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How to Start an Internet Radio Station?

by Radhe Gupta

You don’t need to have a large team in order to start a radio station. It can be done by a small group of enthusiasts or even by an individual with the proper tools. Internet radio stations are easy to set up and organize, but the production of content takes time and effort to produce.

There are tools online to help you with hosting and other technical issues. It’s also useful to learn about the legal issues related to copyright before getting into the process since such restrictions can stop your internet radio station in its tracks.

Create a Concept

The first thing to do is to create a concept for your radio. That means deciding what the radio will be about and how it will be presented to the public. This can be something as simple as a radio dedicated to the latest local news or something much more complex including a variety of different shows.

Once you have the concept you can start planning the rest of the production, as it relates to your basic concept.  Regardless of what the concept is, there’s an audience for it online, as long as you’re ready to work on finding it.

The Equipment

There are some initial investments you’ll need to make in order to set up an internet radio station.  Recording equipment and soundproofing are essential, regardless of what the concept of your show will be. The same goes for finding internet radio hosting services that will suit your needs.

When it comes to hosting, most of the processes can be automated and allow you to create a station without having to go into these complicated procedures, as a novice. The software in question is usually subscription-based and comes in different tiers depending on how complicated a service you’re looking for.

Create a Brand

The next step is to create a brand for your new radio station. This starts with something as simple as finding a name and an internet address for it.  It’s also useful to establish your social media presence right away.

That will allow you to easily communicate with your listeners and establish a relationship with them. At first, social media and other branding efforts could be run by you, but at some point, you can separate the production and marketing.

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Copyright Laws

Copyright laws regulate what kind of content you can use without having to pay royalties. This isn’t an issue if you don’t plan to play music on your radio station, but if you do, you may have to pay for the privilege.

Since it’s a complicated legal issue, it’s best to ask the experts and adhere to their advice. There are online resources out there that you could use to familiarize yourself with the law. If this isn’t enough, you may need to hire a copyright attorney to help you sort things out.  There are also ways to find free music to play on your station and lawyers can help with that as well.

News Sources

If your station plans to include news in its content, you’ll need to find the sources for it. There are services that aggregate news and that you can use for a small subscription. You can search the news for local topics or for those that are of interest to your audience.

It’s also possible to write your own news. If the station is about a topic you’re familiar with and enthusiastic about, this may be the best way to go, but it does take up a lot of time and require effort on part of a production team.

Setting Up a Production

As the station takes on, it’s best to set up a production process that separates different stages of content production and allows you to create a team. This will allow you to scale the station up and introduce new content and new forms when there’s an audience for it.

It’s also possible to outsource parts of the process outside of your own production team. This is especially important for small stations that can’t afford their own marketing team or their own IT support.

Use Ads to Fund the Station

Once the station has a following and you establish a base of listeners, the next step is to find sponsors to run ads on your shows. There are also agencies that broker the deals between small stations and podcasts and advertisers that are looking for an audience.

The best way to go is to find the sponsors that suit your audience and to run ads that the audience will be interested in. When the station is small, it’s easier to make such a deal and provide the ads to listeners that are looking for them. As your audience grows, marketing will become more important and more difficult.

Cross Promotion

Small internet radio stations can promote each other and therefore grow their audiences together. This is usually done by having a host of another online radio show as a guest on your own. You can also transmit a part of the rival’s programming, while they do the same for you.

Since such stations are usually small endeavors, it’s easy to find others interested in the same hobby and grow each other’s audiences without having to invest too much in the process. It’s also a way to meet new and like-minded people.

Have Fun

Keep in mind that an internet radio station is a hobby even though it can turn into a business and complicated production. The key is to have fun like doing it and to use the station as your creative outlet. This will make the work more fun but also more honest and attractive to an early base of listeners.

The audience can tell if you’re having fun while making the show and it’s usually that sense of close personal connection that will keep the listeners interested in your work, even if the production value is low as it will be at first.

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