Radio Automation Options Joel Willer / KXUL Aaron Read / WEOS - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Radio Automation Options Joel Willer / KXUL Aaron Read / WEOS
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Radio Automation Options Joel Willer / KXUL Aaron Read / WEOS

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  1. Radio Automation OptionsJoel Willer / KXULAaron Read / WEOS More than just a computer and sound card…and why a Winamp playlist doesn't (usually) cut it !

  2. Why do you need automation? • Your listeners demand 24/7/365 operation. • You need the freedom to de-air live staff that are being disciplined. • Sometimes you gotta lay on the smackdown. • Protect against 47 CFR 73.561 time-share challenges. • Technically only @ license-renewal, but can be referenced from any time between renewals! • Can also be used to enhance live DJ operation, and reduce CD theft impact. See also :

  3. Why do people hate (hate, hate, HATE) automation? • Because a lot of stations do it very badly! • Reduce playlist diversity and to lay off staff. • When done cheaply/poorly, it sounds like crap. • It requires approximately 1 hour of work for every 3 - 8 hours of programming. • Think about how much work that means every day. • When done right it can sound exactly like your live DJ’s. In some cases, better!  See also :

  4. Just how much automation do you need? • Determined by various factors: • Format of your station. • More genre diversity = Exponentially more work. • Size of your music library. • Rip CD’s in house or outsource? • Man-hours available now & long-term. • Expect to spend several hours every week just on updating. • Budget for hardware, maintenance & upgrades. • The piper is always paid! See next slide… See also :

  5. Piper is always paid? • Cannot treat this like a desktop PC project where you get the cheapest HW/SW you can scrounge. • This is a mission-critical application that must run reliably 24 / 7 / 365 and be used by many people! • Redundancy, redundancy, redundancy! • Multiple, mirrored hard drives (RAID) • Regular, off-site DVD-ROM backups • UPS / Battery backups • Redundant hardware (on hot or warm standby) • Ideally – can be switched to remotely via cellphone/wireless internet or will switch automatically. • If it can possibly fail at the worst possible time, it will! See also :

  6. On the other hand:What’s the cost of failure? • What does each minute of dead air (automation failure) cost your station? • Underwriting make goods? • Lost listeners / indirect impact at fundraisers? • College admins’ respect / indirect impact with annual budget? • Other factors? • Commercial & big pubradio stations spend a lot on automation because every minute of downtime can cost them $1000’s or more. • May not cost your station as much. • If you shut down for overnights and weekends anyways, the cost per minute of dead air is probably a lot less. See also :

  7. Holy #$%&!!! Why is AudioVault so EXPENSIVE?!?!?…or Enco, or Prophet, or Dalet, or Google (formerly Scott Systems) • Like many things in radio, you don’t really pay for the equipment or software itself – you pay for the SERVICE! • Adapting to new paradigms: ContentDepot, codecs, operating systems. • Updating to new Operating Systems / User Conditions • Some help in emergency situations. • No substitute for your own engineer! • Expensive does not always equal Better Service. Ask your peer stations for advice. See also :

  8. So if I’m paying for service… • …why does the service SUCK?!? • Because you’re not paying for a vendor to wave a magic wand and fix your problem. • You need someone who knows the system on your end who can do that. • You’re paying to get a system that will take advantage of changes in the overall broadcast engineering world. • ContentDepot, podcasting, RDS, new Windows/Mac Operating Systems, etc. See also :

  9. Examples: I’m Completely Broke. $0 aka FREE! • Winamp Radio Scheduler • • Freeware Visual Basic plugin for Winamp • Very basic, but surprising features for freeware. It can schedule playlists, jingles/legal ID’s, and have heavy rotation. • No voicetracking ability; this cannot realistically sound like a live DJ is in the station. No live-assist ability, either. • Good if you’re “testing the waters”, or don’t care too much about how it sounds; you just want something on the air. Requires an innate knowledge of Winamp playlists to really set up right, though. • Software is free, but don’t be too cheap with your computer…it’s gotta be reliable enough to run 24/7/365. • ZERO tech support!!! See also :

  10. I’m Merely a Cheap S.O.B. $100 - $1000 range • JockeyPro LT • • Is the cheapest ($99) automation software that has some form of voicetracking ability. Also has playlist scheduling/dayparting. • Also has decent live-assist functionality • Has quirks – will not play improperly encoded MP3’s, won’t play anything but MP3’s or WAV’s. Requires you to set InQ/OutQ points for every track you load (this is something you really should do anyways, but it’s very tedious at first) • Historically, 11software has poor track record on tech support. • “Turn-key” systems offered, but specs are a little shady. • Good choice for a station that has one or two professional employees, a very involved faculty advisor, and/or a good track record of skilled students, to help keep the automation updated and running. See also :

  11. I’m Merely a Cheap SOB. $100 - $1000 range • Raduga ($150-$1000) • Doesn’t offer much over WRS but costs a lot more. Tech Support is minimal, software is “buggy” (won’t play MP3’s if wrong encoding algorithm was used) • Arrakis – Digilink Xtreme ($100/month) • Pretty cheap, but Arrakis’ track record for quality is not good. • MegaSeg ($250) • Gets high praise from users, runs on a Mac (plus or minus?). Really more of a DJ-style program than a radio station automation program. • Many others (OTSjuke, Spacial Audio SAM, etc etc etc) See also :

  12. I have some money...not much$1000 - $10000 range • This is an awkward range, it’s not cheap, but there’s a limit to functionality & support you’ll get. • BSI’s Simian - • Generally has all the functionality of the “big boys”; voicetracking, live-assist, dayparting, scheduling, etc. • They do offer good “Turn-key” systems. • Some find it clunky and hard to use…especially to set up. • Others say it’s “bulletproof” once set up. • Support : better than freeware, but no substitute for a real engineer or technically-inclined manager. • Wireready - See also :

  13. I have some money...not much$1000 - $10000 range • Audiovault, Enco & others may have sub-$10k versions, but these are hard-core systems being stripped down to make it cost less. Probably overkill and/or too complicated for your needs, but lacks the top-notch service. • One exception: Enco & PRSS • ContentDepot requires an automation system to work. So if you don’t have a compatible one, PRSS will provide you with a very basic Enco system. (as part of what you pay to be a PRSS member) • This is barely an “automation” system, though. In some ways it’s less functional than WRS. However, for not too much extra money you can get a more functional Enco. • Moral of the story: if you are thinking of getting pubradio programming and don’t have automation, consider Enco! See also :

  14. I have mad money! $10000 - $50000+ • Audiovault, Enco, Prophet Systems, Dalet, Google Automation (aka Scott Systems), etc • All excellent systems, but may have too many features for your needs / capabilities. • Better investment might be in professional staff. • Fortunately, all have fairly knowledgeable & relatively honest sales staffs who (usually) won’t try to roll you. • FYI – Prophet was created specifically for Clear Channel stations and their needs. May or may not work for you. Long-term view is dicey with CC’s business selloff. See also :

  15. Final Thoughts • Questions – tell us your situation, we’ll try and recommend a good place to start. • One last thing: don’t look at your budget and say “We can’t afford to do this.” Look at your broadcast needs and decide if you can’t afford not to do this…and then figure out how to raise funds or cut costs accordingly. • Aaron Read & Joel Willer can both be reached via the CBI listserv. • Sign up at • Aaron’s blog : • These slides available at : See also :