BLURVE | Help
Blurve is a program preparation tool for broadcasters. It is designed to integrate with music-scheduling software packages currently in use at radio stations and broadcast networks. The system simplifies three essential processes in broadcast production: Program Preparation, Collaboration, and Management.
 
Program Preparation

Content creators use Blurve to write blurbs, assign tags, and edit or view programs.

A blurb is a snippet of continuity. It can be inserted into a program as the introduction or follow-up (intro or outro) for a pre-recorded element such as a music track or an interview. A blurb can serve as a billboard, which airs at the beginning of a program, highlighting one or more specific segments in the broadcast. Blurbs can also be created for promotional announcements (promos). By default, blurbs are evergreen. If a blurb contains time-sensitive information, the owner of the blurb must specify an expiration date for it.

No two blurbs in the same category can be identical, or even substantially similar.* When a user attempts to enter a new blurb, and the system detects an existing blurb with nearly the same information, the user is alerted to the conflict. If the original blurb is public, the user is also presented a link to it.

A blurb belongs to the user who has created it. Its status, by default, is private. Until the owner of the blurb makes it public, it cannot be viewed by other users. And even after that, it can only be edited by its owner.

Although the system prevents the insertion of duplicate information, it does not check for duplication of data from outside sources. It is assumed that all users will respect applicable legal restrictions on intellectual property.

Every new blurb is expected to address one or more of the following topics:

  • Piece
  • Composer
  • Performer
  • Conductor
  • Ensemble

Users can view all available topics by clicking on one of the links under "Topics" on the Main Menu

You can create blurbs independently, without editing a program, via the Topics menu. Say, for example, that you want to write a blurb about Beethoven. Start by clicking on Topics > Composers, and browse through the list of all composers until you see Beethoven's name. You can also enter part or all of his name in the FILTER BY NAME input box.

When LUDWIG VON BEETHOVEN is displayed on the left side of the page, you can click on that name to see a page with links to all existing blurbs about Beethoven. This page will also show information about how the composer's record is handled: the sorting key, which determines where his name pops up in the list of all composers; and the unique database ID, which is shared between Blurve and your music-programming database. At the bottom of the selected composer's page, click on Write a new blurb about Ludwig von Beethoven... An easier option, once you have found Beethoven on the list of composers, is just to click the Blurb about this... link on the right side of the page directly across from the composer's name.

No matter which way you choose to begin writing a new blurb, the next page will display an empty window for your script, and Ludwig von Beethoven as the topic. Use the selector control at the top to specify which type of blurb (intro, outro, billboard, or promo) you intend to create. If your blurb is a first draft, which you would like to revise before using in a program, leave the Private button clicked. Otherwise, click on Public. Your blurb will now be visible to other users, but you will be the only one (aside from the system administrator) who can edit it.

Blurbs are associated with topics via tags, which refer to information either in the database that was used to schedule the program element, or in metadata from the recordings themselves. When the user chooses to insert a new blurb directly into a program, a list of suggested tags is automatically generated. You can't create a blurb until you have specfied at least one tag to go with it.

You can add tags to one of your existing blurbs, to make it more specific. From the editor page for that blurb, Click "Add Tag." Choose the category of the tag, and then insert information into the input box that appears beneath the blurb text area. Unique database IDs can be entered as-is. If you enter a title of a piece of music, or name of a person or band, Blurve will search for the appropriate piece, composer, performer, conductor, or ensemble, and present a list of possible matches.

An additional tag category, Genre, can be assigned to blurbs about large quantities of music for a specific instrumentation, such as "Solo Keyboard." Use the drop-down list to select a genre, and then click the "Add Genre Tag" to apply the change.

Do not create redundant tags. For example, if you have written a blurb about Claude Debussy's Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, you can simply tag it with the unique key for that piece. Do not add an additional tag for the composer; Blurve can get that information from the record for the piece itself. Conversely, if you have written a biographical blurb about Debussy, and this blurb would apply to any of his works (including the Prelude), tag it only with the key for the composer.

A blurb can be set to expire on a specific date via the calendar control on the editor page. The expiration date, like the text of the blurb itself, can only be set by the blurb's owner. Use the left and right arrow symbols (< and >) to move the calendar one month into the past or future, or specify a given month and year using the drop-down list controls. If the expiration date has already been set, and you want to remove it completely, click the evergreen button.

