We recently built-out the SoKing Internet Radio
station and after looking at our options we chose to use Apple OSX Lion running on a Mac Mini with 8GB of RAM.
Most people would go with a lower cost option but this works for us primarily because we’re a Mac-based company anyway. The software we’re using on the dedicated streaming machine is installed on several of our other Macs, including MacBook portables so we can stream remotely if we need to for live broadcasting or in an emergency or backup situation.
The primary software we’re using is the following:Apple iTunes
– Cataloging, playlist and meta-data managementiVolume
– Batch volume level adjustment for audio tracksRadiologik Scheduler
– AutoDJ scripting and track prepRadiologik DJ
– Radio station automationNicecast
– Audio broadcasting for our master stream
Everything basically starts with iTunes. All of our assets are stored and managed here, music, ad spots, station IDs, time announcements, etc. We use smart playlists to build lists of music for our various programs. For example, our “standard” program playlist excludes some genres of music for which we plan dedicated programming blocks, selects only music rated above two stars, and prioritizes tracks with fewer plays.
After we import our music into iTunes, we run iVolume, which scans iTunes for tracks that it hasn’t already analyzed and performs volume adjustment using a meta-data file rather than actually editing the master audio track.
We then move to Radiologik Scheduler, which has built into it a track prep function that we use to analyze newly imported tracks to trim silence at the beginning and end and to set overlap values and fade times.
Radiologik Scheduler is also the tool we use to author automation scripts that define our programs. We can create a program and specify exactly which hours and days it will run. A program can be from 30min to 5hrs and the script defines what happens during that time period.
We normally have a time announcement and station ID at the top of the hour, followed by an ad spot and then music fill from a specific playlist until the half-hour when we have another station ID and ad spot, then music fill for the remainder of the hour.
Radiologik Scheduler builds the specific playlist for a given hour 20min before the hour and feeds the specific tracks and audio assets to Radiologik DJ.
Radiologik DJ is then responsible for queuing the audio and playing it. It basically runs hands-off though we have the option of manually intervening, doing voice over or reprogramming on the fly if we want or need to.
The final piece of the puzzle is Nicecast, which captures the audio output from Radiologik DJ and sends it over our broadband connection to our streaming host for distribution to our listeners.
And there you have it, that’s our radio station running on a Mac. For the most part it’s pretty simple and easy to use. Getting the automation scripts working exactly the way you want can be a little challenging, but once they’re setup they’ve been solid in our testing so far.
I would say that in general, we’re not really pushing the capability of the hardware or software at this point, but it’s a platform we can grow into as we get more familiar with the streaming business and become more sophisticated in how we use the features.