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Music Media Communications Software

Linux Radio Station Automation? 59

miazmatic asks: "I am one of the tech managers for my high school's FM radio station. We have been using Rhythmbox on Debian to play music after hours when no one is broadcasting. However, it took some pretty ugly hacks to get it to transmit the station ID every hour. We are adding a 600GB RAID 0 VG to our PC (P4 2.4/512MB), to which we plan to encode all our CDs losslessly. Along with this upgrade I would also like to find a permanent solution for broadcasting the station ID hourly. Has anyone used Linux to run a radio station before? Can anyone suggest a F/OSS software package or solution? Any help is appreciated."
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Linux Radio Station Automation?

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  • Word of advice (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kensai ( 139597 ) on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @01:38PM (#12636455) Homepage
    Skip RAID 0 like the plague if this is your main storage area. Much much better to go with RAID 1+0 or RAID 5. RAID 0 is like tempting the HDD Gods for HDD failure.
    • Totally agree. The amount of money buying a couple of drives to give the 600GB under RAID 5 would be far far exceeded by the amount of time you're spend re-encoding on a minimum wage job: you'll save time, and RAID 0 is, as parent said, tempting fate.

      A second point, do you have permission to broadcast the music you'll be playing? Its fine to do a bit of filesharing if you want, because that's your liability, but will your station e broadcasting the latest Britney over the FM spectrum not require royal
      • It's not the drives that set you back with RAID 5. It's the RAID card. SATA drives are cheap now. Not everyone can plunk down the cash for a card that will accomodate RAID 5.
        • It's not the drives that set you back with RAID 5. It's the RAID card. SATA drives are cheap now. Not everyone can plunk down the cash for a card that will accomodate RAID 5.

          Use software RAID. Performance (in this application) will be just as good and you can use cheap, off the shelf 4-port SATA adapters.

    • Skip RAID 0 like the plague if this is your main storage area. Much much better to go with RAID 1+0 or RAID 5. RAID 0 is like tempting the HDD Gods for HDD failure.

      Seconded. Go with RAID5 - you only lose one disk's worth of space and since the vast bulk of your data access is going to be reading, the average performance impact will be negligible. When (not if) you have a drive failure, a) you won't have any downtime and b) you won't have to re-rip hundreds of CDs worth of music.

      Get some 4 port SATA con

    • I'm guessing they have three 200gb hard disks. Maybe they should make a RAID 1 and just hold onto the third disk as a spare. If they reencode everything as mp3 or ogg at a reasonably high bitrate, they should have room for at least 25-30 thousand songs.
    • Good advice. Raid 1+0 (stripes of individual mirrors) is the most expensive (100% hardware redundancy required) but by far the highest performance. Raid 5 is roughly 3 to 1 times slower in write speed and about the same in read speed. If you lose a hard disk in RAID 5, all performance bets are off. Reconstruction / rebuild after replacing a failed 200 GB disk can take DAYS to complete for a RAID 5 system. This still beats having to reload / rebuild hundreds of GigaBytes of data. Software RAID is very sl
  • Check this: (Score:4, Informative)

    by Mind Booster Noori ( 772408 ) on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @01:49PM (#12636588) Homepage
    Otto Audio jukebox [cardhouse.com].
    • I've never had much luck with otto. I have used Icecast [icecast.org] to relay ogg files which were streamed from Ices [icecast.org] or mp3s from Muse [dyne.org]. I'd simply replace "stream" with a dedicated client. You can also broadcast/mix "live audio" (station ids) into the stream using Darkice [sourceforge.net]. I've can also recommend Shoutcast [shoutcast.com].

      I've used the above and am confident you can build a solution around them. Freshmeat shows [freshmeat.net] tons more.
  • Hourly? Hmm... (Score:3, Informative)

    by PaulBu ( 473180 ) on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @01:50PM (#12636602) Homepage
    They have this tool called 'cron', maybe... ;-)

    Paul B.
    • Um...no?

      Nice snappy comeback, but you don't hear commercial stations just suddenly interrupt a song to bring you a station ID. Now, they have live DJ's, but the same planning holds true--you have to schedule the station ID in between songs, but as close to the top of the hour (or whatever interval is needed) as possible. This is not an easy task for most playlist systems. Unless you will be pre-planning playlists down to the minute, it's not possible without software assistance.
      • Re:Hourly? Hmm... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by geoffspear ( 692508 ) *
        Having cron insert your station ID into your playlist after the song that's currently playing would work just fine, though.
      • Re:Hourly? Hmm... (Score:3, Informative)

        by tverbeek ( 457094 )
        Nice snappy comeback, but you don't hear commercial stations just suddenly interrupt a song to bring you a station ID. Now, they have live DJ's, but....

        Um, no they don't.

        Not on overnights. Not at a commercial station in 2005.

        OK, I'm over-generalising a little, but at most commercial radio stations, the only person in the building at 3am is the guy watching the monitors (usually covering several stations at once, because even if it isn't one of the several Clear-Channel stations in that market, it's

      • Can't a command in crontab just add the file stationID.ogg to the front of the playlist? This means that it will play next after whatever song is playing now.
  • You should check out Radio Free Peterborough's setup (Use Google to find the URL, I don't want to see it slashdotted unnecessarily).