Above the list of existing blurbs, you will see a pair of controls that enable you to filter the display. Use the drop-down list selector to choose a specific category. Use the box to the right of that list to enter specific search terms, such as "Beethoven," "Brandenburg," or "Philadelphia." Pro tip: if you know the specific database key for the composer, piece, performer, ensemble, or conductor, just preface it with k:. (k:MOZC8, for example.)

The application's homepage displays a list of links to programs that have already been created using other software, such as a music scheduling database. When a user clicks a program link for the first time, the system automatically searches for and inserts appropriate blurbs. If the total duration of pre-recorded elements and pre-selected blurbs is close enough to the target duration of the broadcast, the program is considered complete. It is presented to the user in Display mode, formatted like a script, and its status is READY.

If the total duration of a selected program, including all pre-recorded elements and blurbs, is not close enough to the target duration, the program is presented to the user in Edit mode. Its status is either LONG or SHORT. In Edit, blurbs can be added, removed, or edited (if the current user has access to them). Continuity for a given pre-recorded element can also be completely eliminated, via the Roll Cold button. Until a program is READY, it cannot be shown in Display mode.

Programs can be edited as long as they are scheduled to occur on some future date, and are not rebroadcasts of previously-aired programming. If the user clicks on a link to a program from some date in the past, or the current date, the program will only be shown in Display mode. Its status is EXPIRED.

Segments of a program can be viewed individually, in large font, for ease of use in a live broadcast. To switch to this mode, click the Read Live link at the top of the program, or on the Read Live button within a particular segment. At the top of the individual segment display, you'll find links enabling you to navigate within the program, or to return to Edit mode.

 
Collaboration

Teams of content creators, defined in the system as Board Operators, Hosts, or Programmers, use Blurve to prepare for broadcasts and share information.

Board Operators have read-only access to all public blurbs, and to any scheduled show that is ready for broadcast. Hosts have read/write access to the continuity in all shows that have been assigned to them; they can insert new blurbs, edit their own existing blurbs, and select (but not edit) public blurbs of other hosts. They can also view a simple list of the recordings scheduled for a given day. Programmers can do all of the above, and can also edit certain properties of a given broadcast--such as the overall target duration, and default amount of ad lib time that will be available between pre-recorded elements. It is also assumed that Programmers have some responsibility for selecting the pre-recorded content in a given program before it is even loaded into the Blurve system. Managers have all the capabilities of Hosts and Programmers. They can also add new users, and change the status of users who have already been added.

The role of a user in the Blurve system will affect what the user sees on the programs page. Hosts only have access to the programs assigned to them, displayed as a simple list of links. Programmers and Managers see a calendar-style display that gives them access to all programs.

A pre-recorded segment with neither an intro nor an outro (i.e., no associated blurbs) will have a built-in default ad lib time. This value, which is determined in advance by a Programmer and/or Manager, is added into the total duration of the program. The ad lib time for a given segment can be deleted by clicking its "Roll Cold" button.

Note that the ad lib time is also deleted when the user inserts a blurb, and the estimated duration of the blurb will automatically be factored into the total duration of the program. When the default ad lib duration is high (typically, for a more experienced Host), the text of the intro and/or outro will need to be long enough to compensate for the lost time.

In Preview mode (accessed from the Manager's menu), a Programmer or Manager can see a list of all of the recordings scheduled to air on a given day. No blurbs are displayed. Authorized users can also use this interface to insert comments about specific recordings.

 
Funders/Spots

Blurve includes support for the creation and scheduling of live-read underwriting spots (commercials). It is assumed that these spots have been purchased by funders (advertisers), and that account management and billing of the funders will be handled by other systems.

Before you can create a spot, you must first define the funder who is paying for it. On the Programmer's or Manager's menu, click the link to Funders & Spots, and then click the link to Add a new funder. Enter the following details:

  • Name (cannot be blank)
  • Phone Number (must have ten digits; non-numeric characters are ignored)
  • Email Address (must be a valid address; cannot be blank)
  • Street Address (cannot be blank)
  • City (cannot be blank)
  • State (choose from drop-down list)
  • Zip Code (must have at least five digits; non-numeric characters are ignored)

Contact information for all existing funders is displayed on a single page, with a Properties... link allowing you to update the details for each funder. You can create or update spots for any existing funder by clicking on the Spots... link in that funder's box.

The spots for a given funder are displayed on a separate page, where existing spots can be edited and new spots can be created. When you click the Add a new spot... link you'll see an input box, where you can insert the script. Use the drop-down selectors to define the start and expiration dates, in quarterly increments, up to five years in the future.

