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Creating an Internet Radio Station

This article describes a simple and comparatively inexpensive way to build an Internet radio station that streams live audio over the Internet. Internet radio generally is an audio stream that sounds like an over-the-air radio station. It is difficult to put a label on exactly what Internet radio is because, unlike traditional over-the-air radio, you can create an Internet radio experience in a number of ways, including:

  1. Live stream. You start with the over-the-air model of a radio station, but instead of plugging the program audio signal into a transmitter that sends the signal over the airwaves, you plug it into an encoder and server that send the signal over the Internet. In the following figures, the solid line arrows indicate the path of the live signal or stream; the broken line arrows indicate file transfers.
    The end-user experience is like listening to a traditional over-the-air radio station.

  2. Automated program signal. Many over-the-air radio stations use automation to create program content. Production personnel and announcers produce individual audio segments (such as music, announcer voice-overs, and commercials), and then create a playlist that an automation system uses to play the segments. These automated systems can also be used for Internet radio. The output of the automated system is a program audio signal.

  3. Simulcast. Many over-the-air radio stations both stream and broadcast their signals, in a process called simulcasting.Although a simulcast stream is technically not an Internet radio station because it is intended primarily for over-the-air delivery, the end-user experience is the same.

  4. Broadcast server-side playlist. This is another form of automation. The difference is that with automated radio, a live stream is encoded from the program signal produced by an automation system. With a broadcast server-side playlist, there is no live audio signal; individual program segments are encoded into Windows Media Audio (WMA) files and the playlist is run on a server running Microsoft® Windows Media® Services, so the server is the automation system.

  5. On-demand playlist. This is a third form of automation in which the automation system creating the Internet radio experience is Microsoft Windows Media Player. Individual audio segments are produced, and then encoded to Windows Media Audio (WMA) files. The playlist is created in a Windows Media metafile with an .asx extension; the Player downloads the file and plays the items in the playlist.





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