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AG News: Monday - 11/9/2009

Defining Radio Today

I have run into a recurring problem the past few months and thought the time was right to discuss it.

Each Sunday six stations are added to, a popular radio portal owned by Audio Graphics. Since 1999 the criteria for adding a station has revolved around this definition of internet radio: "continuous audio programming - recorded or live." The RadioRow station listings reflect only stations on the internet, so a "station" is required to have a web site that streams. Until now, audio-only online stations haven't been accepted, though hundreds have been submitted for consideration.

Whether the station is attached to a radio industry group doesn't matter; Internet pure-play radio stations are mixed with Clear Channel, Entercom, Emmis, Greater Media, and dozens of other radio groups' stations.

To the question: What is "radio" today? This isn't rhetorical. Exactly what do you consider to be the defintion of a "radio station"? Online or over-air, there are now tens of thousands of enterprises that call themselves "radio." They represent a cross-section of audio, visual, and interactive experience. The problem is that my reasons for not listing some of them at RadioRow are antiquated. They include:
  • Internet audio-only streams with no attached web site
  • Podcasters with a large number of podcasts to choose from
  • The part-time internet radio station with a few hours of programming each night/week
  • Radio station operators using services like Loudcity or Live365
It's always been accepted that social network stations, which allow full audience interaction, are radio stations online, and that they fit the radio industry defintion of radio programming. As for those types listed above, until now it was a simple decision for me - they didn't. That "until now" is real important because of one U.S. Army Captain, Lynette Jones.

Lynette contacted me about buying advertising at RadioRow. Her radio station is New Day Talk Radio. Did I mention she is currently serving in Iraq? This was strictly a business call - from Iraq - and she was all business. Of more importance was the confidence she displayed in conveying her ideals of what an internet radio station is and how it can serve the audience and its advertisers - and she wants to advertise that fact. Outside of CBS Radio, which makes keyword ad buys, I know of no other radio industry group that advertises its stations online. (Here is the pitch Lynette has posted at

I checked out the talk radio format at New Day Talk Radio and found that it conforms to everything considered radio today. It just didn't fit neatly into my preconceived thoughts of "real radio." This revelation led me to review a number of my inbox folders containing audio-only stations or internet radio stations created by podcasters and part-timers. I stand corrected.

There are many smart people in the radio industry, yet many have failed over the past 14 years at making radio work. The longer I'm involved with the internet radio industry, the more I'm finding its smart people. According to the bio at, Lynette attended Columbia College and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice. After earning her Bachelor's degree, Lynette attended Norwich University and earned a Master's degree in Criminal Justice. Was it mentioned that, while she keeps her online radio station running, Lynette is on her second tour of duty in Iraq?

I've been missing something in my search for listing internet radio stations at RadioRow. Lynette has helped redefine "radio" for me. People open their own internet radio stations according to what they believe "radio" to be, not based on some outdated definition that an old thinker like myself forces upon them.

My "problem" has just been solved by people like Lynette forcing me to rethink issues. For radio station owners, as the number of stations that are outside of conventional thinking grows, your problems are just beginning.

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Ken Dardis
Online Since January 1997

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