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Internet Radio Demystified: How Online Radio Works in 5 Simple Steps

Internet Radio: How Online Radio Works?
Written by prodigitalweb

Since the late 1990s, internet radio has been in the market. Traditional broadcasters use the web to simulcast their programming. However, it is under revolution and will expand its reach from the PC to access broadcasts anywhere. Besides, it can extend the programming from traditional broadcasters to individuals, organizations, and governments.

What is An Internet Radio?

Internet Radio is a digital audio service that is transmitted through the web. We know it as streaming or IP radio. Broadcasting on the web is known as webcasting. The reason is that you cannot transmit it broadly through wireless means. Instead, you can use internet radio free as a stand-alone device running through the web or as software running via a single PC.

More About Internet Radio:

What is Internet Radio?

Internet radio is the digital audio service transmitted through the internet. It can be accessed online. It has other names such as Web Radio, Net Radio, E-Radio, Online Radio, Streaming Radio, and IP Radio. Anyone can listen to their favorite Net Radio stations for free with respective internet radio apps.

It can be worked in both ways as a standalone device running through the internet or as software running through the computer. The Web Radio continuously streaming and presenting audio to the listeners. It cannot be replayed or paused. It is entirely different from on demand file serving, and podcasting. Podcasting involve downloading instead of streaming.

You can use it to communicate and easily spread messages through the form of talk. It is distributed via a wireless communication network, which connects with a switch packet network through a disclosed source.

It involves streaming media that streams audio continuously to the listeners. You can not pause or replay it like traditional broadcast media. It is distinct from podcasting which involves downloading instead of streaming.

Its services can provide news, sports, talk, and various genres of music. Besides, you can get news of each format on traditional broadcast radio stations. In addition, multiple services have connections with a terrestrial radio station or network.

Brief History of Internet Radio:

The first service was launched in 1993. As of 2017, TuneIn Radio, iHeartRadio, and Sirius XM have become the most famous platforms and applications worldwide. An FCC license doesn’t need to operate this service in the United States.

Freedom of the Airwaves:

Its broadcasting started in the early ’20s. But it was not until the transistor was introduced in 1954 and was available in mobile situations. Until the 21st century, we can obtain broadcasts over the web only via your PC. However, it will soon change because wireless connectivity will feed web broadcasts to car radios, PDAs, and cell phones. The next generation of wireless devices will make it more convenient.

Uses and Advantages Internet Radio:

Two factors limit traditional broadcasts:

  • the power of the station’s transmitter (usually 100 miles)
  • the available broadcast spectrum

It doesn’t have any geographic limitations. Therefore, you can hear a broadcaster in Kuala Lumpur in Kansas on the web. The potential is as vast as cyberspace itself. For instance, Live365 can provide over 30,000 broadcasts. However, like traditional ones, it is not limited to audio.

Photos or graphics, text, and links can accompany an online radio broadcast. In addition, different interactivity like message boards and chat rooms can accompany it.

The relationship between advertisers and consumers has become more interactive on these broadcasts. You can use the expanded media capability in other processes. For instance, it allows you to conduct training or education. In addition, it can offer links to documents and payment options. Besides, you can enjoy interactive sessions with the trainer or educator to get other details on its broadcast site.

This digital audio service programming can provide a broad spectrum of broadcast genres, especially music. Cox, Jefferson-Pilot, and Bonneville can control the broadcast digital audio service. Thus, it can provide more mainstreaming of the programming. It is because stations want the highest traffic to charge high rates to advertisers. On the flip side, it can provide the chance to expand the types of available programming. The price of getting “on the air” is less for a web broadcaster. It can appeal to “micro-communities” of listeners who focus mainly on music or interests.

What Do You Need To Set Up An Internet Radio Station?

These are the things you need to set up a station.

  • CD player
  • Ripper software (it can copy audio tracks from a CD onto a hard drive)
  • Assorted recording and editing software
  • Microphones
  • Audio mixer
  • Outboard audio gear (equalizer, compressor, etc.)
  • Digital audio card
  • Dedicated computer with encoder software
  • Streaming media server

How Can You Get Audio Over The Web?

