Radio stations, like newspapers, have taken to the Internet in a big way. Creating an online radio station of your own is simple and inexpensive to start with, and it is not just for streaming music. Integrating a radio station into your website is simple when using a plug-in.
Things You'll Need
- Web Hosting
- Stream Hosting
- Shoutcast Plug-in
Create Your Online Radio Station
Start out by planning your new radio station. Ask yourself questions such as, "What will I play?" and "What size audience do I expect?" Radio formats come in music or talk, each with its ups and downs. Talk radio requires a microphone and some idea of what you will talk about, but there are far less legal concerns associated with it than music. Do not plan for playing music to which you do not have rights, permission, or licensing to play. Some streaming services pay royalties for you, as part of your service through them, although they may not be appropriate for streaming directly from your website. As for audience size, be aware that as it grows, the stream will become more costly to run.
Sign up for a stream hosting account. For radio stations, the best bitrates are between 64kbps and 128kbps for decent quality audio streaming. To create a radio station that runs on auto-pilot, choose a stream hosting package that includes disk space for hosting your audio files. These packages cost a few dollars more per month but are worth it if you want to run a twenty-four hour a day radio station on your own.
If you do not already have Winamp on your computer, download and install it. ShoutCast, a popular tool for streaming audio on the Web, requires Winamp and a special plug-in to broadcast. Once Winamp is installed, grab the ShoutCast DSP plug-in from the ShoutCast website. Close Winamp if it is already running, and then start the installer for the plug-in. Start Winamp and hit "Ctrl+P" to bring up the Preferences menu. Choose "DSP/Effect" under "Plugins" and configure the ShoutCast plug-in with your stream information.
Create Your Website
Purchase an inexpensive Web hosting account with a domain name and the third-party application installer Fantastico, which will install WordPress for you with only a few simple steps. Log-in and click on the Fantastico icon, and then choose WordPress. This blogging system is also a powerful content management system (CMS) that allows for easy plug-in installation, and that will come in useful when integrating your radio station.
Log in to your WordPress admin dashboard. To change WordPress from a blog into a CMS with a static front page, click "Pages" on the right-hand menu and add a new page. Name the new page "Blog" and then go to "Settings" on the right-hand menu. From there, go to "Reading" and set WordPress to use a static front page. Use the automatically created "About" page for the front page and "Blog" for the blog page. Now, your site can have a blog, but it will not be the first page visitors see when surfing to your website.
Go to "Permalinks" under "Settings" and choose a permalink structure other than the default. Doing this gives every page made within WordPress its own semantic name rather than numbers.
Go to "Plugins" on the right-hand menu and click "add plugin." Search for "shoutcast" and look at the list of plug-ins for streaming radio on your website. Install "Shout Stream" and activate. Click on "Settings" and go to "Shout Stream" for that plug-in's settings page. Fill in the form with information about your radio stream so that the widget can connect to it. Go to "Appearance" and then "Widgets" to click and drag the "Shout Stream" widget into your sidebar. Now when you visit your site, you will see a radio player in your sidebar. Click on it and play!
Tips & Warnings
- If you must stream music online, find small bands that are not yet famous and ask their permission. An online radio station featuring local music could be lots of fun!
- Do not stream content that you are not legally authorized to share online.
- Photo Credit radio image by Claudio Calcagno from Fotolia.com
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