I reckon I'll put my two cents in here. I've been a SAM user since 2004 when I first sank my teeth into internet radio/broadcasting.
Now granted, I've only been in radio since 2004 (started in an FM part time at 16 yrs old), so I've been going at it 6 years, but I've seen quite a few things. I've also used softwares (even demos) of NexGen, Prophet Audio Wizard, OMT, AudioVAULT, Digilink Xtreme, the list is endless, but I've dug my claws into quite a few systems, and at one point, actually used SAM only as a means to stream with, not for playout, except for an Audio In to route the audio from my NexGen 2007 Demo (yes I said demo).
However, with that being said, I had to come back to SAM, after using Jazler RS1 (biggest waste of time and money), because I had given up my NG demo for the sad fact it expired, and I had demoed Jazler...yes I'm rambling here, but bear with me....when I was in commercial radio Prophet was top of the line, now RCS Sound Systems, they still are and like Andrew pointed out, NexGen is my favorite and preferred choice of automation for ANY form of radio broadcasting, if it were affordable, believe me I would be buying it in a heartbeat, and just reload all my XML files I backed up into it. But $1500-$6500+ (the quote I got from my rep in Florida), is a little out of the budget at the moment lol.
That being said SAM has filled the void, and has done a fairly decent job. granted there are a few things in this "makeover" for SAM 5 I would love to see, and I think most of you could agree with me on this.
Multiple Playout Decks with one Cue Deck (Allows for songs and sweeps to be played while if possible there is the option for the current DJ to cue a song without having to try and find it on the local hard drive to preview it)
Better Scheduling: Yes, I know SAM is partnered with Music 1 and they have a SAM edition, but to be honest, I paid the $65 for it when it first came out, was a waste of my time then, and after looking at the video, they are trying to make themselves look as good as Selector, but to be honest, it ain't happening. So in turn it would be nice to see SA offer a way to actually schedule a day's log inside SAM, like NexGen offers, just without too much fancy put into it, make it easy, with little learning curve, but yet make it robust and powerful.
Ability to have I/O and digtal outputs to certain sound cards and broadcast consoles: Yes, I said it, I/O options...most of us know what working in commercial radio is like, and some of us pros who have been in the biz, have all the good toys, pro microphones (I, myself have an RE-20 in studio, just lacking the console), but would love to see the chance to have that option in the future, where we can set up I/O options for i.e. Satellite Feeds (to minimize bandwidth usage while streaming. And of course this re-iterates my point from earlier about the decks, it would allow for us as broadcasters to set active decks, with on/off switches on the console, and to also have a specific cue channel on the console), and to also be able to set up callers with SAM as well, Skype works great, but again re-iterating my point about bandwidth. would save a lot of it.
As far as looks go, I would love to see a way to skin SAM efficiently with little ease, and not a lot of programming knowledge in C# or any other advanced code, I do however applaud the gentleman in the earlier post who completely revamped his SAM using SQL queries, excellent job. But for those of us who need a good looking skin, and a way to make it ourselves with say a pallette to choose from pieces to use would be nice. Me personally, I currently have my SAM set to look like something you might see in AudioVAULT, but would like a way to make it look more NexGen'ish without the price tag.
Honestly, I just wish SAM 5 would hurry up and get here. If I seem like I'm rushing the developers, I'm not, just me in general. However I won't mention the problem I have had with StreamAds as of late *clears throat*.....If it looks good and functions better than SAM 4, I will consider the upgrade....but sadly if my budget gets bigger in the next fiscal year for my company, I will be buying NExGen, I'll still use SAM as my streaming outlet and backup however, and you can take that to the bank.
Owner / Program Director - WNIH-DB
Carolina's Cruisin' Country Station
The Only COUNTRY Station That Serves Statesville, NC