When choosing an automation system for a radio station, you consider several factors. At the top of most programmers' and engineers' lists, you'll find ease of use and reliability. After all, in this line of work you never know when you will need to train someone new on the software and equipment, and the term “automation” can make some program directors cringe at the thought of a software malfunction resulting in a less-than-perfect output of events.
As with all software programs, this automation system when first released had issues that needed to be resolved and updates to be installed. I have spent the past nine months using this system and am satisfied with the results of the most recent version available.
We have the Digital Juke Box installed on one on-air system and two production systems. In most instances, I can update all three via the Internet in less than three minutes.
The software can be installed from the website or CD-ROM in minutes. When the Digital Juke Box is first loaded, a 30-day demo screen appears. During this period, the program operates the same as a fully functional unlocked program.
I recommend that users have an Internet connection to take advantage of the power-up screens and Internet shortcut buttons, which provide a number of conveniences to the user including maintaining an offsite data backup for free on the company's FTP server.
The system features an audio cuts database where you can maintain as many as 20,000 audio cuts including music, commercial spots, liners, jingles and other audio cuts.
Each audio cut has an edit tab, which the properties of any audio cut to be edited, such as audio type, music, jingles, commercials and news. The software also allows any audio cut to be assigned a daypart by selecting the desired hours for weekdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Audio cuts can be searched by file number, category, artist or title.
The software can import audio cuts with MP2, MP3, WAV or OGG file extensions individually or in bulk into the audio cuts database. Each audio cut has variable introduction and ending settings, which allows for perfect voice tracking.
Performance at a glance
Performance at a glance
Free offsite data backup
20,000 audio cuts database
Imports MP2, MP3, WAV or OGG
Voice tracking with the Digital Juke Box is a piece of cake with adjustable ducking level and ramp up time. When first introduced to the voice tracking function I was amazed. If all the intro times are correct, the simplicity of this option is astounding. Click a button to start recording, and if the minimum talk time instructions on the screen are followed, the perfect voice track is created. I had a few updates that required logs to be rescheduled for the voice track to operate properly again, but the tech support staff walked me through the process to resolve the issues.
When recording a voice track, an information box displays previous artist, next artist, approximate time the voice track will play, VU meters and a talk time tip that displays how many long the voice track should be for the perfect fit.
On the screen
The on-air screen displays the song playing now and the next event to air with a large, easy-to-read current time clock, countdown timer for the current event and an introduction countdown clock. Audio cuts are deleted and inserted with shortcut keys or the mouse.
Events are easily inserted or deleted from the production or on-air system, and the changes made take place immediately. The system can also provide data for song information to Internet listeners.
I haven't used the built-in scheduling system, but the software is compatible with the major scheduling systems. We use one scheduling system for music and another for traffic and have experienced no problems. Music and traffic logs are imported in minutes. Both logs are e-mailed to our studio and then inserted. The system also has several Pro version add-ons, but we are not using them. As it is, we have a smooth running automation system.
I believe that the on-air screen is one of the most user friendly screens on the market. Large playing now and playing next displays complete with length, intro time, and memo fields make it easy to know what's going on and what's about to happen. Along with this comes an easily edited weather info display, clock, countdown timer for the current event, and intro countdown time to allow the jocks to time their voice-overs.
An elaborate system can confuse new users at first--as any new software can--but the staff at Digital Juke Box has been persistent in helping us understand and learn the system's features. I have used the Digital Juke Box for nearly a year now and any system bugs that existed a year ago have been fixed. We have provided the company with several suggestions on ways to make the system more user-friendly, and the tech support team has executed the updates quickly. This has allowed us to iron out any problems that might be caused by the added feature. In the end, we are satisfied with the Digital Juke Box automation system.
Singer is chief engineer at WQOS Radio, Mount Pleasant, MI.
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