Content Automation Utilities

RoboTask Wins!

One of the common needs for broadcasters is a method of gathering content — MP3 files, etc. — from various sources through FTP and HTTP at different times.  As I thought about what I really needed, I came up with this list:

  • File move, rename, delete
  • Built-in scheduler
  • Keystroke logger / macro builder
  • Multi-protocol downloads (HTTP, FTP, various credentials, etc.)
  • Task ordering (do this first, that second, etc.)
  • Run external tasks (call MP3gain after downloading a new MP3)
  • Task / event logging
  • Error handling (do something else if Plan A fails)

I reviewed the specifications and features on more than two dozen different automation tools, file downloaders, sync / backup utilities, and keystoke loggers / macro builders. Most were missing key required features. Also, any utility costing more than $200 was dropped from the list. Your budget may allow for several other possiblities such as RepliWeb or MOVEit — mine did not.

I installed and trialed VisualCron, Do It Again, Free Download Manager, Automise, AutoIT and RoboTask. I created five identical jobs in each utility [or attempted to, anyway].

VisualCron had fatal errors when creating macros on our quad-core Windows Server 2008 64-bit machine. It also has a very cumbersome method of creating new tasks but a lovely user interface.

Free Download Manager was great for downloading, but lacked other required features.

Do It Again is a great keystroke logger / macro builder but lacked other required features.

Automise lacked key features. FDM, Do It Again, and Automise all required external scripting, use of the Windows Task Scheduler or both.

AutoIT was too complicated. More than what we needed.

It is possible, as some here have suggested, to stitch together a home-grown content automation system for “free” using Do It Again, Free Download Manager, Windows command line scripts, and the Task Scheduler. What is your time worth? For me, the price of RoboTask was less than the amount of time it would take to roll my own system.

RoboTask seems to be the best-of-breed for us. It is a single utility with rich functionality, a simple task creator, very thorough logging, a multitude of triggers to launch tasks (for example, if a new file is dropped into a monitored folder I can trigger MP3gain to normalize automatically), and is less expensive that many other products in the genre.

This article is not a plant. We’re a startup Part 15 AM / Internet radio station on a budget. Sound familiar? Perhaps this info will help a fellow broadcaster.

Fascinating Visit to

If there ever was a generous man, it’s Mr. Lloyd Roach of

Met him at his office on Union Street in Kennett Square on Thursday the 19th.  We talked about Radio over the years.  Lloyd has the benefit of a deep, personal understanding of the history of commercial radio because of his long involvement in the business.  He’s studied radio history and he’s MADE radio history.

He now is the President of an Internet-only station that serves “the Main Line to the Brandywine.”  And I think he serves his market very well.  (Oh. By the way — so do his two hundred plus advertisers.)

The main studio is perfect.  A stand-up studio (“For the diaphram,” said Lloyd) equipped with…everything, really.  New Shure SM7A mics, beautifully built and integrated console, airchain processing from Omnia, brand-name automation…  First-class construction and solid gear throughout.  Their engineer should be proud.

And experienced Radio people.  Doug Stirling doing news and production.  Matt Defazio doing anything he wants, I suppose.  (Talk about ‘pipes!’)  And others, like a professional news staff that’s bigger than WILM’s.

The combination of production gear, programming knowledge, and professional talent make a model for those who strive for commercial success in Internet radio.

To Mr. Roach and the staff of — “Well done, people!  You have indeed set the standard.”

Listen to see for yourself.

Radio That’s Relevant to Newark, Delaware

I’m tired of what Radio in general has been doing, as the media conglomerates further consolidate their outlets, layoff local broadcasters, and satellite-feed us from LA or New York.

So I’m doing something about it.

Stay tuned…

The Purpose(s) Behind Radio Newark

I think it’s a blessing that God hides the future from us.  If we knew how much work our life, our marriage, our kids, our…Radio Project was going to take, we’d never get started.  I think we’d be demoralized, giving up before anything ever got started.

So, with ignorance and optimism, we launch ourselves into all manner of endeavors.  And great things result, often creating “experience.”

In June of 2009 I finally began moving on something that had been in the back of my mind for the previous two years.  Something to do with Radio.  I wasn’t sure what—and I’m still not, really.  But there seems to be three streams of activity.

1) The development of my own content.  I have an idea for a fun show built around interesting words, like bombastic (which doesn’t mean what most people think it does), enthuse (which has a fascinating origin—ask me, I’ll tell you about it), and Trombipulation (which, if I get lucky, will lead me to a personal interview with one of the most amazing people on earth, Mr. George Clinton).  The program is called The Weekly Word of the Day, which, as a title, sows enough confusion to allow for a wide latitude of content, and possibly indicates that fun may also be involved.

Of even wider scope is a ‘show’ that’s circling overhead, seeking a place to land.  I’ll not mention it now as development is underway.  But you’ll be the first to know about it, as the original postings will be found here.

2) Fostering the development of content by others.  Certainly, I am not *the only* undiscovered genius out there.  And I’m equally certain that YOU can improve my content.  “Iron sharpens iron,” I’m told, and in the context of Radio Newark that means that we can help each other by reviewing posted material, providing feedback, guidance, suggestions, alternatives, and ideas as editors, listeners, and friends.