The process of getting audio over the web is straightforward:

  • First, the audio enters into the encoding computer of the broadcaster via a sound card.
  • After that, the system translates it from the sound card into streaming format.
  • Next, the encoder samples the incoming audio to compress the information. Therefore, you can send this over the web.
  • You can send the compressed audio to the server. It comes with a high bandwidth connection to the web.
  • The server helps to send the audio data stream over the network to the player software or plug-in on the listener’s PC.
  • Then, you can translate the audio data stream using the plug-in from the server. Now, you can translate it into sound.
  • Downloads or streaming media are the two methods through which you can provide audio over the web. You can find the audio file in Downloads on your PC.

The most famous form of audio download is Compressed formats like MP3. However, you can deliver audio files through a Web or FTP site. But you can not store streaming audio, only play. This one is a continuous broadcast working through three software packages: the encoder, the server, and the player. With the help of the encoder, you can translate audio content into a streaming format. The server can make it available over the web, and the player helps to retrieve the content.

If you want a live broadcast, you can experience both the encoder and streamer working in real-time. Usually, an audio feed runs to a PC’s sound card. Then, the computer runs the encoder software at the broadcast location. After that, you can upload the stream to the streaming server. As it needs massive computing resources, the streaming server has to be a dedicated server.

What Is So Special About Internet Radio?

You can get plenty of benefits from this digital audio service. First of all, it doesn’t depend on the signals you broadcast locally. Therefore, it is possible to listen in real-time to multiple shows from all over the world. You do not need to face struggle while tuning to a station manually. Besides, dodgy reception or signal problems don’t interrupt your program.

You can catch up on programs easily which have been broadcast. Multiple big stations are enabling you to hear shows from the past week. In addition, BBC allows you to listen to any radio program aired in the past month.

In this case, signal strength is not a problem. The reason is that the web’s high-speed power allows quick and reliable signals to be transmitted. Therefore, you can stream flawless high-quality recordings until you have a decent wi-fi connection. In this case, you may use any free broadband speed test checker to ensure the network speed works appropriately.

Pure Evoke F3, Roberts iStream 2, and Roberts Stream 93i enable you to access the stations. In addition, all of these are connected with the music streaming subscription service Spotify. Besides, you can stream music from your computer with them through the radio’s speakers. As a result, you can get a multitude of different options to listen to.

  • Data Use With Internet Radio:

Whatever you do on the web, it will use some data. It is your monthly data allowance from where the data will be taken unless you have unlimited broadband. This data relies on the quality of its stream. But if you listen to this using your mobile, you should ensure that your device is linked with the web via wi-fi. Otherwise, you will find your mobile data burnt by listening to it.

If you are out & about and want to hear the web, you can download a few of its programs and podcasts to listen to offline. In addition, you can see an option to connect to public wi-fi. However, the signal is not powerful enough to cope with streaming audio from the way.

  • Using A Web Browser Or Media Player:

You can use your web browser to access it. Besides, it allows you to use a media player also. Therefore, you should use suitable programs like Windows Media Player and VLC to stream it from the web. In addition, it is possible to bookmark your favorite stations for simple access.

If you want to stream online radio stations via your chosen player, your job is to look for the URL of the stream. After that, you need to put it into the box titled ‘Network URL.’ The broadcast URLs of these stations usually end in .m3u or .pls. You can find them easily using Google.

  • Plenty Of Stations To Pick From:

The significant advantage is the sheer number of options you can get. Technology that both FM and DAB use is holding them back. But you can use these broadcasts to a small portion of the whole spectrum in a limit. It indicates that most localities have merely 30 DAB stations and half the number of FM stations. But in this case, it is not a problem.

It never prevents you from broadcasting to a certain number of stations online. In addition, it doesn’t limit the use of using local stations. That’s why a massive variety of more than 30,000 stations are available to transmit worldwide. BBC, one of the crucial broadcasters, is one of them.

Several unique stations are available to choose a while, most of which do not contain air advertisements. If you like German techno or authentic Jamaican reggae, you can hardly find some stations which suit your preferences.

