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August 1, 2022 7:19 am  #1


Automation Glitches Strike Two Major Stations On The Holiday Monday

The fact you can run an entire radio station on autopilot is quite an amazing achievement. But it also comes at a different kind of cost. Because when it screws up, there's no way to hide it 

On Saturday, for instance, Corus' Roy Green's nearly nationwide show was suddenly cut off mid-sentence during an interview by what I can only assume was a glitch in the software that plays local spots on the network during a hard break. But this one fired at least three minutes early. He apologized to his guest and the audience after he returned. 

On Sunday morning, it was even more bizarre. I happened to get up early and turned on the radio just after 6 AM. At around 6:15, CFRB played the stinger for its regular traffic update. But instead of someone coming on and telling you there are no problems (it's a holiday after all and 6 in the morning, no one's really out driving) something happened. There was no announcer and the stinger played on. And on. And on.

In fact, it's the first time I've ever heard the whole thing and it lasted just over 2 or 3 minutes. If a board op had been there the thing would only have lasted a few seconds. But there was no one there to fix it. 

Less than five minutes later, I punched up AM 640, which was doing its usual "Best of Greg Brady" on the holiday. (I remember the days when radio never took a holiday, but that's for another thread.) After a series of spots, the bumper music they always use came on. Normally, it lasts 30 seconds or so and then fades down and the show resumes. But not this time. Instead, the entire song - all four minutes of it - played out, as though it was still a music station, and then back to more spots. 

The thing corrected itself in the next segment and the show went back to normal. 

It makes me long for the time when someone - anyone, even if it was just a lone person - was at least on duty at these stations to handle any emergency. I'm sure it can be done remotely, but it can't be fixed if no one from the place is listening. 

So good for automation. But when it glitches, it can be very bad for the listener, with things on endless repeat. 
things on endless repeat. 
things on endless repeat. 
things on endless repeat. 
things on endless repeat. 
things on endless repeat. things on endless repeat. things on endless repeat. 
things on endless repeat. 
things on endless repeat. 
things on endless repeat. 

Well, you get the idea....

 

August 1, 2022 8:10 am  #2


Re: Automation Glitches Strike Two Major Stations On The Holiday Monday

I have often wondered if the "Suits" at Bell and Rogers ever actually listen to the stations they own.

 

August 1, 2022 8:13 am  #3


Re: Automation Glitches Strike Two Major Stations On The Holiday Monday

RadioActive wrote:

On Sunday morning, it was even more bizarre. I happened to get up early and turned on the radio just after 6 AM. At around 6:15, CFRB played the stinger for its regular traffic update. But instead of someone coming on and telling you there are no problems (it's a holiday after all and 6 in the morning, no one's really out driving) something happened. There was no announcer and the stinger played on. And on. And on.

In fact, it's the first time I've ever heard the whole thing and it lasted just over 2 or 3 minutes. If a board op had been there the thing would only have lasted a few seconds. But there was no one there to fix it.

I heard this one too (Monday morning, not Sunday as you write!). That's the first time I'd ever heard that traffic stinger "run out" and end organically as a piece of music without a quick-fade or hard cut. I wondered if it would just loop again. Mercifully with its run-out, that seemed to trigger automation to move onto the next thing. Not a traffic reporter drop-in segment in sight...

1010 has also dropped a few "rehearsal", clearly pre-taped traffic spots in, typically on holidays. The traffic reporter starts for a few seconds, coughs or makes an obvious mistake and says "Let me try that again..." or "wacky" gibberish noises or "3...2...1..." and starts the report over again. This goes out live on-air like that. Quite disgraceful for the once mighty 1010.

 

August 1, 2022 8:32 am  #4


Re: Automation Glitches Strike Two Major Stations On The Holiday Monday

You're right! The holiday Monday always makes me think it's Sunday. Chalk it up to a brain automation glitch!

But yeah, hearing the full stinger was certainly interesting. I always thought it faded out, too. It was kind of neat, but really, it should never have happened. 

     Thread Starter
 

August 1, 2022 8:58 am  #5


Re: Automation Glitches Strike Two Major Stations On The Holiday Monday

RadioActive wrote:

(I remember the days when radio never took a holiday, but that's for another thread.)

Actually, maybe it's not. How is it that CKTB in St. Catharines can ALWAYS field a live morning show on a holiday Monday, but not one station in Toronto (outside of CityNews 680) can manage it?

