How to live stream your radio station
Admittedly, with the adoption of WiFi-equipped radios, smart speakers, and cars, internet radio is enjoying the limelight. The switch from 3G to 4G and 5G that has increased internet speeds has also contributed to the growth of web radio channels.
Besides, the market is rife with possibility. Americans spend 912 minutes listening to online radio every week. So you have an audience ready to consume the content of your stream.
Even if it’s not a channel that you intend to start from scratch as a side project or hobby, there’s still plenty of reasons to live stream your station. Use a radio channel to expand your reach. For instance, VCY America, a faith-based organization leverages radio to deliver content to its audience.
Curious how to get started? We’ve got some tips on how to create a live radio station on the internet with recommendations on attracting listeners and an internet radio equipment list.
How to start an internet radio station
To kick things off, let’s understand what an online radio station is and why it’s worth going live.
What is online radio?
An online radio (also known as internet or web radio) is a radio channel streamed over the internet instead of the typical transmission via AM or FM. To tune in, listeners need an internet connection – mobile data or WiFi.
Why should you stream your own radio station
Love chatting on a topic or questioning guests? Or, have you been collecting music over the years and you feel that it deserves listeners? Either way, an online radio station is your outlet.
It’s easy to set up, doesn’t require much technical know-how, and doesn’t blow your budget to smithereens – all reasons why you should stream your own radio station.
Besides, there are few ad-based interruptions on an internet radio stream than its AM/FM counterpart. Translation: you’re in a better position to engage your audience. To top it up, you can save your show in an archive – giving it a longer life and wider reach. That’s pretty rad, isn’t it?
Is Internet radio better than FM?
In contrast with FM, internet radio is cost-effective and you can pretty much start your radio station without any external help. In fact, you can start one from home – no heavy gear or a large studio required.
How to create a live radio station on the internet
New projects are always overwhelming to start. To be clear right off the bat, starting an internet radio station is no different. There’s a lot on the plate – from shopping for the right equipment to brainstorming the perfect content plan for your station.
But, believe us when we say it’s all doable. Focus on dividing and conquering the process. This way, you can work on one thing at a time, successfully pushing overwhelm to the side.
Ready to start working on your live radio station? Here’s how to create a live radio station on the internet in three sections:
- The three basic components of a live radio station
- Internet radio equipment list
- The software or radio streaming program you’ll need
Three basic components of a live radio station
These components that turn the wheel:
- Source or you
The source is the party’s host. 🎉
It doesn’t matter whether you’re presenting from a music studio or from your attic. As long as you’re ambitious about starting, these details don’t matter. Even Google started from a messy garage. So you can always upgrade later.
Can I start a radio station at home?
You can run an online radio channel from home. Choose a well-carpeted and curtain-heavy room to stream so that the echo is minimal and sound quality is optimal. Next, set up your live streaming equipment and you’re good to go.
- Server or where the show runs
Here’s where all the party’s arrangements are made. Think of it like the catering service that ensures everyone is entertained with quality food and drink.
For a live internet radio station, a server will take all the input from you (the source) and convert it into a format that’s streamable on the internet. This way, listeners can join you using a link or URL – an invitation card of sorts.
Now, for the party pooper: the server has to be reliable as lots of people tune in to listen simultaneously.
Since reliability is the name of the game, we recommend Vimeo livestream. It uses audio codecs like AV1 and Opus that not only guarantee high audio quality, but also make your stream compatible with most listeners’ devices.
Besides, Vimeo lets you create a backup stream in case your internet acts up and interrupts the live broadcast. What’s more, you can control who tunes in with SSO login. This way, if your radio channel is for, let’s say, university students, you can manage listeners with Vimeo.
- Listeners or your audience
Lastly, you have the audience or people who’ll join your party.
If you know who your target audience is for your live internet radio channel, it won’t be challenging to attract them. We’ve got some action steps on how to get listeners – we’ll get to them at the end of this guide. Until then, hang tight.
Internet radio equipment list
A common question you’d be having as you plan to stream your own radio station: ‘what do I need for an internet radio station?’
Nothing fancy or high-cost. Some basic equipment can get your show running.
But if you’ve some cash to spend, you can make some wise investment and take the sound quality to a whole new level. Either way, here’s our complete guide on the best live streaming equipment for every budget.
