Swiss broadcaster DRS Virus, a youth-oriented channel of the national broadcaster DRS, has initiated a daring move: a do-it-yourself DJ controlled by listeners.
It’s more than listeners simply e-mailing or calling in requests or submitting suggestion lists. DRS Virus has turned the playlist over to its listeners for live operation.
To achieve this bit of wizardry, DRS Virus is employing Mx3Linear, a software program from Swiss software developer mxlab AG.
Mx3Linear allows visitors to the DRS Virus Web site to activate a small DJ avatar. Using a top-view GUI, that avatar walks around and chooses records from the station’s record library and stores them in his “bag.”
He then gets into line behind other DJs and waits his turn to take over the control of two turntables. While in line the DJ avatars can talk to each other. Once his turn comes he removes records from his “bag” and places them onto the platters where they will play in the order dictated.
Unlike a personal Web site where the output of such playlists streams directly to the listener — and only that listener — in this case the output is broadcast throughout Switzerland. The little DJ avatar actually runs the station. If no one is in the virtual DJ booth, station automation takes over.
Dominik Born, CEO of mxlab, explained the genesis of the concept: “I was a radio DJ and loved choosing music for airplay. After I moved on I missed it and so I asked myself how it would be possible to recreate that feeling and share it with others who will never have the chance to sit in the broadcast booth.”
DRS knew Born from the mx3.ch Swiss music hub and portal that mxlab developed. He pitched DRS on creating a Swiss-only music night. The concept evolved from there.
In comparison to personalized streaming Web sites such as Jango and Last.fm, commercials are aired on DRS Virus. The avatars running the show have to wait for any scheduled commercials to run before their songs start.
Surprisingly, or not, listener interest in this method of operating a radio station has yet to wane. And traffic problems have been anticipated. If more than two avatars are in line, they are limited to two songs before having to move on. If no one is in line, the controlling listener can play to their heart’s leisure.
Mx3Linear guards against mischief-making virtual DJs by limiting how often one song can be played before it has to wait a preselected amount of time before being available in the library again. That prevents bombarding the station with a single song or using a group of songs to dominate airplay.
Robert Ruckstuhl, director of programming for DRS3 and DRS Virus, said, “With this tool our listeners are for the first time able to control our programming. It is not only that they can say which song they like, but they can play the song in real time. We hope that this increases the relationship between our station and their listeners.”
For interested stations, Born says that mx3Linear is available for anyone willing to pay. He estimates approximately $30,000 for a turnkey package along with a stable Internet connection puts the virtual DJ on the air.