Do you want to send Now Playing Song Data to your RDS Encoder using the UECP Protocol, from your Radio Automation System? MetaRadio makes this possible. This article explains the setup of MetaRadio and UECP, allowing the current song title and artist to be sent to RDS-equipped radio receivers.
Sending song now-playing information to your RDS Encoder has clear advantages for your listeners and also your station. Now Playing data enhances the listener experience by allowing them to discover new tracks. Sending additional messages such as promotional or advertising messages provides an additional revenue opportunity.
What is UECP?
UECP is a generic protocol used to configure RDS Encoders and send dynamic data to them. It is supported to varying degrees in most new RDS Encoders, although proprietary protocol are still pretty common too.
Your RDS Encoder likely supports two different protocols to receive data – UECP and ASCII. ASCII commands are simple text commands (e.g. TEXT=My Message), whereas UECP is a more advanced protocol that allows us to send more advanced data, such as RadioText+.
For more details about RDS, see our explainer article about FM RDS.
MetaRadio can send RadioText and RadioText+ data to UECP-equipped RDS Encoders via TCP or UDP. If your RDS Encoder supports UECP, there’s a very good chance we can send data to it.
If you don’t have a UECP-equipped RDS encoder, you can use the StereoTool software as a software-based RDS Encoder and Audio Processor.
What is MetaRadio?
MetaRadio is software which acts as a connector for your radio station’s metadata. It enables you to send your now playing data to dozens of different types of systems (including RDS Encoders), and also unlocks new opportunities for revenue and promotions by inserting commercial and non-commercial messages between your song data. While many automation systems can send data directly to some of these third party broadcast systems, MetaRadio aims to connect all your systems together and provide advanced features.
MetaRadio takes all the hard work out of connecting your metadata. There’s no need for custom scripting – MetaRadio does everything you need out of the box.
Getting Song Data From your Radio Automation System
Before you can send your song metadata to your UECP RDS Encoder, you must first install MetaRadio and connect it to your radio automation system.
MetaRadio has over 30 different input system – including all the major Radio Automation System vendors. If you don’t have reliable metadata available in your automation system, you may like to consider using radio stream fingerprinting software with MetaRadio.
There is a free trial available of MetaRadio so you can test the entire system before committing to purchase.
Configuring your RDS Encoder to accept UECP
Your RDS Encoder needs to be configured before MetaRadio can send any data to it. Configuration varies between encoder manufacturers and individual models. You will need to do this within your RDS Encoder’s configuration software, or the front screen on your encoder hardware.
In general, you will need to:
- Enable UECP data input
- Set the mode to UECP
- Select between TCP and UDP (we suggest TCP for beginners as it’s easier to troubleshoot)
- Set a port number
This screenshot shows these simple settings in StereoTool’s RDS Encoder:
Sending Now Playing Data to your RDS Encoder via UECP
Now we have successfully configured MetaRadio, our Automation System, and have the connection details for our RDS Encoder – we are ready to connect all these systems together.
All configuration in this step is done in the MetaRadio Configuration App. By default, the MetaRadio configuration app is available by going to http://127.0.0.1:9606/
MetaRadio’s configuration interface lets you control all settings within MetaRadio.
- The left contains the menu with various options – including the Input and Output settings.
- The centre of the screen contains information about your system, including license details, and a summary of the inputs and outputs you have setup.
The options you see available will vary depending on the version you have installed, and the license options you have installed.
In the left menu of MetaRadio, click on “Outputs”. Find your station, and click “Add Output”. Now you can select UECP from the list, and configure its settings.
Click “Add Output System” under the UECP Heading. You can now configure your connection. You can now enter your connection details to your RDS Encoder. The fields you will need for your connection are:
- IP Address – this is the IP Address of your RDS Encoder
- Port Number – this is the UECP Port Number of your RDS Encoder
- TCP/UDP – Most RDS Encoders allow you to send either TCP or UDP. Use this dropdown to select your configured method.
- TCP Connection Mode – When sending data via TCP, ‘Persistent’ mode keeps a TCP connection open, and ‘Transient’ mode will disconnect at the end of every message and re-connect again as needed.
- Reguarly Resend Data? – Enable this option to re-send the same data repeatedly. Some encoders need this.
You can also configure your message settings:
- Now-Playing Text Format – these messages will be sent via RadioText whenever a track is currently playing. You can have multiple messages rotate by clicking the “Add Item” button.
- Default/Fallback Text – these messages will be sent via RadioText whenever a track is not currently playing. You can have multiple messages rotate by clicking the “Add Item” button.
- Message Interval – this is the quantity of seconds to wait before rotating to the next message.
- Uppercase Text – enable this option to uppercase all messages automatically
Click Save, and then click “Apply & Restart” up the top to restart MetaRadio.
The black MetaRadio window will now display a status update whenever a new messages is sent to your RDS Encoder. If you don’t see any errors when data is sent, you can check your RDS Encoder & RDS Monitor to see if the data is being output correctly.
If data is not being received, check the following:
- Check the connection parameters on your RDS Encoder.
- Check the black MetaRadio status windows for errors.
- Check your network allows connections from your MetaRadio PC to your RDS Encoder.
- Check your UECP Output settings are configured correctly.
Support & Next Steps
Thanks for choosing MetaRadio to manage your now playing song data needs. Make sure you explore all the features, such as station scheduling, message scheduling, and all of our advanced output options. Please get in touch with us if you ever need assistance!
If you have any trouble with this process or it’s not working, please send the MetaRadio Support Bundle through to our support team. We’re here to help! You’ll find the support bundle file in MetaRadio’s dashboard.