For now, here’s what you’ll need:
A microphone’s job is pretty well known. It captures and converts your voice (sound waves) into electric signals to feed to your server.
If you plan to play music tracks and mixes on your internet radio channel, you wouldn’t need a microphone. However, if you want to discuss music, news, current events, or plan to have a guest on board, you’ll need to add a microphone to your shopping list.
Thinking about your computer’s in-built mic? Sure, that can help. But, the sound quality isn’t top notch so investing in a microphone is a better idea.
Mics come in various shapes and sizes. The three basic types of microphones at your disposal are:
Of these, dynamic mics are best for streaming a live internet radio show. Thanks to their durability and low prices. Condenser mics are mostly used by singers and in recording studios. As for ribbon microphones, they’ve a vintage look since they’re the earliest type of mics and, therefore, on the pricey side.
Aiming for professional-grade recording? Level up your game using the following three microphone supplements:
- Microphone stand that holds your mic in place as you speak into it.
- Shock mount. It’s responsible for protecting your device from damage and cutting back on low frequency rumble that contact with a microphone creates.
- Pop filter aka pop shield or screen that helps filter popping sound from your speech.
Next, you need a headphone to monitor sound transmission. Whether it’s you who does the talking or a guest is in the hot seat, headphones ensure audio levels are well adjusted and transmissions are smooth.
Keeping it low-budget? Common headphones will do you good. If you plan to invest, we recommend Beyerdynamic’s DT 770 PRO headphone that produces high-resolution sound.
- Audio mixer
Last on the internet radio equipment list is an audio mixer. It’s responsible for taking different audio sources and adjusting their volume, frequency, and other sound aspects for a stable output.
It’s this device that gives you the controls to each speaker, so you can turn them on and off as required.
Do I need an audio mixer?
If you run a solo online radio show, you may not need an audio mixer. However, if there are multiple audio sound sources, for instance, different speakers and instruments playing, you’ll need a mixer to modify sounds.
Want to add dimension to your radio station? Engage your listeners with a video feed of what’s happening by live streaming the studio.
Case in point: the Apollo Theatre, a live music venue that started streaming online with Vimeo in response to the pandemic. They started with a multi-camera live performance featuring Wyclef Jean – a show that attracted a crowd equal to 140% of the theater’s IRL capacity.
“High-quality resolution and streaming really helps to elevate the visual and virtual experience that I think only heightens all of that magic. We really use the Vimeo platform a great deal, especially over the last few months.”
– Kamilah Forbes, executive producer at the Apollo Theater
Jazzed with the idea of a TV broadcast-like live internet radio channel? Test drive how to live stream your laptop webcam or go camera shopping. Two recommendations we’ve for you: Canon XA15 and XF100.
The software or radio streaming program you’ll need
Now that we’ve answered what do I need for an internet radio station, let’s dig into the software that you’ll need to get the ball rolling:
- Radio automation program
Know how there’s an RJ’s booming voice playing in the middle of a back-to-back playlist? Or, how playlists sometimes run with no one to monitor them? That’s a radio automation program’s doing.
Briefly, the program serves two purposes:
- Allows you to record voice tracks to include in your playlist
- Supports full automation so your channel is running on autopilot
When selecting a radio automation program, be sure to check if it’s compatible with your operating system.
Some options to explore include:
- Mixxx that’s compatible with Mac, Linus, Windows and Ubuntu
- Serato DJ which is for both Mac and Windows
- Virtual DJ Pro is, again, for both Mac and Windows
Next, you’ll need an encoder. It’s role? It converts audio into an online streamable format using audio codec like MP3 or AAC. The converted format is then fed to your server.
Most radio automation programs come with integrated encoders as does Vimeo Premium and Enterprise. With the latter, you can get a built-in encoder called Livestream Studio. And, for an extra dose of surprise: you can access audio editing features such as a compressor, limiter, and equalizer inside Studio 6.
If your automation program or server doesn’t have an encoder, you’ll need to get yourself a standalone encoder to capture sound directly from your mic.
- Recording and editing software
The last piece of software you’ll need is for recording, mixing, rearranging, editing, and deleting audio sections. You can also try on audio effects with the software.
