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Antioch OTR Store

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2022 Operations
Goal: $6,000.00
Donated: $4,079.00

covers us to Sep 6, 2022

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Run by Jay Lichtenauer

ABN Old-Time Radio Antioch

ABN Old-Time Radio Antioch Information

Run by Jay Lichtenauer

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.

About 16,000 shows are reviewed and approved to be automatically scheduled out of the whole library which has about 70,000 as mp3 and about 30,000 on reel tape with considerable duplication between the two. The source of the playout runs on a Late 2010 Mac Mini paid for by listeners that year which has the job of scheduling and playing all shows with in-house custom software begun in 2003 and using iTunes.

Library Selection:

Collections are merged from various sources. As of 2018, these sources include recently digitized reel tapes. From that I compare and make judgements on air-worthiness, fix and adjust audio to remove hum, reduce hiss, trim, speed-correct, and EQ. I confirm and identify and correct episode names, dates and spellings where I can. Some misspellings by other collectors get past me sometimes. Some collectors have already done their own noise reduction giving a very artificial artifacted sound or gating. For audio quality, I prefer hearing some 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. When I do noise reduction I try to make sure it doesn't become distracting. People's ears can adjust to a constant noise. When I get a chance, I replace these if I have a better copy digitially or get the chance to get it myself from the reels. 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 but where I have control over it I'm careful not to make noise reduction a distraction such as with heavy noise gates.

Getting a large collection isn't too difficult. It's the work of sorting out a collection from multiple sources that takes a lot of time. 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 mp3 sources 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 an episode they're not. I've heard audio drop-outs consistently every few seconds for an entire 900-show Suspense collection.

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 Music track lengths that perfectly fit the fill time needed are used when possible.

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 to mp3 and passes it on to an icecast server on a major internet trunk which serves the internet streams. 2. A parallel audio chain 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.