Broadcasting on the Mac: Jessica’s Experience and Setup

As someone who considers herself a shy person, I never thought I would be interested in broadcasting or that I would host I weekly radio show. I proved myself wrong! If you love music, and you have a reliable internet connection, you can do it too!

In the last post, Ashley shared her experiences with broadcasting and explained her setup on windows. In this post, I’ll share my experiences broadcasting from Mac OS X, and how to get starting using my particular setup.

My journey into broadcasting began in fall of 2013. Ashley and I were sharing an apartment at the time, and she told me she was going to begin broadcasting on an internet radio station. I was clueless about this internet radio thing. I had no idea what a big deal it was, especially in the blind community. I familiarized myself with internet radio by hanging out with Ashley and other people who did shows, and by listening to shows whenever I had time. People begged me to start my own show, but I didn’t think I could do it. Plus, I used a mac, not windows, so no one had a clue how I should get started.

I think the lack of help is what pushed me to figure out how to make it work. I was going to conquer broadcasting the same way I learned to use the mac – on my own. I did lots of research, but there wasn’t anything available that explained everything and made it simple to follow. The only thing I gathered is that I would need a program called Nicecast to connect to the server. So, I downloaded it and began playing around with it. As it turns out, Mac users have so many options for broadcasting, because all Nicecast does is send audio from whatever source you choose to a server. A source can be a single application, or it could be all system audio. All my music was already in iTunes, so my setup simply includes iTunes and Nicecast.

I did my first show on October 2, 2013. I was extremely nervous, and I broke many things. It helped that I had my friends on the show with me, so I wasn’t alone. In the weeks and months to follow, I continued to improve, and the feedback was great. A couple of stations later, my friends and I started our own station called ElectroShock Radio. After working for so many other people and watching their stations fail, ElectroShock Radio was a breath of fresh air. Finally what I said mattered, and I was able to help keep the station running. Unfortunately, ElectroShock Radio shut down in the summer of 2015. Since then, I don’t broadcast as often, but I still do. We held onto our server, and I stream different things regularly. I still love broadcasting, but I have no interest in broadcasting on someone else’s station. I like stability, and I hate drama, so the server works for me.

Now, let’s talk a bit about getting started broadcasting on the Mac.

The hardware options, like broadcasting on windows, can be as expensive or as cheap as you like. You can go all out and get a bunch of expensive equipment like external mixers, or you can simply get a good microphone. I use the $39.99 GoMic, and everyone says it sounds great. If you prefer to wear your microphone, some USB headsets may also work.

If having more hardware appeals to you, or if you wish to mix tracks like a DJ would do at a party, check out our friend Jonathan Candler’s broadcasting setup.

Either way, the decision is up to you! It’s all about your preferences, and what you can afford.

Now, let’s move on to software.

No matter what application you use to play your music, you will need Nicecast to connect to the server. There is a demo available for free, which is great while you’re figuring things out. However, you’ll need to purchase the full version when you’re ready to share your show with the world.

If you have usable vision, this may be the only piece of software you need to purchase. You can set the source as iTunes or whatever media player you wish to use, and then bring in your mic, other apps, or Skype in the effects panel.

If you are totally blind, you may wish to broadcast using an app that allows you to play music and bring in your mic. Most people use one of the two following options.

DJay

Radiologik DJ

Lastly, if you don’t want to do a live show, you could record a show using an app like Audio Hijack and then send the MP3 to the station managers for playback later.

Thank you for reading this, and please check out Ashley’s post on broadcasting from Windows. I hope you have found this information useful, and we look forward to writing more helpful entries for you in the future.

Broadcasting on Windows: Ashley’s Experience and Setup

I’ve always been interested in radio, and how music was played around the world.

In 2006, once I got my very own computer, I started making friends from far away through sites like Myspace, Facebook, and eventually twitter. Through these friends, I learned about internet radio. This is similar to AM or FM radio, but with a wider audience.