Rod Mawhood was in on 610 doing a live show with actual real news, discussion and guests. I always thought Bell made the decisions on this kind of thing, because it costs them overtime to bring in live news people, hosts, producers, board ops, etc. Yet the Niagara-area station does it almost every single holiday Monday, when their bigger counterparts don't bother. Why can't the other guys - even those in the same chain - do this? 

I'm sure it's all about economics and money saving, but if one can do it, they all should be able to. 

Things have sure changed over the decades. I remember when CHUM's Jay Nelson was on every Saturday morning as part of his regular shift. He only got Sundays off. Not suggesting we go back to a six-day work week, but that was certainly a very different time in radio. (And if you listen to old airchecks of Bob Laine doing overnights on the same station, you'd hear full newscasts, sports scores and even a ski report in the winter in the middle of the night. Hard to believe these days that they did it, but they did. It's unimaginable now.)

     Thread Starter
 

August 1, 2022 9:10 am  #6


Re: Automation Glitches Strike Two Major Stations On The Holiday Monday

On CFRB this morning at 6:30 there was an endless loop of Dave Agar's theme music for more than a min followed by more commercials than normal.  (and thats a long time).   Perhaps another automation glitch? 

 

August 1, 2022 10:22 am  #7


Re: Automation Glitches Strike Two Major Stations On The Holiday Monday

For the most part, automation systems only do what they are told to do.  If something screws up they do their best to "recover and carry on"  Start tracing the so called glitches backwards....

 

August 1, 2022 10:28 am  #8


Re: Automation Glitches Strike Two Major Stations On The Holiday Monday

pinto wrote:

For the most part, automation systems only do what they are told to do.  If something screws up they do their best to "recover and carry on"  Start tracing the so called glitches backwards....

G.I.G.O.
 

 

August 1, 2022 11:00 am  #9


Re: Automation Glitches Strike Two Major Stations On The Holiday Monday

RadioActive wrote:

On Sunday morning, it was even more bizarre. I happened to get up early and turned on the radio just after 6 AM. At around 6:15, CFRB played the stinger for its regular traffic update. But instead of someone coming on and telling you there are no problems (it's a holiday after all and 6 in the morning, no one's really out driving) something happened. There was no announcer and the stinger played on. And on. And on.

I remember when this exact thing used to happen a lot... and I mean nearly every time there was a voice track shift with a traffic stinger and/or talk with a music bed when listening to CHUM FM. The stinger/bed would also blend into the next song for a minute or two until the automation had enough and faded the element out. It hasn't happened much since the refresh.... so someone cared enough to correct the problem.

 

August 1, 2022 11:15 am  #10


Re: Automation Glitches Strike Two Major Stations On The Holiday Monday

I'm often up way too early in the morning because I just can't seem to sleep in as I get older. But it explains how many times I've tuned into CityNews 680 to hear them coming out of their national broadcast from Vancouver and transition back to Toronto local. It happens every morning at precisely 5 AM (weekdays) and 6 AM (weekends.)

I've heard this literally dozens and dozens of times and I've never - not even once - heard it happen without a major glitch. Either the coast-to-coast ID gets played and then replaced mid-sentence for the local one, or the local identifier gets played, once, twice, three times in a row, often getting cut off and starting again.

The Toronto gang then comes on as if nothing has happened. I can't help but wonder why no one fixes this, even though there are clearly people in at the time who might be able to. It's been going on for a very long time. 
 

     Thread Starter
 

August 1, 2022 12:26 pm  #11


Re: Automation Glitches Strike Two Major Stations On The Holiday Monday

I still think one of the best automation/voice track screw ups was a few weeks back during the Rogers outage.  The Weeknd's Friday July 8th sold out concert at the Rogers Centre had to be cancelled.  This was a big deal since it was a homecoming for one of the most popular entertainers in the world today. Sadly late on Friday afternoon, it was announced for technical reasons the big show had to be cancelled for that night. 

About 24 hours later on Virgin radio, late on Saturday afternoon, the voice tracked announcer was gushing about the great sold out concert last night for the Weeknd at the Rogers Centre. It wasn't that long ago he was playing before small crowds at local bars in Toronto we were told.  But now he fills the Rogers Centre!

An example of a clueless, uncaring corporation that doesn't understand how to serve and connect to listeners or run radio stations. 

