Remote Broadcasting Outreach Program

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This document was created December 2013. Original PDF.

Project Summary

The Remote Broadcasting Outreach Program (ReBOP) was initiated by a Radiometres grant application from the Community Radio Fund of Canada (CRFC). The goal was to create a remote broadcasting platform combined with a training program and manual. This will encourage our station to put new programmers on the air, where they're comfortable, in their own home. ReBOP also wanted to add a live component to remote broadcasting. With this tool kit a radio station has the potential to be a live presence from inside a programmer’s home as well as at local events, summer markets and music festivals. This document includes instructions on the hardware and software requirements of remote broadcasting. The manual will demonstrate how to setup and use the selected software for live broadcasting complete with step by step instructions and video tutorials.

Requirements

The principal driver behind this project was to be able to broadcast a program live from a location outside of the radio station. Ideally we wanted to do this without having anyone in the station to connect the stream manually to the console. To do this without managing our own streaming server, we needed to identify a streaming server solution that offered a live stream that could be tied back into our automation server. Evaluation of multiple streaming servers and their subscription models resulted in the selection of the Spreaker.com website and their Broadcaster Plan subscription.

Basic Hardware

  • Refurbished Laptop with Windows 7 Home Premium, 4GB RAM, 320 GB drive ($500)
  • Yeti Blue USB Microphone ($135)
  • Headphones with 3.5mm Audio Plug (plugs directly into Yeti Microphone) ($40)

Optional Hardware

  • JK Audio Broadcast Host Desktop Digital Hybrid (connection between computer and phone line for call-in shows)
  • Wireless Hotspot (and 4G/LTE Data Account – for true remote broadcast flexibility)

Software

  • Web Browser – for Spreaker DJ Console
  • MIXXX (not required – but much easier to use than Spreaker Console)
  • Audacity (not required – but useful for editing/mixing tracks beforehand)

Subscriptions

Spreaker.com Broadcaster Plan subscription ($199/year) - allows for live shows up to 3 hours in length and 500 hours of audio storage for preloading your music and ads. They also have a Free Speech plan (30 minutes/10 hours) and an On-Air Talent plan (45 minutes/ 100 hours).

Broadcasting with Spreaker.com

If your program is mostly in the live talk format this is the simplest way to get up and running. However you’ll find It time consuming if you’re using a lot of music. Audio files have to be preloaded into their Audio Library once – then you have to add them to your playlist. It doesn’t remember your playlists either, so each show requires creating a new playlist of songs from scratch. Use your web browser and log into your Spreaker.com account. To get started, click the “Create” button in the top right corner of the window. Choose the middle option to “Broadcast”.

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Next you’ll be presented with some basic options to setup your show: Add a TITLE – and for now, click the padlock icon to make your show Private

RBOP1.png

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ABOVE: OPTIONAL INFORMATION YOU MAY WANT TO FILL IN LATER – AND YOU EVEN HAVE OPTIONS TO TIE IN YOUR BROADCASTS TO YOUR OTHER SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS. BUT BE WARNED, ONCE SETUP, ALL BROADCASTS WILL BE PUSHED OUT BY DEFAULT.

The final step is to choose one of your predefined shows – or select the “NEW” option to create a brand new show title and add a defining picture to it. Click “CREATE” when ready.

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After the show is selected or a new one is created, the final step is to go back to the top of the page and click “NEXT”. This will open the Flash-based Spreaker DJ Console window. You’ll have to ACCEPT the Flash security warning in order to grant access to your microphone.

The first step is to begin adding songs to your library – and to your playlist.

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Start by clicking the very small add “+” button in the top right window called “Playlist” Unless you’ve already uploaded all of your music to your Spreaker Audio Library, you’ll need to choose the “UPLOAD” tab, and click “OPEN MUSIC LIBRARY”

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This opens a new tab that is used to categorize, preview, delete and upload tracks.

