Montreal Radio Blog

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Internet-Only Radio

It was reported today in the Suburban  that former CJAD late-late-late night host Sol Boxenbaum will be heard once again starting on May 31st. He will host a nightly program from 10 PM to midnight on a new start-up Internet radio broadcast site VIP Internet Radio. Best of luck to Sol. He's a real good guy and it will be nice to hear him again. It's just too bad his new show won't be more accessible to his old audience.

I understand that there are some live events that are only available on-line, and then there are the podcasts which allow you to listen to anything just about anywhere for convenience sake. Still, I don't know much about Internet-only broadcasters and how successful they may or may not be. Streaming of over-the-air stations has been going on since the mid-90s, and that expands the potential audience to anyone in the world with Internet access.

Anyone can set up their own Internet live broadcast. It's more complicated than simple podcasting, but then again the problem ultimately becomes how to spread the word about your show. That's hard enough for some traditional broadcasters sometimes, but if you've got hundreds or hundreds of thousands of "competitors", how do you draw attention to your show? With radio, you really need to hook the listener right away and give them a reason to want to tune back in again. It's really not so different from trying to draw people to a blog or a web page.

I wonder if the future of radio is really to be found online. The Internet is an excellent tool to compliment existing radio programs, but I can't see how it will ever replace them. Even if you can access the Internet on portable devices, it just isn't the same thing, particularly when you are trying to be “local“. Even satellite radio has not overtaken conventional radio yet, and it doesn't look like that will happen anytime soon.

People might log onto their favourite local radio stations' web site when they are on vacation, but will they tune into a station specific to the Internet? I'm not sure that's going to happen in large enough numbers to make it financially viable. Would people be willing to pay a fee for Internet-only stations? Such fees already exist for some programming. An example would be the fee MLB charges for online access to game feeds. Maybe it would take a big name radio star to set up shop on the Internet. We shall see...

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