The State of Internet Radio

Internet radio today offers a glimpse into what will someday be a fantastic broadcast medium. For most users, the bandwidth simply isn't available to have the best radio experience. So, for true audiophiles, Internet radio may not be a desirable alternative. One major advantage is the sheer amount of variety. TheDJ.com offers the smallest amount of channels, but it still offers upwards of 60 options. AudioNet has over 300 options. These numbers dwarf anything available on the terrestrial/traditional radio dial. As stated earlier, not only is there more content available, but also its availability is infinitely more flexible than that of terrestrial radio. It's available on-demand, at the user's convenience.

If it is possible to adapt Nicholas Negroponte's thoughts on the TV industry to radio, Internet radio is on the right track, establishing content first and developing sound quality later. According to "Being Digital," content is the overriding interest of television viewers. Viewers can put up with compromised reception in order to receive quality content. The startling growth of Internet radio appears to validate this contention.

For sports fans, Internet radio is an incredible opportunity. AudioNet and Sportsline offer live programming that covers virtually every sport and geographic area. In addition, several sports talk stations are online, making their content available to displaced fans.

The one ingredient Internet radio could use would be some sort of "killer ap." To be specific, the automobile ensures that traditional radio will survive for some time to come. Because of the automobile, traditional radio broadcasting is virtually a necessity. It's not exactly the same story with a computer--there are so many other entertainment options available to a PC that radio seems to be an ugly stepsister. The development of some kind of mobile Internet radio (for use with automobiles or anyone on the go) would establish Internet radio and provide it with the tools to surpass terrestrial radio.

On a personal note, to enjoy radio one has to enjoy his/her imagination. One of the appealing parts of radio is that it does not provide all of the sensory information possible. The imagination fills in what an audio broadcast leaves out. So, although the broadcast is limited somewhat, it engages its listeners in a way that visual media can not. With the advent of internet radio and its multimedia capabilities, it appears this trip through the mind's eye will be limited. However, as it stands today, most of the Internet broadcasts are still only in audio.

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