Automation of Canadian Radio Stations - Canadian TV, Computing and Home Theatre Forums
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post #1 of 68 (permalink) Old 2017-10-05, 02:38 PM Thread Starter
 
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Automation of Canadian Radio Stations

How automated are Canadian radio stations?

The local radio in my market is getting ridiculous - some stations share the same DJ for a few hours a day. The rest of the day sounds like a playlist that is poorly setup and rarely changed.

It has gotten to the point where I hear a certain bumper, or commercial, and I know what song is coming on next, and the song after that. It has been the same for months. Other channels are the same when I keep track.

I figure they have automated the hell out of a group of stations to the point where they can't even be bothered to reset or re-arrange the playlists to save further $$$. The only thing that changes is the weather forecast (which is usually way off, or an old one some poor intern without a radio voice recorded put in a pre-assigned spot, or it is missing completely) and a quick news break (which like the weather, is sometimes way out of date or very generic Canadian national news that seems to be read by a random person off the street sometimes).

One local station, still on October 5th, is playing bumpers that "Summer is here" and "welcome to summer" with random jokes about the heat that is coming. The same station has a bumper for "Today's weather forecast" with 20-30 seconds of dead air after it. Then "Traffic brought to you by sponsor ABC" with another segment of dead air.

Isn't there a better way to automate these stations - for example:

-isn't there software that could shuffle a playlist, and advertisements/bumpers randomly? I know that SiriusXM use to play the same songs over and over in the same order on some channels, so maybe this doesn't exist, and maybe isn't affordable to local stations.

-can't the weather be automated? Can't a software package process the info from a local weather station and a Siri type voice read the forecast?

-for other news, it could be automated the same way - some service can provide sports scores, national news, etc. that is read by a computer?

Maybe I just need to get with the times and admit that AM/FM radio that plays music is dead, and subscribe to a service that will mix music better...however I miss someone being on air talking about local current events and giving up to date details on local news/weather/traffic...
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post #2 of 68 (permalink) Old 2017-10-05, 02:58 PM
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Most stations now purchase prepackaged music playlists from third parties. That saves the cost of a music director. And, yes, it gets very repetitive, That's why I stay away from most music stations. Many shows are now completely automated from a central network studio and do not have DJs.

Even stations that have DJ's program the heck out of everything. A DJ show is rarely done in real time nowadays. The show, music list and dialog, is programmed in a fairly short time and played by a computer at a later time. A single DJ can do several shows a day to be played at different times during the week or do a show in a couple of hours and perform other tasks for the rest of the shift.

SiriusXM also does this. Some DJs do shows on several different stations for several days each week. The DJs can be spread across the country, using local studios or home studios. Other shows are produced at SiriusXM studios.

Music services are the ultimate in programmed music. Everything is based on programmed genres, popularity charts and consumer music tastes. While it's true that music can be chosen at will, music services tend to direct listeners towards music titles based on past listening and various other factors such as music charts. My experience is that it's not always better than music stations and it tends to get quite repetitive when the computer is allowed to take over and create playlists.
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post #3 of 68 (permalink) Old 2017-10-05, 03:19 PM
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I guess this is why I've pretty much stopped listening to music on the radio, including Internet stations.

Quote:
-can't the weather be automated?
Perhaps shuffle a playlist?

I'm waiting for the day I start hearing summer reruns on the news stations!

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post #4 of 68 (permalink) Old 2017-10-05, 03:53 PM
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Rewound Radio often plays complete shows from recordings made in the 1960s, including weather, news and commercials. It's an interesting listen but not to be taken too seriously.

I listened to Galaxy radio for a short time. They repeated the same show every six hours during the day and again on later days. It got very boring after awhile.

On SiriusXM, I noticed that DJs were packaging dialog and music together. I would hear the exact same intro to the same song every few days. Some DJs were basically just shuffling the same dialog/music segments and adding less and less new dialog or music for each show. Some were already so repetitive it was hard to tell if it was canned or real time but that's a different story.
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post #5 of 68 (permalink) Old 2017-10-05, 11:40 PM
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Well it depends, Some Radio Stations are like how you mentioned, some are not. Music is very easy to automate because everything is timed accordingly and accounted for, such as the songs, the commercials, the announcements, voice overs, etc. Its gotten really good that when DJ's are introducing a song, they know how long to talk during the Intro up to the point when the Vocals kick in and that's when they stop. Of course back then people who manually did this and did it well, were also very well respected.

Some radio stations such as News, Sports, Talk Radio, etc, are a little harder to automate or I should really say, stick to the timelines, especially when you have phone-in callers or you have guest interviews or you have MC's who have to discuss things within a small window and especially if you have to break for traffic and weather or breaking news at specific times through the day, but the person your interviewing or the phone-in caller will not stop to let you break on your scheduled time, its much harder, but definitely doable.

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post #6 of 68 (permalink) Old 2017-10-06, 07:53 AM
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they know how long to talk during the Intro up to the point when the Vocals kick in and that's when they stop
They should stop talking before the music starts. I listen for the music, not some inane chatter. I recall, several years ago, on CHFI's Saturday Night Oldies, when they went without a host for a while. I was just music and no chatter, a real improvement.

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post #7 of 68 (permalink) Old 2017-10-06, 10:38 AM
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This was really noticable out here years ago, when we got hit by Arthur and radio was one of the only things working. Did the local stations switch to having broadcasts of emergency information like where to get gas and water, and about the city response?

