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Wat Are Your Plans for Station Growth?

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Wat Are Your Plans for Station Growth?

The low power radio community as reflected on these forums tends to consist of single stations with music formats. Growth is usually talked about in terms of obtaining a better transmitter, improved antenna, and larger playlist.

KDX Worldround Radio and HBR (Jim Henry's Honeybrook Radio) are the only two talk stations I know of, not counting LPFM stations like WCFI (MRAM) and WLSL (DHR). It is surprising there aren't more talk stations given the volatility of world affairs.

Since our inception in 2007 KDX has been on a Yo-Yo string always expanding and shrinking as we try new things and then pull back because of limited resources.

In about 2010 we first tested the running of two radio streams from a single computer, with KDX1 and KDX2. This came about as a response to finding more good radio programs than time allowed on a single station, but if audience measurement was an objective the effort did not result in more listeners, but that has never been more than an observation since KDX exists entirely to serve myself in a terribly bland radio market where sports and Christianity account for millions of wasted watts that do no more than give me something to criticize and avoid.

Now it's growth time again as I have three formats in mind and look forward to being able to select, based on the mood of the moment, by simply turning the dial, rather than fiddling with a single playlist.

In this thread I'll be laying out the experiments and advancements as KDX divides into three distinct stations: KDX, KHZ, and KEGO.

We'll need more transmitters and antenna sites, as well as enlargement of our computer power to accomodate so many program feeds while keeping it manageable.

During this whole process I want to get other stations thinking about their expansion plans and adding your experience to this thread because this hobby has been slumping and seems stagnant, if our forums are any indication.

Is the age of part 15 and low power radio becoming yesterday's hobby? Don't you think it's up to us to keep it on life support and promote new growth?

I must admit..

I must admit that I agree with Carl that there is a stagnation in the hobby especially with me.

I am already using the best transmitter(Decade) so what can be improved? It just works perfectly day and night, month after month, year after year. No antenna changes, the antenna, attached to the transmitter stays the same.

As for programming, I can't do talk shows because I am not live. Everything is pre-recorded, jingles, station id's, my own voice doing station id's. As for the playlist after almost 4000 songs, jingles, id's, all in total there's so much there that there's enough...a line has to be drawn somewhere or it never ends.

And live talk when nobody is tuned in...or maybe one or two people in the area but I have no way of knowing, is a waste of time and I'm no good at live talk because I just can't keep talking to fill air time. I have great admiration for talk show hosts on commercial radio that can do this.

It's not yesterdays hobby...it's just, in my case is stagnated I admit.

But even with everyone doing AM in the USA once you have the set up done with the best transmitter it's done, what's to improve? it just works.

If you are streaming, same thing, what can you keep changing?

More

Good thoughts, as always, Mark.

For KDX there is no live talk at all. Everything we carry is from pre-recorded mp3 audiofiles, available from multiple programmers and podcasters with their permission.

This is a very rich time for on-line content as many people are producing material, but come to think of it how would a Canadian broadcaster find newscasts aimed toward his country? I don't know.

Most newscasts heard on KDX are targeted to the U.S., except for a handful of international broadcasters from several countries.

At KDX we produce several program series for later broadcast but they are not "live on air".

For stations preferring a single format it may be possible to establish more than one relay transmitter serving several dial positions, unless there are no empty frequencies.

And a single format can only expand its streaming by perhaps offering several band-width choices and being on more directories.

The Decade is ideal for both nations and for those willing to ignore certification I find the EDM to be spectacular!

But with the loss of the SSTran set of AMT3000/5000 transmitters I consider the remaining kits as well as Talking House to be entry level for grade-schoolers and the excellent certified ready-made transmitters are absurdly priced for hobby use.

We all face bottlenecks, the shortness of usable channels being one of them. Internet bandwidth is another, and of course the limited range is often pointless, forcing us to "protect" the empty unused air not very far away.

These thoughts and discussions are every bit part of the world's most sophisticated hobby.

