Collecting issues regarding Radio & Podcasts recordings

What follows is a rather long discussion of the ambiguities I have encountered while adding radio and podcast episodes to the database. I make some suggestion about missing features but the primary point is that such episodic entities should be treated as standalone recordings until there is an unambiguous “release.” This doesn’t necessarily conflict with current guideline but rather suggests an order of priority.

What is the current consensus?
There has been a lot of discussion regarding the broadcast guidelines for episodic audio programs, such as radio programs and podcasts.

But there has been little consensus and the guidelines have remained mostly unchanged.

I’ve personally taken to entering standalone recordings for each episode and using relationships to associate recordings through a series. I think this is the most conservative approach, avoiding the creation of unnecessary release and release group entities.

This thread is for documenting missing features required to make this approach more robust.

What is a release/release group?
Current guidelines suggest that every episode of a series or podcasts should be associated with a corresponding release and release group. The naming convention for both entities and the track title is YYYY-MM-DD: Program Name[ #1234][, “Program Title”][: Location]

This assumes a broadcast recording is also a release but broadcast recordings can exist without releases. If I hear an episode broadcast on the radio I know the recording exists even if there is never a release containing the recording. Hence, most broadcast recordings are simply standalone recordings which do not require corresponding releases or release groups.

There are unofficial approaches to handling broadcast releases which are also problematic.

Take for example, The Goon Show

This treats The Goon Show as a unified release with series numbers as media numbers and episode numbers as tracks.

However, this “release” doesn’t exist in the real world. There is nowhere I can go to download an album called “The Goon Show” which contains those tracks in that order. It’s a fictitious release created to fill a gap.

The problem is this style discourages the use of the superior series and sub-series relationships. Rather than hard coding each series as a different media, sub-series could be created for each broadcast series and then collected into a larger overall The Goon Show series. You could also create a separate series which lists every episode chronologically.

What is a broadcast relationship?
The current guidelines understand a broadcast as a release and release group, but this leads to confusion and limitations. A broadcast is obviously quite different from a traditional physical or digital release. There is an ephemeral quality to a broadcast. It is a discreet event which happens over a specific length of time.

Hence, the need for a broadcast credit for Label, Place and/or Area. Each episode is a standalone recording which is either recorded prior to or at the time of broadcast depending on the nature of the program. A recording is broadcast by a label/channel (NPR) from a place/station (KWMU 90.7 FM) in an area (St. Louis, Missouri, United States) at or from a specific time (4:00) on or from a specific date (2023-11-07).

One benefit of this approach is that when a program is later packaged as a physical (book-on-tape) or digital (audible) release, the original broadcast date is associated with the recording. A release’s recordings would then include the relevant credit originally broadcast by.

Another issue this would address is repeat broadcasts.

Websites like British Comedy Guide and BBC Radio include extensive data about repeat broadcasts. Current guidelines would require distinct releases for every repeat broadcast which would create a lot of redundant and unnecessary data.

I’ve already opened a ticket addressing this feature

Since this feature is currently missing, I have taken to adding annotations to recordings which included the original broadcast date and channel.

What is a series?
A recording belongs to a Series but some series have sub-series. For example, a radio program may consist of Series 1, Series 2, etc. Sub-series should follow the standard naming convention unless they have a unique title.

As in:
“Series Title, Series 1” part of “Series Title”
or “Sub-series Title” part of “Series Title”

Additional series relationships would be helpful. For example, a series might be created by an artist or adapted from a work (such as a novel). There are also discreet types of series. A broadcast series may be distinct from an ongoing series.

Series may also be official or unofficial. As in, unofficial trilogies of related works or fan-curated series for a featured performer.

What is “live”?
Is a broadcast “live” if it is pre-recorded in front of a live studio audience or is a broadcast “live” if it is recorded at the time of broadcast (such as a live call-in show)? The common understanding in broadcast media is that a show is only “live” if it is happening at the time of broadcast, such as Saturday Night Live. A broadcast relationship may need to be able to distinguish a “live” broadcast distinct from the recording.

