Software to automate/schedule playback within a playlist
January 24, 2014 1:13 PM Subscribe
Need advice from desktop productivity nerds, radio nerds, MP3 playlist nerds, and general problem solving nerds. I volunteer at a community FM radio station. Everything we play is a stream from a Winamp playlist (look inside for the reasons for this). We need a piece of software (or a creative solution) that can be automated to jump to a place in a playlist and then schedule itself from there. Very complex details inside.
posted by DJ Broken Record to Computers & Internet (4 answers total)
Disclaimer: I don't know anything about radio, but I'm just starting to learn.
We are an all-volunteer station that just recently got its FM license. Since we don't have a full studio yet, we are streaming from a Winamp playlist. Programmers send in their recorded shows and a "traffic controller" (or stream manager) "schedules" them by putting them in the playlist. Using combinations of promo spots, station IDs, and general fill-in material, the playlist is carefully crafted so that each program begins right on schedule, which corresponds to our calendar on our website. The stream is sent to our FM transmitter in a far away location. We currently don't do live programs, except for on special occasions.
We use Winamp for several reasons, one of which is that it talks directly to the stream broadcast software which I believe is Shoutcast(?).
Our programing runs on an 8 hour loop, which begins at 6PM and then loops three times until it arrives at 6PM again the next day, for the new round of programming. Here's how it works:
-Every afternoon, a stream manager builds the playlist so that all the programs "land" at the right time for the day.
-The broadcast day begins at 6PM with a news program.
-At this point, the playlist contains the programs for the day BUT ALSO the previous day's programs, because up until 6PM, the previous day is still looping.
-At any point after 6PM, but before the loop kicks in, the stream manager must delete the previous day's programming, so that when the day's programming reaches its end, it will not begin paying the previous day's programming, but the new fresh 8 hour block.
The problem: It's not always easy to predict how long the stream scheduling is going to take, and we don't always want to just sit there and wait around until the new day's programming starts (or we just don't have the time to), so we usually build the playlist, then come back a few hours later when it's convenient to delete the previous day's items.
This is a ridiculously awesome/nerdy solution except for the part where everyone forgets to log back in to delete the previous day's programming and the playlist gets totally off schedule and we get angry phone calls from listeners.
There's gotta be a piece of software that will automatically "jump" back to the beginning of the NEW loop, disregard the previous day's programming, AND loop back to the CURRENT day's 6PM program after the playlist ends. I'm also pretty sure that we can find a piece of software that will route audio from whatever software we use to the streaming software. For rerouting audio on my Mac at home for unrelated music stuff I use a program called Soundflower, I'm sure there's a solution for Windows.
So far, I've considered Ableton Live, which has a "follow actions" feature which dictates what should happen after an audio clip finishes playing through. This would have been perfect except that there is no "whenever the clip ends" criteria. It's all measure-based, which makes sense musically, but not for clips of random length such as radio programming.
iTunes: If only you could put PLAYLISTS in the "Up Next" menu, it would work perfectly, but you can't.
One more detail: there is a different "traffic controller" for each day, and what we do is we use LogMeIn from home to get into the machine at our office, so take into consideration that the machine at the office (the streaming machine) must be Windows based, and that we won't actually be sitting at the streaming machine while we do this. With that being said.....we are open to a complete re-imagining of the entire process if anyone has any ideas! Preferably a solution that does not require us to hire someone. Thanks!