Trial Balloon

Mechanical Nomenclature

Posted at 4:38 AM on January 7, 2009 by Dale Connelly (69 Comments)

It is time, dear listeners, to bestow a permanent name on our third staff member, the ubiquitous computer who controls most of Radio Heartland's schedule.

It is truly odd that something as warm and fuzzy-sounding as "Radio Heartland" should be guided by a machine, but that is our reality and it now becomes our job to shape the machine's identity in a way that makes us all more comfortable. Therefore it is our task, dare I say our obligation, to humanize the digital DJ with an acronymic moniker that is not shared by other devices.

Hal, while cozy, is a name with an ominous history. In the book and film 2001, his name stands for Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic Computer, and he winds up being an obstacle to everyone's success. That's not what we want. I don't even understand what "heuristically" means, and that's AFTER reading the definition. People do like the name, however, so Hal remains an option, but with a new, listener-inspired acronym. I have added some choices, as has Mike and several other listeners brave enough to struggle with the task.

Here are the choices. Please vote for one only. "Lizard People" is not an option.
Let the public speak!

Comments (69)

Good Morning! Wanted you to know the I was able to hear "The Introvert Song" yesterday before I left for work. Thank you! Loved all the postings from the shy folks, too.
Also, having trouble with Media Player on my computer since last night! So, no RH for me right now. Can't figure this out - it has worked until now. Help!
I will try the cure all of re-booting.

Posted by t | January 7, 2009 6:13 AM


Posted by Ah-li | January 7, 2009 6:15 AM

Good morning! This is spooky, t, because I'm having trouble with my media player, too. I hear about 10 seconds of song, then it stops. I guess I already have a RH jones, because I'm starting to sweat and panic here, unable to hear the music! Darn electronics! Not a good time for me to name a machine...

Posted by Gail in Wisconsin | January 7, 2009 6:24 AM

Thanks to the Blog, I can now stop worrying that I've somehow broken my computer. I'm having the same problems... in fact, the 10 second that the Player works before quitting, it's playing something entirely different than the HD radio which is playing in the other room. Guess I'll just go turn that one up! Morning Heartlanders!

Posted by Sherrilee | January 7, 2009 6:27 AM

Did you mean vote just one time altogether, or vote for only one at a time each time we vote? I'd also like to know which choices Mike Pengra thought of.

Posted by DK | January 7, 2009 6:28 AM

Good morning.
I cast my vote for your able assistant, Dale. The acronyms are great!
I also am having problems with media player this morning. My husband spent last night at a sleep clinic, so alas, I am on my own to figure this out.
It's going to be a very quiet morning.

Posted by Julie | January 7, 2009 6:29 AM

Sounds like something is blocking the stream - I should have said DAM electronics! Would request a song, but couldn't hear it!

Posted by Gail in Wisconsin | January 7, 2009 6:34 AM

Ditto on the trouble receiving Radio Heartland this morning...and I am out of HD range! Very sad. (The ability to vote unimpaired, however. Very glad.)

Posted by Cynthia in Mahtowa | January 7, 2009 6:34 AM

T, Gail, Sherilee, and Julie - Do you own the slim, hip, good-looking computer or the kind of dowdy, round faced one with glasses? I have the hip model and am experiencing no audio problems whatsoever!

Posted by Donna | January 7, 2009 6:36 AM

I think Hal is upset over the heuristic name consideration and is on some kind of mini-strike in an attempt to drive listeners to other stations as a bargaining tool!

Posted by Jaker | January 7, 2009 6:40 AM

Thank you everybody for sounding the alarm about our streaming problem.
We do not know what is going on.
Is it possible HAL has disconnected the Windows Media connection because receiving a new name is not part of his mission?
Things might get worse before they get better.
Stay tuned (if you can).

Posted by Dale Connelly | January 7, 2009 6:42 AM

I have a slim, HEP, great-looking new Dell XPS M1530 - so no casting aspersions on my laptop!

