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The Internet Radio: A Critical Discussion Research Paper

The rapid convergence of technology over the last decade or so has, in broad yet subtle ways, changed the paradigm of radio broadcasting.

Today, more than ever before, radio broadcasts are progressively more available not only from dedicated terrestrial platforms employing the traditional AM and FM bandwidth, but also from a multiplicity of satellite, cable and, indeed, wireless telecommunication platforms (Kozamernik & Mullane, 2005).

Of importance to this essay is the fact that easy accessibility and faster penetration of the internet across geographical locations have given the radio medium a new lease of life by making it possible for radio broadcasters to reach a global audience.

Through a critical examination of the concept of Internet Radio (IR), the current paper will seek to extrapolate how users of the medium can create and place content over the internet and how users can use the medium for learning or training purposes.

Though similar in concept to portable AM or FM radios, IR is broadcasted over the internet and into a variety of multi-enabled computer devices. In other words, IR affords broadcasters the opportunity to transmit content directly to computers or other comparable devices via the internet (Andrews, 2000).

While crediting the advent of the IR, Kozamernik & Mullane (2005) admit that dramatic shifts in radio technologies has changed the dynamics of the radio medium itself – the way it is produced, distributed, consumed, expedited and paid-for.

In their own words, the authors further claims that “…radio has become more than just audio – it can now contain associated metadata, synchronized slide shows and even short video clips. Radio is not just a ‘linear’ flow emanating from an emission mast – audio files are now available on-demand or stored locally for time shifted playout” (p.1).

As already mentioned, the core distribution mechanism for the IR is the internet and, as such, the medium has the capacity to reach a global audience using minimal set-up costs (Compaine & Smith, 2001).

According to these authors, the above mentioned capabilities has led to an explosion of new radio stations, not mentioning that they have brought to the fore new methodologies to access existing radio stations using an allay of new facilities such as simulcasting, multicasting or unicasting using streaming technology.

With IR, the audience has the capacity to expand its reach from just mere desktop computers to access programming anywhere and anytime they wish using other wireless devices (Andrews, 2000).

Users can take advantage of the state-of-the-art streaming technology to create and place content on the web. According to Kozamernik & Mullane (2005), the streaming infrastructure encompass four components, namely, “…capture and encoding, serving, distribution, and media player” (p. 5).

To create and place content on the web via IR, the user must be in possession of a media player (CD player), ripper software to copy content from the media player onto a computer’s hard drive, assorted recording and editing software, microphones, audio mixer, outboard audio gear, digital audio card, dedicated computer with encoder software and, lastly, a streaming media server (Sanchez & Moreno, 2006).

The initial step – capture and encoding – obtains the source content from the microphone and exports it via a sound card into the broadcaster’s encoding computer. It is imperative to note that the encoded content is then stored on a content server which, according to Kozamernik & Mullane (2005), manage the real-time delivery of the content over the internet either using streaming or download technology.

The distribution conduit, which is usually the internet, connects the content server to the media player and another user, who may be hundreds of miles away from the broadcaster, only need to activate his media player to access content on the personal computer (PC) or other devices at his own convenience rather than the broadcaster’s imposed schedule (Kozamernik & Mullane, 2005).

Although IR is a relatively recent phenomenon, it has managed to cultivate a niche for itself as far as the presentation of a broad range of topics is concerned. This, to a large extent, has been made possible by the fact that IR, in addition to being convenient to users, it has no geographic limitations as is the case with terrestrial radio stations.

The IR is perceived by Compaine & Smith (2001) as ‘the new engine for content diversity’ due to a broad spectrum of topics transmitted via the medium. According to the authors, “…internet radio broadcasters are in fact adding measurable diversity to the radio broadcasting industry” (p. 2).

In most occasions, though, the medium is used for entertainment, listening to news, teaching and learning, online sharing of educational resources, socializing through building teams or communities of dedicated listeners, talk-shows and preaching.

In discussing how the internet radio could be used as a training or learning tool, it is first and foremost worth noting that the web does not only offer an immense quantity of precious information for every possible domain, but it also affords an extremely easy way for exchanging information at a global level (Sanchez & Moreno, 2006).

In this perspective, educators can make use of the medium to encode educational content and send it as an audio stream to localized or distant learners. That way, a teacher in Kansas, USA, could be of immense assistance to a student in Australia. University lecturers can also use the medium to stream class notes to students who missed to attend lecturers.

It is worth noting that these educational audio streams may be transmitted and delivered in real-time or stored to be availed on demand. The ability to archive information and educational resources to be accessed on-demand affords students a window of opportunity in researching for materials for academic pursuit.

What’s more, most internet radios are interactive in nature, implying that students can utilize the medium to seek for clarifications from educational broadcasters. This medium is clearly an untapped treasure.

Reference List

Andrews, C. (2000). Project-oriented use of the world-wide web for teaching and learning culture. Computer Assisted Learning, 13(4/5), 357-375. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier Database.

Compaine, B.M., & Smith, E. (2001). . Web.

Kozamernik, F., & Mullane, M. (2008). An introduction to Internet Radio. Web.

Sanchez, D., & Moreno, A. (2006). A methodology for knowledge acquisition from the web. International Journal of Knowledge-Based Intelligent Engineering Systems, 10(6), 453-475. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier Database.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'The Internet Radio: A Critical Discussion'. 3 July.

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