The following information and topics have been designed for stations interested in using MetaPub to provide listeners with metadata for nationally distributed programs. These resources may be particularly useful for station engineers, but provide details that may also be useful for station personnel in a variety of roles.
Here, you will find resources for getting started and some of the topics you should take into consideration including equipment and software needed, cost estimates, staffing skill sets needed, platforms to be enabled, sequencing of work, potential challenges, etc. You will also find links to resources and vendor sites for further exploration.
- How it Works
- The Role of Middleware
- Middleware Vendors
- Integration with Existing Station Automation
- Before you Start - What to Expect
- Local Metadata and Emergency Alerts
- Getting Help
What is MetaPub?
MetaPub is a new service developed by the Public Radio Satellite System (PRSS) to enable the distribution of metadata from national producers to PRSS stations.
MetaPub uses an API (Application Programming Interface), which makes metadata available via the Internet and facilitates synchronization with programs distributed via ContentDepot, the official distribution system of the PRSS.
Producers now have the option to make story or song-level metadata available for station use concurrent with the broadcast.
This data includes dynamic, real-time descriptive information about the program story or song, including:
• Song or Story Title
• Artist or Reporter / Contributor
• Producer logos
• Program logos
• Album artwork
Stations use a middleware program to pull data from MetaPub and add it to their existing broadcast streams. This allows the metadata to be viewable on:
• HD and RDS Radios
• Web Site and Web Streaming services
• Smartphone applications
Benefit to Public Radio System:
MetaPub has been designed to enhance stations’ listener experience. Adding rich data can benefit stations by increasing fundraising and branding opportunities through wider listenership on more platforms and more time spent listening.
• Provides a rich, enhanced listening experience for all public radio listeners
• Provides real time information and images about what listeners are hearing over the air
• Allows for display of emergency alerts and local announcements
• Delivers metadata with a greater degree of granularity - story or song level information instead of just the program name
• Creates a seamless and consistent experience from one platform to the next when metadata is available on multiple end user devices
• Gives producers the ability to offer a more dynamic and visually appealing show
• Provides new opportunities to brand and promote programs, hosts, production organizations, etc.
• Enables public radio stations to build and retain audience
• Enables stations to deliver metadata with a higher degree of granularity than competitors
• Offers additional fundraising opportunities through increased listenership
How it Works
A producer updates episode metadata directly within the ContentDepot portal or in some cases, MetaPub agents automatically pull metadata when producers enter it in their local databases or CMS.
The information producers make available relates specifically to the content of that episode and segment. MetaPub uses start times and offset times to synchronize metadata with broadcast episodes.
Stations can configure their middleware programs, such as Arctic Palm's Center Stage, to pull information directly from MetaPub.
The middleware application is then responsible for embedding the metadata content into the station’s broadcast stream. This allows the station to have consistent data across multiple platforms, including RDS, HD channels, web services and mobile applications.
This process is shown in the graphic below:
At the station, the middleware program is the key element that gathers the data from either MetaPub directly or via TagStation.
The Role of Middleware
As mentioned previously, the middleware application will be a key component. Middleware is a term for a software application that runs at the station, or in the cloud on the station’s behalf, to accept data from MetaPub, station automation systems, or locally maintained schedules of metadata, and route it to tools and platforms such as HD radio encoders, RDS encoders, NextRadio, etc.
Potential middleware vendors include Arctic Palm, ENCO, TRE, and TagStation.
Each of these vendors is in a different stage of compatibility with MetaPub. The expectation is that Arctic Palm will be fully compliant with the latest MetaPub enhancements by Fall, 2017.
Please contact your vendor of choice to explore in more detail.
Arctic Palm (Fully Compliant Fall 2017)
Arctic Palm’s main program is Center Stage. This program pushes metadata out to RDS, HD, TagStation, web streaming and many other devices. Arctic Palm uses a plug in called Center Stage Public Radio Metadata (CSPRM) to pull data directly from MetaPub.
Arctic Palm has several plugins with many of them as part of the overall Center Stage package. This includes a robust scheduler that allows one to define when data will be queried or sent. There are also multiple ways a station can push live or breaking news alerts and messages.
TagStation / NextRadio
TagStation is the cloud-based component of NextRadio. NextRadio is an Android application that utilizes the FM chip on certain Android devices. This allows listeners to tune in your station directly on their phone.
