ds106radio

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Nicecast Mixing

This is just a test for Rochelle Lockridge, who is getting her chops as a new DS106 radio DJ. It’s been a really really long time since I used Nicecast, so I just took a few minutes to refresh myself for the set up I used previously for being able to DJ music and cross […]

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It’s On Us to Manage ds106 Radio


cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Alan Levine

During a presentation at the 2011 ETUG Spring Workshop, Grant Potter, who initially set up the ds106 radio station said

I wanted to create a web-base radio station; I did not want to manage one

This gets to the heart of “distributed, freeform, collective webradio” – from the get go Grant gave away the keys to the station, the username/password for managing it. The way the first system worked, a playlist of uploaded content was always in rotation AKA “Auto DJ”. When someone broke in with a live broadcast, it superceded the playlist, so essentially there was always something on the radio.

Things were not always smooth on the server side, and in the early part of this year, Grant rebuilt the system using Airtime, an open source internet radio station managing software. Some things that are different as that there is no set autoDJ list, the system is designed to let multiple people manage the scheduled content via a calendar, creating blocks of times for shows, and managing content in playlists.

It is a different mindset, something many of us never quite wrapped our heads around, and, from what I can see, not too many people have figured out how to program the stuff that plays on schedule. With that, we have… well a lot of dead air.

Dead Air is Not Our Friend.

I’ve been trying to better understand the system. For some, the new software might be seen as a step back (the meta data from live streams is not picked up form Nicecast, and the Twitterbot is sick, its not quite as easy to know when there is a live broadcast.

But I put a higher trust into what Grant sees for the next wave. And the thing is, we need some more people willing to go in on a semi regular basis and help fill out the scheduled content. A real radio station never plays the same things every Monday at 4pm, so what is needed is to pre-fill the calendar ahead of time.

I hope I can explain all of this, but bear in mind, I am only learning by trying. To understand it, get a hold of the Airtime Manuals. Or try to follow my path.

The leap of understanding is that there is first content (audio files) that can be uploaded to the media Library. You can also create entries for web stream, URLs for live streams from radio stations (this allows us to easily crosscast).

The uploaded media can be organized into playlists, either static like you do in iTunes, or as you can also do in iTunes, “smart” lists (or blocks), meaning you can have the system play stuff of a particular genre, or search for keywords in the title, artist, or even stuff that was uploaded before or after a certain date. Smart Blocks are the keys to understanding.

Shows are scheduled on the calendar; these are merely blocks of time marked to be in the mix. For each block, you have to load content into the show, which can be any mix of single uploaded audio items, a web stream, a playlist or smart block. But what is tricky is that I can create a show that repeats every Monday at 8:00am, but the only things that repeats is the schedule, each week content must be added to the block.