It's easier than ever to host your own Internet radio show. With some
time and effort, and very little money, you can host a show that's broadcast
around the world.
You can inform people about a particular subject. You can play music, discuss
current events or focus on whatever topic you find interesting. You can seek
to educate, change minds or simply entertain.
Finding an audience takes time and it probably won't be easy to make money.
Most online radio hosts do it as a hobby and make little or no money from
their hosting duties. But this field is developing fast. We might soon see
a growing number of Internet radio hosts earning solid incomes online.
Easier to Start Your Own Show
Joe Crawford worked in regular radio for three years before starting his
own Internet radio show, The Joe Show, three years ago. On his show he has
interviewed many guests. They've included authors and politicians, as well
as celebrities such as Tim Conway and Howie Mandel.
Crawford's monthly radio show is a hobby. But he hopes it leads to other
opportunities in the entertainment world. "Eventually I want to become a talk
show host on TV," he says.
"I just love hosting my own show," says Crawford. He's also a professional
entertainer and special event host. "I'm a person who likes to give out information
and talk with people, whether I'm in a big group of people and talking with
them or if it's just through a microphone (online)... It's in my blood and
nature to love entertaining."
Crawford's show is located on BlogTalkRadio, which lets anyone create a
show for free. You only pay fees if you want additional, premium features.
Thanks to BlogTalkRadio and similar sites, your only investment in creating
your own show is time (assuming you already have a computer with a built-in
or plug-in microphone).
"If you're like me... you're the host, you're the producer, you're the
salesman," explains Crawford. "You're pretty much running the whole radio
station yourself, which would usually take about eight people -- you're doing
eight jobs with one person."
It helps to have education or experience in broadcasting. But it's not
essential. After all, you're working for yourself! That's a big advantage
over trying to break into regular radio.
"It's easier to get your own show on the Internet... as opposed to if you're
going into a radio station and saying, 'Hey, I'm looking for a job,'" says
Crawford. "Because, of course, in the radio stations they're looking for education,
they're looking for work experience."
Creating a Show to Complement Your Profession
Many Internet radio hosts use their shows as an add-on to their regular
profession. An example is Patricia Raskin, who has a background in education
and psychology. She has a master's degree in counseling and spent the first
13 years of her career in the public school system.
Raskin helps people improve their lives with two Internet radio shows and
one show on a radio station. On her shows she interviews self-improvement,
spiritual and health experts. Raskin has more than 25 years of experience
in radio and also coaches Internet radio hosts.
"I was an entertainer as a kid," says Raskin. "I was a singer, so I had
Raskin is a pioneer when it comes to Internet radio. She's been broadcasting
online for more than 10 years.
"For me, this has really been a labor of love and a mission in terms of
making the world a better place through the kinds of [shows] I do," says Raskin.
Raskin says that sound quality was a big challenge in the early years of
Internet radio. Listeners would often complain about it. But Internet radio
has greatly improved. "Now the sound is outstanding," she says.
Recently, Raskin was in Italy and was able to host her show using her laptop
and Skype (for long distance calling). The portability and reach of Internet
radio makes it an extremely effective way to be heard.
"I think the Internet is very powerful because it's very accessible and
it can be heard by everybody, so I think in that sense it gives a lot of people
an opportunity to make a difference, while it's much harder to get that opportunity
on terrestrial media (regular radio)," explains Raskin.
"I've been on it a long time and I'm very seasoned in what I do, but for
people who just want to spread their wings and try something they haven't
tried before, there is a lot of opportunity to do that on the Internet."
Since the barriers to entry are low, just starting an Internet radio show
isn't a problem. But if you hope to ever make money at it, you need to build
"I think the challenge is building audience numbers on the Internet, but
more and more people are listening," says Raskin.
"I think the other challenge, of course, is getting people to pay for it
and getting the sponsors. It's easier on terrestrial (regular) radio where
there are often bigger numbers, but numbers are growing on the Internet --
they really are."
More Americans Tuning In
One of the main reasons people listen to online radio, according to the
study, is the variety of programming. The other main reason is that listeners
have control over what music they listen to.
Ilene Dillon is a psychotherapist who began her Internet
radio show, Full Power Living, in 2004. Since then, she has started hosting
two additional shows on the Women's Information Network.
"I got an offer from an Internet radio site and I followed my intuition
and decided I would give it a try," says Dillon. "I knew absolutely nothing
about it and I had a very steep learning curve."
Fortunately, Dillon's son was computer savvy and helped her set up everything.
But there was still much work to do.
"I thought, 'Oh, you can just have a radio program,' but you have to get
guests, you have to come up with the concepts, you have to have scripts, you
have to have public relations and advertising," says Dillon.
"I had to learn about [e-mail] lists and how to get the word out to people
and how to archive the programs, how to set up my website so that people could
listen at other times besides just the broadcast time," Dillon adds.
"And I also had to overcome my own fears of reaching out to people and
asking them to be on my program and... putting myself out in the world."
Getting the Word Out
Start by building on the networks that you already have. Social media tools
such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace can be a great help.
"In the beginning, I think what most people do is they let everybody they
know know what they're doing," says Dillon.
"And you also build your listenership by asking every guest who's on your
show to alert their (contact) list to the fact that they're on your show.
There's a tipping point where you start to have lots of people listening to
Dillon now has listeners all over the world. For example, she's heard from
listeners in Russia, New Zealand, Australia and South America.
Dillon says hosting a show is a ton of work. But it's also very rewarding.
"What's really exciting for me is I have all these cutting-edge, famous,
interesting people -- people who are really thinking about life and who are
really charting new courses for us to take -- and I get to read their book
and then I get to make my own questions," says Dillon. "And I get to talk
with the author about the ideas that they have in their book, so I'm getting
this incredible education."
Dillon's online radio shows have led to paid opportunities for her. For
example, she has gotten coaching clients and teaching opportunities. But she
doesn't make money directly from her shows (she has chosen not to have advertisers
on her shows).
"I think... that a young person could make money and could be very successful
with a radio program, but I think they would have to be like any successful
businessperson," says Dillon.
"They'd have to really read their market carefully, really generate a
lot of enthusiasm, really get the word out, which can be done. And if you
hit the right [buttons] with people, I think you could be successful."
Dillon adds a cautionary note: "I think it's like anything -- there are
going to be a lot of people who aren't successful for every one that is."
How to Set Up Online Radio and Broadcasting Over the Internet
Helpful step-by-step instructions
Some great radio interviewing tips from National Public Radio
No Recession for Internet Radio
An article about how Internet radio is going strong