Q&A: How to make an online radio station?

January 22nd, 2012

Question by RenaHeart: How to make an online radio station?
I was wondering if there was anyway of making like a radio station online and having Dj’s play j-pop like a j-pop station except with like English dj’s to announce the music and stuff anyone know How I can get started?

Best answer:

Answer by Max
Interesting question, one to which I wish I knew the answer. I know a method you could use… at least I think. The method Online Radio sites use is unknown to me, but it might quite probably be nothing more then a dynamic playlist. I believe it is a streamed playlist, and nothing more. One that may or may not be on shuffle.

If you look, many online radio stations do not in fact have much DJ talk at all and more like a few pertinent transitions. Example the one I listen to known as G93 Hard Rock, they have nothing but transitions every few songs. Now the way that two transitions never play one after another leave me to believe their playlist like stream is more of a constantly edited straightforward one and not one on shuffle.

So, how I see it you would need a web server of some sort. The web server would require some directory containing the tracks to be played. Next you would have some form of playlist (I have seen use of a .pls file used to stream on G93, though I believe it is more of a medium to play the real time tracks that are playing.) and well you would have to have that playlist updated daily to change the order of the tracks.

From there, you would have to play the playlist on the CPU or Web Server or whatever you are using and find a way to broadcast in real time the audio input (or sound card output? I’m not sure which… I’m no expert.) Through however you are doing this, you would have to find a way to stream it. There are many ways to do so, ether through an embedded Windows Media Player, or another form of embedded stream player on a website. If you go with .pls to stream it somehow, it can be played on iTunes through opening the stream.

Now you see there is a gap in all I have said, and that is I have no idea how they broadcast it in itself. Another way you could do one using that sort of stream idea would every day compile a .mp3 file in some Sony editor like “Vegas” or “Acid” or even a simpler editor, and then order all of your media files in the order you want on a single VERY VERY long timeline and then simply compile it as a single .mp3 file and play it on a stream. The problem with this is that it becomes very time consuming to edit since you need to order all the songs on the timeline every day and yea unless you don’t mind one that is just a playlist-like station on a loop that you will only update once a month, then it is not the best idea. Also this method doesn’t explain how some online station list the name and artist of “What’s playing” seemingly automatically, since if it was all one large file… well… it would be hard to tag the times correctly.

In the end using both methods would probably require a dedicated team to split the tasks. Also you said you wanted to DJ on the station. Now, I can’t see that happening with any of the forms on online radio I have listened to, but a method would be to merge the song with the talk on an editor before uploading the track to a media server. Adding a little intro to the song itself so that when the song plays it gets the intro. To add diversity you could add more then one intro to certain songs and have 5 versions of the song, and un-upload and re-upload the different versions so its not always the same intro to the songs.

In the end all this was probably not the best answer for its length because there remains many unanswered questions… but it is a good place to start. With a little research it could maybe help. You can always also go to people or sites that own a streaming online radio and see if you can mail then a formally ask them how they do it, and you never know maybe one of them will be glad to share their secrets with you.

Hope this helped,
-Max

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