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Recombinant Scheduling posted on May 30th, 2022

Recombinant Scheduling for Priority Categories

By Laurie Knapp

With every major version release, we aim to introduce an innovative Scheduling method that works under the hood to give better results. In Version 8, there is a new mode called Recombinant Scheduling. It appears as an option in the Search Depth window (Schedule Properties).

This is a special function that was designed for fast rotation priority categories (search depth of 1) and for stations that struggle to separate multiple songs by the same contributing artists that are in high rotation.

This situation creates difficulties in passing artist separation rules because the songs in your priority categories can only play in the schedule order defined for their category. By the nature of how songs and categories rotate at different speeds against each other, sometimes you end up with artist conflicts and rule violations or Unscheduled Positions that you have to fill and juggle manually.

Recombinant Scheduling allows MusicMaster to juggle these songs around for you within the positions available for that category in the same hour to find the best combination that violates the fewest rules. This not only saves you time trying to make those changes manually, but is more likely to find the least rule violating pattern.

It’s important to note that while the Scheduler is of course looking backwards across hours to find artist conflicts, the shuffling itself only happens within the hour. That way, Hour Rotation for those songs are not impacted, as they will still play within the intended hour, just in a different position or quarter hour.

To use Recombinant Scheduling mode on a category, go to Dataset > Schedule > Schedule Properties and select it as an option from the Search Depth drop down. Note that if you want to use Recombinant Scheduling in some dayparts and not others, you can use the Levels feature. This allows you to assign a certain selection of search depth settings to a specific daypart, stored as a Level.

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Recombinant Scheduling and Rules

Your rule settings are up to you, and either Breakable or Unbreakable rules will still work in conjunction with Recombinant Scheduling. As always, you can adjust your rule settings until you get the results you desire and use MusicMaster’s various analysis tools to look at the recommended separation values for each category.

Your choices also depend on what you’re looking to accomplish. Previously, you may have excluded your priority categories from any kind of rules because you wanted to play those songs in order and let everything else schedule around them.

When you have multiple priority categories, or artists appearing on multiple records within your priority categories, you may need to have rules to keep those artists from playing too closely together. Depending on your preferences, you can choose to use either Unbreakable or Breakable rules.

If you use Unbreakable rules, Recombinant Scheduling will do its best to shuffle the songs around within the hour so there are no artist conflicts that violate the rules. But if this is impossible given your separation settings, it will relax the Unbreakable rules just enough to make something work. This is how you might act when manually editing the log. If you find your rule settings are too restrictive, you might also consider relaxing them.

If you use Breakable rules, Recombinant Scheduling will also do its best to shuffle songs around the hour in such a way that all your breakable rules are met. As you’d expect, though, it will break the rules if it must. The good news is, because of Recombinant Scheduling’s unique shuffling ability, the Scheduler will have more options to pass your breakable rules and you’ll end up with far less rule violations than had you just plotted all your songs in schedule order.

Example Use

Let’s walk through an example of how Recombinant Scheduling helps schedule two priority categories with overlapping artists (Categories A and B). Here are the rule settings I chose:

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I’ve chosen to set Unbreakable rules on both those categories. I want my primary artists to be separated by 35 minutes. However, it’s less important to me that there be a large separation between contributing artists. To avoid them playing back-to-back, I’ve just added a 6-minute separation to the All Keywords field, which contains all my primary and contributing artists.

You can see the result of Recombinant Scheduling in the following log. Here, the original schedule order is marked for illustration purposes using the numbers in the Q column, as well as within the song title.

(To create your own schedule order field like this, you can add a text field in Dataset > Library > Fields. Then sort your category by schedule order by right-clicking on the upper left corner of the grid, or referencing Schedule > Schedule Order. You can then fill in numbers in order from top to bottom.)

Categories H and C are priority categories that only play once an hour, so I didn’t need to use Recombinant Scheduling with them. Instead, they were scheduled in order during the first Scheduling Pass. I then scheduled A and B around them using the Recombinant Scheduling mode.

In the image below, you can see that the blue highlighted songs by DJ Khaled would have been in conflict if they’d scheduled in order at 1:44am and 2:11am (less than 35 min apart). So, MusicMaster instead swapped the third song in the stack (“MASK OFF”) up to that second position at 2:11am, and saved Song 2 (“Shining”) for the next position where it had no conflict.

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For another example, we can see how Recombinant Scheduling improved the separation between my secondary artists.

As you can see, the changes need not be dramatic. For the most part, MusicMaster will schedule your songs in their original order, and only make the swaps necessary to resolve conflicts so you don’t have to worry about them.

If you’re scheduling a current or tight rotating format, we encourage you to give Recombinant Scheduling a try. You may also want to try out different rule settings and check out the results to see what works best for you.

If you have any questions, talk to your MusicMaster Scheduling Consultant.