You have a digital radio station – now what?

Running a net radio station is the easiest thing in the world and the hardest thing in the world.

You can sign up today, upload some MP3s to the Auto DJ, add your streaming code to a player on your website and you are broadcasting. Fold arms, sit down and have tea and biscuits. Job done.

Oh boy, if only it were that simple.

First you need to decide what you are going to broadcast.

Will you broadcast mixed programming? Every show featuring a different host playing a different genre of music along with speech based shows, local news, and phone-ins?

Or are you going to be a single genre station; playing only jazz, soul, dance, or rock… Or a single decade station; playing just 60s, or 70s, or 80s, or 90s, etc…

The Auto DJ software lends itself to single genre programming for complicated reasons I shan’t go into here.

As a broadcaster you have two options, and they can mix and match depending on how much energy, time and money you have.

  1. Upload MP3 tracks and pre-recorded shows and schedule them in Auto DJ to play out at times you set.
  2. Build a studio and have people come in to present their show. And allow remote presenters to log into your Centova account to broadcast live from where-ever they are in the world.

Whichever you choose, do keep the schedule rock solid, week in and week out – listener love continuity.

One of the issues you face with pre-recorded shows is consistency. They will arrive at different volumes – some at -1db, other at -3db, others again at -6db or whatever the presenter felt like doing that week.

Some will have had compression applied to give them that ‘radio’ sound, others not. Some will run for 58 minutes or 63 minutes when you expect 60 to fill out the hour (my shows run for  59m 45s as I assume there is a station ID within the hour).

And as a station owner you can’t really dictate what you want as many hosts of pre-recorded shows syndicated them to dozens of stations. But it’s always worth asking if you think a show can be improved; such as asking for all shows to be supplied at say -3db.

Building a studio for community use is quite an undertaking. But it can be done if you can convince local businesses and politicians to back you.

You need premises (some have found a spare closet at the local Mall, multi-storey car park, or a room at council offices). You need 24/7 access and good security to protect expensive gear from thieving mongrels.

And that really leads on to vetting the volunteers who come out of the woodwork when news leaks out that you are starting a radio station. You need a formal application form and ideally some way to vet (police check) volunteers.

(I’m sorry officer, I had no idea our children’s show presenter was on the sex offenders list)

Then there is insurance; property and public liability for the studio.

What I have found is that net broadcasters fall into one or more of three categories:

  1. Someone who runs everything via Auto DJ and uses their spare time check and upload pre-recorded shows.
  2. A group of two or more serious hobbyists who share the work with ambitions to establish a studio somewhere and grow their hobby into a job
  3. Community stations that serve a specific geographical area and receive help from community organisations/companies.

But we all have to start somewhere; build a reputation, build a strong listener base, and grow organically.

Either way, it takes time – perhaps a year or more to start to make inroads (unless you have a good marketing budget).

The key is to actually start. Then build, refine and grow. Never stop starting.