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Non-computerized radio?

Discussion pertaining to Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Muskegon, Battle Creek, Big Rapids, and Michiana
phillyb
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Joined: Mon Jul 31, 2006 2:36 pm
Location: Spring Lake, Michigan

Non-computerized radio?

Post by phillyb » Tue Dec 01, 2015 2:04 pm

Are there any stations (especially commercial stations) that DO NOT rely on a computer to run the playlist and/or automate the entire operation? Even stations with live personalities (the non-voice-tracked type) still seem to have their music and commercials on computer.

Blue Lake Public Radio still seems to run non-computerized (music off CDs, but I don't know about their pre-recorded announcements), at least during the weekdays, and WYCE seems to have some shifts that the jocks use CDs too. But those are both non-commercial, and the only stations I can think of that don't run on computers all the time.

The reason I ask is it is getting more and more common to hear long stretches of dead air or other audio goof-ups on the radio, as computers screw up and there's nobody around or paying attention to fix the problem right away. I think over-use of computers has made radio easier to operate in one sense, and of course they've cut costs, but it has made radio less listenablet, at least some of the time.



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Lester The Nightfly
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Re: Non-computerized radio?

Post by Lester The Nightfly » Tue Dec 01, 2015 2:45 pm

The YCE computer is not so much automation, but a big old jukebox of CD's ripped to digital files available on demand to the programmer. PSA's and other stuff that would have been on carts when dinosaurs roamed the earth come off the server as well. A fair amount of what goes out over the air is still on CD's and occasionally *gasp* vinyl.



HugeEGO
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Re: Non-computerized radio?

Post by HugeEGO » Tue Dec 01, 2015 3:56 pm

You can't fully blame the industry or the computers' being used in the radio industry for the screw-ups!

Ultimately, a good owner with good employees watching over programming execution (including talent, engineers, etc) who are taught to stay "tuned-in" to the product while at work, and even at home should all be contributing to knowing if there is a problem and fixing it quickly.

"Screw ups" have existed longer and are not exclusive to the use of computers. How about the Cartridge tape that broke in the tape era and got sucked in to a 3-place cart deck, stopping most of the music playback til someone pulled it out and cleaned the decks? How about the scratchy audio pot where you'd lose the connection on the control board, thus dropping the audio on mono stations completely and on stereo ones one side would? (drop) How about the "I'm on the phone" and something runs-out live host of today? It's not all about computers.

In some ways, SMALL screwups contribute to the uniqueness of radio...when caught and fixed quickly, or when an announcer takes the legitimate blame for doing something wrong. Most announcers of any quality will admit when THEY do something wrong...

But, in the larger picture, when a station DOES rely on computerization to produce each day's radio product, at least they should take some pride in the content, details, and execution enough to polish the rough edges and try to make it as "live-ly" as possible. Those who do this are a credit even today to the computerized, mechanized existence of radio, much of which would be GONE without those same computers we blame for everything.



rm85
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Re: Non-computerized radio?

Post by rm85 » Fri Dec 04, 2015 5:19 pm

Computers aren't to blame for bad programming. Lazy radio employees are. There's really no good reason at all to still be using CD's - none.



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Lester The Nightfly
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Re: Non-computerized radio?

Post by Lester The Nightfly » Fri Dec 04, 2015 11:25 pm

rm85 wrote:There's really no good reason at all to still be using CD's - none.
Unless you have a sizable legacy library, some of which may be kinda rare or done by independent or touring bands, or don't have oodles of cash to bump everything over to a server in a timely manner. it's also pretty handy to have a turntable and a CD player (with some LP's and CD's at hand) on standby should the server go down...
There's still $hitloads of great music in the world that have never seen the digital light of day.



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Peter Strong
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Re: Non-computerized radio?

Post by Peter Strong » Sat Dec 05, 2015 12:15 am

WNMC in Traverse City has a 400,000 song library and zero playlist. There are 5 formats that play at different times, and we have currents, but the DJ's are all accomplished music fans.


How can you be fired if you were never employed? All Volunteer Radio.

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Calvert DeForest
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Re: Non-computerized radio?

Post by Calvert DeForest » Sat Dec 05, 2015 9:34 am

When I worked at WITL a million years ago, they installed the Century 21 CD Jukebox system. We had two of them - fully automated unit for the AM, and a live-assist unit for the FM. Commercial spots were stored on a relatively small hard drive by today's standards (this was 1995). The CD library was loaded in slots, and a robot arm would grab and load them into one of two alternating players. Once a track was played, it would take a good 30-40 seconds for the arm to unload the CD, replace it to its designated slot, and grab & load the next scheduled CD. It was great when it worked normally, but if the jock had to dump out of a track or needed a quick turnaround for any reason, all we could do is wait for the mechanism to do its thing and hold our breath through the dead air (or open the mic and do some quick ad-libbing). Since the actual machine was in another room outside the studio, we relied on the monitor to give us the ready status of the discs. It was the forerunner to drive-based systems like Scott Studios (which I later worked with at KIX-94). As hard drive capacity increased over time, jukebox systems like this became essentially obsolete and faded into the sunset.

