Internet Audio Streaming

We’ve started to experiment with streaming over the internet as an alternative to terrestrial broadcasting. I have mixed feelings about doing this. One one hand it’s a legal way of getting our program (whatever that may be) to the ears of our listeners.

On the other hand, it’s not radio. Radio is magic. Internet streaming is mechanical.

Also, while streaming can reach a wider audience than a Part 15 station, listeners can be geographically far removed from our neighborhood. I’d be happy if someone from Barcelona were listening to our stream, but I doubt a Richmond District focused program would be of much value.

Streaming is less likely to be available in the event of a natural disaster like an earthquake. Hey, today is October 17th. , anniversary of the Loma Prieta quake. Internet streaming relies on a lot of infrastructure. Real radio is surprisingly tough.

Then there is cost. Our initial investigatory forays into internet streaming have been done with the connection in my home. The outgoing bandwidth of even a small internet streaming operation would quickly be more than I could handle.  A colo or VPS hosted stream server would be required and those cost some money.

Let’s not forget the ongoing cost to the listener to be able to receive an internet stream. Sure, you have to “buy” a radio, but there is no monthly bill from Verizon or AT&T for using your radio. Yes, you’ll need batteries or grid power, but your radio isn’t going to cost you hundreds per month to listen to.

Our streaming test setup consists of an old Dell 810 laptop with a funky screen, running Debian 6. The stream server is Icecast2 and the client is Ices2 , running on the same box. The current program is just re-broadcasting whatever is coming over my shortwave set via the sound card line in.

All present success with streaming, both Line-In and Playlist, have been with the Ogg-Vorbis format. The next challenge is to figure out how to deliver an mp3 stream.

It’s good to get the technology sorted out and have the ability to route our program to an internet stream even if it’s not our preferred method of transmission.

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