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.
- MetaPub Overview
- Before You Start – What to Expect
- Ready? How to Get Started
- Then What?
- Know the Answers to These Questions
- And You'll Also Need...
- Now About the Role of Middleware
- How to Select a Middleware Vendor (and Resources)
- Now Comes the Integration
- Trouble? Need Help?
- Developing Metadata for Locally Produced Programming or Manually Entering Metadata in Emergency Situations
Remember, there’s a lot of information about MetaPub, how it works, what it does, which devices it supports, future plans for MetaPub, and more at the link below:
What is MetaPub?
MetaPub is a 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 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
Before You Start – What to Expect
Who Needs to be Involved?
The introduction of MetaPub into your station’s program delivery ecosystem will require collaboration between Engineering, Operations, Traffic, General Management, Programming Management and other stakeholders as appropriate. Information Technology resources may also be needed to assist with overall system interconnectivity and streaming applications.
To introduce MetaPub at your station, you will need to consider the following:
- Assessment of each platform and the financial and engineering requirements to enable metadata for that platform
An RDS encoder is installed at the transmission site and will display basic Title and Artist information on most car radios that support RDS. Note that 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.
Website Data and Streaming Data
Depending on your streaming services, you can inject episode-specific metadata directly into your website 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 feeding metadata to stream aggregation sites and apps like TuneIn.
- Interconnectivity between station components and software considerations
The RDS encoder is typically 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: http://hdradio.com/broadcasters/engineering-support/artist-experience
Website 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 applications could be related to web streaming depending upon the mobile application development. Contact your mobile app developer for more information about how they support dynamic metadata.
Ready? How to Get Started
Your station has made the decision to implement MetaPub and you’re ready to get started.
Your first step? Call the Help Desk at 800.971.7677 or contact the Help Desk at email@example.com and let them know you are ready to get going with MetaPub.
You can expect to get a call from PRSS Account Management. A representative will review some information with you in order to understand the equipment ecosystem at your station. This will be important to how you integrate MetaPub into your station.
Know the Answers to These Questions
- Which station(s) do you want to air metadata on? Please provide call letters and format (e.g. FM/HD 1, HD2, HD3, HD 4)
- Please provide a URL to your program schedule(s).
- Which automation system does your station use?
- If your station uses an automation system, do you want the automation system to supply data for your metadata (not all stations do)?
- Does your station use NPR Digital Services’ Composer for music logging or as a program schedule?
- Do you currently have a middleware system (Arctic Palm, TRE, Padapult, etc.)? If so which one?
- Do you have an RDS Encoder? If so, what is the make and model of the encoder?
- Do you want to integrate your emergency alerting system (EAS) so you can send alert messages? If so, which EAS unit do you have?
- Do you have a way to monitor your RDS data and program associated data (PAD) from over the air?
And You'll Also Need...
You will need a Windows PC with network connections to the internet, your RDS Encoder (typically at the transmitter site), your HD Exporter for HD1 (if you broadcast HD), your HD Importer for HD2 and up (if you broadcast HD subchannels), your stream encoder to feed data to your web stream, and, if you are using data from your automation system, a connection to the automation system.
Several stations use a utility PC that has headroom available, while others use a dedicated PC or VM.
*Note - If you need to get data to an RDS Encoder at the transmitter site, you will need a data path that has enough bandwidth for this extra data.
Now About the Role of Middleware
Middleware refers to software applications that run at a station, or in the cloud on a station’s behalf, to support the connection of station automation systems to other tools such as HD encoders and RBDS receivers.
Potential middleware vendors include Arctic Palm, Broadcast Electronics (BE) and ENCO.
How to Select a Middleware Vendor (and Resources)
The selection of a middleware provider will primarily depend on the station automation system and the format of the station. Please refer to the information below and, based on your station’s automation system, contact the organization that can provide the appropriate solution.
For ENCO Automation System Users
If your station uses ENCO as your automation system you should consider Padapult from ENCO, which supports MetaPub.
You build ENCO command cuts for each of your shows to retrieve the correct MetaPub data, then place the command cuts in your playlists to trigger and send the retrieved data to Padapult for air.
For Audio Vault Automation System Users
If your station uses Audio Vault (AV) for your automation system, you should check in with BE because they are currently working on integrating MetaPub with The Radio Experience (TRE). The new version might be available when the station is ready. If not, Arctic Palm integrates with Audio Vault and you can use Arctic Palm to pull MetaPub data and blend it with data from AV.
Using Arctic Palm
Arctic Palm’s Center Stage Live (CSL) middleware offers the CSPRM module that supports MetaPub. It airs MetaPub data based on a schedule and can be interrupted by a scheduled event, your automation system, or by a live operator. CSL can also pull in your program schedule and/or local song data from NPR Digital Services Composer playlists. In order to purchase a license for Arctic Palm, please contact one of the distributions found at the following link: http://www.arcticpalm.com/Distributors.htm
Now Comes the Integration
After you’ve installed the software of the middleware vendor you selected, you will need to complete a series of integration activities.
Detailed instructions on how to perform these activities are provided online at the link below:
A summary of the required activities appears below. If you encounter difficulties, please call the Help Desk and a case will be opened.
• PC or VM configuration
• Data connections
• Arctic Palm installation
• Arctic Palm basic configuration
Input Communications Set-Up
• Configuring web sources
• EAS integration set-up
Output Communications Set-Up
• RDS encoder
• HD Radio
Trouble? Need Help?
Call the Help Desk at 800.971.7677 or contact the Help Desk at firstname.lastname@example.org for support.
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.
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.