Posted by Gail in Wisconsin | January 7, 2009 6:43 AM

Hey Donna, the computer is like everything else here: gray-haired, creaky in the joints and slow in the morning! (I even re-downloaded Media Player at 6:05 before I realized it wasn't my issue alone.) Guess the bitstream is just for the hip and cool today. Maybe it will be just for the dowdy and round-glassed tomorrow. Ciao!

Posted by Sherrilee | January 7, 2009 6:44 AM

Donna must be listening to a CD...

Posted by Jaker | January 7, 2009 6:46 AM

I had the same media player problem others reported the morning. I went to the other option for listening, mp3, and some how got the boardcast going.

I willl try to think of my own sugestion for renaming HAL.

Posted by Jim | January 7, 2009 6:47 AM

This is so exciting - some of you are actually talking to me...and all I had to do was try to insult you! I love you guys!

Posted by Donna | January 7, 2009 6:54 AM

Coming through on itunes just fine. Sorry you're having problems. Did have a blip yesterday morning with "rebuffering" but it was fine after reclicking Listen, etc.
Thanks, Dale, for the chance to vote -- they're all great names and I just have to figure out whether to be nostalgic and historical (with one of the J.E. names) or to look forward with one of the other great choices. I didn't particularly like HAL but now that you're honoring him/her as a librarian I may have to think twice about that, too!

Posted by Kris | January 7, 2009 6:58 AM

I think the mp3 option is the itunes player which is also working for me. The windows player is the one that doesn't seem to be working. Maybe you have to have the itunes programs downloaded on your computer to get the itunes player working. I don't know much about this, but I do have itunes programs loaded on my computer.

Posted by Jim | January 7, 2009 7:11 AM

I dunno...I kinda like HAL, and definitely like the "Heartland Audio Librarian" acronym much better.

My media problem yesterday was that I lost my entire main ITunes playlist. I hadn't tuned in at the time, so can't blame it on HAL...

Posted by wendyv | January 7, 2009 7:13 AM

How about DAMMP, Dale and Mike Music Player for a new name for HAL?

Posted by Jim | January 7, 2009 7:17 AM

I think either Jasper or Jeeves is the best - allowing us the illusion that Jim Ed is still with us on the show. Jeeves is rather a subservient name, and I think that our little helper might take umbrage at that connotation! I voted for Jasper because it is dignified without being pretentious, and although I have no idea what an "E-Robot" is all about, it brings some very strange images to mind, including one with a pirate hat and parrot!
Hope that our friendly helper will settle down with a new name and new attitude. Fortunately, have not had too many glitches in listening, other than it takes FOREVER for my computer to warm up in the morning, so I have to fill in with The Current until I can get my I-tunes up and running and get my morning greetings from Dale!

Posted by Lindi | January 7, 2009 7:19 AM

jeeves is perfect! it has the added benefit of providing us with a face to be assigned to the digital dj... the face of stephen fry.

Posted by elinor | January 7, 2009 7:20 AM

Dale and New-Found Friends,
I’ve had a song running through my head that I know I heard on the MS a number of times. It’s a male vocalist. Could be Randy Newman, but I don’t think so. It has a catchy refrain which may or may not consist of these words: Baby won’t you come, Baby won’t you come, Baby won’t you come, Baby won’t you come, Baby won’t you come, Baby won’t you come... The beat goes like this: doot de-doot doot-doot doot de-doot doot-doot doot de-doot doot-doot doot de-doot doot-doot doot de-doot doot-doot ...
This is the best I can do to describe it. Sorry! Do any of you recognize it? Im yearning to hear it again.

Posted by Donna | January 7, 2009 7:21 AM

Good morning all......
This will be a rough morning for me. I need my morning show like I need my coffee!! My options are the Current or KFAI and as I do enjoy both at different times of the day KFAI is playing all Steve Allan today and well the Current is you know the Current without Dale & Jim Ed. I will keep checking the blog to see when it gets fixed.


