I guess I'm too much of an old timer to get into this current Internet "radio" thing. Too many years spent toying with tuned circuits and antennas, too many years a radio DXer, radio listener, even a radio "Ham" - some 47 years - though I really haven't done the Ham thing for some time. WE7W lives on though, and I still keep my license current.
For better or for worse, sometimes words or things in life "evolve" over time to mean different things. I'm thinking radio is becoming one of them. Radio at one time meant "wireless" transmission of electromagnetic waves through the air, from starting point to finishing point. It was picked up magically with a wire or a coiled loop, fed to a tuned circuit which selected one signal out of many, detected and converted to audio which was then amplified so you could hear it. Internet "radio" is no such thing. No aerial, no tuned circuits, no detection. A friend of mine says real radio has to pass through your body (meaning: the waves) - that's the definition of real radio. I say that too, plus a tuned circuit must surely be involved, and almost certainly a detector. Internet "radio" has none of the above. What would Marconi think?
Internet radio probably is radio only in the sense that for a small segment of its "transmission" to you, millions of digital bits are perhaps beamed up to a satellite and back down. Maybe. The rest of its journey, both before and after, it is transmitted through wire or fiber optic cable, passed from one computer device to another to another, arriving in numerical perfection just as it was sent, down to the last, solitary, Boolean bit.
Merriam-Webster says about the noun RADIO:
a: the wireless transmission and reception of electric impulses or signals by means of electromagnetic wave.As I was saying: "waves", like the kind that pass through your body.
b: the use of these waves for the wireless transmission of electric impulses into which sound is converted.
There was even a time when I used to subscribe to various radio magazines, until the articles became more computer articles than radio articles, each filled mostly with links to web sites. Recent shortwave magazine articles I've seen basically contain narrative on how to navigate a radio station's web site to get its streamed Internet content. Radio magazines have evolved to something different than they once were, too.
Maybe it's the semantics of the whole thing that bothers me more than anything else. The new "radio" is not the old radio, and never will be. It is something wholly different.
Okay, a reality check. Yes, I do listen to a podcast now and then (now there's a new word unleashed on modern society for you: podcast), or streamed audio via my desktop or laptop. I've even been known to listen to a streamed radio station on occasion (try streamed KTNN-660 sometime, The Navajo Nation, 50KW out of Window Rock, AZ for an interesting experience). But the listening is done for "content", without the accompanied magic of original radio. There is no "feel" to it. I attempted to capture this feel in another post in this blog. I was talking about mediumwave towers:
...."A tower is a thing of beauty to the radio aficionado....Ah, the mediumwave broadcast tower! Think of it! Stately, striped sentinels with strobe lights flashing, they number thousands and thousands across the country, each emitting invisible waves of electrons through the late night air, spanning that mysterious thing called "the ether" to deliver communication to unknown distant masses. It conjures up thoughts of far-away points on the landscape, souls crouched in cramped corners with headsets fixed in the dark of night, straining to make sense of distant babble through static crashes and heterodynes. That would be me. The whistle of a far off freight train gives the same feeling of wonder."
Internet radio does not. Do you like your toast light or dark?