A recent NPR study confirmed that what many have surmised for years is true: Public radio shows sent through the Public Radio Satellite System vary widely in loudness. An NPR working group that has been studying the issue found that roughly 53 percent of the content they examined deviated from standards PRSS recommends to keep volumes consistent. The group is looking at creating new best practices and implementing a software fix that could cheaply curb the problem. “It’s a big issue in the system,” said Paxton Durham, chief engineer at Virginia’s WVTF-FM and Radio IQ. “I’ve been here 24 years, and as long as I can remember there’s always been a problem.”
Research cited by NPR found that anything more than a 4-decibel change in volume can prompt listeners to adjust volume levels.
After two-plus years of planning and prototyping a shared hub providing easy access to digital content from across public media, partners in the Public Media Platform will begin building the new technical system next month.
This summer public radio will get a taste of an impending change in the technological status quo: the Content Depot. This far-reaching set of upgrades and innovations in the field’s means for moving audio around the country will streamline how producers and stations select, send, acquire and automate programming. In particular, the Content Depot standardizes how the NPR-operated Public Radio Satellite System (PRSS) stores programming and feeds it to stations. Today the process relies on a hodgepodge of media on both ends of the transfer. PRSS stores programming in forms including analog tape and compact disc, while stations download it from a PRSS satellite and save it on hard drives and other media before broadcasting it.