Station Updates

Song Info on Your Radio

June 17, 2022

WDNA Techincal Director, Alex Audritsh wrote some code to make sure that your radio will tell you what song is playing.

You’re in the car listening to WDNA on the radio. A song plays that makes you feel all kinds of things. “What’s this song? Who’s the artist?” You glance down at the radio expecting to see this info scrolling on the radio display… But… It’s not there. 

Well, now it is! Thanks to WDNA’s technical director, Alex Audritsh. Listener support helps to pay the lean and dedicated staff at WDNA and enables us to make updates and improvements to the community service we call WDNA <3

Here’s a note from Alex about this recent station update:

WDNA’s operation is increasingly rare in the modern FM broadcast world. Most of our music is manually hand-selected by our program hosts and played in-the-moment from CD, vinyl, or personal libraries. Unlike a commercial station that’s automatically playing a corporate-selected playlist of digital tracks that have attached song information, WDNA alone cannot automatically create the “Now Playing” information you see from commercial music stations.

To save you the time of “Shazam”-ing each new track that grabs your ear, and to save our program hosts the time of manually entering information on every track they play, WDNA subscribes to Spinitron, a service that constantly listens to our broadcast and generates the playlist and “Now Playing” information you see on wdna.org, based on what it hears, similar to Shazam.

We’re excited here to share that this “Now Playing” information from Spinitron is now available directly on 88.9FM as RadioText. Reception- and receiver-depending, you should be able to see the title and artist of the currently playing song right on your FM receiver!

Much of broadcast engineering is conceptually about making different systems that each speak different languages, talk to one another. Before this fix, the missing piece was the “translation” between the way that Spinitron “talks,” and the way that we need to “talk” to the device that puts text on air.

To do this, we whipped up a little custom program that regularly “asks” Spinitron “What’s playing now?,” filters any profanity from Spinitron’s response, trims the text to fit, and, if the track has changed, translates to tell 88.9FM to display the artist and track titles on your radio for as long as the track plays.

If you’re an open-source developer interested in volunteering contributions to WDNA’s growing “codebase” of custom prototypes that streamline many of our ancillary operations, don’t hesitate to reach out by email to [email protected].

Thank you for listening to and supporting WDNA Community Radio!

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