America Online has launched Broadband Radio@AOL, an exclusive online radio service that will give radio stations an opportunity to land Internet real estate and reach a wider audience.
AOL's new service promises fewer streaming interruptions, with its Ultravox technology, and more than 125 CD-quality stations, joining similar services like car-based satellite radio services XM and Sirius and online competitor Real Radio (plus the multitude of smaller commercial Internet radio outlets). Radio@AOL will give AOL Broadband subscribers commercial-free genre-specific programming plus access to terrestrial radio stations and online partners, such as WOXY(FM) Oxford, Ohio, and AP News.
Jim Van Hughes, executive director of Radio@AOL, acknowledges that it is much easier for AOL to program its own stations, but he hopes Radio@AOL can continue to expand its cache by establishing relationships with radio stations across the country.
"Some radio stations have a distinct radio philosophy," Hughes says of those AOL has approached. "Others came to us."
WOXY(FM), which was added to Radio@AOL's lineup after contacting AOL with a proposal that was not related to Radio@AOL, jumped at the opportunity to have its broadcast streamed, even if it meant taking on the hefty Webcasting fees instituted by the Librarian of Congress last February.
"It's a trade-off," says Brian Jay Miller, WOXY(FM) director of Internet development. "Distribution through AOL is priceless. You can't put a price tag on it."
Miller's focus on expanding his station's listener base, Web fees or no, is shared by other smaller, eclectic stations nationwide. Radio@AOL has approximately 3.7 million broadband subscribers.