Internet Radio 101: How To Start Your Own Radio Station
You’ve had the idea to start your own radio station for quite some time. You came up with the format, know the kind of music you’ll play, or you know the type of programming (talk, sports, or religious, for example) that you want to broadcast.
You are also looking for a fast, easy way to do it – you want to be a broadcaster, not a computer technician and software expert. You want to plug and play, and get your station on the (virtual) air.
So, what are the basic steps you’ll need to take so you can get on the air as soon as possible?
Plan Your Radio Station
The first step in starting an internet-only radio station is to create a plan. This includes identifying your target audience, selecting a name for your station, determining the type of content you will broadcast, and deciding on the format of your programming.
Why can’t you just file an application with the FCC (or your country’s broadcasting authority) and start an AM or FM station of your own? Here’s why.
Radio Station Equipment
Once you have your plan, you will need to obtain the necessary equipment and software to begin broadcasting. This can include a computer with a high-quality sound card, a mixing board, microphones, headphones, and broadcasting (automation) software.
You may also want to invest in a quality microphone stand, pop filter, and other accessories to improve the quality of your broadcasts.
Streaming Your Station
Next, you will need to find a streaming service to host your radio station. There are several options available, such as Live365, Shoutcast, and Radio.co. You will also need to create a website or social media presence (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and TikTok) to promote your station and interact with listeners.
Make sure to include an embedded media player on your website so that visitors can easily find your programming.
With the growth and popularity of virtual assistants, you will also probably want to add a Siri and/or Alexa skill that allows listeners to ask their device to play your station.
If you don’t have the skills to develop a website or Siri/Alexa skill, we recommend searching on Fiverr, where you can find just about everything at very reasonable prices – including website developers, voiceover artists, jingle singers, and logo designers. (Click here to learn more.)
Are There Fees Required?
Yes, there are licenses and fees that are required to start an internet-only radio station. In the United States, you will need to obtain a license from SoundExchange and pay royalties for the music you play on your station.
You may also need to obtain individual licenses from performing rights organizations such as ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC, which collect royalties on behalf of songwriters and publishers.
And, of course, we recommend that you register a callsign to easily identify your new radio station (click here to do that), and then submit your station to the major public radio station directories.
In addition, you will need to obtain a business license and pay any applicable fees to operate a business in your state or municipality. It’s important to research the legal requirements for starting an internet-only radio station in your specific location to ensure that you are in compliance with all regulations.