What are ClockWheels?

ClockWheels is a tool which lets you easily schedule events that contain similar elements that occur at the same time or in the same sequence. ClockWheels is like a template script for generating playlists and scheduling those playlists as events.

The term "clockwheel" (or format wheel) comes from terrestrial radio broadcasting, and refers to the cycle of when specific events happen during broadcasting. For example, the phrase "bottom of the hour" references the wheel of the clock and indicates that a track will be played at thirty minutes after the current hour, when the minute hand is pointing to the bottom of the wheel.


The actual track that will be played is not manually selected, but each line item is predefined so that the broadcaster is deciding what kind of track will be played and when. A quick Google Image Search shows some visual images of what a radio ClockWheel looks like. This approach to music rotation ensures that new ("hot," "current") songs are played at specific times of the day. It is also a convenient way to schedule ads, jingles, sweepers, and shout outs.

Our ClockWheels module lets you create long events without having to manually make a playlist. You pick the track Types and Categories you want to be included in the template of the ClockWheel, and then the system automatically fills the event according to your specifications. ClockWheels let you schedule the same kind of event many times without having to make multiple playlists. It does the work for you, playing a different mix of tracks each time you schedule a variation of the template.

An important concept of ClockWheels is that they work like loops. Your ClockWheel could have 5 line items and you might schedule the ClockWheel for 2 hours. The Type or Category of these 5 tracks decides which tracks are picked in order to comprise the 2 hour event.

First, make sure you are editing the station where you want to make these changes. Highlight and click the station name to select it. If you are unfamiliar with how to navigate this part of Live365, please see this help article which describes dashboard navigation.

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Once you have selected the appropriate station, you will be taken to that station's menu page. From this page, you will be able to navigate and make changes and adjustments to your station. 

Getting started with ClockWheels

You'll want to make sure that your uploaded files are assigned the correct Type or Category. Songs should be set to the "Music" type, and your "Categories" should reflect your genre groupings of tracks. You might use a "Current" category to keep track of newer songs. You might organize your library by tagging the tracks with genres and thus have many categories such as "Rock" or "Acoustic." 

NOTE: No matter what your approach, you'll want to make sure you assign the correct Type and Categories before making your ClockWheels.

To begin, click "Schedule" from the station menu to access the ClockWheels module.  Next, select "Clockwheels" from the drop-down menu, as indicated below.

This will take you to the main ClockWheels screen. To Create a new ClockWheel, click on the orange "Add Clockwheel" button.

In the "Add ClockWheel" pane, follow these steps:

1) Here is where you will type in the name of your ClockWheel. Entering a unique name will help to identify each individual ClockWheel, if you program more than one.

2) Optionally, you can select a color to associate with your ClockWheel.

3) After entering a name and selecting a color option, click the green "Save" button to record your changes.

 From the "ClockWheels" window, click the name of the ClockWheel to bring up the editor screen.

This is where you will add the entries to the ClockWheel "template". These entries are the lines which call for certain kinds of tracks to be played in a certain order. The entries can be rearranged as you go.

NOTE: At this time, we only support 30 entries in 1 ClockWheel. With a diverse library, you can make very long events from just 5 to 8 entries.

In the first drop-down menu, pick which Type or Category (1) you want to add to the ClockWheel. Next, pick one of the selection Algorithms (2), which helps decide what tracks are chosen when you create an event. Click the green "Save"  to record your selection. 

Here is a description of the Selection Algorithms:

  • Random - Picks any track at random from your library within the selected Type, while following the AutoDJ Separation Rules.
  • Oldest Album - Picks any track at random from your library within the selected Type and from the album least recently played.
  • Oldest Artist - Picks any track at random from your library within the selected Type and from the least recently played artist.
  • Oldest Track - Picks any track at random from your library within the selected Type and from the least recently played tracks.
  • Most Recent Album - Picks any track at random from your library within the selected Type and from the album most recently played.
  • Most Recent Artist - Picks any track at random from your library within the selected Type and from the most recently played artist.
  • Most Recent Track - Picks any track at random from your library within the selected Type and from the most recently played tracks.

NOTE: The default track selection rules are set by your AutoDJ Separation Rules configuration. ClockWheels follows these rules as well. Your ClockWheels Selection Algorithm for each track follows the Separation Rules in the AutoDJ Settings. This lets you have fine control over how often albums, artists, and tracks can be picked to play by both AutoDJ and ClockWheels.