TagStation integrates directly with MetaPub. MetaPub enabled stations enter their ContentDepot programs into the TagStation schedule. TagStation will pull the metadata for those programs and push that information out to the NextRadio application.
Some middleware vendors such as TRE pull schedule information from TagStation. Middleware support for TagStation varies and stations should inquire with the vendor directly to determine capabilities.
TagStation is a yearly subscription. When you subscribe to TagStation, notify them that you wish to be a 'MetaPub-enabled' public radio station.
ENCO developed PADapult to push metadata out to RDS, HD, TagStation, web streaming and many other devices. PADapult uses a keyed option to enable MetaPub.
Users create a Command Cut within ENCO DAD that contains a string that is sent to PADapult. PADapult will in turn query MetaPub for the metadata related to the show.
PADapult can transmit live or breaking news messages.
The Radio Experience (TRE)
TRE pushes metadata out to RDS, HD, TagStation, web streaming and many other devices. TRE integrates with TagStation to pull from the station schedule defined within TagStation for MetaPub updates.
TRE uses the ‘TS’ plugin for TagStation. TRE also uses the TRECast plugin for sending live and breaking news messages.
Integration with Existing Station Automation
When considering the addition of dynamic metadata to your broadcast streams, stations will also need to give consideration to how the middleware will integrate with the station’s automation system.
Stations that play music from their automation system might explore exporting that information to the middleware application, which in turn will distribute the metadata.
Each automation system has its own unique method of outputting metadata. Most middleware applications can support data from many of the common automation systems.
Stations should be aware that adding metadata support could be a chargeable option. An open dialogue with the automation vendor should also be established for integration support assistance and best practices.
Before You Start – What to Expect
Who will need to be involved (skill sets required)
The introduction of MetaPub into the station’s program delivery landscape will require collaboration between Engineering, Operations, Traffic, General Management, Programming Management and other appropriate parties. Information Technology resources may also be needed to assist with overall system interconnectivity and web streaming applications.
There are many topics that you will need to consider including the following:
Assessment of each platform and the requirements from both a financial and engineering aspect to enable metadata for that platform.
A RDS encoder is installed at the transmission site and will display basic Title and Artist information on most car radios that support RDS. Note many units typically limit the number of characters that can be displayed at a time.
If your station is broadcasting in HD, you will be able to display 64 characters at a time. You can consider adding rich data such as album art and graphics to your HD channels.
Web site Data and Streaming Data
Depending on your streaming services, you can inject episode-specific metadata directly into your web site or add it to your station's web stream player for ‘Now Playing’ information.
If your station has a dedicated mobile application, rich data will add to the experience.
If your station does not have a dedicated mobile application, there are options such as TagStation’s NextRadio that can be used.
Interconnectivity between station components and software considerations.
The RDS encoder is installed at the transmission site. This could be at a different location from the studio complex. While stations with remote transmission sites have some interconnection for transmitter control, a review of bandwidth needs should be conducted to determine if the connection can be shared and support additional data.
To add album art and dynamic images, commonly known as the ‘Artist Experience’, you will need to verify that you have up-to-date software versions on your importer and exporter. Older versions of software might only support the transmission of text data without images.
More information can be found via this link:
Web site Data and Streaming Data
Many stations have contracted web development to developers outside of the station. You should open discussions with the site developer about how you can push updated dynamic data directly to web platforms.
Output formats greatly depend upon the station’s middleware vendor. The station should also consider how to enable Internet connectivity between the middleware application and the website provider.
Most stations use third party developers for design of mobile applications. Integration of metadata for mobile application could be related to web streaming depending upon the mobile application development.
Selection of a Middleware Vendor or Integration with Existing Software
Many stations have an existing automation system in place and might have a metadata solution provided by that automation vendor. Stations should review their middleware to determine if it can fulfill their needs. Some vendors use plug-ins to push data to services such as TagStation while others use plug-ins to pull data from MetaPub.
When reviewing middleware, stations should also consider station schedule management along with processes for entering ‘live’ messages for alerts or breaking news.
Engineering resource availability for this effort
If the station is currently providing static metadata directly via the RDS encoder or HD importer, engineering will need to determine how to interconnect these devices with the station automation system or middleware application.
A ‘stepped’ approach for interconnecting one service at a time might be needed as opposed to trying to do everything at once.
Assessment of your infrastructure and upgrades that may need to be made.
As mentioned in the above statements, an assessment of each service will be needed. Some services such as RDS integration might be relatively simple whereas web site or mobile integration might take a larger effort.
