Montreal Radio Blog

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

More about online radio streams

Every radio station needs a live Internet stream. It is a no-brainer in 2012. I was blown away back in 1996 when I heard a far away radio station online for the first time. Before that, you had to play around with your AM dial during the wee hours of the night in hopes of hearing a station. If you were lucky, you'd pick up New York or Detroit, or perhaps somewhere even further away. Sometimes the signal was sporadic. "Outside" local newscasts always intrigued me. Of course, they would have to be in either English or French in order for me to understand them. You could at one time pick up French-language newscasts from other regions of the province. I wonder about how much of that exists anymore past midnight.


Back to online streaming, which I’m sure I have blogged about before… During the early years of the Internet, you didn’t have a technological noose around your computer. If you wanted to listen to say, an American radio station, you could do so. The same went for early American video streaming. Basically, if it were out there, you had access to it. All that has changed. Sites now filter you according to your IP. If you find yourself in Canada, forget about watching your favourite shows off the web on their originating American network sites. And now you can also forget about it when it comes to many radio stations. WCBS is a prime example of a station that now bans Canadians from tuning in online.

Some still naively believe that for us in the “West” the Internet is truly a democratic medium. It isn’t anymore. Just look at the proposed SOPA down south, which our government in Canada already appears ready and willing to go along with. All is supposedly based on copyrights, but in reality it is just another mechanism of protectionism and censorship on both sides of the border. If the Internet were truly a free medium we wouldn’t be filtered according to where we happen to be located. They have been doing it with TV for decades. In many ways the CRTC is nothing more than a mechanism of private sector economic protectionism under the guise of cultural protectionism.

Thankfully, most international audio streams are still available to Canadians - for now. And the biggest winners when it comes to streams are small stations who in the past relied solely on their frequency reach to reach their audience. Broadcasters on a station like Radio Centre-Ville for example, could never have imagined they would one day be able to reach an audience anywhere in the world. We see it with podcast statistics that show where the listeners are geographically located. Podcasts and archiving are also hugely beneficial in this new on-demand and portable technological world. Depending on marketing, promotion and of course, the quality of your program, the possibilities are endless. Translating that into any sort of financial profitability is another matter altogether…