The Future of Broadcasting
My name is Trevor Beard. Since high school I have always wanted to become a broadcaster. I followed news, sports, government and current events since I was old enough to read. Growing up in the 80s and early 90s I just missed the Gen X and internet boom. I graduated in 1994 from a rural Southern Oregon community. There was no TV, or radio station within 30 miles and the only media in the area being a now defunct weekly newspaper.
The summer I graduated, my parents moved to the Oregon Coast where I got my first taste in radio as a volunteer assistant/intern. Off and on for the next 10 years, I worked in various radio capacities as a weekend announcer to a commercial traffic scheduler. In 2005, I moved to Portland’s (Oregon) extreme Westside to be closer to my (then) wife’s family, when my son was born. I sent out multiple air checks, contacted every radio outlet, and making contacts wherever I could. The response, or the one requirement I could not get past, was the fact that I had never LIVED in a major market, let alone worked at least 5 years in one. For awhile I had let the dream subside. Friends, family, many people I knew telling me, “THE FUTURE OF BROADCASTING IS DEAD”. This may be true in the traditional sense but the future of broadcasting is anything but “traditional”.
Some personal family issues caused my family to break apart for awhile. In 2012, my wife had left me and my kids were with her. Time after time I had heard the same thing over and over, “You’ll never make enough to do it for a living.” or “That’s a stupid idea.” from her before she left. Shortly after that time, a student from the school I graduated from told me about how he started a student run online radio station. From that point on I put as much thought and effort into researching doing it myself.
Since 2015, I have been broadcasting audio of HS athletics online using an online audio broadcasting application called Mixlr. It is very simple to use and even allows users to broadcast directly from most smartphones but offers much more capabilities on a CPU or laptop version. Listeners can hear broadcasts from all over the world wherever there is an internet connection. In this time, nearly 22,000 people have heard my broadcasts across the country and internationally in places like Taiwan, Ireland, and Israel. This is something traditional radio can never duplicate.
Mixlr offers several different subscription levels for different users. It just depends on what level you want to do it. From free to 50$ a month for 24 hour a day broadcasting (the latter including a channel on TuneIn radio app as well). I pay $20 a month to broadcast up to 12 hours a day which is more than enough to broadcast high school sports. Mixlr will also keep track of listener stats and allows a chat option that let's the broadcaster interact with the user during broadcasts. Spreaker and other apps also allow a similar service for different prices. If your interested in broadcasting music, make sure you contact royalty licensing companies like ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Artists and Professionals) and BMI (Broadcast Music Inc.) Any source that plays music for profit is required to pay subscription fees that are distributed to music professionals.
There are webcasting companies that also allow for those interested in streaming video of broadcasts. Stretch Internet, Livecast, The Cube, BoxCast, Ustream, YouTube, Facebook Live (which is the simplest but most basic of this list).
If you choose to operate your internet broadcasts as a business there are two options for profit:
- Subscription: Some companies allow broadcasters to charge users to watch or listen to broadcasts.
- Sponsors/Advertisers: Depending on the demographic of the people your company serves, this may be a better option. Personally, I believe, (especially in a rural area like me) it is better to charge advertisers and provide advertising/commercials in return. There are audio/video production programs (like Audacity) that allow broadcasters to create audio/video ads.
For a basic audio broadcast set up, I would recommend a small mixer or USB/Audio interface, laptop, headset (especially if mobile like sports), internet mic (I recommend Blue Snowball) secondary mic (especially if you plan on doing interviews or sports to limit crowd noise). Video requires an HD webcam but can be done on a very basic version through the camera on your cell phone or laptop for Facebook Live.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and if you would like to start your own internet radio station feel free to contact me at [email protected]