LOL! They were entirely automated music playlists as if nothing was going on. CBC Radio 1 (which during the week has a morning show hosted right in Fredericton) was playing a call in show from Toronto. If you wanted to know what was going on, you hoped your cell phone had enough battery left to reach Twitter.

It hasn't gotten better since. I have SXM in the car because it's got a lot more variety, the local radio is just painful after a while.
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post #8 of 68 (permalink) Old 2017-10-06, 10:39 AM
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Yes they can stop talking before the song starts, but I think its also more of a policy at the specific stations to get the most out of their air time, why not keep talking when the music intro plays, you can start your song 10 seconds early for one song, imagine how much that will add up during an entire day, they can use the time they freed up to play more promos, or extra commercials, or do more talking, it benefits the radio station greatly. Another thing I was involved in, when some DJ's do live music sessions, and the MC wants to talk Over the music, the DJ normally play an instrumental track of the song he just played and loop it while the MC's or hosts are talking. I've also seen very unprofessional MC's just talk over music with out cutting to an instrumental track, very poor implementation In my humble opinion, and sometimes the background music can interfere with what the MC is saying. I did some work in the past so I know all about this and the challenges, but its great knowledge to have. I have played an extended looped instrumental when someone was doing a voice over, and cut right into the song seamlessly when they completed talking and it sounded so good and professional you would think it was by fluke but it took a lot of timing and skill behind the scenes to master it when your doing it live or doing it for commercial productions. It also takes a great skilled DJ to communicate with the MC about when he will cut the instrumental and go straight to the regular track, but most professionals know how music is put together and have a nack for it naturally.

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post #9 of 68 (permalink) Old 2017-10-06, 11:20 AM
 
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Heh....as long as Canadian radio stations are willing to play this band's songs, I'm good.

And yes, EUROPE is from Sweden, Sweden is 1 of the 6 world hockey powers, alongside Canada, and I like EUROPE cause they make quality music.

Like what is seen below.



Their newest song, made this year.

=)
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post #10 of 68 (permalink) Old 2017-10-06, 04:46 PM
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Originally Posted by RaginRonic View Post


Heh....as long as Canadian radio stations are willing to play this band's songs, I'm good.

And yes, EUROPE is from Sweden, Sweden is 1 of the 6 world hockey powers, alongside Canada, and I like EUROPE cause they make quality music.

Like what is seen below.



Their newest song, made this year.

=)
Where's the automation? I don;t see any in the clips you posted

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post #11 of 68 (permalink) Old 2017-10-11, 08:48 PM
 
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Hi - Radio program director here.

There's a bit of misinformation in this thread. A couple points...

-When we talk of automation, it's playback systems, not programming. Yes, computers play back everything we play and don't need anyone in the studio to operate them What's NOT automated, is *what* they play.

-Radio stations don't "buy" playlists to avoid costs. They will buy music libraries, but that's just a means of legally acquiring all the songs we may want to play. Some chains will run the same playlist on multiple stations (with local tweaks) if they have an expert doing it well (usually in a bigger market)

-Repetition and patterns are two different things. Repetition is intentional, patterns are not. We have pretty advanced scheduling software that will create what amounts to playlists with any criteria for rotation you could imagine. The problem is, it's a little too sophisticated. If you're hearing the same song at the same time every day or the same song after the same promo, or a "here comes the summer" bit in October, it comes down to the user being under-qualified/lazy/untrained, etc.
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post #12 of 68 (permalink) Old 2017-10-11, 10:38 PM
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Some of the stuff I mentioned is with DJs that are doing the programming. They are programming a new show every day so they do tend to repeat or use canned lead-ins to songs. For good or bad, that's intentional. It's an old school way of running a station that can accentuate both the limitations and the genius of individual DJs. The human DJ generated programming genius is what I listen for. There hasn't been much of it on Canadian radio for several decades.

As far as buying "playlists", I mean buying packages of music for airplay. It may not be a playlist in the sense of a playlist created for a single show but it amounts to a limited number of songs in rotation (a master playlist of sorts) and it becomes very tedious after awhile, especially when combined with other factors such as Cancon and emphasis on only top 40 material. I find that buying music packages and using software to generate playlists from that package is creating the worst radio in history.
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post #13 of 68 (permalink) Old 2017-10-11, 10:57 PM
 
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That's not how it works at all. A station would never limit what they play based on a package of songs they buy. They decide what they want to play, then acquire it. Limited playlists are intentional, because they work.
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post #14 of 68 (permalink) Old 2017-10-11, 11:12 PM
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Limited playlists are intentional, because they work
Or drive away listeners who get fed up with hearing the same thing over and over again. I've been listening to the radio for over half a century and I've pretty much stopped listening to it for music. There's a world of difference between what's happening now and what happened as recently as the late 90s. I recall when CHUM FM switched from classical music to "album rock". The shows back then were really interesting with a wide variety of innovative music. Now, radio has become very much a wasteland that's essentially a waste of spectrum. Compare what was on the radio in the 60s, 70s, 80s and well into the 90s with the crap that's on now. There are a couple of stations that play decent music, but not like it was back then.

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post #15 of 68 (permalink) Old 2017-10-11, 11:19 PM
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It doesn't matter how the package was determined. The result is that a package is created by a corporate entity and limits what is played. It might work for radio stations and their advertisers but it doesn't work for me and, I suspect, many other listeners. I'd rather have silence than listen to the junk that is passed off for radio by most Canadian stations. Even when it is a genre that I like, the limitations in variety and depth make me tune out quickly.
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