My recent stint helping CCR with their music library also threw-up a problem in dealing with their hourly news feed – They broadcast the RadioNewsHub audio which comes in via Dropbox and is automatically ingested into Myriad each hour. Although quite useful to small stations – and perhaps those unable to use a satellite dish to receive Sky News – the news content is amazingly brief (at only 60 seconds) and one of the blokes reading it sounds bored out of his mind, but, in the absence of an alternative, may suffice.
With an automatic update to a Dropbox folder, this means that with the right tools, you can completely automate a news-feed on your Myriad playout software. Their intentions were to play their current news bed under the audio. Simple enough but with the actual news comes some advertising which must be carried as part of the deal – The audio is contained in a single file and can’t be split (their terms, not ours)… This opens up a potential can of worms about separating news from commercials – Ofcom’s Broadcast Code says you can’t sponsor the news…
So, how do you play a news intro, bed and outro sting/tag AND the news at the same time as well as keeping the barter-adverts intact?
Here’s how the Myriad log looks for the events leading into the top-of-hour sequence – the time-marker is set to however long your intro is: Here we assume that it’s a 10-second intro…
- The News Intro/Bed needs to have an early Extro/Segue marker set at the point where the news audio should start.
- There should follow 60 seconds of bed before the outro-string plays underneath.
- The sting should be the same level as the bed, otherwise it’ll compete with the news audio.
The above can easily be simulated in Audition/Audacity (or even off-air in Myriad) so check the balance of levels and timings. It’s one of those things that is complicated to explain, but looks (and sounds) quite simple 🙂
The following diagram shows how the News In/Bed/Out and Audio would look:
Using Myriad’s Auto-Importer, a folder-scan is performed periodically on the Dropbox folder – v4 of Auto-Importer does not require a cart-number in the filename so content such as news.mp3 or sport-package.mp3 are acceptable import names. In CCR’s case, an intermediate batch file runs in the Windows Task Scheduler to copy and rename files from Dropbox and into a import folder, eg: news.mp3 becomes 99-news.mp3 which explicitly tells Auto-Importer to send the news audio into Cart 99 on the Audiowall.
A simple renamer batch file runs as a scheduled task in “Task Manager” every 15 minutes which copies the RNH audio over to the Auto-Import folder with the filenames required, eg: news.mp3>99-news.mp3 , sport.mp3>100-sport.mp3 and so on. Here’s a sample batch file – just rename the folder names to match your configuration:
REM RadioNewsHub Batch File
copy news.mp3 c:\import\99-news.mp3
copy sport.mp3 c:\import\100-sport.mp3
copy showbiz.mp3 c:\import\101-showbiz.mp3
copy weather.mp3 c:\import\102-weather.mp3
copy business.mp3 c:\import\103-business.mp3
This script will ensure that the right piece of audio is always to be found in the same Myriad Cart!
This approach can work with any fixed duration news audio – Sadly, it appears that Myriad cannot automate a long bed and react to a shorter news cart: During the segue from the news cart to the Top of Hour ID, the bed carries on playing. In other words, you can’t have a 5 minute bed with an early segue and then automate it with different durations of news audio – You’d have to adjust it in the Segue Editor (and leave the remainder playing “silent”). Other systems don’t have a problem with this: mAirList (StartNext marker) and RCS Zetta (Early Segue), for example.