When reviewing automation playout software, stations should consider if a simple plug-in can be added or if there will be a need for a larger upgrade for the system as a whole.
Stations will need to check software versions on both their HD importer and exporter. Older versions of software might only support the transmission of text data without images.
Developing Metadata for Locally Produced Programming or Manually Entering Metadata in Emergency Situations
Outside of making MetaPub data available to listeners, another important aspect of metadata that should be considered is the ability to send messages via the middleware application.
Middleware typically allows a ‘live’ message to be entered by station talent, newscasters or engineers. This message should be sent out to all metadata devices that have been enabled within the middleware application.
Live messages are important for breaking news events. These can be local emergencies such as a major chemical spill, weather warnings or other public safety events.
In addition to emergency notification, stations can also repurpose this functionality for locally produced content. Stations could also enrich their listeners’ experiences by making metadata available for locally produced content.
Stations can use the live message functionality within the middleware applications to promote and update information about the program being aired.
The ability to quickly enter and transmit live messages should be a factor for stations considering a middleware vendor.
If you have further questions about making public radio metadata available to your listeners via MetaPub, then please contact the PRSS Help Desk for more information about how you can give your audience a dynamically enhanced listening experience in real time. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-971-7677.
Q. Which programs have metadata?
A. Good news! You can find the latest list of programs that are MetaPub enabled on ContentDepot. Once you have logged in, you can go to “Browse Programs” and toward the bottom you will see “Additional Filters”, one of which is “MetaPub enabled”. Check the box and click on the browse button and the list of MetaPub enabled programs will come up.
Q. Does PRSS plan to support more programs in MetaPub?
A. PRSS continues to work with producers to support metadata for both file and live programming and to streamline the process for producers to add metadata in the ContentDepot.
Q. How do I GET the metadata?
A. Most stations will need to rely on middleware tools and applications that will work as clients of the MetaPub API to pull story level metadata, that is synchronized with ContentDepot episode content, and route it to broadcast streams. Review “The Role of Middleware” and “Middleware Vendors” sections for more information.
Q. Are there plans to send Artist/Contributor, Title/Guest, and photo for each story or song?
A. Although the API is technically capable of handling story and song level images, they are not available for every program. We are continuing to work with producers to add per-piece metadata and images for more ContentDepot programs. If the story level image is not available MetaPub will provide the program's logo.
Q. Where can we find more information about middleware providers that support MetaPub?
A. Stations can find additional information about middleware and MetaPub here in the “Role of Middleware” and “Middleware Vendor” sections of this document.
Q. We time-shift segments in our daily schedule. How should we handle that?
A. Metadata in MetaPub remains available beyond the live broadcast so if stations record live streams and broadcast them later, they should be able to set-up middleware or TagStation schedules to pull the metadata associated with the particular episode hour. Most middleware will also have options to select metadata for programs that aired in the past (yesterday or one week ago, for example).
Q. Shift vs. Shuffle? What do I do if I broadcast stories out of sequence?
A. Please note there is a distinction between “shifting” and “shuffling” pieces when it comes to metadata. Currently stations can sync MetaPub metadata for live programs recorded and played-back later, and stations can even set-up middleware to join in progress, however there is not a straightforward solution to match metadata with stories that are broadcast out of chronological order. Story and song metadata is synchronized with the live broadcast based on the start and end times of the individual pieces, so MetaPub works best when songs and stories air in sequence.
Q. How to handle metadata during format changing pledge drives?
A. Stations should work with middleware vendors to find the best solution for this. Generally vendors will allow stations to disable and overwrite scheduled events.
Q. How to overwrite or “mute” PRSS metadata for local event coverage?
A. Most middleware vendors will offer solutions to overwrite MetaPub data with local information. You should visit the section for Local Metadata and Emergency Alerts or work with your preferred middleware vendor to identify the best solution.
Q. Do I need to establish Internet connectivity/networking connections between the studio and the transmitter?
A. Often, HD and RDS equipment is stored at the station’s transmitter site. In order for middleware to send live, dynamic metadata to equipment at the transmitter site, stations will need connectivity between their studio and transmitter. Please assess the infrastructure and bandwidth at your station. You will find more information under the “Before You Start” section of this guide.
Q. How can I get metadata on my web streaming services?
A. This will vary from station to station depending on web streaming services, but many middleware vendors offer solutions for this. We encourage you to work with your preferred middleware vendor or web development staff to find the solution that works best for you.