Speech vs Music Ratio

Often, radio stations are obliged to carry a specific (or minimum) speech-to-music ratio.  Casual listening may yield this information, as would adequate prep+production prior to broadcast – but what about keeping tabs on the ratio overall, using playout logging as a form of measurement?

This is where I come in… I had a recent commission to develop a piece of software that took the text-log from a playout system and calculated the Speech:Music ratio.  The process itself is quite simple, and I’m going to share it with you – the actual “sums” and finding your own method will be down to you!

The Science Bit

1) Playout system logs duration of played items along with its actual length
2) Subtracts the played (music) items from the overall hour
3) Turn that into a percentage

Assuming that the whole show is being played “off computer”, it can provide reasonably accurate account of speech and music balance.  With an output log that can be defined to produce meta-data like Air-Time, Duration, Category/Content Type etc, the software reader can ingest it and produce a report detailing overall “balance”.  Reconcile logs are long-established in commercial radio for “as played” information, but why *only* use it for Songs and Advert confirmations?

This kind of analysis can be useful in keeping tabs on your obligations as part of your licence or simply to ascertain just how much “chatter” you have across the schedule.