Posted by Kate | January 7, 2009 7:22 AM

Hey Friends,

Thanks for your posts about your Windows Media audio being cranky. I do think HAL is upset over the voting of a possible name change. Or perhaps it's the cold...or the dark. Whatever the problem, hang in there!

Posted by Mike Pengra | January 7, 2009 7:24 AM

I remember HAL as being a character Jim Ed played years ago during a Morning Show skit...something about a satellite with an attitude reporting back to Earth? So sentimental reasons towards the Morning Show caused me to vote for HAL but then when I read the acronym "Heartland Audio Librarian", it seemed so human that it caused me to like HAL even more!

And, as an aside, I have just tripled my pledge to MPR because instead of listening only 6-9am I now listen all the time to MPR/Radio Heartland. THANK YOU.

Posted by Barb | January 7, 2009 7:36 AM

Hi bloggers,

this is my first post ever! i am a diehard Morning Show fan...goes back to Garrison and Jim Ed. Anyway, I voted JASPER for the sentimentality of keeping Jim Ed with us.

Dale - love hearing your voice still and the music. We bought an HD radio but the (*&^&* thing won't let us program 91.1-2 as an alarm option. oh well, a little bit of news never hurt us i guess.

FYI, i still have winamp on my computer here at work, and it won't relinquish control. The show is coming in loud and clear.


Posted by Kathy | January 7, 2009 7:38 AM

Thanks everyone for the organized complaining about our windows media stream.
The person who is supposed to fix it should roll out of bed about 20 minutes from now. If the bus connections are good, we'll be up and running by 10 o'clock or so. In the meantime, the mp3 stream should work if that option is available to you. Otherwise, you could listen to our rebroadcast from 11 to 1.
Thanks for your patience.

Posted by Dale Connelly | January 7, 2009 7:42 AM

Not to be a know it all geek, but maybe the RH Media encoder needs restarting? That would clear out any memory being "lost" as you may know microsoft software sometimes does.

I must say I do love my HD radio and highly recommend going this route as the sound is better than on many tinny 'puter speakers.

Posted by Kim | January 7, 2009 7:43 AM

Also having problems connecting this morning. I am thankful for the blog so I know it is not my computer problem. Miss hearing the show/music today! As a recent transplant from Mpls to a farm in rural MN in the very tip of SE MN, it has been great being able to stay connected with the Dale Connelly Show - Radio Heartland - through the live stream. I have found that my goats and chickens like the music also. Stay with the name Hal.

Posted by Allan | January 7, 2009 7:52 AM

I don't have iTunes, but the MP3 stream is working fine through RealPlayer so that would be an option for a quick download and install as well.

Posted by Mike from Albert Lea | January 7, 2009 7:53 AM

I voted for HUGH but given the way the morning is going, I'd toss in this name suggestion:

Computational Radio Announcer Needing Kindness Y'all

Isn't there a song about ten thousand robots out there that might let HUGH know how dependent we are?

Posted by Mark | January 7, 2009 7:55 AM

I love it when the choices are too close to pick one easily. Must be some good thinking going on.

I picked Jasper sort at random. "Jeeves" is already working at, and I don't know if I'd trust a staid butler to choose the best music. I still like the idea of a reformed HAL choosing the music, but since I don't want to see Dale driven to an early retirement. But I'll bow to the will of the voting process for the final say. :-)

Posted by John in Paris | January 7, 2009 7:58 AM

I've voted for Hannah and want to campaign for a bit of a feminine touch at Radio Heartland.

As much as I miss Jim Ed, neither of the Jim Ed-inspired acronyms sound much like my image of the old guy (who's still younger than I am).

Posted by Ken in Northfield | January 7, 2009 7:58 AM

Please, please, please make the sound work!

Posted by Alex | January 7, 2009 8:04 AM

Wanted to say that I am VERY happy with the show and the content/concept.
So happy that I doubled my sustaining membership contribution. Keep it up!

Posted by Chad | January 7, 2009 8:05 AM

Did you know that if you order a Peter Mayer cd from the website (you're sent to Amazon) and if you choose two cd's that are said to be by Peter Mayer, that you get one from our Peter Mayer and one from some other guy? Humph!

