Automated Listener Requests
This is a concept being pioneered by OAS to introduce
a new dimension in listener interaction. The premise is quite straightforward
- most small scale radio stations (and many larger ones as well) have
periods of automated ie. unattended operation. Mostly this is driven by
cost or staffing issues (overnight automation is a common scenario), either
way during these periods the system is left to execute a pre-prepared
playlist with jingles (and possibly adverts) included at specified intervals.
Automated Listener Requests offers up the ability
for listeners to send in their requests and have them automatically included
for playback during this period. No presenter or operator involvement
is required - the system just accepts the request and schedules it in
appropriately. This also includes the capability to prevent repeated tracks
occurring too frequently and maintaining the jingle/advert playback at
the designated interval.
The web based system
OAS first trialed the concept on Hastings Rock during
one of their RSL broadcasts in 2006. The system was run overnight and
provided the listeners with a web based system which allowed them to directly
search the Playout database then submit their requested track.
The system worked by using server
side scripting to enable access to the database and process the requests.
This also provided filtering (eg. on user's IP addresses) to prevent abuse
of the system.
The concept proved very successful and has been run
during every broadcast since then, affectionately referred to as "robojock".
However there are several significant problems with
this system not least being fairly complex to set up. You also need a
web server with scripting support (most web hosting companies will charge
premium rates for this) and there are also security risks in exposing
your Playout database to the outside world. If you are interested in deploying
such a system though you can find more information on it, along with sample
OAS Request Manager
OAS Request Manager is a new optional component
available freely to all licensed users of the full version of Playout.
This package allows not only requests to be retrieved from suitable
web pages but also via email and mobile phone (SMS) text
messages. This then allows your listeners to simply text the
name of their track to you via your normal text number and Request
Manager handles the processing and submission of the request to
Playout. This approach makes it much simpler (and safer) to deploy
on a station.
Request Manager can be installed on either the
same PC as that which hosts Playout itself or another machine which
has (network) access to the Playout database.
One key difference though is listeners cannot
search your system to find the exact track they wish to request.
Therefore Request Manager includes a special pattern matching capability
which enables it to determine the closest track by comparing the
text message content against the Title and Artist
fields held in the database. The software is configurable to take
into account possible mis-spellings and filtering of commonly occurring
words eg. "the", "a", "and" etc.
If a close enough match is found,
the request is passed to Playout for inclusion in the automation
sequence. Playout includes logic to ensure that that identical tracks
or tracks by the same artist do not occur together to ensure a smooth
playback. It also ensures that jingles and/or ad breaks are included
at the specified frequency during playback.
For a mainstream station playing
track on which average 3 minutes, normally a request will be aired
in the about 10 minutes after it is initially received and processed
After successful trials on the community station
earlier this year, the station has rolled out the request system
full time during their overnight periods of automation. Named "Uplay",
the system allows requests to be sent in via text or the web.
For more information, you can download the Automated
Listener Request Concept guide. This explains the concept
in greater depth and covers what you need in order to realise the