Mercora keeps it legal by paying broadcasting royalties.

Corporate policy

Many workplaces ban employee use of web radio in order to conserve internet bandwidth. At ~1500 kbit/s, a T1 line can only handle 7.8 192 kbit/s streams, or 26 56 kbit/s streams, assuming that the T1 is completely unutilized otherwise.

See also

External links

Open source technology

  • Dynebolic GNU/Linux live CD ready for radio streaming
  • MuSE audio mixing and streaming source software
  • Streamcast (http://streamcast.sourceforge.net)
  • Shoutcast
  • Stream-db (http://stream-db.sourceforge.net)
  • phpStreamcast (http://www.adfinis.com/index.php/PhpStreamcast_Details)
  • Icecast
  • IceShare P2P IceCast protocol
  • Xiph.org (http://dir.xiph.org)
  • iRate (http://irate.sourceforge.net/) a web radio that chooses the next song based on your previous ratings for other songs
  • Broadcaster (http://www.apple.com/quicktime/products/broadcaster/) for Macs
  • Freecast (http://www.freecast.org) Java application which allows peer-to-peer stream broadcast. Makes possible a stream broadcast to a large number of listeners from a simple DSL connection
  • Peercast is a peer-to-peer broadcasting tool which allows you to broadcast without needing much upstream bandwidth.
  • Stewie Radio Automation Project (http://www.wolfteck.com/~jschind/stewie/) Set it and forget it radio automation

Free (in the sense of Libre) Speech Radios

de:Internetradio es:Radio por Internet fr:Webradio it:Radio on line nl:Webradio ja:インターネットラジオ ru:Web-радио fi:Internet-radio sv:Webbradio

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