The one advantage I found to a system like this was that we didn't have all of our eggs in one basket. If, for some reason, the storage drive happened to die, one would still have access to the CD part of the system providing the CPU and OS were still operating (I believe the OS was on a separate drive from the spot storage). As a last resort, we could open the jukebox, grab some discs and toss 'em in the studio CD decks. Fortunately, it never came to that.

Most computerized automation systems today come with redundant arrays, so if a drive craps, there's a backup. In many cases, it's an optional add-on, but running a station without a backup drive (or drives) is like flying a plane without a reserve fuel tank.


It's okay to be bored once in a while.

organman95
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Re: Non-computerized radio?

Post by organman95 » Thu Dec 17, 2015 10:15 am

Lester The Nightfly wrote:A fair amount of what goes out over the air is still on CD's and occasionally *gasp* vinyl.
I didn't think ANYONE was using vinyl these days, other than an occasional AM station that still believes in "raw" sound.

When I was in college, I had a two-hour lunch block at the campus station. Terrible system they had running at that time (2005). They still had a CD-deck, cassette deck (mostly for recording your show, but you could use it for playback as a last resort), and a turntable. about 12 ft of shelves with CDs, and a computer running a playlist through WinAmp. When I did my time-slot, I used CDs, as WinAmp had a tendency to crash when manually cycling through the list of files.



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OldHippie
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Re: Non-computerized radio?

Post by OldHippie » Mon Dec 21, 2015 4:55 am

Peter Strong wrote:WNMC in Traverse City has a 400,000 song library and zero playlist. There are 5 formats that play at different times, and we have currents, but the DJ's are all accomplished music fans.
When I lived Up Nort I enjoyed the hell out of your station. Keep it going.



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audiophile
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Re: Non-computerized radio?

Post by audiophile » Mon Dec 21, 2015 6:38 am

Peter Strong wrote:WNMC in Traverse City has a 400,000 song library and zero playlist. There are 5 formats that play at different times, and we have currents, but the DJ's are all accomplished music fans.
This might explain the short TSL.


Ask not what your country can do FOR you; ask what they are about to do TO YOU!!

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Calvert DeForest
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Re: Non-computerized radio?

Post by Calvert DeForest » Mon Dec 21, 2015 4:00 pm

organman95 wrote: When I was in college, I had a two-hour lunch block at the campus station. Terrible system they had running at that time (2005). They still had a CD-deck, cassette deck (mostly for recording your show, but you could use it for playback as a last resort), and a turntable. about 12 ft of shelves with CDs, and a computer running a playlist through WinAmp. When I did my time-slot, I used CDs, as WinAmp had a tendency to crash when manually cycling through the list of files.
Winamp....another program that was never meant for industrial use, but a lot of station owners liked it because of the zero price tag. Made little sense as there were a lot of low-cost automation programs out there.

When I ran my internet station, I used the SAM Broadcaster from Spacial Audio. For $150, it did the job quite well. Category rotation, clock adjustment, live-assist capability, and it could even automatically download newscasts & features or stream audio direct from URL. The GUI wasn't all that great, but I usually only had to check on it once a day. Great little program for a small or even mid-market station on a tight budget.


It's okay to be bored once in a while.

Autoblemike
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Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2005 1:41 am

Re: Non-computerized radio?

Post by Autoblemike » Tue Dec 22, 2015 2:40 pm

I have two questions.... I hear a lot of complaints on this board about programming. I was curious, what elements make really good programming? There are so many complaints, but to be honest most of you might not know good programming if you heard it.

1. What are the elements that make "good programming."
2. What stations have "good programming."



grandrollerz
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Re: Non-computerized radio?

Post by grandrollerz » Sun Jan 17, 2016 7:48 am

(Non industry person/lurker)

Would 102.7FM out of Ludington count? I was surprised by the level of locality of this station and enjoyed it while passing through on my way to the UP. The lunch time DJs were discussing what they were going to play that day, and the decided on X genre and the selection was quite eclectic.

I almost exclusively listen to BBC radio because they have presenters host shows that are genre specific, and they are experts and they promote new music and artists. Good stuff.



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