    I don't know if they broadcast the station ID automagically every hour, however:
    - they do have a DIY Internet Radio Guide (for streaming)
    - Steve (who runs the show) might have a few good ideas).
    • by Anonymous Coward
      You should check out Radio Free Peterborough's [radiofreepeterborough.ca] setup [radiofreepeterborough.ca].

      I don't know if they broadcast the station ID automagically every hour, however:
      - they do have a DIY Internet Radio Guide (for streaming)
      - Steve (who runs the show) might have a few good ideas).

  • LiveSupport (Score:4, Informative)

    by lbmouse ( 473316 ) on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @01:56PM (#12636658) Homepage
  • I'm not sure how hard you want to make this, but if you just want to play random songs for a few hours, write a simple perl script to access your song database randomly, pick a song, play it. Before each song, check the time. If it's been an hour before the last station ID, play the station ID, and then the song. If you want to actually create a playlist of songs to play, put them in a text file. And rather than access your song database, read in the playlist file one line at a time. The process is the
  • Why lossless? (Score:3, Informative)

    by bkissi01 ( 699085 ) on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @02:10PM (#12636808)
    Why would you encode the CDs losslessly? Correct me if I'm wrong but I do believe that FM radio is about half the quality of a normal CD, so you could encode the songs in something like MP3 or Ogg and still not have your listeners notice a difference in quality. This would save you disk space so you could then run a redundant disk array to protect against hd failure.
    • Any quality loss is compounded, not hidden, by additional quality loss.

      • I guess I really was wrong, and corrected.
      • Re:Why lossless? (Score:4, Informative)

        by ColaMan ( 37550 ) on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @04:20PM (#12638155) Homepage Journal
        That's hardly the case with FM radio.

        FM has limited bandwith (11kHz or so for a good reciever).

        You will lose all the high frequency component of audio cd's, so why bother encoding it in the first place? You could encode 128kbps stereo MP3 at a 22 (or 32) kHz sample rate and there would be no percievable difference after FM broadcast to lossless encoding (with a decent encoder, that is)

        Then at least they could go to a raid array with *some* redundancy.
        • My experience repairing high end video production equipment disagrees, and I see no reason why FM radio would be an exception.

          If you live in the LA area you can see what I mean any day on the channel 7 news. They now have a helicopter equiped with HD cameras, and the quality difference is quite noticable, even through an SD signal.

          I very much doubt that the difference isn't perceptable. The audience might not know any better, or they might not blame you, or they might not care, but I'm quite sure that if
          • But this is a high school FM station, and also, how many times do you do a side by side comparison of radio station quality. As long as the signal is clear, the difference between 128 and something higher is negligible.
            My station runs songs ripped at 128 with no outstanding quality issues.
            • You tell yourself what you like. When I tune to a station that sounds like crap, I keep going. My wife is even less tolerant (which is ironic, since I'm the musician in the family).

              How do you track that?

        • FM has limited bandwith (11kHz or so for a good reciever).

          This is obviously some strange new definition of "good" of which I was previously unaware.

          15kHz is what you should expect from a "good" receiver.

          On the other hand, the stereo separation tends to collapse a bit above 11kHz. That may be what you are thinking of.

  • by Rocky Mudbutt ( 22622 ) on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @02:38PM (#12637091) Homepage
    From http://www.salemradiolabs.com/rivendell/ [salemradiolabs.com]

    Rivendell aims to be a complete radio broadcast automation solution, with the facilities for the acquisition, management, scheduling and playout of audio content. As a robust, functionally complete digital audio system for broadcast radio applications, Rivendell uses industry standard components like the GNU/Linux Operating System, the AudioScience HPI Driver Architecture and the MySQL Database Engine. Rivendell is being developed under the GNU Public License.

  • by jjshoe ( 410772 )
    use a sound daemon and cron. sure, it will broadcast over any songs playing, but what the heck!
  • Why use RAID 0? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by swillden ( 191260 ) * <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @04:07PM (#12638030) Homepage Journal

    RAID 0, also known as striping, is useful for obtaining very high I/O bandwidth at the expense of making every one of the constituent disks a single point of failure. Lose any one of the drives, and you lose all of your data.

    I can see that if you lose all of the data you won't really have lost much, since you can always re-rip it, but why take the risk? You don't need high I/O bandwidth for CD-quality audio... it's only 86KBps uncompressed, and an average ATA-100 hard drive can easily sustain over 200 times that data rate. Since you plan to encode the data, you'll need even less bandwidth, probably half as much if you're using a lossless codec.

    I wouldn't use RAID-0 for this. Use linear RAID or, since you mentioned volume groups, just let the volume manager append the volumes. The result will allow you to keep most of your data in the event a drive fails and will be plenty fast for your application. If you're not tight on space, I'd say you might as well go for RAID-5 and get yourself a little insurance against data loss. If your 600GB consists of three 200GB disks, you'd still have 400GB of RAID-5 storage, which is a lot of audio CDs. About 800 of them with no compresssion, double that with lossless compression, or quadruple that with high-quality lossy compression.

