Free and Open Source Software for doing Radio (AM / FM
etc.) Aim | Automation |
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Last modified: August 10 2011 09:24:58., registered: 2000-05-11 15:10, which means: long long long ago...
What are we up to? Build a suite of existing
and to be coded programs, that would allow a radio, be it FM or AM - or
internet only - to either fully automate its operations or assist its DJs in
their work. Or as we say on the Project Page: "All
you ever needed to run a FM-radio, but never dared to ask for as OSS / Free
Software: studio automation, scheduling etc. Pointing to what's already out
there, trying to build what's not."
By the way: In May 2005 "Ask Slashdot"
featured the questions "Has anyone used Linux to run a radio station before?
Can anyone suggest a F/OSS software package or solution?" And In May 2007 at the same place answers flocked in to the question "Migrating a
Radio Station to Linux?" Sure, you may very well think bad about todays mainly
very strong formatted radios. At least most of the commercial ones sound all
very much alike. This is made possible mainly through automation of music
selection and transmission.
The responsible people make once a decision,
how a station should sound, define its profile through accordingly setting
the structure of the music in the clocks.
The clocks say exactly for
every song / audio clip in every hour, what criteria it has to meet (like:
start with a present hit, then play an oldie then a jazz piece from the
70ies and so forth).
and that's basically it. now you fill music into
the repertoire, you add information about every piece in a database and out
of this, the scheduler produces a playlist for the station, following
strictly the rules of the defined clocks.
in the studio you will have a
computer of some kind, that has access to the soundfiles. it either plays
one after the other, with possible overlaps for smooth transitions if
necessary. or it is coupled with a mixer and its fader-start-feature: when
you lift a fader, it sends the connected sound source the signal to start
playing. so you can have unattended radio, nobody there but the computer. or
you can have the computer-setup help your radio-people.
stuff involves amounts of money mostly unavailable to small radios. But seen
as a tool, automation can help small radios in their work too. Automation
doesn't lead necessarily to bad, boring programs. It may help free the
people to concentrate on producing content and transmit the content in a
more professional sounding way. Not a bad thing, is it?
The basic necessary elements are:
The million dollar question is: What is already there as free software, and
what do we miss? I grabbed these links mainly at Dave Phillips List of Sound & MIDI Software for
Linux . It's really very useful, thanks Dave! His pages are now
available at the following sites:
- a practical way to move either
already digital or digitized sound into the stations repertoire
audio editor to cut, mix etc. the digitized audio
- a database of
information about the soundfiles in the repertoire
- a scheduler that
produces a playlist according to the rules set by the clock editor
- a clock editor that sets the rules for the scheduler
interface for the DJs / presenters in the on-air-studio
that plays the digital audio in the sequence that the playlist prescribes -
either fully unattended, or under control by the DJs / presenters. It has to
be able to play at least two files simultanously, needed for radiolike
crossfades at the end of one audiofile, when the next starts. For assisting
to work, we have to connect the "fader-start" contacts of a mixer with our
on-air-computer: lifting the fader away from the bottom gives the signal to
instantly start playing the next audiofile.
- (thanks Andrew) a logger: "It needs to produce a set of logs that would
satisfy the FCC. (Federal Communications Commission is the USA government
organization that regulates broadcast) What played, when it played, and
print/no print option once a day is quite important. Because in the US
government officials can walk into your station and demand to see logs. If
you can't produce them, you're finished!"
- (thanks again, Andrew): satellite capability: "The other critical piece
of automation that needs to be there in order to make a serious stab at real
radio markets is satellite capability. The system needs to be able to
monitor an RS-232 data stream (low bandwidth) and then use what it sees
there to control audio inputs and/or an RS-422 input. If you can do that
reliably to where you can put satellite programs in your scheduler with
commands from the RS-232 able to effect program changes - now that would be
- August 10 2011: Sourcefabric just e-mailed to me
that they released 1.9 of its extremely promising "Airtime" ("the open radio software for
scheduling and remote station management"). That's the tool used by
stations like openbroadcast in Switzerland.
- On january 6 2010 I heard of the lithuanian station "Start FM". They are using rivendell and write about it
on their blog:
"Start FM" is using only Open Source software.