  • A More Stable Signal:

Weak radio transmissions can not affect it, which is another benefit you can get. According to a few people, they fail to get a good DAB signal in certain rooms of their homes. This issue appears when you get a weak signal in your bedroom. However, don’t worry as it offers an alternative. If you can access the web on your selected listening device (computer, smartphone, tablet), you will not face any grizzly noises which you can listen to on traditional ones.

  • They Frequently Have Added Features:

These are more reasonable than DAB/FM-only radios. Generally, these can perform more than just listening. Moreover, it allows you to set it up according to your comfort in your home. Thus, you can adjust many stations from one interface. Furthermore, you can get extra features like a simply embeddable radio player, purchase links for the current music, voting options, dedicated mobile applications, etc.

What is the Future Of Internet Radio?

As per marketing and media reports, these stations will become vital in the future. You can revolutionize how to get information and consume entertainment. Previously, Radio listening supported only electronic devices with FM/AM receivers. It is the web for which we can get it available on all attached devices.

It is possible to access web stations on mobiles, smart TVs, car infotainment systems, smart speakers, etc. Besides, you can access simulcasts for traditional broadcasters. Moreover, several people use smartphones, phones, and PCs to stream digital entertainment. But it has a drawback keeping you in limit what you can do with it. For instance, paying for data usage when using the web makes it less appealing.

Free Internet Radio Apps:

These are free to download. In addition, these can give access to multiple stations on various devices.

  • Radioplayer:

It is a non-profit partnership between the BBC and commercial radio in the UK. The app has over 450 UK stations. Besides, it can recommend you stations track your location. In addition, this free internet radio app offers stations based on what’s trending right now and what you’ve listened to. Furthermore, you can save specific stations and shows for fast access.

It is compatible with all Apple and Android smartphones and tablets, the Amazon Kindle Fire, Windows Phone 8, Amazon Echo, and Apple Watch. In addition, the app comes with a car mode allowing you to play while driving. Besides, you can activate the sleep timer to nod off to a broadcast except by running your device’s battery down.

  • TuneIn:

It features a global audience of over 60 million. Besides, it can provide numerous choices for free sports, music, talk, and news radio worldwide. In addition, it allows you to upload your station and add plenty of choices.

It supports Apple and Android smartphones, tablets, Blackberry, and Windows phones. Besides, you can use the app on the Amazon Kindle, Xbox One, Sonos speakers, Google Chromecast and Roku internet TV streamers, and Samsung and Panasonic Smart TVs.

  • Audials:

You need to type the names of your favorite artists to find the stations on this app. Besides, you can choose a music genre, country, or local station near you. In addition, the app enables you to save songs and broadcasts as MP3 files for offline playback. Sometimes, you may forget to record the track. However, don’t worry; you can save the track as an MP3 by finding it in the station history.

It is available on most Apple and Android devices, Windows phones and tablets, and Google Chrome browsers. Besides, it comes with a sleep timer and an alarm function. In addition, you can get a snooze button. Therefore, if you want, you can take a rest and wake up while your favorite online radio free station comes.

Top Internet Radio Stations:

We have given here the names of some online radio stations. There are several options to pick up from. You can choose your favorite one as you like. Hence, you can get country music, instrumental music, a station perfect for party music, etc.

Ensure that the sites are real radio programs, not on-demand music streaming services. If a streaming music service allows you to play specific tracks and remove commercials, you should manually select which songs to stream. A station plays DJ-chosen music as category or genre, such as rock, indie, jazz, Christian, etc., making music simple.

1) WLTW 106.7 Lite FM:

Description: IHeartMedia owns it. Besides, this station plays different music, from the modern day back to the ’80s. In addition, it allows you to listen to dance, pop, rock, disco, R&B, punk, new wave, etc. Moreover, you can enjoy music from groups like Wham!, George Michael, Duran Duran, Tears for Fears, Prince, Jennifer Lopez, Christina Aguilera, Camila Cabello, Cutting Crew, No Doubt, etc.

Have you played a song recently from the station? If yes, you can begin your station based on the music type. You can skip through the songs, unlike you can on it. You can have an iHeartRadio subscription which enables you to replay songs, save songs to your playlist, etc. In addition, it is possible to listen online and from the Windows or mobile app.



