Thursday, February 28, 2008

Internet Talk Radio - the Tale of Its Evolution

Radios have been a source of entertainment since a long time now. Radio has been really powerful in the past, specially at the times when older folks used to sit in front of the old dial tune box radio getting carried away listening to some hit talk shows from the past. When it all started there were only AM channels and these channels mainly had talk shows and story-telling. There was music too, but not to the great extent as it happened later. With the introduction of the FM channels, music programs were shifted mainly to the FM-s while the talk shows and stories remained for the AM channels.

However, with the popularization of TV as an alternate media for entertainment, the power of AM and FM radio was greatly diminished. Due to its variety of channels, great options and greater appeals to the senses, TV had almost driven the once powerful radio out of business. Nonetheless, some still held on to the old radio. It was probably because they could get into a multi-tasking mode i.e. doing other things while still listening to their favorite radio programs. This was one thing that they could probably have not been able to do with TV. TV required them to sit in front of it and concentrate on the programs. But this small issue was too minor to stop the diminishing power and importance of radio as a primary source of entertainment. Soon, radio was a thing of the past.

Another major problem with the older radios was the frustrating loss of reception due to the device getting out of range. People had already got into the habit of carrying portable radios with them while they were outdoors. And often, they would be out of range causing them to probably miss the crucial conclusion of an interesting discussion or the climax of a story.

In a bid to revive the radio experience, satellite radios were introduced. These radios typically had several channels, often hundreds of them, dedicated to specialized programs. The model was more like that of a TV. It solved the out of range issue of the older generation radios. With satellite radio, one could be anywhere in the continent, listening to the same streaming everywhere. Its various channels were designed to cater to the interests of several individuals across diverse demographics. However, the main problem with satellite radio was its cost. In order to subscribe to satellite radio, a charge of almost twenty dollars or more was required.

The evolution of radio started showing its potential and reached a more apt state towards the early nineties when the internet talk radio was introduced. It was a new wave in the advancement of talk radio that hit the market with a bang. Internet talk radio provided a cheap and powerful alternative to the old AM radios. It required a computer, an internet connection, a phone, headsets and software to get started. Subscribing to the channels came completely free. The reach was now global, a lot more than the continental average of the satellite radios. And adding more to it was the easy option of creating a channel and participating. Being on the radio to reach out to the entire world became open. It was then possible for an avid listener of a talk show for years to easily host his own talk show and let the world know about his views.

With the introduction of internet talk radio, the evolution of radios has clearly attained maturity.

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