On the Radio!

We've had some really nice weather, house guests, my daughter's dance academy had their big production. All of the school activities are wrapping up as Summer takes over.

You know, life.

I've now cooked up full broadcast support for my music system, and am handling the music programming for late night on our local station (KVSH), all the way through to 6AM. Starting tomorrow, that extends to 8AM, with two hours of Pop. (Hoo boy, I sure hope I got all the radio edits right!)

Give it a listen: Voice of Vashon

But part of the reason I was willing to add radio edits, broadcast log merging, and 96k audio was that these were things I always planned for Radio Vashon. Over on my Beta development server, I have the media loaded to handle all combinations of 96k/48k radio-edit/original-track. And I'm putting the finishing touches on letting you choose the lower or higher data rate, and at what threshold you'd prefer the cleaned-up version of the track (or if it's not clean enough and there's no edit, the track will be skipped instead).

I hand crafted Radio Vashon's 48k format so it was the best possible intersection of efficient and listenable. That said, when the extra data usage is OK (unlimited data plan, or over home broadband), it's nice to be able to select the extra fidelity you get with a higher data rate. I hope you enjoy it!

All this, and I still try to stay abreast of the music industry. Who would've thought Billy Ray Cyrus (Mr. "Achy Breaky Heart") would be back? I've put his remix of Lil Nas X's "Old Town Road" into rotation. It pops up at 7:12AM on Tuesday, the first time the track plays on Vashon FM radio!

The Pop world bubbles along; K.Flay has what I'm calling a rock track with "Sister", and Sabrina Carpenter is back with "In My Bed". Ms. Carpenter had a number of hits off her 2016 EVOLution album, looks like she's now building towards her next album.

On a sad note, I've discovered the artist "Christina Grimmie", who was a victim of violence a few years ago. I'm very pleased to add her track "Hold Your Head Up" to Radio Vashon's rotation.

Pictures and Other News

I've been pretty quiet on the blog, but not because nothing's happening–quite the contrary.

But first, I did want to put up some photos. We had grey weather for a while, and house guests, and in general life interfered. But today is quite nice, with just a little high haze.

Our field:

And then I took a 1/2 hour walk down the hill to the nearest shore:

All you listeners have certainly noticed an influx of Springtime tracks arriving from the industry! I would say that Carly Rae Jepsen's "Dedicated" is the biggest event of the season. I also really enjoyed P!nk's "Hustle", and her "Hurts 2B Human" album in general.

Radio Vashon gathered some attention in the local community, certainly with folks at our local radio station. The chief engineer there shepherded a few meetings between me and their Program Director, and the result is the Radio Vashon music programming system is going to be providing a bunch of their automation content. And I now am wearing the Music Director hat at the station.

I always intended Radio Vashon's underlying music software to handle broadcast stations, and I've certainly done music for FM broadcasting. But when you're streaming, it's just not quite that critical to catch every single fleeting expletive, nor cower far back from that "decency" line they've drawn in the sand.

So another reason for my silence is that I got to revisit every single track in my system, and detect if it had an FCC issue, and either flag it to be avoided on FCC airwaves, or else find or create what's known as a "radio edit" of the track. Plus code up the software to put my music tracks into their broadcast system (known as "log merging"). Quite a host of details.

I'll certainly post a note here when the content goes live on the station. The plan is to start with 10-midnight rock, and make sure everything is working OK. Then add on midnight-6AM mellow, verify again. And finally add Top 40 from 6AM until their live morning shows take over.

(Somebody asked if it was going to be a simulcast of Radio Vashon? No; it'll be a completely distinct stream of tracks. So I guess you can try one, and the other, and see which one you like better at a given point in time!)

No Pictures for You!

In response to a couple requests, I was going to post some nice pictures of Vashon. I even mentioned it in my last post.

So, of course, the weather went grey/wet/cold and hasn't let up since. I'll do those photos when I can!

I had my second promo run in the local paper, The Loop. I cribbed a bit from the free software movement, of course:

I have a new Kelly Clarkson track in rotation, and also folded in an artist I've been following for quite a while, Gabrielle Aplin. My new favorite video is from Carly Rae Jepsen, Now That I Found You, a fun twist on a love song.

Happy April 1st

(I started writing this on April 1st, but decided to skip any sort of prank.)

I just took care of my first music licensing report required since Radio Vashon went live. BMI wants it to cover the part of February that RV was active, along with March. The report isn't terribly detailed, but it does include a streamed track count, so for the first time I had to roll it up.

And was pleasantly surprised. I have listeners! Not enough to worry a local radio station, but it's still nice that Radio Vashon has started building an audience of people who like some or all of the music selection. Thank you!