  • It shows only the three most recently played tracks.

2) SomaFM:

It can offer the most effective ways to find new indie music. The DJ’s hand has almost all indie songs. Besides, it allows you to listen directly from your browser or with your favorite media player. Amanda Cadore, Alvvays, Aloha, Polica, Carroll, Paranoids, Violents and Monica Martin, Beck, and Neko Case are the names of the artists and bands streamed on this station.

You can see all artists on SomaFM’s Indie Pop Rocks station. In this case, you can see those artists you have seen in the last two weeks. As a result, you can get a link to their tracks. Additionally, you can get a helpful currently played songs list for an idea of the content. Moreover, it enables you to add songs to a list of favorites from where you can buy them easily.

Whether you are not into indie music, you can access other channels. For instance, it is possible to look for holiday music, ambient electronic and experimental space music, early 2000s classics, etc. Furthermore, you can stream the IP station from the web through an iOS, Android, or Windows app. Do you like the TuneIn app? If yes, you may use it also. You only need to find SomaFM Indie Pop Rocks! on the app.


  • Commercial-free radio station
  • Several ways to listen
  • It shows several recently played songs
  • The browser player comes with a sleep timer


  • Uninteresting website design

3) KEAN 105.1 FM:

It is the best one for streaming country music. You can get a lot of choices as DJs that select the best country music for you. In addition, you can see all future shows listed on the site. Unfortunately, the list contains only the shows for the week.

This one can play songs from Kenny Chesney, Kane Brown, Maren Morris, Rodney Atkins, Jake Owen, Thomas Rhett, Blake Shelton, Keith Urban, etc.

A few can play in a separate part of the site. Therefore, while tapping elsewhere to see future shows or recently played songs, the music will not stop playing. If you want to do this with the one, you should open the pop-out player. You can have a mobile app for Android and iOS also.


  • It runs on a web browser or phone
  • Multiple recently played songs are available on the site, where the tracks can be purchased on iTunes.


  • Must use the pop-up player to avoid stopping the music while browsing other areas

4) Cinemix:

It is ideal if you like to purchase soundtrack CDs from your favorite films. This station comes with music found only in movies and TV shows. As it is ad-supported, it is entirely free. Names of movies and shows from where it collects music include Supernatural, Bicentennial Man, Lost, Guardians of the Galaxy, Call the Midwife, Last Chance Harvey, War for the Planet of the Apes, etc. Whether you are a VIP member, you can see the twenty most recently played songs. It supports the web on iOS, Android, and Windows 8 mobile devices.


  • Buy available links
  • Allows you to listen from a browser or mobile app


  • Plays orchestra music
  • Infrequent app updates

5) Instrumental Hits Radio:

Are you searching for something which won’t distract you from work or study? These music names include classical, big band, new-age, lounge, orchestral, jazz, etc. In addition, you can find a mobile app available for Android.


  • It offers an ideal mix of instrumental music
  • Keeps a history of all music played that day
  • You can download a playlist file to listen to your music player
  • Request your favorite songs


  • Many ads in the mobile app

6) NSB Radio:

It has been the best web station for dance, dubstep, techno, house, and related music since 2004. These can be broadcast live regularly during the week. While it is a station where you hear great music, you can request shout-outs and songs for the DJs to play & chat with other NSB listeners. You can listen from the official site or via TuneIn. In addition, links are also there on the site to listen through VLC, iTunes, and other media players.


  • Previous shows are archived and available as free MP3s
  • Links are available to listen on iTunes and other media players


  • It doesn’t show song names

7) KIDJAM! Radio:

While it doesn’t have helpful information, it doesn’t show the current track or history of previous songs. It is proper for a younger crowd because it is mainly for kids years 8–12. In addition, this station gives occasional messages to educate children. Besides, it encourages kids to make wise decisions. Moreover, it can play “regular” music from known artists.

Furthermore, it can offer remixes of famous songs performed by kids. You can see currently played songs by rewinding ten seconds in the mobile app for iOS. Unfortunately, none of them support the web player.