 

August 1, 2022 12:45 pm  #12


Re: Automation Glitches Strike Two Major Stations On The Holiday Monday

Sad thing is, it is only people like us who care. There is very little professionalism into terrestrial radio in this time. Between the corporate ownership eliminating costs , and the generation of todays population that plug their smart phones into their ears via whatever means, the pride in  broadcasting is just not viable anymore. My 29 year old son has not listened to a radio station in years. He has 1000's of songs on his iPhone , or goes on Spotify etc. I would surmise that is the majority of todays listening mode . 

 

August 1, 2022 1:16 pm  #13


Re: Automation Glitches Strike Two Major Stations On The Holiday Monday

While I agree these are most likely automation errors.. I can clearly recall my state of panic in a control room with a traffic bed running and the computer software not letting me turn it off without screwing up the next element.. Worst case is when you end up with three thing firing at once all on one line and you can't do anything but ride it out. Sometimes it's human error, as the engineer liked to remind me.  HAHAHA

 

August 1, 2022 1:28 pm  #14


Re: Automation Glitches Strike Two Major Stations On The Holiday Monday

RadioActive wrote:

I'm often up way too early in the morning because I just can't seem to sleep in as I get older. But it explains how many times I've tuned into CityNews 680 to hear them coming out of their national broadcast from Vancouver and transition back to Toronto local. It happens every morning at precisely 5 AM (weekdays) and 6 AM (weekends.)
 
I've heard this literally dozens and dozens of times and I've never - not even once - heard it happen without a major glitch. Either the coast-to-coast ID gets played and then replaced mid-sentence for the local one, or the local identifier gets played, once, twice, three times in a row, often getting cut off and starting again.
 
The Toronto gang then comes on as if nothing has happened. I can't help but wonder why no one fixes this, even though there are clearly people in at the time who might be able to. It's been going on for a very long time. 
 

Hmm. Just a while after I posted this about CityNews, I saw this ad on Linked-In, with the key sentence being this one:
 
"CityNews 680 is looking for a part-time weekend and overnight news anchor!"
 
An overnight news anchor. Hmmm. Isn't that when they're doing the network simulcast on all their stations? What do you suppose this person would do and does this mean a possible return to local coverage in the wee hours? This being the Rogers cheapskates, I doubt it. But then what is the position for? Maybe it's just to be on call in case something breaks in the middle of the night, like a shooting. We certainly have lots of those these days. 

I always found it odd that the only local all-news station in the GTA basically has almost no Toronto news for 5-6 hours every day. 

     Thread Starter
 

August 1, 2022 1:37 pm  #15


Re: Automation Glitches Strike Two Major Stations On The Holiday Monday

WarningU2 wrote:

On CFRB this morning at 6:30 there was an endless loop of Dave Agar's theme music for more than a min followed by more commercials than normal.

You might mean Jerry Agar - Dave Agar is a retired newscaster at the station but hasn't been there for some years. https://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons3/smile.png

 

August 1, 2022 2:32 pm  #16


Re: Automation Glitches Strike Two Major Stations On The Holiday Monday

RadioActive wrote:

The fact you can run an entire radio station on autopilot is quite an amazing achievement. But it also comes at a different kind of cost. Because when it screws up, there's no way to hide it 

Bloomberg on CKOC is like that every day. They cut off in the middle of a story and go to an ad. When they come back they're already partway into another story
 


You don't have to be a good sport to be a mad one.
 

August 1, 2022 2:52 pm  #17


Re: Automation Glitches Strike Two Major Stations On The Holiday Monday

I think CKOC is a lot like CHAM to Bell. They have no idea what to do with either of them, so they don't care what they sound like.

Although I have to admit I kind of enjoy Funny 820 when there's nothing else on that I want to hear. Like all the rerolls on holiday Monday, for example. 

     Thread Starter
 

August 1, 2022 3:03 pm  #18


Re: Automation Glitches Strike Two Major Stations On The Holiday Monday

paterson1 wrote:

I still think one of the best automation/voice track screw ups was a few weeks back during the Rogers outage.  The Weeknd's Friday July 8th sold out concert at the Rogers Centre had to be cancelled.  This was a big deal since it was a homecoming for one of the most popular entertainers in the world today. Sadly late on Friday afternoon, it was announced for technical reasons the big show had to be cancelled for that night. 

About 24 hours later on Virgin radio, late on Saturday afternoon, the voice tracked announcer was gushing about the great sold out concert last night for the Weeknd at the Rogers Centre. It wasn't that long ago he was playing before small crowds at local bars in Toronto we were told.  But now he fills the Rogers Centre!