Once a spot has been created, you need to define when it should be read on-air. Its schedule is basically a collection of timeslots, each one consisting of a day of the week, a beginning time, and an ending time. You can use check-boxes to specify the day(s). Separate drop-down controls can be used to set the beginning hour and minute, as well as the ending hour and minute. Note: although there are separate controls for the beginning and ending hours of a timeslot, the system currently does not support timeslots spanning multiple hours. Create separate timeslots for each hour instead.

Existing timeslots for a given spot are displayed above the check-box controls. Click on a specific timeslot to delete it.

 
Management

Blurve's system of program preparation and collaboration is directed by another group of users, defined as Managers. These users define expectations for the rest of the team. They also define who is on the team in the first place.

Managers share some duties with Programmers. The Dashboard... link, which is available to members of either group, provides access to these shared tasks.

The most detail-oriented job for a Manager or Programmer involves the settings for each program. Say, for example, that a Programmer reduces the portion of pre-recorded content in a given show (using the station's music-programming software). Since the program will now need more scripted or extemporaneous content, it's up to the Programmer or Manager to go to the Program Profiles editor and adjust the ad lib time per break. If it is set to a low value, the Host will be forced to write more scripts; if it is set to a high value, there will be more opportunity for the Host to speak extemporaneously.

For less fine-grained control over the balance between ad lib and scripted material, a Programmer or Manager can use the Program Properties editor to adjust the slack time. This is the amount of time that the system will ignore when it calculates the total duration of a show. The value can be set in five-second increments from :05 to 1:00 (a full minute), and can represent either excess or unfilled time. For example: if the target duration of your show is 59:00, and the slack time is set to :30, the show will be considered ready if its total duration is anywhere between 58:30 and 59:30. Another term for slack time in Blurve is fudge factor.

A Programmer or Manager can also define the scheduled duration of a given show. The property can be set in half-hour increments, with a minimum value of :30:00, and is assumed to be congruent with a corresponding value defined for the show in an external piece of software, such as a music programming database.

Some broadcasts begin with a billboard. (A billboard is a segment highlighting one or more recordings in the upcoming show. To accommodate this feature in Blurve, the Programmer or Manager who selects music for the show must include a Note field with the word 'BILLBOARD' as its label.) Programmers or Managers can use the Program Properties page to define special handling for the associated billboard script. The topic of the billboard is determined by one of the following strategies:

  • Longest - the billboard will highlight the longest pre-recorded segment in the program
  • Last - the billboard will highlight the last pre-recorded segment in the program
  • Ad Lib - the billboard will highlight one or more elements in the program, at the discretion of the Host
  • No Billboard - the program does not begin with a billboard
Blurve inserts a Billboard segment when it first loads the scheduling data for a program. Any remark with the label "BILLBOARD" (not case sensitive) is replaced with a Blurve segment of equivalent length. Pro tip: To keep the billboard blurb as generic and reusable as possible, use the string #{host} instead of an actual host's name.

There are two other Program Properties that can be selected by either Programmers or Managers. One is the Host for a given program; the names of all users are presented in a drop-down list. The other property is the preferred Label for the program, such as Thursday morning drive.

Only Managers may create new users, delete existing users, or modify user roles. These functions can be accessed from the Users... link on the Manager's menu.

Every new user must have a valid email address, to which the system will send a confirmation email when the user is created. A newly-minted user is not validated to participate on your station's Blurve team until he or she has clicked the confirmation link in this email. Clicking on this link serves as official confirmation that the user will respect Blurve's copyright policy.

The Users... page is also where a Manger can go to change the assigned host for one or more programs. Say, for example, that the regularly-scheduled host for your daily morning program (as defined on the Program Properties page) decides to take a day off. His or her manager should go to the Users page, and click the Assignments link to see a list of the host's upcoming programs. Next to each program is a link (change...), which will take the manager to a page where the program can be reassigned to any other valid host. Multiple programs in the same category can be updated with a single click; just specify an ending date in the drop-down box.

When the Blurve system is first installed, the first person to log in must use a Manager-level account, which will then be designated as the System Administrator. Only the System Administrator can delete other Managers, and the System Administrator account itself cannot be deleted. When an existing user is deleted, ownership of any blurbs he or she has created will be transferred to the System Administrator. Like any other user, the System Administrator has a password, which can be changed. Do not forget this password!