How to Create an Online Radio

This article is the first installment of a series of articles to explain step by step how to set up an internet station and how to get the most out of it.

In this article, we are going to give you the touches of how to create an internet radio from scratch. When we say zero, it is that: zero.

Although we assume that you will already know many concepts, you can skip reading them or they could even be used to expand some knowledge that you do not have.

Essential Basic Requirements to Create a Radio

We start from a simple, straightforward installation that little by little in this manual we will expand and insert different variables that will improve our radio station.

We will need the following elements in our first radio station:

Essential Elements

  •         A computer can be with a Linux, windows, or Mac operating system. For the extent of its use, in this radio manual, we are going to use a Windows-based radio.
  •         An internet radio server. This must be contracted with a specialized provider like us. It will be in charge of repeating the internet signal to the listeners.
  •         Broadcast software, such as BUTT Encoder, highly recommended software. This software will be in charge of sending the signal that we generate in the broadcasting computer to the internet radio server.
  •         Finally, a player for the website. This player, in our case, is provided by hiring the radio server.

For now, with this material, it would be enough so that any audio that is generated on the broadcasting computer can be transmitted to the internet radio server using Broadcast software. As for listeners, then as long as they have any device capable of reproducing audio and internet access – the radio can be enjoyed over WiFi or cellular connectivity.

The Computer

The most normal thing is that the computer is used to «produce» the audio, that is, create audio tracks as a playlist and even a micro to be able to insert phrases, comments.

The computer must have a “decent” processing capacity as this will be the nerve center of our online radio. This equipment will have to store all the audio tracks, it will use a continuity program to organize it and it will also have the broadcast software installed to be able to send the signal to the internet radio server. As recommended requirements, we can talk about an i3 with at least 4 GB of RAM. The capacity of the hard drive will be determined by the number of audio tracks that will be stored on it.

The Internet Radio Server

It is the most important part of the whole system. You need a reliable provider, with experience and sufficient resources (both technical and human) that guarantees the correct repetition of the audio over the internet to your listeners.

Obviously, we cannot recommend any other provider than ourselves. It is not about narcissism, but our company can offer you exactly the quality requirements and additional benefits that we promulgate and recommend in this manual.

The result of the work and quality of your streaming radio provider is what will affect the quality of service that your listeners will receive. In our case, you have price rates of all kinds ideal to start the broadcast over the internet.

General advice regarding internet radio providers is to avoid anyone who offers “unlimited listeners”, “thousands of listeners”. You will never need such huge amounts and generally, behind these offers, many are hidden “Asterisks” and in other providers, this is simply misleading advertising.

Always start with few listeners, 25-50 is more than enough to get started. Of course, if your station is mainly music, always use a 128-kbps service. If you are on a tight budget, it is preferable that you “sacrifice” listeners and bet on quality.

In any case, once you have contracted your service with the provider, they will provide you with the configuration data. This data will be necessary to configure the broadcast software.

Broadcast Software

There are many options on the market. Some are free, others are paid, some are free to use, others have advertising. Some of them are exclusive for Windows operating systems, others for Mac, and others for Linux. We can cite several examples:

  •         Windows: BUTT, SimpleCast, Mixxx, RoarAudio, SamCast …
  •         iOS: BUTT, KoalaSAN, iCast, Traktor DJ Studio …
  •         Linux: BUTT, Freej, DEAD radio, Muse, Ezstream …

Each of the mentioned software has its own characteristics. Although, what we really need is that they simply send the audio signal produced on the PC to the Streaming server. For this reason, in this tutorial, we recommend the BUTT (Broadcast Using This Tool) software of all. Powerful, functional, multiplatform software, very stable, and also free.

The Player for the Website

Another fundamental issue is to provide your audience with a player through which they tune into your internet radio station. This player as a general rule, although not always, must be provided by your streaming radio provider.

The internet player has to meet some fundamental basic requirements: ease of use, visual appeal, and above all compatibility with the different operating systems and browsers that your listeners can use.

The integration of the player, at least in our case, is extremely simple. Your streaming radio provider must provide you with a “source code” that will install a simple “copy and paste” on your website.

Another option is for you to find a player yourself and adapt it. There are many players and even plugins for WordPress that you can use. If you use your own player or that of a third party, you must ask your internet radio provider for the reception URL. To avoid complications, we recommend that you use your provider’s player.

If you use another player, avoid those that are of the “Flash” type. These are incompatible with iOS-type operating systems and the listener would need to install plugins. Players based on HTML5 and/or JavaScript are the most recommended.

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