What about podcasts?
If a broadcast isn’t a release, what about a podcast? I think it would be a stretch to say that a podcast is “broadcast” in any meaningful sense of the word. But podcasts do not readily conform to the traditional concepts of releases or release groups either. There may be a comparable relationship type for podcast but I’m not sure. I think podcasts may be better understood as pre-release recordings which are only associated with a release when they are explicitly bundled together. Hardcore History is a good example of this type of podcast release structure. Each episode is “broadcast” on the public rss feed before being bundled as a official release in the store.

What about everything else?

These are the more prominent issues I have encountered so far, but I am going to continue adding to this thread as needed. Hopefully we can get some movement behind filling in some of these missing features to improve broadcast recordings.

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I’ve part skimmed your post, but will return to it.

One of the positives of the way that The Goons recordings are gathered in that Release Group is you can find them under the artist The Goons. Have you looked at the Recordings Page on The Goons? So many recordings are repackaged and re-issued on different media meaning they appear multiple times in a chaotic list that is 18 pages long. Stand Alone recordings would be lost in that chaos.

The current solution of grouping these as a list you can reference is a huge positive that allows you to find which episode is from which series. One nice accessible reference set giving out more data on that page than you get from a Series which current GUI hides from the Artist page and so much information is not shown on a Series page when compared with Release pages.

An episode of a radio show is Released on the radio. It exists in the real world.
Broadcast \ played out live on that medium. Maybe later it makes its way to a tape, but it has been Released. This is why MB has a Broadcast group.

Same way as a Podcast is released to a website to be download as an MP3 or streaming only. Episodic shows for listening to.

If The Goon Show was being broadcast today then there would be Releases on iPlayer at the same time that could be streamed.

It is also worth noting that with old series like The Goon Show there does tend to be all kinds of unofficial bootlegs that float around of the shows, even whole websites dedicated to downloading these. That RG does allow the user to identify these various shows no matter where they got them from.

Compare these two examples you are quoting and answer me which is the richest in the performance data you get from viewing on the page?

A Series is a list, whereas a Release page is rich with information

I’ve spent many hours on the Goon Show pages, documenting tapes and CDs. Fixing what used to be a chaotic mess of bad categories. @eloise_freya’s huge list was a joy to see when it arrived as it was one clean place to document every episode in broadcast order, grouped by series. Somewhere to attach performers, producers, dates and details. I have a slow mission working through dating recordings and adding deeper detail.

As an example of how valuable this data is I just see today that we have lost yet another brilliant independent fan’s reference site. is now gone :frowning: Thankfully it is on thewaybackmachine but this shows why what we do at MB is so valuable.

The BBC pages change often, and rarely hold the details that fan sites do.

Also “repeat showing” dates are almost impossible to keep track of. Some Goons episodes will have been put on the radio thousands of times. The first broadcast dates are the most useful alongside the recording dates.

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hello im here to also add more chaos;

so I have added a few podcast episodes using this guide that @aerozol drafted:

Exhibit A

Exibit B

Exhibit C

I’ll explain my chaos in a follow up reply

An episode of a radio show is Released on the radio. It exists in the real world.
Broadcast \ played out live on that medium. Maybe later it makes its way to a tape, but it has been Released. This is why MB has a Broadcast group.

I think the Goon Show style is superior specifically because it does not treat every episode as a Release. If we change the guidelines so that episodes are entered as recordings without corresponding releases, it would not necessarily conflict with the Goon Show style. Recordings could optionally be added to either a series or a fictitious release depending on the preference of the editor. I think this is the best compromise for simplifying the guidelines while also preserving Goon Show style releases. It would give a clear path for adding episodes but remain agnostic as to how they are grouped together.

Compare these two examples you are quoting and answer me which is the richest in the performance data you get from viewing on the page?

I agree. I think the Goon Show example is currently the best looking/most comprehensive approach to presenting this type of data. But this is because the release view is relatively mature compared to the series view. I think in order for the Series style to be a viable alternative to the Goon Show style, the series view needs to be aesthetically and practically comparable to the release view. This would entail adding detailed track information, new artists relationship types, ongoing/ended status, cover art support, automatic sorting by tags and batch editing. It would also mean adding a Series section to the main page of an artist. In other words, it’s a long ways away from being a drop in replacement, but I think in the long run it’s a superior choice.