The radio of the Vilnius University "Start FM" (VUR SFM) can now be called not only the independent music pioneers in Lithuania. After system testing and fine-tuning,
that took all the summer period the station has become the first airwave radio in Lithuani using only Open Source software.
The switch to Open Source/Free software was one of the main parts of the stations technological reforms. This allowed to enhance the functionality as well as the
sound quality, system stability and the convenience of managing the broadcast. The radio station is now independent and is not locked up in the studio by any means. High
quality radio broadcasts can now be made from any part of the world. We can now truly say that the station is open, innovative and free [...]. The new radio stations
broadcasting control system is working on Linux and Unix OS environments and is using rivendell radio automation
system. [...] The radio station of the Vilnius University is the first non-commercial and the only one that is playing only independent music. You can hear the
station on 94.2MHz FM in Lithuania or online.
- On Sunday, October 18 2009, Marius e-mailed me about his Project:
I'm working on a free radio automation solution for Windows named RadioDJ. Currently it's not complete, but i hope that soon will be ready for beta stage.
Sounds promising! So you might take a look at it!
A few features of RadioDJ:
- Custom song and jingle rotations wich can be loaded and saved anytime
- AutoDJ function, based on category and subcategory rotation
- Manual or auto advance for the playlist tracks
- Unlimited categories and subcategories for your music, jingles, sweepers etc
- Unobstructive cue points for any track (start, intro, preview in, preview out, outro and end)
- Automatically overlap sweepers over intro
- Advanced scheduler for events (radio shows, advertisments etc)
- On march 13 2008 I received this mail from Erasmo Alonso Iglesias: "I'm happy to announce you the appearing of a new open source radio automation system,
ARAS is a highly configurable radio automation system, it runs as a daemon, it is able to load the configuration at runtime and it currently works as
- On June 26 2007 I received a mail from Emile Bassil, where he wrote: "Hi Patrik, I am an Australian developer who has written a radio automation
software in .NET for the Windows platform. The software is free (no commercial version and no feature
limitation) to download and use." Sounds very promising. I haven't tested it, but maybe you feel like giving it a try? Go ahead!
Recently I stumbled across the software coming out of reboot.fm, which looks like it
offers on-air, online and on-demand functionality, combined with
decentralized contribution and transmission. Coming from Berlin.
- February 16 2005 bedlam mailed: "I contribute to a project called
mediabox404 which aim is to provide a powerful web interface to automate playlist creation, programing, live
act and so on for webradios. It is now 100% GPL and public since 10 Februar 2005. The website is for now in French, but we're working hard to open it in
English very soon. Please take a look ! URL : MediaBox404." I'd
say: Give it a try!
- January 12 2005 Jeremy Lees-Green informed me about
LiveSupport Campcaster, to be released on February 1 2005, which sounds VERY promising in its
- LiveSupport is being made by an international
consortium of developers and designers led by the Media Development Loan
Fund's Center for Advanced Media Prague (CAMP) as part of its Campware
Initiative. LiveSupport's lead developer is Akos Maroy, who, in addition to
being the webmaster for Tilos Radio in Budapest, Hungary, is the author of
DarkIce, an open-source streaming tool. He is joined by PHP developers
Sebastian Goebel and Tomas Hlava. LiveSupport's functionality specification
and input on real-world applications in radio was written by Robert Klajn,
the sound engineer for Radio B92 in Belgrade, Serbia. Project coordination
iis being handled by Micz Flor of Redaktion und Alltag, a Berlin-based web
publishing house. LiveSupport's user interface is being designed by a team
from the New York's Parsons Institute of Design's Design and Technology
Department, led by chair Colleen Macklin and IT Director Kunal Jain, with
master of fine arts candidates Catalin Lazia, Turi McKinley, Sangita Shah
and Charles Truett. The team has focused on building use-case scenarios for
LiveSupport's features, as a way of providing better grouping of software
functions and the interfaces for them. Funding for LiveSupport has been
generously provided by a grant from the Open Society Institute's Information
Program, through its ICT Toolsets initiative.
On december 26 2004 I received an e-mail from Andy Olivares who pointed
me to his emuSICK Project (the same day it saw its first release). About this, he writes on its website: "emuSICK is
a multiplatform radio automation system based in HardData DineSat product.