Creating and Scheduling a ClockWheel

In this example, we have 4 line items in the ClockWheel. When scheduled as an event, the system will pick tracks at random and according to the algorithm and rules we've configured.

  1. A "Station ID" selected at Random
  2. Music tagged with the "Top 40 Songs" category and selecting the "Oldest" track
  3. A selection from the main "Music" category (all tracks) and selecting a track at "Random."
  4. Music tagged with the "80S ROCK" category and selecting a track from the "Oldest Artist"

When this ClockWheel is scheduled as a 1 hour event, we see that the 4 line items are looped or repeated for each iteration of the ClockWheel. The event will now be full of tracks which aligns with the pattern that we've programmed in the image above. Here are the first 3 loops:


Scheduling a ClockWheel

1) From the station menu, select "Schedule" then "Events" from the drop-down menu.

2) From the "Schedule Events" window, click the orange "Create Event" button

3) When the "Add Event" pane opens, configure the following options:

  • Title: Enter a name for the event
  • Start: Select the date and time for the event to begin
  • Duration: Enter the amount of time in hours and minutes for this event
  • Recurring: Select the days of the week that this new event will occur
  • Until: Choose the time and date that this event will end
  • Source: Select which type of event will be scheduled, Playlist or Clockwheel.
  • Playlist/Clockwheel: When you make a "Source" selection, as indicated above, you can select from the available options
  • Scheduling: Select whether your event will be "Flexible" or "Strict." Selecting the "Flexible" option will allow the currently playing track to finish before this event starts (The start of the event may be delayed). Selecting the "Strict" option will start the event at the scheduled time and cut-off the currently playing track. Additionally, you can select to have the tracks within your "Source" option crossfade by selecting that option. 

When you click "Save," the ClockWheel module will generate the event. It will calculate how to place the tracks according the track Types, Categories, selection Algorithms and Separation Rules for the duration you've set the event for.

Don't forget to place your ad triggers!

If you are on a With Ads package, you need to schedule ad breaks in ClockWheels just as you do with regular Playlists. If you forget to schedule 4 minutes of ads for every hour of broadcasting, your station will be out of compliance and you will not accrue ad impressions. Note that Ads are a track Type, just as with Station IDs. They come in 3 lengths.

When this ClockWheel is scheduled, we see the "repeating pattern" of an ID being played, then 3 Random tracks, followed by a 60 second ad. 

Scheduling ClockWheels as Recurring Events

ClockWheels are essentially playlist generators. This means that you can create recurring events from the playlists that they output, with one important difference. When you schedule a ClockWheel as a Recurring Event over several time slots, days, or weeks, then you will not see the Tracks tab at the top of the subsequent events. The track listing will be generated 12 to 24 hours before the recurring event is scheduled to start, and may remain blank until then.

The tracks for the following events will be picked 12 to 24 hours before the event is scheduled to play. This is done so that the pool of available tracks that the ClockWheel can select from is more accurate. ClockWheels and AutoDJ need to cooperate in calculating and forecasting which tracks can be played and when. Because of the added complexity that the Selection Algorithm rules in your ClockWheel add, it will wait until the event is closer before picking out which tracks best fit your desired outcome.

Errors that may occur

There are several logic checks that a ClockWheel must go through every time it attempts to pull tracks to be played. Because of the many variables involved, it's quite easy to make a ClockWheel template that fails and therefore won't schedule or will cause the AutoDJ to fall back to a random rotation. For every single line in a ClockWheel, the following things are queried before a track is pulled for playback:

  1. The most common cause is not having enough tracks of a specific Category or Type. The system might be able to pull a track from "1980's" or "High Rotation" the first 3 times that the ClockWheel loops, but on the 4th time, there are not enough "1980's" tracks for it to pull from.
  2. Proper metadata (tracks from "Untitled Album" are all considered to be the same album)
  3. The depth (size) and uniqueness of your uploaded MP3 library
  4. DMCA rule violations inside the ClockWheel template
  5. AutoDJ Separation Rules
  6. ClockWheel Selection Algorithm (Random, Least Recently Played Album, etc.)
  7. DMCA violations caused by events on the Scheduler 3 hours before and 3 hours after the attempted time of playback
  8. A specific category has tracks with different Media Types assigned. This error occurs when a specific Category from your ClockWheel has tracks that are different Media Types. In other words, there are mixed IDs, Promos, Talk, or Music tracks under the same category tag.

Related Articles:

Track Types
Track Categories
ClockWheels as AutoDJ
AutoDJ Separation Rules
Advanced ClockWheel Programming