I also had to do a music usage report to Sound Exchange. This is the sort of report where you tell them what you played, and to how many people you played it. I had written the scripts a while ago, and they needed a little tweaking, but generated what looked like sane results. I put it into Sound Exchange's system, and it came back to tell me that about half my entries were "new tracks"–please check if you screwed up. I checked. I don't think I have! We'll see what Sound Exchange thinks. Maybe I just play tracks that nobody else does?

On other fronts, I tweaked a bunch of the RV login screens based on my own observations and also some listener feedback. You should be faced with that whole "log in" screen much less often, and in most cases see a screen with useful links (including a button to just get back to the music).

A previous post documented my losing radiovashon@gmail.com (thanks, Google). Just recently they also blew my mother's account out of the water. She's in memory care (if you know what that means) and I've been minding her gmail account for her. But apparently that's not OK with Google, because her account is now permanently locked.

To celebrate, I bit the bullet and closed my own Google account. Yes, I'm just going to deal with not having Google for my texts, emails, photos, music, .... I feel almost like a digital Amish person! But the stench of their evil is just too strong for me to ignore any longer.

On a happier note, I've received some questions about Vashon. I'll try to grab a few pictures from our own place and the neighborhood, and put them in my next posting. Vashon is not Camelot, but it is a lot better than most places you could pick to live.

Happy Listening!

Radio Vashon at The Loop

One of my friends here on Vashon is a very experienced broadcast engineer, Steve Allen. We have a number of AM transmitter sites on the island, and he's one of the main guys who keeps them on the air. As I developed Radio Vashon, his questions and comments were very helpful in guiding the design.

As if that wasn't enough, Steve is also the owner and editor of one of our local papers, The Loop

So of course Radio Vashon will be showing up in its pages shortly! Many thanks, Steve.

A Little Love for the iPod

A beautiful day here in the Pacific Northwest, and I found a little time to bring in some new tracks:

Karen O (she of Yeah Yeah Yeahs fame) has done an album with electronica DJ Danger Mouse. I was a little surprised that my favorite track was a downtempo ballad!

New to the station are pop artists Freya Ridings and Sofia Reyes. The latter is over in the Latin Pop world, and it seems like more than 75% of Latin Pop sounds exactly the same (including, alas, Shakira's last album). Tracks like Sofia's "R.I.P." are well worth digging through all the rest.

Speaking of ballads, somehow Beyonce's "Daddy Lessons" (from her second album back) never made it into the station. I've fixed that mistake. If you're on YouTube, a version she did with Dixie Chicks is the only one you'll probably find–but I like the album version better.

Finally, a report from a couple iOS users that the label for the music style always stayed at "Morning Drive". I fixed that, and also included an extra visual confirmation during the wait while skipping tracks. Sorry about the slowness of skipping, it's a consequence of limitations Apple has baked into the audio elements of iOS Safari.

Hope you're having a great weekend!

Fourth Listing in the Beachcomber

My mother-in-law is visiting (yes, yes, break out all the usual jokes), a warming trend is heading towards us, and I've just submitted my fourth graphic for next week's Beachcomber.

With one of my other hats on, I had sponsored a table for our Vashon Wilderness Program fundraiser, "WILD". It was a lot of work for our own family, and just an astonishing amount of work for our unstoppable Executive Director. But she made it look easy, and the event was quite a success.

I'll be returning to the Beachcomber presently, and I also owe them an interview. (I asked them to hold off so I could get enough of Radio Vashon on its legs to have some actual information for them.) Our other major Vashon paper is The Loop, and coincidentally, its publisher reached out to me today. With any luck, I'll have Radio Vashon showing up on its pages soon.

Here's the promo you should be seeing in a week:


With a beautiful sunset after a wonderfully sunny day here on Vashon, it seems appropriate that I've just deployed a bunch of player appearance updates based on the aesthetic input from my two daughters–with a special "thank you!" to my older daughter, who really seems to have a feel for this sort of thing.

All of my graphics are based on SVG ("Scalable Vector Graphics"), which means they look perfect no matter how large or small your screen. The "Ready to Play" button also uses SMIL ("Synchronised Multimedia Integration Language", ouch) to do that pretty fade-in of the background gradient.

The more I use SVG, the more I appreciate what a brilliant technology it is. I neven use it for my promo material, with Inkscape turning it into PNG graphic files when needed.

Daylight Savings

Here we are with our clocks springing forward! 6 months ago I had to scramble when my scheduling software broke. I had never really appreciated that because of daylight savings nonsense, my broadcast day–usually 24 hours–would be 25 hours when the clock moved back (two 2AM's!). And today I have a 23 hour broadcast day (no 2AM at all).

Oh, side note. I put up my 3rd listing, so here's the actual second listing from the local paper:

My second newspaper appearance

I plan on changing up the message each week, so here's the latest text. I also tweaked the icon and geometry of the ad to better fit what the paper's format.