This project has been created entirely in C++ and QT from Trolltech. For the
sound engine we have selected the greatest sound engine we could find. I'm
talking about FMOD project. (...) As this project is based on QT's API it is
multiplatform, so you should be able to compile and use it under Windows,
Linux, Machintosh and any other OS supported by the QT Framework and FMOD
library." So this looks like another project on a very
- Can it be true? Are we almost there? Robert Ambrose, General Manager
of KTNA in Talkeetna, Alaska, today (june 23 2004) mailed this: "Hi. Saw your site. Have you checked out Rivendell? I just got this at a small community station and am committed to replacing the
based network and broadcast software with open source. Rivendell seems to be the most complete package." Really looks very promising! Check it out, I'd
recommend! They describe themselves as: "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
Head of software development for Rivendell is Frederick Gleason Jr.
point: Rivendell comes out of the
salemradiolab, which is a part of Salem. Salem says about itself: "Salem Communications Corporation is
the leading provider of radio programming, online resources and magazines
targeted to the Christian and family themes audience. For over 25 years our
core business has been the ownership and operation of radio stations in
major U.S. markets."
On their support page I read: "Support is currently
only available for radio stations owned and operated by
Salem Communications Corporation." Does this mean, we have here a whole
network of radios, being run with a GNU/GPL radio broadcast
- Then we have here the italian Soma
Project: "The object of the technical
research was a digital environment, which could let individuals or whole
communities gain access to a common schedule with resumes, repetitions,
deferred programs, live broadcastings, regular broadcastings as one national
and international network. Soma could satisfy this need and could be easly managed through the web
thanks to somadmin, which could update the soma admin in real time."
another italian project:
Znap. "Znap is a small c/python network mixing
daemon. It can load streams supported by fmod library (ogg/mp3/wav...) and
mix them together. Can be controlled via Tcp or XmlRpc. Future releases
will provide playlist/db and scheduling capabilities making it able to act
like a radio automation software."
- Jason Schindler of the "Stewie Radio Automation Project" just (june 20 2004) wrote: "I was just emailing you again to let you know that I have a much more usable version available for download now
David A. Gatwood is making progress with SongCue, a set of programs, which will one
day maybe fullfill almost all needs...
- Free Radio J (sic!)
lives at sourceforge as well and wants do all in Java (J!). Recently
released first files!
Guinever / Arthur
have their home at sourceforge as well and want to do it in Visual Basic for
the win-platform. No files released yet. Radio Free Linux
wants to do it in Perl, is at home in sourceforge-town, and has no files
released yet either.
- Geek Radio uses mainly
PHP to set up a browser-controllable Radio that even reads out News etc.
automatically with a computerized voice. Pretty geeky!
Radio Linux is an
italian project, aiming at the same as r.o.s.s. and shares its fact that it
has not released any files yet... AutoPlay DJ works with Perl
and Java, lives at sourceforge, and has no files released yet Vibecast looks very
promising as well - and has files released last time about a year ago...
that you can get via CVS, others result in error 404.
- AutoRadio resides
at sourceforge, wants to run on Win2000, feeding from C++, Visual Basic and
ASP, looks like it is of swiss origin, as it is related with Radio M24.ch.
- Now MuSE sounds definitively like something to
try. They write about themselves: "MuSE is an application for the mixing,
encoding, and network streaming of sound. MuSE can simultaniously mix up to
6 encoded audio bitstreams (from files or network) plus a souncard input
signal. The resulting stream can be played locally on the sound card and/or
encoded as an mp3 bitstream sended to a broadcast server. MuSE offers an
intuitive interface to be operated realtime and can run in "batch" mode or
receiving remote commands thru network."
- Then Ricky Thomas pointed me to Radio Free Asias's Broadcast Open
Development Exchange Initiative, which claims to be "an open plattform to
freely exchange information and technical development for the professional
broadcast community". And further down they say: "Radio Free Asia (RFA) was
created by the U.S. government (...) RFA is a 100%
digital facility in Washington D.C. (...)". They have an impressing list of
free software available! really worth checking out! a small starting point
to what i wrote down in Vision...
- Grant Petersen had another very helpful link: The Unattended
Broadcasting System, UBS. This comes from WMHD 90.7 FM which is a student run
organization and broadcast facility on the campus of Rose-Hulman Institute
of Technology in Terre Haute, IN. Grant is not involved in it, but says, UBS is an
active project and - after his trials - considers it working.