Carl Blare

Interesting Topic

I suppose people enter the hobby for different reasons and these drive the construction and operation of stations/streamers.

I began part 15 AM experimenting in 1958 primarily because I was interested in radio technology.  Ham radio was not an option at the time so part 15 was a way to play with and learn about transmitters.  During the high school and early college years I had listeners and would "host" guests in my "studio" and chat, play music, and so on.  It was nice to have an audience.

The station went dark for many years after that and the transmitter was almost forgotten, but about 15 years ago I renewed interest in the hobby mainly so I could yardcast music and programming for my personal use without trying to "serve" an audience.  During this revival I came across some sites devoted to the hobby, including this one, and learned how to gain more range and improve the equipment.  I challenged myself to design and build the best transmitting system I could and enjoyed the evolution of both my knowledge and my "station".

Since I do not seek an audience I am on the air only when I want to listen to something via radio.  Thus, since my activities meet my needs in this regard there is no plan to expand or grow my operation.

What I do hope to do is to help others build and grow their stations by offering technical advice and guidance as best I can.

Neil

 

What exactly does growth mean

What exactly does growth mean for a hobby?

I ran a (legal) unlicensed station as a business for a while.  Growth there meant more listeners, more advertisers, more publicity, etc.

Now, I run a (legal) unlicensed station for myself (and any local listeners who might happen to chance upon it).  It serves my purposes and so I see no need to grow it in that same fashion.  If I ever decide to once again seek an audience, that's a different story.

In the meantime, I add songs and programing as I want to, try out different transmitters, etc., learning in the process.

And while I don't claim to know everything, I've been doing this for over 10 years, and participate in these Forums to help others if I can (and learn more as well).

Evaluating Ourselves

Radio8Z:  "Since I do not seek an audience I am on the air only when I want to listen to something via radio."

That somewhat mirrors why KDX exists... to serve a single household with preferred programming. The only reason we've been on around the clock is for the 1-degree of added heat added to the air by the computers. Once the weather warms up we'll go back to being a daytime station.

Artisan Radio:  "What exactly does growth mean for a hobby?"

Well, a new Amtrack diesel engine for a model railroad or a new plumbing stack for a doll house plumbing kit would be "growth". In the case of low power radio a new transmitter or microphone would be "growth".

But right now I'm switching attention to the matter of "bottlenecks" in running multiple stations, and I'll start with the transmitter shortage resulting from the disappearance of the AMT5000, and we'll pick it up in a new thread.

Carl Blare

Hit the Wall

Mark, I sympathize. Good broadcasters of any cut-of-cloth hit the wall now and again. But be careful: if you are bored with the sound of your station, what do you think your listeners feel?

Can you change things up a bit? Program a 'Mostly-Motown' Music weekend? Jazz After Midnight? Goofy bossa-nova crap from the 1950s?  What used to recharge my cells was seeking out airchecks of good tight music jocks of the 60s thru the 80s - both local and regional/major talent. Their rapid fire delivery, funny comments and laser-focus on their audience usually brought me back around.

Throttle back on some of the IDs and jingles and add in some prerecorded personality. Even if you cant 'jock' your station, you can voicetrack it to sound interesting (dont try to "sound live"). In spite of the negative talk received here and elsewhere about pre-recorded DJ chat, it works when done well. Hopefully your software allows the ability to VT. 

I hope you find some inspiration from somewhere to bring back the magic. We do this because everybody else on the radio sucks.

Darsen the III

THE DMV

Artisan Radio: "What exactly does growth mean for a hobby?"

My guess would be promoting it.

Druid Hills Radio AM-1710- Dade City, FL. Unlicensed operation authorized by the Part 15 Department of the FCC and our Resident Hobby Agent.  

Growth Progress

DHR is right:  "My guess would be promoting it."

Yes, promoting the radio hobby and your station points toward growth!

This week will bring a major step in the growth of my operation from one to two radios stations.

KDX, on air and stream since 2007, will become mainly newstalk, my preference for continuous lilstening with the task of manualy updating newscasts several times a day.