An example of a clueless, uncaring corporation that doesn't understand how to serve and connect to listeners or run radio stations. 

Stay tuned. This could happen again - Drake has tested positive for COVID and has had to cancel his OVO Fest Monday night. You can imagine another scenario where some jock on a track recorded before the Civic Holiday talks about how great the show is!

     Thread Starter
 

August 1, 2022 4:57 pm  #19


Re: Automation Glitches Strike Two Major Stations On The Holiday Monday

What is a "stinger"?

 

August 1, 2022 5:17 pm  #20


Re: Automation Glitches Strike Two Major Stations On The Holiday Monday

Media Observer wrote:

What is a "stinger"?

What a wasp leaves in your arm??

 

August 1, 2022 5:50 pm  #21


Re: Automation Glitches Strike Two Major Stations On The Holiday Monday

Media Observer wrote:

What is a "stinger"?

A stinger is the jingle-like musical intro for various segments on radio. CFRB, for example, has one for traffic, one for news, and one for weather. They help to separate the elements and after a while, whenever you hear them, it trains a regular listener to know exactly what each one means - oh, that music says there's a traffic report coming etc. 

     Thread Starter
 

August 1, 2022 6:29 pm  #22


Re: Automation Glitches Strike Two Major Stations On The Holiday Monday

RadioActive wrote:

Media Observer wrote:

What is a "stinger"?

A stinger is the jingle-like musical intro for various segments on radio. CFRB, for example, has one for traffic, one for news, and one for weather. They help to separate the elements and after a while, whenever you hear them, it trains a regular listener to know exactly what each one means - oh, that music says there's a traffic report coming etc. 

Thanks RA.  As a long time 680 listener,  I know exactly what you are describing, but I didn't know the term.

Once again,  I learn new things from this site,
 

 

August 1, 2022 11:52 pm  #23


Re: Automation Glitches Strike Two Major Stations On The Holiday Monday

 

August 2, 2022 10:22 am  #24


Re: Automation Glitches Strike Two Major Stations On The Holiday Monday

Some of these "mistakes" are due to the lack of oversight before leaving the computer to play things in automation.     I've seen these things over the last 20 years and most times are zero to do with the automation system and 100% due to people not double checking things before leaving the computer to play things.    Automation works perfect most times, but in a rush by staff to leave for any long weekend, most just "hope for the best" and that's when these things happen.    If you don't normally run automation during those hours, you need to check the final log in automation to ensure things are setup to play correctly.   It's a 10 min job that really can save mistakes from happening.   Yes... an op being there could catch them on the fly, but had someone checked, it actually would have worked without the human there just fine.   Stations use automation around the world for many hours a day, and have no issues... but it seems in Canada, these mistakes happen all the time.    Screams lack of care sadly.   This is not a knock at the indistry, but a nice nudge to say we can do better here. 

Last edited by radiokid (August 2, 2022 11:45 am)

 

August 2, 2022 1:25 pm  #25


Re: Automation Glitches Strike Two Major Stations On The Holiday Monday

For any radio station what matters most other than content is the quality of your sound.  It is sad that with automation radio seems to be regressing with too many mistakes, lousy overmodulated sound, dead air, commercials running overtop of each other, poor voice tracking with very few announcer breaks and  generally little effort. 

The listener couldn't care less whether it is laziness, poorly trained staff or the equipment.  All that matters is what they are hearing and unfortunately there seems to be little regard when it comes to voice tracking and automation.  Nobody is that busy that they can't take 10 minutes to ensure automation and VT breaks are set up properly.  

Even when I was listening to US radio over the weekend in and around Sarnia, other than some Detroit radio, many of the stations sounded voice tracked. To their credit, I didn't notice mistakes per se other than a bit of dead air.  But the voice track breaks were often over modulated and sounded mono and in a few cases low audio levels. But what I heard, the US announcers generally put more effort into their voice tracked breaks with more personality and content.  The long commercial sets however were annoying and sounded like half of the ads were not in stereo or from a satellite feed and some ads had poor audio.  The music quality sounded fine. 

 

August 2, 2022 3:53 pm  #26


Re: Automation Glitches Strike Two Major Stations On The Holiday Monday

Of all the things that make me sad/annoyed as a former rock radio DJ and lifelong fan of radio, a show running an island of spots then playing a station I.D. straight into music is one of the worst. Most major radio stations are doing this on almost every break. There's only four breaks, (8 opportunities) for the on-air personalities to speak every hour!

