Industry News

A Veteran Radio Programmer, Lost To COVID-19

Radio+Television Business Report - Thu, 10/07/2021 - 10:59

SAVANNAH, GA — For 36 years, he was an omnipresent figure at a Classic Rock station serving Georgia’s Coastal Empire. Before that, he enjoyed a stint at the former Rock 40 WSHE-FM 103.5, both in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale market.

Now, the radio industry is mourning over the loss of Don Scott, who has succumbed to the COVID-19 coronavirus. He was 65 years old.

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Categories: Industry News

A Digital Audio Content SVP Is Chosen at Audacy

Radio+Television Business Report - Thu, 10/07/2021 - 10:27

The SVP and Market Manager of the Boston-market properties owned by Audacy, the company formerly known as Entercom, has been promoted to the C-Suite position of SVP of Digital Audio Content. He’ll now be working with the company’s central digital team, as his successor has been named by Audacy.

Earning the new role is Tim Clarke.

This makes Clarke responsible for all audio content across the Audacy digital platform. This includes the recently rebranded Audacy app formerly known as Radio.com, the Audacy.com web portal and the websites for each Audacy-owned station.

He is also being asked to “drive strategy and execution for new exclusive and original content for the platform” and will have oversight of Audacy’s new exclusive digital music stations. Furthermore, Clarke will also be responsible for the digital audio experiences of Audacy’s portfolio of broadcast stations, local and national station affiliates, and podcast partners.

Clarke will now work alongside Pam Russo, EVP/GM of the Audacy digital platform; and John Pacino, Audacy’s EVP of Product. Additionally, Clarke will work closely with EVP and Head of Programming Jeff Sottolano and Audacy’s programming and content teams across the company.

“Tim is a rising star in our industry and we’re excited to add his talents and capabilities to our digital business,” said J.D. Crowley, Chief Digital Officer at Audacy. “He brings rich experience leading content and consumer strategies that we trust will enable him to help us further elevate our mission of delivering dynamic digital audio content through a listener-friendly platform every day.”

Tim Clarke

Clarke added, “I am truly honored to join our industry-leading digital and content teams as we build the future of audio with Audacy. A sincere thanks to the team at Audacy, including Mark Hannon and my colleagues in Boston. I have loved working with the incredible people and brands in this market and look forward to seeing their continued success under Mike Thomas’ leadership.”

Clarke joined Audacy in March 2021 and previously served as VP of Content and Audience for Cox Media Group. At Cox, Clarke also held the roles of Director of Branding and Programming for Top 40 WPOI-FM “Hot 101.5” in Tampa; and served as PD of Top 40 WAPE-FM in Jacksonville. He’s also been Music Director for the company’s WBLI-FM in Patchogue, N.Y.

AUDACY’S NEW BACK BAY LEADER

With Clarke’s rise, Mike Thomas has been chosen to succeed him as Audacy/Boston SVP/Market Manager.

This gives Thomas oversight of six radio stations: Classic Hits WBGB “Big 103,” Adult Contemporary WMJX “Magic 106.7,” Hot Adult Contemporary WWBX “Mix 104.1,” and the WEEI Sports Network.

He’ll assume his new role on November 1.

Mike Thomas

“I am thrilled to welcome Mike back to Boston to lead Audacy’s leading brands here,” said Audacy Regional President Mark Hannon. “Mike’s a proven winner and his leadership will be critical in moving the business forward. I also want to thank Tim Clarke for the exceptional job he has done this past year and wish him continued success as he moves to our central digital team.”

Thomas served as the Brand Manager for WBZ-FM 98.5 “The Sports Hub” from 2017-2019 and returns to Boston after serving as Market Manager of WMVP-AM “ESPN Chicago 1000,” today owned by Craig Karmazin’s Good Karma Brands.

Before that, Thomas spent nine years with CBS Radio, holding multiple roles including VP of Sports Programming.

Classic Rock veterans are likely familiar with Thomas for his 11-year run as PD of WZLX/Boston, in addition to serving as CBS Radio/Boston’s Vice President of Programming.

Before that, Thomas got national notice in such trade publications as Radio & Records for his roles as a PD and on-air personality at Clear Channel Classic Rockers KGB-FM in San Diego and WFBQ-FM in Indianapolis.

“Boston evokes memories of great times and celebrations,” Thomas said. “When Mark Hannon reached out about coming back and leading such a diverse group of stations, it was exhilarating! I can’t wait to reconnect with a lot of talented people, some which I spent over a dozen years working side-by-side with, and celebrating many more victories.”

Categories: Industry News

Nomination Deadline Extended for “Best in Market” Awards

Radio World - Thu, 10/07/2021 - 10:19

The Best in Market Awards nomination deadline has been extended to Oct. 13.

The program is open to manufacturers of professional radio, TV and AV products and solutions, regardless of exhibitor status at major events. This program this fall serves in place of the “Best of Show” Awards that would have run at the NAB Show.

The Best in Market awards will be judged and presented by Future brands Radio World, TV Technology, TVBEurope, Next, Mix, Broadcasting & Cable and Sound & Video Contractor.

These awards are intended to honor and help companies promote outstanding products launched or launching in 2021.

Nominations can be submitted via the award form page, which also includes answers to frequently asked questions.

The post Nomination Deadline Extended for “Best in Market” Awards appeared first on Radio World.