Over the next few years, I listened to a wide variety of internet radio stations, and in the fall of 2013, after becoming acquainted with a person who had their own internet radio station, I began the process of learning the ins and outs of internet broadcasting. As my time as a broadcaster or DJ continued over the years, I learned how to use different pieces of software to bring Skype calls or team talk channels in to my show.

I have had experience on a few stations. I have had some experience as a station founder and manager. There are a few differences in these roles. As a broadcaster, you basically do your show. If you work for a station who ask the team to help create great things for the listeners to participate in. as a manager, you are in the middle of things. You may help with hiring or firing broadcasters, event planning, content creation, and even have your own show. As a manager, you have to be able to receive feedback and decide how that feedback should be handled; for example, if a listener comes to you and asked that less country be in automation, and more metal be played. It is the managements job to figure out how best that should be handled. Can we schedule more metal at this time, and schedule country to be played at another time? Do we need to add more metal to automation in general? These questions and many others as a manager. As a broadcaster, you may not be involved in as much of this decision making. For some people, being a broadcaster works perfectly, but for others, just being a broadcaster may not be enough. For some of us, leaving a management role and becoming a broadcaster does not set well.

In 2014, some friends and I developed a station. We had a five person management team. This set up worked beautifully for us. We were able to make some awesome plans. We had a good sized listener base. Our station was around for a little over a year. I know that that experience gave me some great knowledge to continue my broadcasting career.

To begin broadcasting, I needed a few things. I needed the software that would connect me to the internet so that I could broadcast. I needed to open my eyes to other genres. So, what did I do? I found some great online tutorials to teach me the software that I would be using to broadcast. I started listening to different genres of music, and I started practicing with the software I use. I found myself randomly creating playlists to play and practice with. My goal was to be able to amerce myself in the software and understand what many, if not all, of the keyboard commands did.

It’s been a little over two years since I started broadcasting, and I enjoy every show I get the opportunity to do. I still have things brake on me. I am sometimes the culprit behind these braking things. I still don’t understand what some functions do, or randomly figure them out at the strangest times, but I enjoy broadcasting. It helps me find a way to let out some emotions I may not have any other way of releasing.

If you are considering broadcasting, you will need a specific set up with appropriate hardware and software. In this blog post, I will cover how I have my set up. We will soon have a Mac set up posted.

The only piece of hardware I use is a $39.00 USB microphone. You can make the hardware portion of the setup process as complicated and expensive as you like, or you can start with just a microphone. Some additional suggestions include a mic stand, pop filter, and shock mount. Alternatively, some USB headsets also work fine and have decent sound quality.

Now for the complicated part – the software.

Most people use Station Playlist Studio (SPL). You can use Station Playlist Studio to not only host a show, but if you have a computer and a stable internet connection, you can also host your stations automation system.

Some free alternatives for broadcasting are Foobar and Winamp. These are both media players, which require additional plugins to connect to the server. The plugins can be difficult to locate, so the setup can be a bit more complicated than it is with Station Playlist studio.

If you wish to have co-hosts on your shows or to take calls from listeners, you will need Virtual Audio Cable. This will allow you to bring in audio from a program like Skype or TeamTalk, and your listeners will be able to hear it whenever your mic is on.

If you’re broadcasting on a station, you should not need any additional software, unless you choose to have a setup which differs from mine. However, if you intend to broadcast on your own server, or start your own station, you will need a server, a way to do automation, and possibly a website. If you are a very technical person, you can setup your own website and server. If you are not technically inclined, you can pay someone to do it for you.

If you wish to have automation on your server/future station, you can choose one of the following: broadcast 24/7 from your own computer with SPL, code your own automation, or pay for a service. The solution our station used, which is very accessible, is LiveWebDJ.

If you have any questions about my experience broadcasting and/or my particular setup, please let me know. If anyone would like to contribute to this article, please feel free to post a comment. I hope you have enjoyed this post. Thanks for reading!