Internet Streams & Podcasts
Internet Radio is streaming audio that is “pushed” through the Internet and Podcasting is recorded audio that is “pulled” through the Internet by subscribers who use software to automatically download it. Neither of these really pass the test of being “Radio” by definition.
But, should it matter anymore?
The WiMax Factor
Someday soon, Internet radio stations and podcasts are going to become hybrids when a technology called WiMax takes hold as part of the infrastructure of cities. Simply put: a WiMax transmitter can cover up to 3,000 square miles with wireless Internet. Think of it as a very large WiFi hotspot.
With WiMax development will come WiMax receivers small enough to be built into laptops, mobile devices, and even car radios. Once this happens, your favorite Internet radio station or podcast will be available almost anywhere – thanks – in part - to radio waves since that’s what makes wireless possible.
So, what is not technically Radio today will be Radio tomorrow as the method of transmission will make it so, by definition.
Given that, it will soon be a waste of intellectual arguments to try and classify AM, FM, Satellite Radio, Internet Streaming, cell phone audio, or podcasts as “Radio” or not “Radio”.
“It’s the content, stupid!”
It is important to begin defining Radio based on a content standard and not on today’s delivery standard because the paradigm for delivery will change and is changing.
Let me give you a brief example of how that happened once before.
The Pony Express operated from 1860 to 1861. It was an expensive service for letters and most people couldn’t afford the up to $5.00 dollar cost of sending mail. The founders always assumed the federal government would come through with a contract to provide most of their income. It never happened. The U.S. government decided a new technology called the “telegraph” would be better and eventually, The Pony Express folded.
Both services were able to deliver messages – one by traditional letters via riders, the other by Morse Code via wire. Both the Pony Express and telegraph delivered the same content. The telegraph just was able to do it faster and cheaper.