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You can upload multiple files at once, monitor the progress, edit on the fly, retag and rename, but it may take a while. When uploading is done, return to the previous window. Clicking the Explore tab will allow you to browse through artists and their album names. Clicking the album name will display track selections below. From there each track is added by the “+” sign. Repeat the process of exploring and searching your library, selecting and adding tracks, until all music and ads have been added to your playlist. Then click the “close” in the top right corner.

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Broadcasting with MIXXX

While the Spreaker console is great if you want to run a live talk show with minimal music and no software to install, it becomes cumbersome to use once you start adding more music to your show. You’ll find that manually uploading titles before each show is a chore. When you can’t load or save a playlist it becomes a little more than annoying. Adding individual tunes quickly to a live show is not possible with the Spreaker console – you must upload all of your music ahead of time.

Why MIXXX?

It was an easy choice to make, but the main factors responsible in making this software the choice for our radio station was: the cost (free), multi-platform installs and built-in ability to stream to a Shoutcast server. It has a lot of features that most of our DJs will never use, but yet it’s simple enough to get up and running quickly. FIGURE 2: MIXXX AT A GLANCE The MIXXX software installs with a large helpful manual and their website maintains an online wiki and support forum. So, this ReBOP manual will only address the initial setup and defining the live broadcasting parameters to work with your Spreaker account. MIXXX can be downloaded directly from http://www.mixxx.org.

Broadcast Software

  • Free
  • MP3 FLAC OGG M4A
  • Open Source

Multiplatform

  • Windows XP/Vista/7/8
  • Mac OS/X
  • Linux

Music Library

  • iTunes integration
  • Playlists
  • Crates

Professional

  • Shoutcast / Icecast
  • Auto Cross Fade
  • Microphone Talkover

MIXXX Laptop Only Setup

According to MIXXX documentation, there “is absolutely no need to buy an additional, expensive sound card if you do not require headphone cueing. The built-in soundcard on most computers and laptops comes with a single line-out and microphone input”. In MIXXX, select the Options | Preferences | Sound Hardware, then the Output tab From the Master drop-down menus, select your built-in soundcard, then Channels 1-2 You can also select the Headphones option for the USB Headset attached to the microphone. From the Input tab you can select your Microphone. Then click Apply to save your changes.

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FIGURE 3: USING MIXXX WITH YOUR BUILT-IN SOUNDCARD

To test that your microphone is setup correctly and MIXXX will actually pick up your voice, click OK to close the window and return to the main console window. From there click the MIC push button and the TALK button.

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FIGURE 4: TESTING MIXXX MICROPHONE CONFIGURATION If the MIXXX sound options are configured correctly, you’ll be able to see the VU meters react when you speak into the microphone. If you don’t see the meters move, or the TALK button is not enabled, then return to the Options for Sound Hardware, Reset to Defaults and try again. You can try the Query Devices button to see if it resets the parameters properly. When the microphone is working and your music library is loaded, you’re ready to start broadcasting.

The next step is to get the Spreaker parameters required for live broadcasting.

Spreaker Live Broadcast Settings

Before configuring MIXXX to use with Spreaker we need to first get the parameters required to do live broadcasting. Use your web browser to return to your Spreaker.com account. Click the “Create” button in the top right corner of the window. Choose the third option for “TUBE”.

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Next scroll down to the section entitled “HOW TO CONFIGURE YOUR SOFTWARE” and fill in the title of your episode. Select an existing show using the up and down arrows for “Collection” or if you want to create a new show click “NEW” – just like in the section for Broadcasting.

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When you have everything entered and selected, look at the right section of the screen and write down the parameters in the section or print the screen. You’ll need these to set up live broadcasting in MIXXX.

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Returning to MIXXX, select Options | Preferences | Live Broadcasting and fill in the parameters. Click “Okay” to save your settings.

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When you’re ready to start your show, check the “Enable live broadcasting” box at the top. You now have the tools to start broadcasting your show LIVE! For detailed instructions on using the decks, Auto-DJ and playlists, see the MIXXX manual. For a visual recap please watch the video tutorials found in Appendix A.

Appendix A: Video Tutorials

New Links To Come