The songs can't be unnameable
August 30, 2011 8:18 PM   Subscribe

How can I log the music played on a free-form radio show on a listener-supported radio station that has zero budget for creating the report?

I am WBAI listener who is trying to help a broadcaster who's one of the inventors of free-form radio, still broadcasting after decades on the air and lately required to do reporting of the music he plays on the show.

ASCAP is asking him to "identify the title and artist; also, identify how the music is used: feature (F), theme (T), or background (B), and whether the performance is vocal (V) or instrumental (I). In addition, please provide the duration, writer and publisher for each performance, if known."

The show is archived online. I can listen to the stream and get most of the information from the back announcing done after selections have played, though pieces used in the background of conversation, which happens sometimes, might not be announced.

I'd love to automate as much of the process as possible and would especially appreciate ways to:

1) identify unfamiliar pieces of music and

2) efficiently get the duration, writer and publisher for each song once the title and artist have been determined.

Any tips on how best to do this? It won't have to be done weekly; ASCAP only requires periodic reporting. But having a system to efficiently do it when it needs to be done means that a great creative radio spirit will be able to continue to do his shows the way he wants to, without interrupting his concentration to worry about logging the music he's spontaneously inspired to play.
posted by layceepee to Media & Arts (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I had a freeform radio show ten years ago and was required to log this information back then, and I think it had been a requirement for many years before that. Is it really so hard for him to just type it up or write it down as he plays the songs? Having someone else who isn't familiar with the songs do it after fact seems totally backwards.
posted by The Lamplighter at 8:39 PM on August 30, 2011

Get a reporter's notebook and put it and a fistful of pens and pencils into the hands of the host. Then you just have to scan through and make sure they're all down and maybe play some over the phone or email for clarification. The best solution is for the host or engineer to record this stuff as it happens. I don't know what convention in radio for this stuff is like, though.
posted by rhizome at 9:26 PM on August 30, 2011

I agree that this is much, much easier to do as you're playing a show. When I was doing free-form radio shows we had a text editor open on a computer right next to the mixing desk, and I'd type in each song's info as it played. It took maybe fifteen seconds to do for each song. Sometimes I'd get busy or distracted and miss a few, but there was always catch-up time (and playing a longer song or two gets you a free break whenever you need one, anyway.)

It's easy to do this when you have the record right in front of you, but trying to do it as a listener after-the-fact will be a nightmare.
posted by vorfeed at 10:31 PM on August 30, 2011

Unfortunately, that is pretty much the basic job requirements of a disk jockey. If he's too "in the moment" to keep a log, surely there is a producer or engineer nearby who can keep the log.
posted by gjc at 12:09 AM on August 31, 2011

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