Online Radio's Army of Duffers

Checking the dictionary, duffer is: "1) an incompetent or stupid person; 2) a person inexperienced at something." Throw #1 out. What follows is about #2.

I joined the Facebook "Internet Radio Broadcasting" group almost a year ago. It was a way to ease out of an 18-year career that had me associated with internet radio since 1998. Spending the previous 27 years in broadcasting (1971-1997) helped when looking at online audio related can-do and won't-work ideas. That I took my first computer software course in 1968 and have stayed up on technology since then made for a smooth transition from broadcast to tech.

Back to being a duffer, of which I am one. For thousands of radio station owners this word is not correct. I prefer Enthusiastic Amateur. Like a weekend golfer who hits the course for a Saturday morning tee-time, each year I'll pay a substantial amount to support my hobby.

There's no shame in being an Enthusiastic Amateur - you just need to watch the warning signs and stay out of trouble.
Beware the warnings.
An Introduction

My technology background is here. I produced and voiced all that's on this audio spec, and wrote 95% of it. As Executive Producer of the Cleveland Indians Radio Network I wrote, produced, and voiced dozens of long-form programs.

The Enthusiastic Amateurs within this Internet Radio Broadcasting group are easy to spot. They come in three types.
  • Some ask questions that could have been easily researched. They won't last three months.
  • Some have a direction, but no idea on the execution. They want to buy the best equipment, or build a sound proof "studio" in their home. They too will find disappointment because a substantial audience won't come fast enough.

    Then there's another class of Enthusiastic Amateurs.
  • They plod along slowly, constantly improving, honing whatever they offer as an "internet radio station."They love this work because it's not really work (though it is), and the "why" behind their devotion and hours doesn't matter. This will be the group finding happiness and fun doing radio online, using suppliers like Live365.

  • After watching how people in the FB Internet Radio Broadcasting group interact, these are a few words for my fellow Enthusiastic Amateurs.

    Don't ask a question before you've spent a few days trying to uncover the answer on your own. The act of researching will lead you to other questions you'll need to answer. If after a good try you fail to find multiple sources reporting the same thing, ask. (Having multiple sources will guarantee that you're not receiving bad information - like the misguided notion that you pay royalties based on where your server resides.)

    It is often suggested that people in this group organize. Coordinating independent online radio stations to (fill in the action) is impossible. The community doesn't think in terms of US. A fact for newcomers: Organizing has been tried multiple times since 1998 with the only return being it doesn't work. My theory is that independent radio station owners are independent thinkers. Moving them in one direction is like herding cats.

    Stay legal, musically. A misguided notion is that playing songs without paying artists is OK - or that your chance of being caught is small. It's unethical. Do you really need another reason not to steal the music? (Songs are free only when a waiver is signed.)

    The vast majority of what's called online radio is made up of duffers, Enthusiastic Amateurs who are looking to capture a moment of joy while doing what they love. The rest are corporations and companies with substantial backing, and the connections to bring in advertising revenue.

    With rare exception the Enthusiastic Amateur cannot sell enough ads to pay the bills. I've seen dozens of station & network logs, with analytics. Please trust me: It is literally impossible to charge a workable CPM or banner ad rate.

    Do what you do because it's fun. Do what you do because you enjoy helping people find music. Do what you do because you believe it's better audio programming than others supply.

    Don't do it for adulation, recognition, or money. You will be disappointed.

    I'm a proud Enthusiastic Amateur ...and you?

    Next: A Metaphor for Podcasting

    Friday March 16, 2018      eMail to a Friend

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