  • Is it a requirement that the announcement happen at
    the top of the hour, or just that it happen at least
    once per hour?

    If the latter, try to use the jukebox software to
    announce after every song, or every 5 songs, or whatever number would ensure that it happened at least once an hour.

    If it has to be at the top of the hour, this won't help.
    • Re:How about this? (Score:2, Informative)

      by SupremeTaco ( 844794 )
      FCC rules state that the annoucement has to be at the top of the hour, or as close as possible to that time, every hour. For example, if your song finishes at 09:59:47, you're golden. If it finishes at 10:01:05, you can fade the song out before the top of the hour, and play the ID. That works well with instrumentals, but not so good with the vocal stuff.

      On the other hand, you can wait till the song is finished, and THEN play the ID. Problem is, if you're running satellite or rebroadcasting a larger
      • "That works well with instrumentals..."

        Unless of course the listener happens to like and be familiar with that instrumental, in which case it's really infuriating.

        • "That works well with instrumentals..."

          Unless of course the listener happens to like and be familiar with that instrumental, in which case it's really infuriating.


          Hell yeah! I hate it when I'm listening to a really good instrumental at the end of the song and some dumb announcer who loves the sound of his own voice starts babbling over the top of it.

          That might be why I listen to my own (bought) collection rather than dumb radio stations.
          • I wasn't referring to the announcer talking during instrumental portions of a song, but of a song being faded out or cut off before its end, in other words, being used as audio filler up to a hard break rather than as as much a work of art and entertainment as the rest of the musical selections played that hour.

            Announcers don't usually talk when they have become lonely for the sound of their own voice but rather when it is dictated by the rules of the format which are handed down to them from above and are

      • Re:How about this? (Score:3, Informative)

        by man_ls ( 248470 )
        Having worked at a high-power FM station in the Atlanta area within the last year, you have to do a legal ID within 5 minutes of :00, although if it's 5 minutes before, or 5 minutes after, its okay.
    • I can't say for certain regarding radio, but TV legal ids are supposed to occur as close to the top of the hour as possible, in natural program breaks. So, the later option would work. It'd be FCC Chap. 47, if anyone wants to look for it.
      • 73.1201 STATION IDENTIFICATION.

        (a) WHEN REGULARLY REQUIRED:
        Broadcast station identification announcements shall be made: (1) At the beginning and ending of each time of operation, and (2) hourly, as close to the hour as feasible, at a natural break in program offerings. Television broadcast stations may make these announcements visually or aurally.

        (b) CONTENT:
        (1) Official station identification shall consist of the station's call letters immediately followed by the community or communities specified in i
  • but there is TuneTracker [tunetrackersystems.com] which runs on BeOS. I don't think BeOS plays with RAID very well, however, so it might not work for you b/c of that; on the other hand, TuneTracker seems to do everything that you require and then some.
  • It doesnt have to be on the minute, it just has to be every 15 minutes .. so just write some meta data into your filenames or read the id3 tags, and have the program count if the next piece will go over the 15 minute marker. If it does, then just play the ID file and you're good for another 15 minutes.

    Or just patch a real audio mixer into the equation that plays every 15 minutes no matter what :P
    • There hasn't been a 15 minute rule for several decades if you mean in the U.S. It's once an hour every hour at or as near as practicable to the top of the hour. It consists of the call letters immediately followed by the community of license.
  • Probably not the answer your looking for but at my last job (a failed startup) one of the other developers set up a perl script in XMMS(if I remeber correctly). Basically XMMS allows you to point your playlist to a script. This then played for X minutes then added something.

    We used text to speach and got it to say the time or read a fortune. It was fun. The only problem we had was the pause between songs which took us a while to fix.
  • You could use mpd [musicpd.org] and preset playlists.

    Run a cron job at 15 before the hour - have the job be a client to the mpd and:

    1. determine the time remaining on the current song vs. clock time and the playtime of the upcoming songs. It should be simple math to decide which song to play the station ID after.
    2. monitor the mpd some more.
    3. stop it when you reach that point.
    4. save the playlist and the current position within it.
    5. load the playlist with the station ID.
    6. play it.
    7. load the original playlist.
    8. st
  • Maverick Radio (http://www.mavradio.org/ [mavradio.org]) at the University of Nebraska at Omaha runs on Linux -- Red Hat, if I recall the distro. I think they set their playlists using XMMS when they are in automated mode.

    I've always thought that iTunes on a Mac or a Windows PC wouldn't be a bad broadcast automation system, but a Linux box would be cheaper than a Mac and easier to maintain than Windows.
  • Do it manually.

    Have an op spend an hour picking from the library of tracks and previously-recorded legal IDs, and make it into some coherant progression.

    That'll give it a human touch, and still keep you legal.

    That's what I did when I worked for a station in Atlanta, I'd oftentimes come in off-hours, and set the computer system to play specific tracks in order, interspersed with legal messages, so that I was controlling the station but not actually on the air. It was great that way.

I cannot conceive that anybody will require multiplications at the rate of 40,000 or even 4,000 per hour ... -- F. H. Wales (1936)

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