Stable internet connection
While your home’s internet connection can help you stream your own radio station, it won’t hold as more listeners tune in. And, if you’re surfing or using your phone’s internet at the same time as streaming, the radio stream will skip – frustrating listeners.
Because of the potential other areas your wifi will be in use, it’s recommended to get a separate, hard wired internet connection for your radio live stream. At best, you’ll need an internet speed of 5 Mbps minimum for live streaming. And, if you’re streaming video, you’ll need between 10 Mbps – 22 Mbps.
Live streaming your radio station
In this section, we’ll tell you how to start an internet radio station. Grab a notebook, some coffee, and let’s get those creative gears in your brain spinning.
Friendly alert: there’s going to be boatloads of planning involved in the next four steps as you brainstorm what you’ll stream and brand your radio station.
Let’s get on with it:
Determine what you’ll stream
This could be a solo show with you behind the jockey – playing remixes, clips from CDs, or discussing trending news.
Or, you could take on an invite-a-new-guest format as we do so for Vimeo’s Working Lunch.
Of course, knowing your audience will help you select the best idea and format (solo or guest-based streaming).
So you’ll want to start with understanding your audience if you aren’t already familiar with their tastes and preferences.
Quick tip: Not every idea you have is an idea that your listeners will love. So it’s wise to ask your audience if your idea interests them before you narrow down to the best ones. If you don’t have an audience yet, talk to people who will likely be your listeners.
Since this section is all about radio content planning, you’ll want to consider how long and how frequently to stream your station. Think of it as how many episodes you want to do and for how long each would last.
Run your idea and content through copyright laws
The key is to filter down to 2-3 winning ideas in the step above. Why? Because you never know which idea isn’t supported by law.
This brings us to the essential question of copyright laws for music streaming. These tend to be specific for the country you’re streaming from and to the countries you’ll be streaming to.
If your radio show will be more of a talk show than a music show, you don’t have to be worried about licensing. However, if you’re playing music, you’ll need a license. The cost of this depends on your country and broadcasting destination.
Want to chop costs for now? Use royalty-free music that requires buying a one-time license only. You can source such music from sites like Jamendo and Storyblocks.
For more answers on legal questions related to streaming music, check out The Broadcast Law blog and Copynot.org.
Work out a name and branding style
Have an idea and content plan ready to ship? Pat yourself on the back and work on your branding next.
But, wait: why do you need to brand your radio station? Because, it makes your channel easy to recognize, which helps with marketing it and retaining listeners. In fact, using just a signature color can increase recognition by 80%. Imagine what a personality enriched brand would do!
Fortunately, with Vimeo Enterprise, you’ve the flexibility to brand your station (here’s how) and stand out from a sea of other live radio channels. For example, you can change your player’s color to match with the color on your site, social media cover, and more.
Plan a promotion strategy
With content planning and branding out of the way, the last piece to how to start an internet radio station is creating a plan to get more listeners.
Been waiting for it? Let’s arm you with some proven promotion tactics:
- Create a website
Again, this doesn’t have to be a costly affair. DIY the job using Wiz or WordPress that can help you create a website in no time. Once done, embed your radio player on your site with Vimeo to attract incoming traffic to your live radio.
- Pair with influencers
Find local or niche influencers and propose a collaboration. You’ve two options to execute the collaboration plan.
One, invite influencers to your channel as a guest and hope they share your show. You can also tag them on social media as you stream or share their quotes and tag them for visibility/reach.
Two, play the long game. Build relationships with influencers, support them, and then make your ask – sometimes this can take spending some money for a shout out.
- Share on social
Another tip is to promote your internet radio station on social. Want a better idea? Stream on social alongside broadcasting your radio show.
And, before you enter into more-work-panic mode, know that streaming on multiple destinations or, technically speaking, simulcasting is a child’s play with Vimeo. The tool does all the heavy lifting so you focus on presenting a good show.
- Submit your channel to radio directories
Radio directories are libraries that host different radio channels. Listeners can find channels easily here. So, the last step to finding listeners is going where they discover new channels.
Five radio directories to submit your channel are Streema, Tunein, Radio.net, iTunes internet radio, and RadioLine.
And, before we wrap this up, we’ll leave you with 9 live streaming tips so you can make your radio station a success.