help me find new awesome broadcasting software for a good cause
March 13, 2009 9:07 AM   Subscribe

Mefi broadcasting experts: suggest broadcast automation software for the radio station of the organization I do IT support for...

Through the agency I work for, I provide IT support services for a talking book and braille library for blind and visually impaired people. They've got a radio station that provides news broadcasts, book narration, etc.

Their broadcast studio (and particularly the automation part of the booth) is based around Dalet systems 5.1, which was designed for NT4, requires expensive, proprietary soundcards, and is generally old, slow, buggy, and not well supported.

What's the new hotness, broadcasting mefites? Help me suggest a modern system that can do show scheduling, switching from multiple sources (pre recorded show, live feed, sattelite feed,) will work with most decent modern ASIO or dsound compatible audio cards, etc.

Bonus points if it's accessible via screen readers, but not a deal breaker... Thoughts?
posted by stenseng to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I can't suggest what to use, but I can offer some advice on what to avoid: DRS2006.

DRS is adequate broadcast software, but a new version has been in "beta" testing for six years and shows no signs of actually showing up. The author is unresponsive to questions and requests for support and generally treats his customers like annoyances.
posted by DWRoelands at 9:55 AM on March 13, 2009

Rivendell. I've installed it at a community station in Scotland as their robo-station overnight 'studio'.

It was developed as a free software project by Salem Radio Labs, and is now run as a project by a private company started by ex-employees thereof. It's in use on air in the US by about 40 stations and overseas by lots of others, mostly nonprofit, including Radio Free Asia.

It's rock-solid and free (and "Free"). It can do voicetracking, has a audio capture suite which can handle unattended offline recording from satellite switchers as well as live switching to external sources, runs under Linux and can use any sound hardware which is supported in Linux.

If you use Audioscience sound boards it will use their onboard MP2 encoders/decoders to store audio in MP2. It can also use cheaper sound cards from $100-ish pro-quality M-Audio Delta 1010 right down to onboard integrated laptop chips, at the cost of using additional disk space by storing audio as uncompressed WAVs.

There's very good community support available and sometimes also you'll find people on IRC.

The interface is big-button-oriented and can be operated through a touchscreen if you have compatible hardware.

There's a good chance it will run on the hardware you already have. The killer advantage of the pricing ($zero) is that you can set up as many client machines as you like without getting hit for the usual $7k or so per terminal. They each share a single machine running MySQL and NFS for metadata/scheduling info and audio storage, respectively.
posted by genghis at 10:49 AM on March 13, 2009

Oh, and anecdotally: I've found that presenters who have used any other studio computer system can usually pick it up in about ten minutes.
posted by genghis at 10:51 AM on March 13, 2009

I'm looking at Rivendell, and it looks very interesting, but open source stuff is always a hard sell in govt/big agency environments, as they worry about support issues...

Anyone have any input or anecdotal info on Google Radio Automation?
posted by stenseng at 2:06 PM on March 13, 2009

Question to the OP: Is your advice being solicited at this time?
posted by parmanparman at 7:06 PM on March 13, 2009

Anyone have any input or anecdotal info on Google Radio Automation?
Yeah, it's dead in the water (Google's closing the division entirely) and it sucked anyway. Run away.

If support's an issue for OSS, then rejoice in the news that this particular software has support you can buy.
posted by genghis at 8:04 AM on March 14, 2009

some added info on rivendell: it can use any Linux command line encoder to record directly to a compressed format, and it can be used and configured from the command line (which is very friendly for screen reading / braille displays).
posted by idiopath at 11:26 AM on March 14, 2009

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