  • Avoids mature content
  • Children can request a song to be played
  • Musicians can submit their music


  • Extremely bare web player

8) K-LOVE:

It is the only Christian music station serving as one of the world’s top-streamed free radio online music stations. Besides, you can find it given over FM in many US cities. Many online listeners listen to music from artists and bands, including MercyMe, Rend Collective, Zach Williams, Francesca Battistelli, Skillet, for KING & COUNTRY, Chris Tomlin, Micah Tyler, Lauren Daigle, etc. In addition, it has other channels beyond the live stream that target Christmas, the 90s, and 2000s music.

This mobile app supports iOS and Android. But it displays only four recently played songs. However, the site can provide a Verse of the Day page and details of all artists played on it.


  • Displays recently played songs
  • Offers links to buy songs
  • It Shows lyrics for recent tracks
  • Includes briefs on local and national news
  • Artist info is shown in the browser player


  • Often lots of talk between songs

9) Radio Santa Claus:

Description: In this free online radio station, thousands of people gather regularly to hear Christmas music any time of the year. It is based out of Santa Claus Village in Finland, where Santa lives throughout the year. You can enjoy music from different singers like Frank Sinatra, Colbie Caillat, Bob Dylan, Karma, Blake Shelton, Dean Martin, Sara Bareilles, Andrea Bocelli, and children’s choirs.

You can use this Android app more quickly than the website. In this case, you need to begin the live stream and stop it. Besides, it allows you to view what is recently playing and leave a comment so that others can see it.


  • Includes modern Christmas music
  • Puts you in the Christmas mood with a live video feed from Santa Claus Village in Finland
  • You can leave images and comments to allow you to see other listeners.


  • Many website ads

10) Jazz24:

It is a KNKX Public station where you can find jazz music streaming online. This one is located in Seattle and Tacoma, Washington, on 88.5 FM. It plays jazz from artists such as Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, Diana Krall, Pat Metheny, etc.

There is a Jazz24 mobile app for iOS and Android. It has an alert feature allowing you to begin playing jazz automatically while the timer goes off. In addition, it is possible to access the station via different streaming links.


  • Commercial-free listening
  • Mobile access
  • Long-term playlist history
  • Old sessions can be replayed on demand


  • The website is difficult to navigate

11) Relax FM:

It is a station out of Moscow, Russia. This one comes with instrumental, English, and foreign music. Besides, several channels exist to select, like Relax Life, Relax Nature, Relax Gold, and Relax Latino.

In addition, you can hear music online from any place, like the official Relax FM website. Moreover, Moscow listeners can listen to it on 90.8 FM and other stations.


  • The curated selection is amazing
  • Great place to find new chill music
  • Plays relaxing versions of popular music
  • Browse through the stream playlist


  • The site is partially in Russian

12) Hot 108 JAMZ:

It is a part of a network of Powerhitz stations where Hot 108 JAMZ can stream hip-hop music. The network is available at other stations. You can listen to music from artists like Rihanna, Drake, 2 Pac, Lil Donald, Meek Mill, Alicia Keys, Lil Wayne, DJ Khaled, Mariah Carey, Usher, 50 Cent, The Carters, and Rich Gang. In addition, it can accept shout-outs and song requests.

You can get the web station available at TuneIn and Streema. These websites can provide features like a sleep timer and a “favorite” option.


  • It shows the five most recently played songs
  • Chat with other listeners
  • Songwriters can submit their music
  • Lists recent tracks
  • You can purchase music on Amazon and iTunes
  • Different places to hear


  • Includes commercials
  • Cluttered website; lots of ads


Our article gives plenty of information about internet radio. In addition, you can learn about radio apps and top radio stations.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Is internet radio better than FM?

If online stations have a similar bit rate, these use much more efficient codecs. So, it is better technically than FM.

  • Can you listen to the radio over the Internet?

It is possible to hear plenty of content for free through services like Spotify, Pandora, or iHeart Radio. In addition, several local channels and national networks provide live streaming broadcasts on the sites.

  • Is it worth buying an internet radio?

It can provide instant access to a broader selection of channels, podcasts, and other online audio.

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