By the end of the week KHZ will begin test streaming as a Higher Education Station, with philosophy talk, science, audio books, and the continuing mission of saving the world from the scam of religion. KHZ will be a continuous loop, constantly growing as programs are added but few removed. By springtime KHZ AM 1640 will begin transmission from the long heralded "Indoor Antenna Experimental" laboratory.

During periods of antenna testing the stream will be turned off so KHZ can re-stream programming from part 15 stations including Rag FM, Artisan Radio, Tim's Polka Program, also the LPFM's like WCFI and WLSL.

Isn't there a hunting magazine called "Air and Stream"? Oh, it's "Field and Stream". That's good.... now I own the title "Air and Stream" which will be a page on the Worldround Radio website!

Carl Blare

Carl is:

Is a true "Pilot of the Airwaves."

Druid Hills Radio AM-1710- Dade City, FL. Unlicensed operation authorized by the Part 15 Department of the FCC and our Resident Hobby Agent.  

True About the Pilot Thing

DHR noticed:  "Carl is a true "Pilot of the Airwaves."

Yes, a radio air show daily!

Carl Blare

Field and Stream

For several years I was the webmaster for my gun club, Delaware County Field and Stream Association, founded in 1937, but we were notified by Field and Stream magazine that we were infringing on their copyright, so from then on we were Delaware County (Censored) Association. 

Jim Henry HBR Radio 1610, serving Honey Brook, PA. and NW Chester County.

http://www.airpower.com/HBR.htm

So.......Carl is REALLY.....

So.......Carl is REALLY......Charley Dore?????!!!!

I Don't Have a Dress

One good thing about being Charlie Dore is that she knows how to play the pump organ.

Carl Blare

Station Growth

As I have mentioned elsewhere this Spring I am going to attempt a very ambitious augmentation of my station's grounding system. I believe that this is key to my station's growth.  I serve a very rural area so to increase my audience I simply must increase my coverage area. I do have 5 acres to cover with ground radials so I plan on doing that.  If that is successful then I will attempt to come up with some locally originated programming, interviewing local officials and long time residents about the history of the area..  That will be ineffective if no one listens so the two attempts will be co-dependent. 

Jim Henry HBR Radio 1610, serving Honey Brook, PA. and NW Chester County.

http://www.airpower.com/HBR.htm

Nearing the End of the Week

A few posts back we announced plans to add a second radio station to the Worldround Radio Group, Saturday might be the day for the inauguration of station KHZ.

Meanwhile, moments ago at Midnight KDX changed codecs from .mp3 to Ogg-Vorbis.

The Ogg format is the open source free codec from the same folks that provide the Icecast Server.

It puts KDX into a more exclusive category and departs from the "popular" .mp3 format used by the majority of streamers.

My unpopularity has just increased.

Carl Blare

Running Two Streams

Previously we have run three streams from a single computer and know that it can be done, but returned to single streaming for awhile.

Now we've decided to operate two distinct radio stations, as already mentioned, and began testing new station KHZ last night by running a continuous test tone while analyzing the system using two different encoders operating in Ogg-Vorbis Audio format.

Station KDX is using a B.U.T.T. encoder, and station KHZ is running a Altacast Encoder. What is interesting at this stage of the test is that these two encoders treat Ogg-Vorbis in different ways. It remains to be learned whether one of the techniques is better than the other.

The B.U.T.T. encoder will not stream Ogg-Vorbis at bit rates lower than 48 kbps.

By contrast the Altacast Encoder does not accept user bit rate settings, but operates on "Quality" settings, i.e., Quality 0 translates to a low bit rate, Quality 1 slightly higher, Q2 higher, and so on.

There are numerous other indicators and observations still being sorted out, and as of the moment neither encoder seems to be performing entirely as expected, but it is not understood well enough to be described in words.

Carl Blare

YOU Are Recruited As a Tester

Here are your instructions.

You will be given a link to the KDX/KHZ Streaming Server Page.