- Tom Brook pointed me to his FRUK, Free Radio
UK, Site. Although running on Windows ;-), this selfdescription sounds very promising: "Free Radio UK (FRUK)
originally started as a private online radio station for a group of internet
users who shared the same tastes in music. As interests grew of how the
system could be modified and enhanced, FRUK evolved to develop software to
remotely run the radio station, and to automate the entire process if there
wasn't a DJ available." And, yes, there is a free version. But it has its
- AGNULA, the once EU-financed project for a GNU/Linux Audio distribution says about itself:
AGNULA's main task will be the development of two reference
distributions for the GNU/Linux operating system completely based on Free
Software (i.e. under a FSF approved Free Software license) and completely
devoted to professional and consumer audio applications and multimedia
development. One distribution will be Debian-based (DeMuDi) and the other
will be Red Hat-based (ReHMuDi). Both will be available on the network for
download and on CD.
The following table should give a first idea, where the holes are,
concerning radio, if looked at the elements individually:
There are a lot! Because more or less every radio needs an automation this
is a pretty big market. Here are just a few ones:
We still have a long way to go! You have some input / idea / link / any
|multitrack harddisk recorder and editor
||kind of existing
Audacity, the GNU GPL multiplatform (linux, freebsd, windows, macos,
osx) multitrack (unlimited tracks) harddiskeditor / -recorder
||as a part of SongCue
|clock editor, setting the rules for the scheduler
||Emixer (not eXmixer)
GDAM looks good
mixplayd is a daemon that can be
told to play mp3/2 files using mpg123 and be controlled via telnet - looks
very promising for the problem of crossfading between songs!
|frontend for on-air-studio(s)
||Exmixer (see below) and
|frontend for production studio(s)
|interface to multiline studio-mixer
or a digital alternative
|great! it's almost there!!!!
(not emixer) found via dbmix - see a little further up. Exmixer is an external Box with
analog Faders to control the digital software-mixer DBMix. We are getting
closer!!!! There are two pictures of Simon Werners exmixer. The
outside, and the
|varia others that come close to our needs, but miss some basics
for "real" radio
manages and plays
DigitalDJ is an
SQL-based mp3-player frontend. This looks very nice!
Commander is a program for searching and playing mp3 collections.
The GlobeCom Jukebox
is the perfect tool to coordinate your music. rips, manages and plays etc.
has Webinterface. Description sounds great! Has accounts.
Jukebox is a nifty
Jukebox-system based on mySQL, apache and perl with a Webinterface. Serves a
lot of songs in a german
internetcaffe at Regensburg, north of Munich.
Contact me, Patrik Tschudin, at email@example.com
Things I am involved in:
Radio X, a small community
radio in Basel, Switzerland, of which I am a co-founder
in.f.a.m. mediaburo, a collective of
professional freelance journalists
swiss public radio drs2, the arts
and culture channel - that's the guys who pay my rent for the work I do at a
program about cultural and scientific news, called DRS2aktuell
and by the way: if you use the Sourceforge search and look for "radio" and
"automation" you'll find others who have similar plans
All clever minds around radio and GNU/linux (or any other free software) put together their knowledge, each
according to his / her capabilities, and - initially funded by a group of
public broadcasters from all over the world (who fight with their
proprietary automation systems a lot too) - create a scalable, secure,
flexible, adaptable (etc. pp.) free, open source based radio automation
system. Why "public broadcasters"? They might have more experience in
shareing ressources and information, not being direct competitors against each
other, than private players do. And they have a kind of obligation to serve the
public. Why not once on a (radio-)technical level?
Now finally there is something! Using and hacking around with mixplayd and Jukebox I got my webbased jukebox
doing sensible overlapping of songs. If you dare, you can get the necessary
But really beware, you have been warned! This is only a messy, unclean first release, full of
german variables and Radio X specifics, meant more to prove that there is something moving here
than to offer an out-of-the-box-solution!!! expect many changes soon. but
look at it - if you really have to...
To be honest: I am amazed that already 319 downloads of my "messy"
release happened... up to now (june 9 2004).
Maybe, if you come down to here and you found something useful, maybe you
want to make a small donation? I won't stop you... And don't be surprised:
at paypal i registered using my "official" e-mailadress.