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Web radio

The term Web radio refers to a radio re-broadcasting service one can log into via the internet. Because the radio signal is relayed over the internet through the WWW, it is possible to access the stations from anywhere in the world—for example, to listen to an Australian radio station from Europe or America. This makes it a popular service for expatriates[?] and for people who have 'niche' interests that may not be adequately catered for in their home town (e.g., country music or Christian music). Some of the web radio services available via the internet offer news, sports, talkback, and various genres of music—everything that is on the radio station being re-broadcast.

It is important to note that not every Web radio station has a corresponding traditional radio station. Many web radio stations are completely independent from traditional broadcast radio.

One of the most common ways to distribute Web radio is via streaming MP3 technology, which uses the well-known MP3 music format. The bits are 'streamed' over a TCP/IP connection, then reassembled and played within about 2 seconds. Therefore, streaming MP3 radio has about a 2 second lag time.

There are three major components to an MP3 stream:

  1. audio stream source
  2. audio stream repeater (server)
  3. audio stream playback

There are many methods for creating the audio stream source. One of the easiest and most popular methods is to use Winamp and the SHOUTcast DSP plugin. Other methods are open source and include Streamcast (http://streamcast.sourceforge.net), stream-db (http://stream-db.sourceforge.net) and IceS (http://www.icecast.org). Using open source stream source tools allows for interesting web interface possibilities like phpStreamcast (http://www.adfinis.com/projects/phpstreamcast).

One of the most popular Web radio servers is Shoutcast (http://www.shoutcast.com). An open source alternative is Icecast (http://www.icecast.org). Lists of broadcasts can be found at both sites.

The purpose of the server is to repeat the stream source to the audio playback software.

Some sort of audio playback software, that is capable of reading HTTP data streams, is needed to listen to streaming MP3 audio. Some popular MP3 players are Winamp for Windows, iTunes for Macintosh and XMMS on UNIX/Linux.

Needs other Web radio services



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