Changing the subject- I vote for Hal.

Posted by Patricia | January 7, 2009 8:07 AM

Mike from Albert Lea, thanks for the RealPlayer idea - I am now hearing the broadcast!!

Dale and Mike, perhaps for all of us who tried to re-BOOT this morning, do you have "New Shoes" by Paolo Nutini?

Posted by Gail from Wisconsin | January 7, 2009 8:10 AM

It is kind of fun to vote, and then explain why you voted that way. Imagine if you had to write a five hundred word essay for each vote you cast in an election! The election judges would be made up exclusively from retired English teachers.

Back to renaming HAL.

I voted for JASPER. JEEVES is a great name, but Dale and Mike are going to need to create a unique character to explain all of Jasper's idiosyncrasies. JEEVES might carry too much butler baggage. HANAH was my second choice, because it could be a character unique to Radio Heartland as well.

What robot songs can Dale play tomorrow in honor of the new name? Domo arigato Mr. Roboto by Styx comes to mind.

Posted by DanT | January 7, 2009 8:11 AM

Just to clarify, if 'Lizard People' is out, then FSM (Flying Spaghetti Monster) is out too?

Posted by Mike from Albert Lea | January 7, 2009 8:11 AM

Good morning Hal,
I'm writing to you because it appears that your programers have closed the ballot list...but, just in case the there is a tie causing the contest ends up in courts forever, there might be an outside chance for for you to be renamed after a local cherished media favorite. Can you program yourself so that the next time you're turned on you automatically 'google' yourself to display the results for...Cedric Adams! There, Dale will read bits like this: "at one point he (Cedric) did 54 radio shows, eight television broadcasts, and 15 newspaper columns a week!" Dale might see that it might be fitting to rename you 'Cedric', after 'the Voice of Radio' who, in his pre-megabyte era, could still leave a 'Mac' in the dust. John

Posted by John Husband | January 7, 2009 8:27 AM

I'm going with heart being the body part most often sung about. Though feet is a close second.

Posted by hijfte | January 7, 2009 8:30 AM

I would say the heart is the most written-about body part.

Posted by Linda in St. Paul | January 7, 2009 8:30 AM

Regarding the most sung about anatomy ...

I would say it has to be eyes. Can you imagine going on a first date and being swept away by the sparkle in your dates toes?

Posted by DanT | January 7, 2009 8:33 AM

Thanks, Dale and Mike, for your wonderful shoes-for-feet songs!! I'm enjoying this so much!! And I vote for HAL, just because it came before IBM (in the alphabet).

Posted by Gail in Wisconsin | January 7, 2009 8:36 AM

I would say the heart is the most sung about, but never seen!

Well the beautiful sad song "The banks of red roses" by the Battlefield band is an exception.

Posted by DanT | January 7, 2009 8:39 AM

Greetings -

Thanks for Radio Heartland - a real delight ! I love the playlist ! Thanks for the occasional Dylan lately, too - the first few days I thought I had entered a Dylan-free zone...

I'd like to write in TADS for "The All Day Show" for the computer name - I know it's too late - maybe if there's a re-election someday...or if RH2 launches someday....

Since technology issues are on the forefront today - I have a request - could the Playlist be updated at the same time as the Now Playing ? It doesn't update unless the page is manually refreshed.

Good luck taming the misbehaving electrons today!

Posted by Lars | January 7, 2009 8:43 AM

Another confirmation that iTunes is working while Windows Media Player is not. Maybe just an indication that Apple continues its quest for world domination of electronic music? Nah...enough conspiracy mongering for today. I'm glad to see the name HAL go away, unless you could hire Douglas Rain to voice him. I bet you'd run into copyright violations too numerous to think about.

Whatever the computer ends up being named, I think it could use a voice. At least during the Dale Show. Humorous byplay, even with a machine, always helps groggy listeners to waken a little faster.