Try all 4 of the links shown there, one at a time, and come back with a report of how well each one works.

The first two links of importance are to KDX and KHZ respectively. You will (if all goes well) notice some nice little players embedded in the Stream Server, one of the good things about using Ogg-Vorbis Audio. Try each player...

KDX has talk programming, KHZ has a tone.

Then try the remaining two links, to the Icecast Directory. Find out what you can about that, and come back here with your written report.

Get Started at This Link

Carl Blare

I had zero lpuck with any of

I had zero luck  with any of the links. The first link froze, the second was a 404, the last two had players but could not get them to play. 

Druid Hills Radio AM-1710- Dade City, FL. Unlicensed operation authorized by the Part 15 Department of the FCC and our Resident Hobby Agent.  

Zero Luck

Thank you Druid Hills for testing.

It seems like a coding error is hiding somewhere in my streaming setup.

It could be in the Icecast server config file or somehow part of B.U.T.T. Encoder and Altacast Encoder, involving the Ogg-Vorbis Codec.

In fact I can spot an error using the information viewing capability with VLC Player's Icecast Directory... an extra forward-slash (/) is being put between the server's URL and the port number, where there should only be a colon. Other Icecast stations are not exhibiting the same problem.

So far we have not identified the point of origin for that false slash.

Carl Blare

Reply to "hit the wall"

I'm not bored as I am the best station on the radio! Just comes to a point where it's good and where else can you take it. Content or equiment wise.

Getting sound tracks of other DJs seems like a good idea....I could record/download some Wolfman Jack segments for example and get it on but not sure about the legality of that as programming has to originate with me(Canada rules).

A Motown Weekend, Beachboys saturday night sounds good, so does an all Elvis sunday! etc etc etc....Ya I could put that together. I'll think on that. I could also do a show every week for an evening of all Canadian content, call it the "all Canadian Friday night"

You got me thinking now.

 

If It Works Don't Fix It

Mark, it seems from what you report that you have your station grown to a maturity where everything is exactly like you want it. That is the best outcome from the growth period your station went through to become so satisfying.

I started this thread as a station that has ridiculous ambitions to build double and triple systems  that go way beyond what is necessary.

Also there are many of our small radio stations that are still looking for the ideal combination of ingredients to get things the way they want it.

For everybody there is always the question of backups. Do you have a backup transmitter that can be switched on if your main transmitter goes off? A backup mixer? A backup computer?

Carl Blare

Tested again from work

All seems to be working this morning.

Druid Hills Radio AM-1710- Dade City, FL. Unlicensed operation authorized by the Part 15 Department of the FCC and our Resident Hobby Agent.  

Fabulous!

Many thanks Mister Hills.

Righto, I stayed up past midnight fiddling with server code and got both streams to do their job on down the line.

Well, there's one exception, which I'll describe.

A thing I have come to like in the Icecast-Ogg Vorbis combination is that it automatically generates a beautiful player right on the Server Webpage and at the Icecast Directory Listing.

The Altacast Encoder results in the Magic Players at both points along the way, but the B.U.T.T. Encoder fails to put a Player at the Directory, although the little M3U button does bring up the stream.

Here at my own website's server page you can tinker with all the choices.

KDX Server Page

Carl Blare

Question?

What did you use to genrate the tone?

Druid Hills Radio AM-1710- Dade City, FL. Unlicensed operation authorized by the Part 15 Department of the FCC and our Resident Hobby Agent.  

The KHZ Test Tone

The tone presently running on the KHZ Test Stream was generated by Audacity, the free audio editing software.

The tone is 333 Hz, my favorite frequency, I do not recall what level it is set for, and it is 30-seconds in length.

It is placed in the 1st of the 4 Extra Playlist windows available within free Zara, is set to Repeat Continuously.

Carl Blare

Thanks.

TNX.

Druid Hills Radio AM-1710- Dade City, FL. Unlicensed operation authorized by the Part 15 Department of the FCC and our Resident Hobby Agent.  

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