3) Content distribution.  I’ve built a streaming server and I’m working on a 32′ x 15′ Radio Room that will house the studio and production equipment.  It’s taken most of a year to get the walls up, the floor down, electrical and data lines run, lighting and insulation installed, and 43,627 other things that all had to happen in a very specific sequence using non-work, non-family time.  (Ha ha ha.  Also, by dint of ‘experience’ I’ve developed a working theorem that defines the relationship between time and money in Project-Space.  It’s 1.333 x SQRT (length of eternity) = 3 x (the maximum money available for the project).  In rough terms, about the time you’ve overspent your budget by 300% Hell will begin to freeze over.)

Basically, a year ago I gave myself permission to move these ideas from the back burner to the foreground.  As a direct result, things have happened.  The aforementioned Radio Room is nearing a State of Useability, needed equipment has been donated / loaned / procured, practice in the art of audio content development is an ongoing, regular activity, and determination to see Radio Newark toddle about has grown and solidified.  I’m now at a point where I can begin to share it with you, as I really know it’s going to happen.

In fact it’s happening already.  Yay!

Actiontec MI424WR-GEN2 Firmware Fiasco

OK, this will get a little technical but that’s all right.  Some other poor techie out there might benefit, and you don’t mind helping, do you?  It’s important!

Verizon killed our streaming server.

It all started about a week ago, after I got the Icecast streaming server installed and running.  (We need Icecast because Windows Media Services doesn’t broadcast in MP3 format and we iPhone users absolutely DESERVE Ultimate Super Radio!)  Icecast was working fine on the LAN, so I went to modify the port forwarding rules on the Verizon / Actiontec MI424WR-GEN2 hardware version E router in order to stream the station out to the Internet.  Just a couple of days before I had logged into this same router, edited the port forwarding rules and sent the Windows Media stream out to the World.

Quite naturally I was surprised when I logged into the router and found that the GUI for writing the port rules was GUTTED.  A behind-the-scenes firmware update had eviscerated the port forwarding editor and port forwarding capabilities of the router.  I could no longer edit rules on a address-by-address basis.  I couldn’t even edit the existing rules, only delete them.

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Evan Slack Deserves the Broadcasting Hall of Fame

So, after the passing of a SECOND snowstorm dropping more than two feet of the white stuff here in Delaware I spent some quality time with my new best friend, the snowblower.

A couple hours later, driveway and sidewalks clear, I plopped into the chair for a Sunday night breather and started to think about content for Radio Newark.  I remembered one show, back in the late 70’s and early 80’s when I was in the Army, stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado.  Up verrry early three days a week for PT (group exercises).  I loved those mornings — but not because of the PT.  Because of a radio show I would hear on KOA radio — the farm and ranch report.

A man named Evan Slack flew all over the Rockies reporting on feeder cattle, soybean prices, Big Sky country, upcoming bull auctions, legislation in Washington and hundreds of other farming and ranching topics that were all Big Unknowns to me.  He was fascinating — weaving in and out of a story, bringing in respected experts for rare insight, speaking warmly — slowly — reverently like your best friend’s grandfather.  I really didn’t grok his subjects but I loved Evan’s reports, humor, intellect, and interviews.  I remembered a couple of his broadcasts distinctly.

Still, I was surprised that after 28 years I remembered his name — Evan Slack.  Curious and wondering, I Googled him up and found him here.  I sent him an email with my remembrances and sincere thanks for all those good mornings in Colorado.

He called me the next day.

And I got to meet an old friend I never knew.  His warmth and interest were genuine.  He asked me about Radio Newark.  After learning about us, he talked about broadcasting, saying “Speak to one person, that person being a combination of a stranger, a good friend, and an intimate family member.”  When I listen to his broadcasts now, I hear him doing that.  It’s in the DNA of each segment.  The listener, the broadcaster, and the topic become mixed together.  The story has a deeper impact and more longevity that way.

If you want to hear what I mean, try this.

So, even though you may not ever have thought about Evan’s report as one of your interests, you’ll likely hear him because interest in his broadcasts go far beyond his target market of farmers and ranchers.  He told me, “I’m bragging now, I’ll warn you.  Four times a lady’s come up to me at a stock show, pushing a toddler in a stoller saying, ‘Evan, meet Evan.  I’ve been listening to you for years.  Don’t always know what you’re sayin’, but I know you’re talking to ME.'”

Thanks, Evan.  See you in the Broadcasting Hall of Fame.

RADIO is more than music!

To me, Radio is more than music.  Radio is arts and entertainment, news and information, stories that expand my understanding, word pictures that describe places I’ve never been.  It’s not just music, nice as that is.

Radio Newark is a project designed to deliver the ideal mix of audio content to individuals around the world.   As a concept, it’s WAY over the top.  But that’s the goal anyway.  Are you with me?  Because I need your help.  Can’t do this by myself.

Here’s the vision:

I am interested in uplifting, mentally stimulating, scientific-, historical-, and internationally-oriented spoken work programming.

What is an InfoBloc?  InfoBlox are our way of delivering knowledge, entertainment, spirituality, and fun.  They are short (say, three to seven minutes long), well-produced segments of the spoken word in English.  Perhaps a talk from, a story from Fox Sports, a podcast from the Jet Propulsion Labratory, an challenge to be better from Robin Sharma, an insight from Roy H. Williams.  There is a vast amount of content out there.  Radio Newark wants to find this content, catalog it, and bring it to an appreciative audience.  We (meaning us, you and me) may even generate some of our own content at some point.

So there it is.  Over the top, impossible to reach, can’t be done.  By me, anyway.  So I’m giving this idea to you, and asking for your help to make it happen.  Because I know that WE can make it happen.

Steve Worden

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