The Goon Show style has some serious limitations. For example, if I have a show without broadcast dates or episode numbers it is unclear how I should order the tracks. Do I alphabetize them? Are episodes with broadcast dates sorted higher? Should I put everything be on a single media? These are the kinds of questions I try to avoid as an editor because I know future edits will require changes to media, track ordering, and track titles which can be cumbersome and might require peer review.

Also “repeat showing” dates are almost impossible to keep track of. Some Goons episodes will have been put on the radio thousands of times. The first broadcast dates are the most useful alongside the recording dates.

I think a broadcast by credit would need to have a checkbox for distinguishing original and repeat broadcasts. In most cases, the only relevant information is the original date but I think that having the repeat dates would be interesting for tracking a shows popularity. Obviously, for something like the Goon Show it would be just about impossible to track all repeats.

As an example of how valuable this data is I just see today that we have lost yet another brilliant independent fan’s reference site. is now gone :frowning: Thankfully it is on thewaybackmachine but this shows why what we do at MB is so valuable.

A lot of those fan sites are getting long in the tooth. I’ve been meaning to enter data from this old Fist of Fun fan site before it disappears forever. I’ve got hundreds of tracks I’ve been waiting to add, I just want to make sure I’m doing it in the best way possible.

@eloise_freya created something that works well with the GUI MB has now. It is visually data rich and an easy resource to use. It encourages a user to add more of those details. A MB series is just a list lacking so much in visually accessible data. It is a long way from being able to provide real information to the user. You loose so much information using a flat list like that.

But this is an issue that often occurs with normal musical releases. We don’t always have dates available, so data is added in a best we can format. If you don’t know when a CD was released, it does not get a date. And later someone comes along with a different reference.

Same would be relevant with a broadcast show. No matter if it was “The Goon Show Style” or “Release Group per show” style. You’d still just add the data you have to the best of the resource you have to hand. A later editor can then extend your work.

One of the puzzles I have always seen is how to show the original releases alongside the reissues on other medium.

Seeing that list that you are calling “The Goon Show Style” lets things work well when mixed in with other releases on the same Artist page. As it only takes up a single Release Group it is then easy to see it among the other Release Groups for the reissued CDs and tapes. It is also easy to define the Series over the years.

If someone like Alexis Sayle then does a different show with a different title, a new Release Group will keep those together.

A style that creates a Release Group per SHOW rapidly fills up many pages on an Artists page and drowns the user in data without really gaining in information.

With a Broadcast show, it is a single Recording.

When transferred to cassette it usually stays as one recording per show, but now you have two shows per cassette, four shows per Release. A 30 mins episode per side from a mixture of series.

Problem comes when you hit CDs. These often split the show into lots of separate parts, short 5/10 mins of a sketch, or musical number. So a single show is now 20 recordings.

I have often puzzled as to how we relate the reissues on cassette\CD with the original shows.

In most cases the Broadcast recording is the same as the Cassette and CD release. Though other times the musical numbers are trimmed out, or some chunks get censored.

Your suggested Series is going to hit a bit of a minefield with these reissues as some people will get confused and put other recordings in. Maybe they’ll pick one from a cassette, or add a couple of standalones, then try and mix in an LP track. It feels like more potential for confusion.

I don’t know an answer and already talked too much. I keep mentioning @eloise_freya name hoping it will do the Beetlejuice trick and make them appear after saying their name three times. They have entered a huge volume of BBC radio shows and would be interesting to hear their opinion. All I have done is tidy up a number of artists like Douglas Adams, The Goons, etc. and spent hours on adding the little bits of data found on the artwork.

In my mind, the original broadcast is the primordial recording, all later releases (or fictitious releases) are derived from the original broadcast recording. There is a relationship which exists between recordings called “edit of”. For these Goon show compilations which stretch episodes across several tracks, I think each track should be related as an edit of the original broadcast recording. This could cause issues with performer credits. For example, Peter Seller might appear in the episode but not on the particular track, but i think it makes the most sense because those tracks are ultimately derived from the broadcast recording.

One advantage that does pop-up with the CD splits is the two musical interludes per episode can get full credits and be linked to a relevant work. Not as easy to associate in a single recording episode.

I’ve been wondering about how to handle theme songs. If the same song appears at the beginning of every episode, should the composer always be credited alongside the writers, should it be related to a work entity for the theme song, or should the recording be linked to a separate theme song recording?