Hello from a web and Raspberry Pi powered radio programmer

Hi there,

Long time listener, first time caller as they say.

Well, I've been reading these forums for a while now and thought I'd say hi and see who here fancies chatting techie stuff?

My background: commercial radio in the UK for ten years, time at the BBC, own ringtone and music download business, provided mobile content to the BBC for a time, now back in radio after recently being involved in the launch of a new DAB station here.

I run a free SMS to email service which a few UK hospital, community and FM / DAB stations in the UK use, each station and presenter can get their own SMS keyword for free at http://smskeywords.co.uk (admin: I hope this is okay?)

I'm an anorak and a geek. I'm hoping to move to a sunny happy island in the Mediterranean soon after spending half of last year in Gran Canaria.

I'm currently testing online radio automation with liquidsoap, apache, php, mysql and icecast. You can tune in at http://charnwoodradio.co.uk but remember it's just a test so some sequences will be great and some pretty nasty.

So far I've trained it to rotate a mix of songs from a database and back time up to the hourly news bulletin, it also handles dynamic insertion of songs by email, breaking news is automatically aired when it happens; plus sports, business and show biz features are inserted along with a little light branding.

The Idents are Mitch, he's the man, known in the UK by millions of ears, I'll be getting mixed versions of feature tops and tails, a revised stream intro and fresh IDs in the coming weeks, plus a new logo and apps for iOS and Android. "We're" really just "me" and I do a little here and a little there all the time so it progresses as an entity and sounds a hell of a lot bigger than it really is, theatre of the mind eh?

Our weather is human read, after the news every hour, fully automated and I'm happy to share the theory and code snippets to fully automate really great sounding weather bulletins. It's essentially an API call to the Met Office which reads a number of states and produces an mp3 with all the required voice clips merged into a single file. 24 / 7 weather bulletins, 356 days a year, less than £20 for the voice over girl.

It's getting there but I've still got a load of work to do.

My playout machine is a Raspberry Pi O W, it's a tiny, tiny machine with 512 MB RAM and a 32 GB SD card with the Rasbian OS, we do not have, and nor will we ever have, any presenters, we're not that kind of station, so sorry of you're hoping I'll take your show, it isn't going to be for us as I want to take this into more of an in demand, podcasting model for local content, rather than shows.

I reckon radio presenters, unless they're either complete niche, hyper local to a particular place or sector, or talk radio hosts are sort of redundant in this on demand era, I can't stand the insane chatter of local radio "can you guess the voice?" and "what was the year" along with "brain teasers" and ego driven constant promotion of the breakfast show is hell to listen to!

I wondered if there are any others here who are using Raspberry Pi hardware, or php and mysql for playlist generation?

Always happy to talk tech, would be great to have some kindred digital souls to brainstorm with!

My big questions:

Where will traditional radio be in ten years? Will it drown, survive or excel in the multi platform world? How will it adapt and how can small online stations gain from traditional listening being outpaced by technology and wider choice?


I don't really care that much about Internet radio directories, unless they're linked to Internet radio hardware and can get us on actual physical radios. Which actual DAB and WiFi radio manufacturers have directories which get your station on screen on their hardware?

I want people tuning in from a specific region mainly so don't think they can offer me much value, think local sponsors, as in what good are ten thousand listeners a month in India to the local businesses I want to connect with my local audience?

Back in the web's golden days (pre-Google trying to muscle into every niche, when search results were worth clicking) directories were shunned as being lazy, spam ridde and low quality ways to market, this is a view I share today with regards to radio directories, I'd rather not be listed next to a thousand of stations, rather I'd prefer to be linked to in the websites of local businesses and bloggers, plus be mentioned often in their social timelines.

A question in return: what's your fixation with directories? Why? Is my view outdated or in need of revision? Is there a genuine trick I'm missing here? What kind of traffic vs tunes ins do directories bring and have you any stats regarding which ones bring the most verifiable clicks?

I'd rather have a thousand local tune ins than ten thousand dispersed around the globe.