How to Start an Online Radio Show

by braniacUpdated September 28, 2017

Items you will need

  • Internet access

  • Radio software

  • A USB interface and mic

The Internet has given power back to the people: No where is this more true than with online radio. You don't need a fifty-oot antenna or any fancy equipment. In a few steps you can be up and running with your own radio station. There are a lot of reasons for starting up a radio station, and a lot of choices.

Find an Internet radio provider. One of the most popular is Live365.com. Sign up for an individual or pro account, which start at $9.95 a month. With a pro account, you can make money via revenue.

Download radio software. For instance, Live365 uses the software Studio365--a user-friendly interface that allows for mp3s, AAC and Wav files. Most importantly, these files will upload to Live365's server, so you won't have to set up a separate server for hosting audio files. The advantage of Live365 is they have the right to host copyrighted songs, so you avoid legal issues.

If you don't use a service like Live365, you will have to pay licensing fees out of your own pocket. Determine if a song has been licensed by ASCAP, SESAC or BMI. Contact each of these entities for licensing rights to songs. If you broadcast copyrighted material independently, you'll need to pay for the right to do so--usually a few hundred dollars for each license. This is one of the reasons people pay a monthly fee to a place like Live365--to avoid these costs. However, Liver365 can look more generic.

Next, you need to file a "Notice of Use of Sound Recordings under Statutory License" with the United States Copyright Office. This will allow you to play songs for a set fee per song. Note: This fee could go up in the near future (see Warning below). This new fee will apply to Live365 users as well.

If you're setting up an independent station, get a program like the SAM Broadcaster. Similar features to the Live365 program. It's a bit more powerful, with better EQ features, info screens (album cover, other info), as well as statistics about the number of listeners. Check out spacialaudio.com for more details.

If you're uploading songs to your own server, you're going to need a program like Shoutcast (Shoutcast.com). Unlike Live365, you host the show on your own server. Keep in mind that as a radio show grows in popularity, you may need to get additional server space. For some, this won't ever be a problem if the demographic is small. Download Shoutcast's Shoutcast Server application, which allows you to stream online via Shoutcast.

If you're only broadcasting your own songs or running a talk show, you won't have to worry about copyright issues. However, you're still going to want a fully-featured software package to run the show. For talk radio, it's important to have live broadcast capability, so you can take calls and do interviews online. Live365 and SAM can both handle live broadcasting. Icecast is another server option, good for live broadcasting.

Get yourself a good microphone and USB interface if your computer doesn't have a decent soundcard for inputting a mic. You can then use Winamp, Live365 or other program to record your radio program. You can also use programs like Audacity or GarageBand to edit together a podcast.


Radio shows are a good idea for schools, businesspeople, musicians or just music lovers. Often schools are starting online-only radio stations to convey information about the school--much like a newsletter. Students can also run individual stations. Make sure that the radio station can be played on a variety of media, such as iTunes, Real Audio, Windows Media Player and others. The station will be able to reach the widest number of listeners.


There's a caveat to all this: There will potentially be new legislation on the books which could end up with Internet radio stations being charged the same royalty per song as traditional radio. If you run a voice-only podcast, this isn't a problem. If you play songs, be on the lookout for the new legislation. Check out Savenetradio.org for info about the Internet Radio Equality Act.

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