In October 2016, we had the opportunity to learn about a product from one of our own: Washington, DC broadcast engineer Fred Gleason. Rivendell Radio Automation, the industry's leading open source solution for radio automation, was originally created by Fred more than a decade ago under the auspices of Salem Radio Labs (now defunct) and WAVA-FM, Arlington VA. We were introduced to it during our July 2005 meeting so we were overdue for a progress update.
Now, after more than a decade of continuous development by Fred, Paravel Systems, and a worldwide team of broadcast software engineers, Rivendell has grown into a complete radio broadcast automation solution with facilities for the acquisition, management, scheduling and playout of audio content. It has all of the features one would expect in a modern, fully-fledged radio automation system, including support for both PCM and MPEG audio encoding, full voicetracking and log customization, as well as support for a wide variety of third party software and hardware. Rivendell is now used by radio stations and networks all over the world, including Radio America and the host of our meeting, Radio Free Asia. (See more here.)
Unlike most radio automation systems, Rivendell is open source software. As such, if you're comfortable configuring Linux computers and servers and can provide the hardware, you can build a capable Rivendell system completely free. There are no dongles, unlock codes, software keys or other arbitrary limitations to the software. Alternatively, turn-key installation and 24/7 technical support is available through Paravel Systems (which Fred co-founded) and Broadcasters General Store.
Because Rivendell is open source software, anyone with capable programming skills can modify the software package to meet special requirements of a particular facility, recommend upgrades, or make bug fixes. These improvements (under terms of the GNU Public License) are shared with all users of the community. This free flow of knowledge has made open source software some of most innovative out there in the marketplace.
A bite to eat was kindly provided by our friends at Paravel Systems and Broadcasters General Store. We had a brief bit of Chapter 37 business about 7:00 pm, and our presentation followed shortly thereafter. Next, our hosts at RFA gave us the opportunity to see Rivendell in action in their beautiful facility.