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Like Bruce Woolley & the Camera Club almost predicted, ‘video killed the radio star’. We say almost, because broadcast video took the plunge and moved online to save itself first – but to radio’s credit, it followed suit shortly after. 

And as all broadcasters and wannabes alike know – getting people to tune in online trumps any other listener numbers nowadays. We share our basic insider tips on how to start an online radio station in 2020. Are you listening?

Why set up an internet radio station?

There are so many killer things about launching your own radio station, rather than grafting towards a slot on a traditional radio. Usually, it’s all about who you know, and not what you know. 

When starting your own station though, it’s totally the other way around. Here are some of the reasons we are #teaminternetradio:

  • Advertising and sponsorships: Once your station gets big you may get enquiries about advertising and sponsorship, two ways you can generate some income to supplement and even profit from your station.
  • Independence: You’ll have full control over your programming, scheduling, and branding. No guidelines to adhere to. In fact – you’ll be drawing up your own. This is about as refreshing as gulping down a cold one at Glasto.
  • Representation: You’ll be able to broadcast local artists and talent from those that know them best. No jumping on the artist wagon just because they’re hot right now (we’re looking at you, Rita). If you think a tune deserves the limelight but it won’t be appreciated by the majority, you can add it to your playlist anyway. No popularity contests here.
  • Support local business: You’ll be able to focus on aspects of your community that you really care about, without corporate big wigs telling you what you can and can’t say. Mainstream stations are biased commercially and politically, but you won’t need to worry about conflicts of interest unless you have your own deals in place. Want to raise awareness for a dogs’ home one day and a high profile protest the next? Ney bother, it’s your call.
  • Help promote raw talent: You can provide a space for other local presenters to hone their skills and master their craft. Always remember where you started out. Sharing the limelight is caring, right?

How to set up an internet radio station

You want to set up your own radio station, but you’re expecting to be missing a few things. You haven’t got a team of techs to support you. You haven’t got another host to bounce off. You haven’t got the budget for expensive software, equipment or a fancy soundproof booth to broadcast from.

Using all-in-one provider Radio.co’s programming tools, you can manually create fixed playlists, or use tags to create dynamic, self-populating playlists with ease. 

There’s a tonne of professional content you can pre-record to make sure your shows are kickass too, like:

  • Hourly news bulletins
  • Live shows
  • Between-track conversation
  • Talk shows
  • Smart playlists
  • Listener requests, and more

Check it out: Radio.co cover everything you need to know on how set up your own radio station in this mega guide.

Features / How to manage an internet radio station

Once you’ve programmed your show for the day, next comes the nerve-wracking bit. Making sure your pre-recorded content plays as you’ve programmed it and that generally, your station doesn’t self-destruct if you leave it alone for the afternoon, is a vital part of managing a station. Not only that, you’ll want to know how many listeners are tuning in and when, so you can optimise airtime.

Using Radio.co’s management features, you can run your station from anywhere with an internet connection. 

You’ll have access to tools like:

  • Reliable listener analytics
  • Mixcloud integration
  • Podcast.co integration
  • Switch between multiple stations
  • Simple track reporting
  • Dedicated phone support, and more

How to get (and keep!) listeners

Attracting customers to your station is one thing, but giving them a reason to listen regularly is a much bigger challenge. One of the top ways you can grab hold of customers is by collecting data on them, checking up on what they’ve enjoyed and ensuring you serve it to them again. Or serve them similar things. For example, Barry gets strawberry sauce on his ice cream, so you can presume he will give strawberry sprinkles a go.

Using Radio.co’s engagement features, you’ll have access to integrated & add on tools like:

  • Dedicated mobile app
  • Website builder
  • Alexa skills
  • Customisable audio players
  • Twitter integration

What you’ll need to get started broadcasting

1. Broadcasting & streaming software

Radio.co offer packages ranging from $49 per month to $299 per month – which includes all the technology & tools you need to get started.

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Radio.co offer a 7 day free trial, you can test drive your new station. Brand your radio, upload tracks, schedule content, and broadcast to billions online. The best bit? There’s a team of people working hard behind the scenes to make sure things run smoothly and you get answers, fast.

2. Radio broadcasting equipment

  • One USB condenser microphone
  • Pop filter for the microphone
  • Stand, shock-mount or boom arm to support the microphone
  • One pair of studio headphones with good quality output
  • A laptop or PC with a decent internet connection
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3. A passion for radio

Stating the obvious here, but you’ll need a true passion for the industry to ‘make it’. Passion shines bright in creative industries like radio, and our dreams keep us going when the work gets tough.

4. Ideas & content

Bags of them! Great ideas, rough ideas, terrible ideas that you’ll take learnings from. 

Ultimately you need some content for your radio station – whether that is music, discussion, or a mix of different guests, hosts and shows.

Make sure you only use content that you are legally entitled to broadcast.

…and you’re ready to go!

Radio.co university

Free for anyone to read whether you have a subscription or not, you can read dozens more high level articles and guides to help you start your own internet radio station in the Radio.co university.

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