My $.02.


Posted by Bill | January 7, 2009 8:52 AM

I'm voting for HAL, despite the somewhat sinister prior connotation ("I'm sorry, Dale, I can't open the iPod bay door") because I like the simplicity, the librarian angle, and because I want to let Jim Ed enjoy his retirement and let the focus be on Dale and Mike's new show.

I'm hoping the Windows option works in time for the 11 - 1 replay because I can't download software for personal use (like iTunes) willy-nilly on my office computer!

Posted by Connie | January 7, 2009 8:52 AM

I voted for Hugh because it seemed like the best name. I wish I had looked at the tally first. Hugh doesn't seem to have much of a chance of beating out Jeeves, which has way too much baggage for me. I would have voted for Hal, which has a chance, and I really like that is an acronym for a librarian.

Posted by Donna | January 7, 2009 9:05 AM

Ditto, ditto on the Windows media player; my problem started yesterday afternoon and continues... Luckily I did get a Jenson HD radio for Christmas and, even though the instructions said we couldn't program an HD station in as our "wake up" station, it DID work for us. At work, however, the Windows option is my only outlet and it has been GREAT having the music (& the Dale show!) as my soundtrack for the whole day.

As for the name option -- though I suspect the voting is really closed -- I would also vote for HAL. The acronym sounds perfect to me and the simplicity (& built-in 21st century references) is ideal.

Thanks again, Dale & Mike, for taking on this project for those of us who just couldn't live without the musical variety and honest humor.

Posted by Mary Em | January 7, 2009 9:05 AM

Hey - I've now got the media stream working! Did you fix it or did my punching options work?

Thanks if you fixed it!

Posted by Kim | January 7, 2009 9:12 AM

Jeeves has the baggage - one must, I suppose say luggage - of having served Bertie Wooster as imperturbable valet, butler and general dogs-body in extricating said Bertrand from hundreds of dust-ups and sticky wickets. I'm afraid, Jeeves - even more than HAL - is already taken.

Posted by Claire St. Paul | January 7, 2009 9:40 AM

For fans of the Dale Connelly Show and RH, there's a "Fans of Radio Heartland" Facebook group, if you're into that sort of thing.

Fans of Radio Heartland (click here)

Posted by Ken in Northfield | January 7, 2009 9:41 AM

Whatever was broken on my Mac Windows player yesterday is working today. Thanks for getting the sound working again! In an unexpected surprise, my boss, who usually gives me a wonderful book each Christmas, gave me an HD radio! He knew I was missing your show and the rest of RH at home and decided to fill the void. I am thrilled!

Loved the introvert topic yesterday. As an introvert who has moved steadily toward the "E" side, I've found it's much easier to focus on others and their interesting stories than panicking about what fascinating things I should say.

Thanks for the great blog and music.

Cynthia, Minneapolis

Posted by Cynthia Hendricks | January 7, 2009 9:51 AM

I'm with Ken, I voted for HANAH to represent the feminine. Although I also like the names that are homage to Jim Ed, who still seems to be a part of this show.

Regarding the 2 Peter Mayers, I made that mistake many years ago but discovered that while they're very different, I love the other Peter Mayer too! He plays guitar in Jimmy Buffet's Coral Reefer Band in addition to doing his own stuff. Romeo's Garage is my favorite CD of his, maybe HANAH can add it to the playlist.

Looking forward to the rebroadcast because I still haven't gotten used to the new routine that requires me to turn on my computer in the morning!

Posted by jill | January 7, 2009 10:21 AM

me, too! me, too!
I vote for HANAH!

And I totally agree it would be nice to have a female voice on the show fr dale to "talk" with sometimes, even if it's a machine-like voice, or a star trek computer voice?

Posted by Kay H | January 7, 2009 11:07 AM

Oh, yes, one more thing---
about Jeeves---
it's not appropriate, IMHO, because in the books about him and Bertie, Jeeves is MUCH smarter than his human---and that wouldn't be true about Dale and HANAH or JASPER or HUGH or whatever...

