How Internet Radio Works
While you listen to your favorite streaming radio show or podcast, you might find yourself wondering how Internet radio works. Internet radio works quite differently from how terrestrial or satellite radio pumps its way into your car or headphones. Without the use of landlines, radio towers, or satellite frequencies, the limitations of distance or the broadcast spectrum are bypassed entirely. Using the magic of the Internet, a radio show made in England can be listened to in California without any issues whatsoever- as long as everything is working right. But how does it work.
There are two different types of Internet radio and they both work differently: streaming and downloads. The differences are simple. With a downloaded radio show, more often called a podcast, the radio show is stored on the listeners computer and listened to from there. These shows are generally recorded earlier and released for download on a certain scheduled date. With a streaming show, these are live more often than not. The user doesn't have to download the show to listen to it, but the host will usually need to make a stronger investment in hosting in order to compensate for the additional strain in streaming audio.
Regardless of which delivery method is used, Internet radio is recorded in the same way for both downloading or streaming audio. It begins with the recording of the show itself. This is done either using a personal computer or dedicated recording equipment depending on the budget of the show. It enters the computer through a dedicated sound capturing and management device called a sound card. In the event of a streaming broadcast, the sound card will encode and compress the information it receives in order to better send it across the wide world of the Internet. These steps are usually skipped in the event of a downloadable show. With a streaming show, after the audio is encoded through the sound card, it is sent to a server that will have a high bandwidth connection to the Internet. The need for high bandwidth is, well, high, as many people listening to a low bandwidth show could cause lag, stuttering, or even just dropping the broadcast altogether. After the audio reaches the server, it is sent to the listener either through a website or even a program depending on the delivery method decided on by the creators of the show.
With the openness of the Internet and advances in streaming audio technology, anybody with an Internet connection can learn how Internet radio works and put on their own show. So get to it, and enjoy!