It goes against everything I ever learned, like not having the audience associate your station with lots of ad time. It's so disappointing and it's a giant EFF U to the listener.

I was thinking the other day it must be boring and frustrating as hell to work in radio at times these days. Like the difference in flying an airplane. Forty years ago meant you flew the plane, now if you're a commercial pilot of a large plane you're pretty much running the computer systems. 🥱🤨😒

Last edited by betaylored (August 2, 2022 3:56 pm)

 

August 2, 2022 8:14 pm  #27


Re: Automation Glitches Strike Two Major Stations On The Holiday Monday

My son has a friend working in northern Ontario, he VT shows for 3 different stations as well as voicing spots. So he does a full work day, and likely only gets paid for the original show he  does live. 

 

August 2, 2022 8:57 pm  #28


Re: Automation Glitches Strike Two Major Stations On The Holiday Monday

I remember the first time I heard a station go from a music set to a station ID to a commercial set. It was back in the late 1990's. My initial reaction was, "Did the DJ call in sick and they weren't able to find somebody to fill in the shift?" Later I would learn that would become the norm for many stations from then on.

Actually, I oftentimes hear stations go from a music set right into a commercial block without an ID, and I think that sounds awful.


PJ


ClassicHitsOnline.com...Doing it first and still doing it best! Toronto's ORIGINAL classic hits station!
 

August 3, 2022 9:57 pm  #29


Re: Automation Glitches Strike Two Major Stations On The Holiday Monday

Paul Jeffries wrote:

I remember the first time I heard a station go from a music set to a station ID to a commercial set. It was back in the late 1990's. My initial reaction was, "Did the DJ call in sick and they weren't able to find somebody to fill in the shift?" Later I would learn that would become the norm for many stations from then on.

Actually, I oftentimes hear stations go from a music set right into a commercial block without an ID, and I think that sounds awful.
PJ

I'm not completely sure of the exact ins and outs behind the thinking, but this has become the norm , particularly for the corporately-owned music stations. The practice of having an announcer do a talk break followed by several minutes of commercials proved to be too much for the average listener to sit through. So now they spread it out. At one time it was considered a cardinal sin to stop down, talk a bit then restart the music. It's now the rule. Announcers get to show a little bit of personality, the music flow goes on and now they never talk immediately before or immediately following a commercial break. This creates the perception in the listener's mind that there are fewer interruptions. It must work because it's been template for a lot of stations for quite a few years now.
As an aside, the one thing I have noticed is the personalities are detached from the music they're playing. Often times they don't even acknowledge the tune they just played or are about to play. With some formats this may be okay but with stations that feature a lot of newer music there should be some sort of buzz created by the announcer. I still think that would give radio stations an edge over Spotify but maybe I'm just from another planet :-))

 

August 4, 2022 8:43 am  #30


Re: Automation Glitches Strike Two Major Stations On The Holiday Monday

kevjo wrote:

Paul Jeffries wrote:

I remember the first time I heard a station go from a music set to a station ID to a commercial set. It was back in the late 1990's. My initial reaction was, "Did the DJ call in sick and they weren't able to find somebody to fill in the shift?" Later I would learn that would become the norm for many stations from then on.

Actually, I oftentimes hear stations go from a music set right into a commercial block without an ID, and I think that sounds awful.
PJ

I'm not completely sure of the exact ins and outs behind the thinking, but this has become the norm , particularly for the corporately-owned music stations. The practice of having an announcer do a talk break followed by several minutes of commercials proved to be too much for the average listener to sit through. So now they spread it out. At one time it was considered a cardinal sin to stop down, talk a bit then restart the music. It's now the rule. Announcers get to show a little bit of personality, the music flow goes on and now they never talk immediately before or immediately following a commercial break. This creates the perception in the listener's mind that there are fewer interruptions. It must work because it's been template for a lot of stations for quite a few years now.
As an aside, the one thing I have noticed is the personalities are detached from the music they're playing. Often times they don't even acknowledge the tune they just played or are about to play. With some formats this may be okay but with stations that feature a lot of newer music there should be some sort of buzz created by the announcer. I still think that would give radio stations an edge over Spotify but maybe I'm just from another planet :-))

The fact that jocks rarely acknowledge the song and artist playing is especially noticeable on Top 40 stations. Their targetted audience is already familiar with the tunes being played so there is no need to identify them.