Sunday, October 23, 2016

Beatcroft Social, 22 October - Mixcloud audio & Facebook Live with video

Here's last night's very slightly slicker analogue-meets-digital collision - no Spotify playlist as much of the material was played from vinyl album and cassette.

Still up on Facebook if you scroll down my timeline: here.

For the interest of anyone, ah, interested, the tape deck is an old Sony Walkman Pro portable, the legendary WM-D6C which is built solidly from metal and was standard issue to broadcast hacks at the BBC. I took one around South Africa on a motorbike and also used one for the radio series Hell's Golfer, riding around Scotland on a Kawasaki Z650 with a set of golf clubs. It is reputed to be the equal of top-end Nakamichi hi-fi decks in terms of sound and good used ones can sell on eBay for up to £500.

The record deck is brand new - an Audio Technica ATLP120USB USB turntable. Don't know what the cartridge is but it's a professional one you can reverse/backtrack for cueing up the track. Something I admit to never having done until now. When I was playing in my own tracks on the afternoon Tom Morton Show, it was all CDs and Minidiscs.

The software being used (last night for the first time) for playing out digital material is Algoriddim's DJay Pro running on a Mac Mini, which is really, really good - you can create playlists from any digital source including iTunes and Spotify. It is far, far better (at least for me, in terms of ease of use) than the playout system used at the BBC.

All of this runs through a host of digital gubbins I don't understand, masterminded by Andy Steven, Iain Waddell and Bo Anderson, who are the three folk you see in the background on the studio webcam.

Next week's show is pre-recorded so WON'T go out on Facebook Live - it will be available at

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Analogue special! Cassette, vinyl and digital Beatcroft Social on 60N Radio, 15 October

This is the fairly ramshackle (my fault!) Beatcroft Social from 15 October, the first to use vinyl and cassette as well as digital files. As I write, still available on Facebook Live with all the webcam action, but also, as below on Mixcloud, audio only.

Worth saying a couple of things: I had never, in a quarter century of broadcasting, actually played a cassette or vinyl record out on air myself until last night. At the BBC there were either people to do such things or I used CDs, minidiscs or files.

And so, when I arrived at the Market Street 6.00pm last night, Iain was still installing the Audio-Technica turntable 60N had just acquired (indeed, he was wiring up the cartridge). There was a great deal of level-sorting to work out, too as everything was either too loud or too quiet.

I had spent the morning sorting out cue points for the cassettes (despite its legendary quality and reliability, the Sony Walkman Pro we were using is a fairly (very!) primitive device). But I just hadn't thought through the vinyl. OF COURSE we needed to be able to cue up the beginning of each track. OF COURSE we therefore needed to what's called pre-fade the signal from the turntable (hear it eithout broadcasting it). And could we manage that? Nope, despite strenuous efforts and the technological fact that it should have worked. So the start of records was guesswork. Hence the Oxbow Lake Band 33 rpm single starting at 45...among other things.

Anyway, steep learning curve and all that. One thing for other DJs and radio stations using Facebook Live: They're using an algorithm to detect 'unlicensed' music and will take the stream down if it finds something it doesn't like. Last night said algorithm claimed we played a version of Tainted Love by a band I'd never heard of without permission (we didn't: scratchy vinyl Gloria Jones). As I say every week on Facebook, and have told them directly, we have gone out of our way to obtain EVERY semi-relevant licence for net 'broadcasting' we could find, most of which are, of course, bought from organisations still living in the very early 20th Century, and who probably use goose quill pens and pigeon post. Fortunately, you can resist and simply tell them you DO have permission and stick the stream back up. Which is what I do every week.

I'm assuming that the BBC, indie broadcasters and everyone in broadcasting are trying to negotiate deals with the Zuckerbergians even as we speak. But FB will have to get the licensing thing sorted out, a la Mixcloud. FB Live is, potentially, a true killer app, in that it could kill aspects of YouTube, all of Periscope and a lot of traditional radio. Or, it could reinforce and benefit at least one of those. Guess which?