Posted by Kay H | January 7, 2009 11:09 AM

I think this poll needs to become a test bed for a much-needed electoral reform in this state. Since it's too late to allow for instant-runoff voting, with us ranking our first and second choices, I hope there will be a runoff election to see whether more momentum goes to, oh, Jasper or HAL. Y'all have convinced me that Jeeves won't do, but there appear to be a lot of people favoring Jeeves anyway.

Just think how much money could have been saved in our state if some sort of runoff process were already in place. Enough to equal MPR's operating budget for, oh, 2 years?

Right now I'm listening to you, Dale, describe the vote. Fun. Ah, you just invited a controversy.

Instant runoff! Instant runoff!

Posted by Nancy | January 7, 2009 11:12 AM

You know, I really don't care what the computer is called. I'm sure that I speak for thousands who want to see the digital signal expanded to include all of the state. We are after all MINNESOTA Public Radio, not Twin Cities Public Radio.

Posted by Jack Burklund | January 7, 2009 11:26 AM

Amen, Jack!

Posted by mary | January 7, 2009 11:51 AM

Please, not Jeeves!!! That's worse than HAL, with its already taken associations. We can be more original than that, guys.

Posted by Jane in Stillwater | January 7, 2009 1:00 PM

I travel throughout the US and am fortunate to be able to listen on my iPhone, including today. As for naming the computer, why not just call it Jim Ed. IF that doesn't work, how about Kling-er.

Posted by JT | January 7, 2009 2:22 PM

I like the idea of Han(n)ah also, for the feminine aspect. The idea of her having a voice on the morning show for interplay is delightful.

Posted by Patrice | January 7, 2009 2:26 PM

I like the name of Jim Ed for the computer: Joy in music, Every day. And it would be a name we have all come to know and love.

Posted by ML | January 7, 2009 3:14 PM

I voted for Jasper over Jeeves as the less common, but still a tribute to JimEd. I am still grieving the loss of The Morning Show, but my HD radio (ONLY Christmas gift requested!) helps a great deal.

Should "Hal" win, in spite of its malevolent connotations, let say it is just a nickname of Harold (which, of course, it is) and tip our hats to the original Music Man, Harold Hill!!

Posted by kristin swanson | January 7, 2009 4:40 PM

Our connection with RH last evening became very static and halting; it was normal this a.m. when we tuned back in. Sometimes the station just stops playing (like it has right now) and we don't know the reason.

Missing Jim Ed and the dialogue between the two of you is still a pretty big deal for us, Dale. Please plan for more visits from him; it would bring us great joy! How about one visit per week?

That being said, we are finding that we enjoy the play list on RH immensely and think that the station is an almost perfect match for us musically. We play it constantly when we are home. Congrats to you, Dale, and to Mike Pengra, on your fine selections.

Posted by Wendy and Yanchy in Hudson | January 7, 2009 7:48 PM

Got home from work and found that RH had been restored - Hooray!
As far as a new name for HAL, how about JED? Jim Ed Digitized? Is it too late? Maybe I can find some extra ballots around here somewhere....standby....

Posted by t | January 7, 2009 8:16 PM

I am tending toward a future-looking name, as it might be with us for a long time. I'm kind of practical, and don't find computers all that warm and fuzzy to begin with.

So I'm favoring Playlist Auto Loader (PAL)--a straightforward, informative, yet homey moniker--which has the advantage of possibly becoming an actual word someday. It would be cool to claim the first-usage note in the dictionary when it's added at some point hence!

Plus, PAL sounds like the name of a dog, a faithful servant; rather than an equal or superior to humans, which despite Isaac Asimov's imagination, computers are not (yet.)

Also, the voting might be taken under advisement, rather than let to determine the outcome. Sometimes the "ask the audience" answer is wrong, you know. You'll have to say the name all the time, and we won't. I vote that Dale decides, after all the evidence is in.

Posted by Kathy A. in Columbia Heights | January 7, 2009 11:48 PM

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