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2015 Operations
Donated: $1,886.00
Expenses: $4,250.00

2014 Operations
Donated: $4,250.00!
Expenses: $4,250.00
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Run by Jay Lichtenauer

ABN Old-Time Radio Antioch

ABN Old-Time Radio Antioch Information

ABN Antioch is an Old-time Radio Shows station located in Antioch, IL, a mile from the Wisconsin border and 20 miles inland from Lake Michigan currently transmitting at 1610KHz. The AM transmitter is a micro-power part15 AM RangeMaster1000 transmitter. Range is very limited due to just 100mW of power and competition with many distant stations but it is sufficient for all the antique and crystal radios in the house and can be heard well by the near neighbors if they care.

There are nearly 18,000 shows of which about 11,000 are automatically scheduled. And there are lots of music samples to fill time between shows. The Library of shows and music occupies 160 GB in a Late 2010 Mac Mini. The Mac also has the job of scheduling all shows with in-house custom software begun in 2003, playing the shows and music in iTunes controlled via Applescript.

Library Selection:

Collections are merged from various sources--comparing and making judgements and even fixing audio, dates and spellings where I can. Audio quality is not always ideal but sometimes the content is so good it demands inclusion anyway. This is particularly true with The Whistler and Quiet Please episodes. I'd prefer hearing surface noise to a loss of fidelity and I'd sometimes prefer a more complete show if the audio is a little worse and sometimes I'll even merge two files into one. Large collections take years to listen to so this is an ongoing process. But I spot check everything by listening to the first 30 seconds, sampling several places in the middle and listening to the end. I sometimes have to remove long annoying 30 second to 2 minute trailing silence. I've often done pitch corrections and careful noise reduction where I can to remove clicks and narrowband noise such as hum using notch filters and low and high cut filters.

It's certainly possible to simply purchase a loaded hard drive or dozens of DVDs on eBay of mp3 OTR shows for various prices from $90 for 10,000 to $1,000 for up to 40,000 shows but I can't think of any case where this results in my idea of quality, though I haven't tried the latter. Even from the best "HQ" sources there can be problems so having more than one HQ source is an advantage. From the more commonly available mp3s available from probably hundreds of vendors, I've heard the worst examples of very bad decisions at the digital stage such as encoding stereo at a mono bit rate like 32Kbps stereo 22KHz sampling. I've heard noise reduction techniques that make things sound underwater. I've heard AOL sign-in and Windows desktop sounds (just lovely and embarrassing to hear played on a Mac). I've heard mp3 encoding glitches that sound like hiccups. I've heard large amounts of leading and trailing silence which is like counting rings on a tree as I hear the different hiss sounds of many generations of tape recordings. I've encountered lots of missing ID3 tags. I've encountered duplicate files just with different file names claiming to be and episode they're not. I've heard audio drop-outs consistently every few seconds for an entire 900-show Suspense collection.

Some good sources have already disappeared. One source for which I've purchased several hundred shows is no longer in business and I can't find those shows at that quality anywhere anymore. Good thing I got as much as I did when I did since there's no telling how long before we see it again. The Suspense collection available at OTRNow is very close to my collecting standards with the exception of a bit of underwater noise processing on some episodes. OTRNow is a good starting point for any collector since it is relatively cheap and quality can be very excellent. Jerry Haendiges's collection is also an excellent source for hundreds of shows I've received for high quality. He has some rare ones and he tends to be close to the source. But no one is perfect. At least when what I get is already digital high-fidelity, I can work with it to improve it. There are others but you're on your own from here. Please don't ask me more about my sources.

The result is after years of collecting, the total size of the collection has only grown modestly but the quality is uncommon. Thousands of shows are now digitized directly from Electronic Transcriptions or master reels which over the past few years has become an investment of thousands of dollars and uncountable time.

Scheduling and Automation:

Scheduling of shows is an automated process where shows are selected by the following priority:

1. Shows that match today's date that have not played recently
2. Shows that match today's date regardless of when they last played
3. Shows that match yesterday's date that haven't played recently
4. Shows that match the day before yesterday's date that haven't played recently
5. Randomly selected shows that haven't played recently.

Where recently = a few months to a few years depending on category. In the case of Comedy shows, this can be 2 to 3 years whereas with Spy Stories it can be just a couple months. Serials just rotate.

The dates are read as a date object and audio is concatenated to present an introduction of original play date including the day of the week. Station IDs and an "Up Next" file are compiled along with music fill.

Since we're matching today's date and since most of you don't stay awake listening for 24 hours, there are replays of several sub-genre segments across the day so you don't have to worry about missing much.

When there's room at the end of a segment, we fill with public domain classical music from

Audio Processing

The source material is varied in quality so in audio processing I tried to make the best compromise. First the tracks are virtually normalized with iTunes Sound Check function. iTunes plays the audio which uses Volume Logic to lightly process (AGC, 5-band compression, and limiting) the audio in realtime. Nicecast digitally captures the audio that iTunes is playing. I use a couple Apple Audio Units and VST effects in Nicecast to roll off the extreme highs and lows (such as rumble) not useful or desirable for AM or low sample-rate streaming.

From there it goes to two places: 1. Nicecast encodes the audio using LAME and passes it on to an icecast server on a major internet trunk at which serves the internet streams. 2. Nicecast runs a parallel audio chain which processes the audio more aggressively with audio units before sending it out through an audio transformer, and then to the transmitter in the back yard.