I've been using Raduga to run the station for almost six years.  I have considered switching to something more sophisticated, but every time I evaluate other software, I come up with the nagging question "What for?"  So far, I've never had any listener say "Your automation sucks." 

The fact of the matter is it works fine and it's very easy to use - even my computer-phobic helpers seem to be able to figure it out.  It has never crashed and even if we make some boneheaded mistake, the on the air product still sounds like we intended it to be that way.  It covers human errors quite nicely.  In six years of using this program, I've figured out quite a few workarounds that make it do some things that more exotic programs can do.

There is a music scheduler add on for Raduga.  I haven't bothered to use it. One day I figured out that if I make up rotations of songs by genre or style, I can then make a master playlist of those genre's, which controls the over-all sound of the station.  That pretty well insures that you won't hear the same artist back to back with himself, unless you intentionally schedule it that way.  It is very simple to do, and makes changing the sound of the station very easy. 

Because Raduga contains a very easy to use scheduling program, you can have as many of these master playlists as you want, each one controlling a different set of music rotations.  If you want, you can change the feel (or even the format) of the station throughout the day.  For instance, on Sunday, from 12:01 until 8:00 AM, we are softer Standards. From 8:00 to 11:00 we are Gospel.  At 11, we run our normal Standards format until 8:00 PM, when we switch to Old Time Radio until 9:30.  When that is done, we return to a softer Standards format, and so it goes.  Programming this is very easy to do.

The scheduler also allows you to program legal ID's, spot breaks, special programs, liners, news or whatever you want.  You can even make it so that Elvis sings at the top of the hour if you want.  The program can also be run in a manual mode for live assist.  It is possible to use it with external relays to control network feeds, and you can program it to accept a "live" input from an outside source.  It is pretty versatile.

Basically, it does everything I need it to do.  I don't remember what it cost six years ago, but it was not terribly expensive.  In the great scheme of things, the cost was not a major factor.  I know there are cheaper solutions out there, including Zara, which is free.
It looks a lot like Raduga, but having messed with it, I still thought Raduga was worth paying for. There are lots of good choices these days.  Ease of use is a big deciding factor in my book.  In the long run, saving a hundred bucks but making life miserable is not a very good trade off.  The bottom line is once you get something working well for you, there really isn't much incentive to change.  It really doesn't matter what the program is, what matters is it's reliability, and if it works well for you.  I think, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

For what it's worth, I've recommended Raduga to quite a few stations, including a couple of full power commercial ones.  They don't seem to have any regrets either. Most of its fans like it because it is very easy to use and it seems to be bullet proof.  Many of the systems I've tried are so mystifying that it took a day or two just to make them play anything.  Thankfully, most are not that bad.  In fact, there are some very good programs out there.

Chuck Conrad, KZQX-LP, Chalk Hill, TX