Shutdown of many commercial radio streams has little impact

Tuesday, May 1st 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

DENVER (AP) _ Some of the nation's biggest broadcasting companies have stopped simulcasting over the Internet because of a dispute with recording artists, but the growing online radio audience still has plenty of programming to choose from.

``As with your car stereo, if you get static on one station, or if you can't tune it in at all, you simply turn the dial until you find another station you like. The same holds true for Internet radio,'' said Seven Harhoff, spokesman for MeasureCast Inc., a company that monitors online radio.

There are now 5,058 online radio stations, compared with 3,537 a year ago, according to BRS Media Inc., and the number of Internet radio listeners in December 2000 was 35 million, up from 21 million a year earlier.

The commercial radio groups recently stopped Webcasting because of a dispute with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, which insists its members should be paid extra if the commercials are used online and on-the-air.

Clear Channel Communications took down nearly all of its 318 stations that had been on the Internet and Emmis Communications Corp. dropped nearly all of its 13 ``streaming'' stations.

Many of the stations are expected to return soon, using software that will delete the contested ads from their streams.

Whatever the outcome of the dispute, analysts say the departure of hundreds of commercial stations so far has had little impact on listeners.

``There is so much content. This is just a small blip. Internet radio has a life of its own,'' said T.S. Kelly, lead Internet analyst with Nielsen-NetRatings.

Fourteen of the top 25 Internet radio stations in MeasureCast's ratings for April 16-22 logged larger audiences., the No. 1 music station, reported a 17 percent increase in estimated audience size.

MediaMazing allows listeners to choose the genres of music they want to hear, and then mix them. Bach can be interspersed with the BeeGees. Listeners also can make requests for songs to be added to their favorite formats, and they can push a skip button if they don't like the song.

``We allow our listeners to be our program director,'' said Henry Callie, president. It has 300,000 registered listeners and the number is increasing 15 percent a month.

Talk radio is also gaining followers online.

For example, Rush Limbaugh's online audience increased to 1.5 million in November 2000 from less than 200,000 in May of that same year.