RAIN Poll results: Is Internet radio “real radio”?

survey checkbox poll 01 canvasWhen an Internet station in Saint Louis picketed a newspaper for eliminating the station from a reader’s choice award of best radio stations, we decided to poll RAIN readers on the crucial question: Is Internet radio “real radio”?

The results are definitive, with 70% of responses say: Yes, it is.

poll - real radio chart

Most of the submitted comments came from “Yes” replies, though a disproportionate number came from “Yes and No,” explaining the ambiguity. Selected remarks:

  • The historical perspective: “Let’s not forget there was a time when many didn’t consider FM “real” radio. We saw where that mentality led the great AM radio brands of the past.”
  • It’s about the content: “When we want to listen to something beneficial and new, and real, it doesn’t matter where we turn it on from.”
  • More than parity: “We are coming to the point that internet radio is more “real radio” than terrestrial radio. Internet radio is dynamic, live, and vibrant. Other than college stations, terrestrial radio (commercial radio) is boring, static, and canned.”
  • It’s a spectrum: “There are several bands of radio including: AM, FM, Satellite, Cable, Shortwave, and Internet.”
  • The true definition: “Real radio has its roots in the community and is local.”
  • A certain comparison: “If not, then Amazon isn’t a real store.”
  • Personal touch needed: “Is it hosted? Or, more importantly, is the playlist curated? Then it’s radio.
  • Reality in numbers: “125 million people listened to on-line radio last month. How real can you get?”
  • Emoticom: “Sad that we’re still asking this question.”
  • The A/B test: “1) Radio = one-way; webcast = two-way; 2) Radio = no true metrics; webcast = near perfect metrics; 3) Radio = Almost no targeting possible; webcast = unlimited target potential; 4) Radio = cannot transact; webcast = can sell almost anything, complete transaction; 5) Radio = distance limit; webcast = no distance limit; 6) Radio = fidelity limt; webcast = no fidelity limit; 7) Radio = limited dial; webcast = unlimited dial; 8) Radio = requires a radio; webcast = any net device; 9) Radio = govt license; webcast = no license needed; 10) Radio = no visuals; webcast = video, graphics abount; 11) Radio = doesn’t pay for use of sound recording; webcast = pays for sound recording. 12) Radio = rarely penetrates office walls; webcast = walls irrelevant. They are more unlike than they are similar.
  • Tell us what you really think: “Hell yes it is!”

Brad Hill


  1. I am very pleased the response was over welming YES for internet radio. I have been broadcasting for almost 9 years on the internet, I have a large and loyal following an work very hard to keep the program fresh and exciting. It is called “Jazz spotlight On Sinatra”. Please check it out.

  2. It is not real radio, no matter how you spin it. Conflating the two is a mistake and leads to still more mistakes (with licensing, for example). Why call it radio when it simply is not? Is a podcast radio, too? Is YouTube television? Is a car a mechanical horse (hey, it’s engine is rated in horsepower). It’s silly and bad policy to pretend that what you wish were true is in fact true. It’s not.

  3. Like real radio stations, Internet radio stations pay royalties to recording artists and record labels. And if we program our music daily, and broadcast live 24/7, yes, we are radio.

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