ContentDepot: About MetaPub

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What is MetaPub?

MetaPub is an effort by the entire Public Radio system to enhance all national and local radio programming with added images, text, links,
and promotional materials for listeners using web streaming, HD Radios, the NextRadio phone app, and traditional RBDS-enabled radios.
MetaPub goes beyond just putting up a static logo for display on those devices. Instead, it will enable listeners to see images and text
that change in realtime - story by story, piece by piece, and song by song.

MetaPub is especially designed for the needs of Public Radio - its a federated effort, meaning that its a common system to enable the
seamless flow of metadata from all producers in the PRSS system out to all public radio stations receiving content through PRSS.

The expansion of MetaPub has benefitted greatly from funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). CPB funded an initial pilot to equip eight stations with MetaPub in 2016 to send out emergency alerts during the Great California Shakeout. The PRSS has just completed a second project providing MetaPub for use in weather events to 28 stations in the “Tornado Alley” section of the Midwest United States.

How does it work?

  1. Producers curate and format simple brief text metadata about the story or song-- artist, host, reporter or program name.  In addition, the producer can add images and links.  (Click here to learn more about the content producer role)
  2. PRSS' MetaPub "metadata clearinghouse" gathers that data from producers and provides it to the public radio system via a programmatic API.
  3. At public radio stations, middleware applications such as ArcticPalm, Tagstation, and others are fed the specific station schedule information and automatically reach out to the MetaPub API to gather and pull in realtime or time-delayed metadata.  Those applications then automatically forward the data to enabled HD, RBDS, NextRadio and public radio station streaming systems.  (Click here, to learn more about the public radio station role)
  4. Public Radio listeners' experience is significantly enhanced with text, image and link metadata that piques and sustains their interest.

Note: Neither stations nor listeners have any direct interaction with the MetaPub metadata clearinghouse.  Rather, that interaction should be handled by middleware applications.  This means the initial setup will be much easier, and the listener's experience will remain station-centric.


What end devices will be supported?

  • HD Radio / Connected Cars:  Listeners will see station information, per-story/song information, and an image
  • NextRadio (TagStation):  Listeners will see station information, per-story/song information, and an image.  A list of supported phones can be found on the NextRadio website.
  • RBDS Radios:  Listeners will see per-story/song information
  • Web Streaming:  The configuration is up to the station.  Per-story/song information, image are available, in addition to local station information


What do we mean by "middleware applications"?

We're using the term "middleware" to mean software applications that run at a station, or in the cloud on a station's behalf, to support the connection of station automation systems to other tools such as HD encoders, NextRadio receivers, RBDS receivers, etc. The TagStation site has a list of middleware vendors.


What does MetaPub do right now?

  • MetaPub is currently up and running 24x7 as a fully supported PRSS metadata pipeline, with redundancy and failover features.
  • We are currently working with a small pool of stations, producers, and middleware vendors to learn more about what works and doesn't work.   We're especially working to learn more about the day-to-day work processes at both producer and station sites, so we can make metadata adoption as easy as possible.  When this period is ended, we plan to expand the metadata features and applications to the entire system.
  • MetaPub currently provides realtime metadata for Classical 24 and for all hours of the major NPR drivetime news magazines: All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition Saturday, Weekend Edition Sunday, and Weekend All Things Considered.  
  • MetaPub already supports stations that play those programs live or delayed.   It does not yet support stations who reorder the programming, as MetaPub currently depends on the order of the stories to correctly synchronize audio and metadata.  We plan to handle re-ordered segments in a future release.
  • At this time MetaPub only supports live programming, and we are starting work on support for file-based programs.


What are the future plans for MetaPub?

MetaPub is currently an 'initial release' and is in active development.   We plan to continue to grow the expanding pool of enabled producers, middleware vendors, and stations.

Our future plans include:

  • Enabling MetaPub to work with pre-recorded file-based programming
  • Handling re-ordered/shuffled program audio segments
  • Providing metrics, data and feedback to both producers and stations
  • Working to provide tips, documentation, links, and other information sources for stations who want to get started
  • Writing applications and documentation to make implementation easier and more fluid for both producers and stations
  • Working with the industry to demonstrate the viability of metadata-enabled listening devices
  • Integrating with more producers, more middleware vendors, and more stations


How can I get involved?

MetaPub is a federation of producers and stations working together to improve the quality of the public radio station listening experience.
Click here to learn how public radio producers can work with PRSS to connect to the MetaPub system.
Click here to learn how stations can get up and running with MetaPub-enhanced national metadata.
Click here for a guide from the National Association of Broadcasters on how to make your listeners’ digital dashboards display metadata more effectively.
Click here for the Digital Dashboards Best Practices Report, produced by the NAB.