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.
“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.