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Internet radio has been brewing since the dawn of the internet itself, but it hasn't been practical for most people until recent years. Pandora is the most popular internet radio service at the moment. What's monumental about Pandora is the Bay Area-based company now earns more revenue than any radio company. Radio still has strength during commute traffic, but the car is about to be invaded by multiple channels of internet radio.
Although radio industry statistics point to 88 to 92 percent of the 12 and older population still consuming terrestrial radio (traditional AM or FM stations) on a regular basis, the amount of time people devote to the 20th century medium has dwindled the past decade. The radio industry has become more and more corporate with cookie-cutter programming since the Telecom Act of 1996 threw out old rules that limited the number of stations a national chain could own. But the "big is better" myth has been a pure financial fiasco, not to mention the dial is flooded with generic nationalized programming that lacks local appeal. Enter internet radio, a leaner alternative with better choices for consumers.
This fall internet radio will get a huge boost when major automobile manufacturers begin including devices that deliver wi-fi based music and information channels originating online. This development will be a milestone for internet radio operators such as the new local startup company 1musicnetwork.com, founded by former radio programming executive Don Alias. In a series of video interviews with SacTV.com, Alias and his staff have given insights as to where the exciting new medium is headed.
Alias has a strong background in both music and radio programming. He was born into a music industry family, as his father was an international drummer and percussionist for Miles Davis and other jazz acts. Alias went on to program several radio stations around the country. From 2002 through 2009 he served as Clear Channel's Operations Manager at V101.1, an urban station where he gave early airplay to Alicia Keys before she had a record deal, which actually had a direct impact on her getting signed. He also helped Dave Matthews Band get signed by giving early airplay prior to their deal when he was a Program Director in Birmingham, Alabama in the early 90s.
After 2009 Alias ventured into artist management but also began to research internet radio. On January 2, 2012 he launched his internet radio network, 1musicnetwork.com, based in Sacramento. The network currently features in depth channels of pop, rock, hip hop, country, alternative and classic formats. These music channels present a contrast to coporate radio stations that have become mostly voice-tracked, while 1musicnetwork actually features seasoned live announcers. How ironic is it that local radio is actually national without many live jocks while this international internet network features local live announcers?
The hosts on 1musicnetwork include experienced Northern California radio personalities who have a history working on air in Sacramento. These hosts include Akil, who still works on air at V101.1, Rex McNeill, who has worked at KWOD and KHYL, Charlee Simons, who has worked at KPOP, KWOD and The Wolf and Autumn Larrick, who worked at KWOD and was the host of the local show "The Sound of Sacramento" from 1997 to 2003. Unlike corporate radio, these hosts get to say and play whatever they want on 1musicnetwork.
Internet radio has come a long way since I started Sacramento's first 24 hour internet station in 1999 called "Sacramento Music Scene," which later became "SacLive" through 2000. Back then it was one format, all local music, on one stream and it didn't have any sponsors, other than a partnership with the Sacramento Bee. It did feature live announcers every Friday. But 1musicnetwork in less than its first six months has 16 channels of different formats with several live announcers throughout the week and is already making revenue from advertisers. Don Alias asserts in one of the SacTV.com interviews that within 3 to 5 years internet radio will be more dominant in the mainstream than terrestrial radio. In many ways we are witnessing a turning point unfold in 2012 as 1musicnetwork.com is establishing itself as one of the new media leaders on the cutting edge.