Free and Open Source Software for doing Radio (AM / FM etc.)

Aim | Automation | Elements | Look around | commercial solutions | Vision | (old) News | IMPORTANT NEWS about other projects | read on
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?"

Automation - good or bad?

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.
Buying this 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:

Look around

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: (Europe) (Japan) (USA) (USA)

Others with similar intentions

The following table should give a first idea, where the holes are, concerning radio, if looked at the elements individually:

use status link
MP3 encoders existing List of these
CD-ripper existing link
DBMS existing mySQL
audio recorder existing List of these
audio editor existing List of these
multitrack harddisk recorder and editor kind of existing List of these
Audacity, the GNU GPL multiplatform (linux, freebsd, windows, macos, osx) multitrack (unlimited tracks) harddiskeditor / -recorder
scheduler coming in as a part of SongCue
clock editor, setting the rules for the scheduler inexistent no link
realtime mp3-mixer existing Emixer (not eXmixer)
DBMix (Wow!!!)
GDAM looks good as well!
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) coming Exmixer (see below) and
frontend for production studio(s) coming SongCue
interface to multiline studio-mixer
or a digital alternative
great! it's almost there!!!! Exmixer (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 inside.
logger inexistent   -  
satellite interface inexistent   -  
varia others that come close to our needs, but miss some basics for "real" radio existent Paloma rips, manages and plays
DigitalDJ is an SQL-based mp3-player frontend. This looks very nice!
Mp3 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.

Existing commercial solutions

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 other suggestion?
Contact me, Patrik Tschudin, at

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 files HERE. 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).

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