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Open Source Automation Software

LiveSupport is a Campware (Center for Advanced Media Prague ( project that aims to create a free and open source automation software package for radio stations. It is probably of most interest to smaller community radio stations, some of whom may be starting to rebuild after the Tsunami. While maintaining a wide set of features, the project places special emphasis on ease of use. LiveSupport is intended for use by many different types of radio stations, and includes features found in high-end commercial radio automation packages. The target release date is 1 February 2005.

There are virtually no working Open Source radio management solutions available at present. The relatively affordable commercial solutions, on the other hand, mainly support proprietary audio formats and lack remote radio management capabilities.

On many projects LiveSupport’s developers have worked on in the past, the Internet has proven to be a reliable replacement for transponder systems. In addition, the cost factor makes the Internet an especially attractive distribution system for independent radio projects. Yet there is no radio automation software that is capable of including the potential of the Internet.

LiveSupport software will be installed on a PC located in the radio studio. The PC sound card will connect to the transmitter or the transponder system, delivering the audio to other distribution mechanisms such as a satellite uplink. The radio producer will work on the LiveSupport machine to handle all daily operations as well as scheduling automated programs.

Within an online network, LiveSupport will allow users to work in one radio station and administer remote stations via the Internet. For example, due to financial or legal constraints, a small independent radio station may be able to attain regional broadcast licenses but not a national one. With LiveSupport, it would be able to administer its affiliate regional stations from a central studio.

LiveSupport Objectives

LiveSupport will provide: - A Free and Open Source, professional-grade solution for radio broadcast management. - Support for open standards for audio formats and multi-lingual metadata information (playlists, XML news feeds, file storage). - Remote control of radio stations via the Internet. - Support for combined local broadcasts with centralized news and programs. - Encoding of on-air broadcasts for web streaming.

The LiveSupport Team

LiveSupport is being made by an international consortium of developers and designers led by the Media Development Loan Fund's Center for Advanced Media Prague (CAMP) as part of its Campware Initiative.

LiveSupport's lead developer is Akos Maroy, who, in addition to being the webmaster for Tilos Radio in Budapest, Hungary, is the author of DarkIce, an open-source streaming tool. He is joined by PHP developers Sebastian Goebel and Tomas Hlava. LiveSupport's functionality specification and input on real-world applications in radio was written by Robert Klajn, the sound engineer for Radio B92 in Belgrade, Serbia. Project coordination iis being handled by Micz Flor of Redaktion und Alltag, a Berlin-based web publishing house.

LiveSupport's user interface is being designed by a team from the New York's Parsons Institute of Design's Design and Technology Department, led by chair Colleen Macklin and IT Director Kunal Jain, with master of fine arts candidates Catalin Lazia, Turi McKinley, Sangita Shah and Charles Truett. The team has focused on building use-case scenarios for LiveSupport's features, as a way of providing better grouping of software functions and the interfaces for them.

Funding for LiveSupport has been generously provided by a grant from the Open Society Institute's Information Program, through its ICT Toolsets initiative.


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