Technology, the Internet and the future of radio

With more and more people relying on gadgets to get their informational fix, it seems that the technologies of yesterday have been left in the dust, never to be used again. That is why savvy-businessmen have recognized this trend and adapted their enterprises to the new, digital age. A development in this direction has been Internet radio.

Internet radio gives you the option to listen to either local radio stations or internet radio stations. While it was possible to find paid radio stations in the past, today, all internet radio stations are free. The reason of course is to attract new listeners. It’s hard enough to get people to pay for video and text media (think online magazines like http://vp3media.com/) that adding a price onto radio will only drive people further away from it.

So Internet radio is free and plenty. But are there any advantages to it versus the other digital media platforms?

Keeping old radio on life support

We’re of the opinion that Internet radio made it easier for people to get hooked on regular radio stations. Serving as a bridge to traditional radio programs, you can get both AM and FM stations with programs ranging from music, news to drama, talk shows and others. If you’re in Europe and you used to listen to the NPR every morning, you now have the option to do, even¬†if there’s no physical possibility for NPR waves reaching you. However, this makes up a small portion of internet radio listeners.

But don’t be mistaken, traditional radio isn’t going to go anytime soon. A big part of radio listeners is made up of automobile drivers who regularly tune-in to their favorite stations to get their music and news fix.

So what advantages does Internet radio bring if you’re used to listening to radio in your car? Well, for one, you can get your favorite radio station in your browser. We’ve observed many people prefer to listen to an online radio station rather than create their own playlist. That’s where services like Spotify and Pandora have thrived, offering their users the option of a non-stop, customized stream of music on demand.

How it all got started

The first internet radio stations made their appearance in the 90’s. With internet speeds being what they were, audio quality was severely reduced. Dial-up users remember the old days of waiting for their stream to buffer, only to get interrupted 10 seconds later to load again.

Online radio stations were few then and only offered as an experiment by already-established traditional radio stations. It didn’t make much sense to listen to music that way then since you could get the “full” quality of radio by turning on your tuner.

But since then, advances in internet speed and sound compression technology have made the point of quality obsolete. In fact, you can get better quality from the internet than you could get from a radio because there is no interference with the signal.

Is there a future for online radio?

We believe there is. However not in the traditional form that it has been used till now. For example, podcasting is an off-spring of traditional radio talk-shows that has become immensely popular because of how accessible the technology of recording and broadcasting has become (http://daconsoftware.com/). There still is plenty of space for innovation in this field and we can’t wait to see what the future brings. One thing however is certain: online or “offline” radio is here to stay.

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