Categories: Industry News

The InFOCUS Podcast: Scott McIntyre, BakerHostetler

Radio+Television Business Report - Thu, 10/07/2021 - 10:00
The latest InFOCUS Podcast, presented by dot.fm, expands on the Radio + Television Business Report’s coverage on October 6 of how a radio or television company should act when one of its high-profile employees becomes the subject of allegations that not only harm the individual, but could also damage the station they are associated with. The topic is today a big one, largely due to claims offered by three women who once worked with a Chicago-based morning show host employed by Hubbard Broadcasting. One of the women is a former co-host who exited in December 2020. Allegations are just that, claims. But, a radio or TV station can’t just sit there while its employee is tarnished through social media and, quite frankly, the crosstown linear media competition. What’s the first best act a station’s management should take? Scott McIntyre, a partner and the employment practice leader at the law firm of BakerHostetler, joins us from its Cincinnati office to answer this and other timely questions in an interview with RBR+TVBR Editor-in-Chief Adam R Jacobson.

Listen to “The InFOCUS Podcast: Scott McIntyre, BakerHostetler” on Spreaker.

Categories: Industry News

Nielsen Relaunches Its Video Streaming Measurement Suite

Radio+Television Business Report - Thu, 10/07/2021 - 09:41

Nielsen, which offers streaming content and ad measurement in its role as the nation’s dominant ratings and consumer data supplier, is congregating its streaming measurement tools under a single platform.

This, Nielsen explains, will include both ad-supported and subscription-based service models across content, ads and platforms.

Nielsen explains that its renewed focus on “comprehensive streaming measurement” comes at a moment when U.S. consumers now spend over a quarter of their total TV time engaging with this type of content.

“By combining our streaming solutions under one banner, Nielsen is providing the industry with a single destination to understand streaming audiences and how they are engaging with content, allowing media buyers and sellers to make the best decisions around ad strategies,” said Deirdre Thomas, Nielsen’s Managing Director of U.S. Audience Measurement Product Strategy. “Content creators, platforms, studios and advertisers will have an unprecedented view of who is streaming, what they’re watching, which platforms consumers are gravitating to and how much time they are spending with streaming content.”

The relaunch results in the rebrand of two streaming measurement platforms “to better align with its transition to Nielsen ONE,” the company’s cross-media product. In addition, Nielsen Digital Ad Ratings “will provide the most comprehensive view of streaming activity across connected TV (CTV), computer, mobile and tablet,” Nielsen claims.

  • Streaming Video Ratings will now be referred to as Nielsen Streaming Platform Ratings. Nielsen’s Streaming Platform ratings will still provide a macro view of streaming activity across major subscription and ad-supported streaming services. It was launched in January 2021.

  • Nielsen SVOD Content Ratings will be known now as Nielsen Streaming Content Ratings. Launched in 2017, Nielsen Streaming Content Ratings is used by seven of the top 10 TV network groups and 14 of the top agencies, the company says.

Nielsen’s Digital Ad Ratings (DAR) will continue to deliver audience measurement for streaming ads on CTV devices.

Categories: Industry News

Tubi, Yahoo Widen Ad Partnership

Radio+Television Business Report - Thu, 10/07/2021 - 09:33

“We’ve seen a significant increase in streaming throughout the past year — with ad-supported content, in particular, generating incredible growth,” said Iván Markman, Chief Business Officer of Yahoo.

This explains why the heritage online brand has expanded its partnership with FOX Entertainment’s ad-supported Video-on-Demand (AVOD) service known as Tubi.

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Categories: Industry News

CPB Re-Elects Ramer and Gore

Radio World - Wed, 10/06/2021 - 20:46
Laura Gore Ross, Bruce Ramer

The board of directors for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting has re-elected current Chair Bruce Ramer and Vice Chair Laura Gore Ross to one-year terms.

[Visit Radio World’s People News Page]

Ramer has a background Southern California and entertainment/media law. He has also been on the board of KCET(TV) along with numerous boards at the USC Annenberg School of Communications.

Ross is a retired lawyer from New York who has also served on Capitol Hill and at the U.S. Department of Justice.

Send news of engineering and executive personnel changes to radioworld@futurenet.com.

 

The post CPB Re-Elects Ramer and Gore appeared first on Radio World.

Categories: Industry News

A Deal In N.Y. State to THNK About

Radio+Television Business Report - Wed, 10/06/2021 - 16:41

Between Utica and Albany, N.Y., along the Erie Canal is the city of Amsterdam.

Here, an AM radio station with an FM translator are being spun. The buyer: THNK Think Tank Media.

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Categories: Industry News

Behind Emmis’ Latest Stock Move

Radio+Television Business Report - Wed, 10/06/2021 - 16:40

Astute Wall Street watchers on Tuesday may have wondered what, exactly, was going on at Emmis Communications.

It appeared that Emmis’ stock, traded on the OTC Pink Sheet, had suddenly plummeted in value. On Wednesday (10/6), there was no movement.

What’s the story?

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Categories: Industry News

Should Congress Force ‘My9’ To Focus On NJ?

Radio+Television Business Report - Wed, 10/06/2021 - 16:25

According to section “47 U.S. Code § 331” of the Communications Act, the Rules that the Federal Communications Commission enforces, it is the policy of the FCC to allocate channels for VHF commercial television broadcasting “in a manner which ensures that not less than one such channel shall be allocated to each state, if technically feasible.”

But, does that language require that station to focus on content for that state’s viewers?

A group of Capitol Hill Democrats say yes, and they want to use the language to help craft legislation that would force a Secaucus, N.J.-licensed station owned today by FOX to turn its attention away from the Big Apple and focus instead on the Garden State.

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Categories: Industry News

SAG-AFTRA, Telemundo Say ‘Sí’ On New Deal

Radio+Television Business Report - Wed, 10/06/2021 - 16:10

The organization that represents some 160,000 actors, announcers, broadcast journalists, dancers, DJs, news writers, news editors, program hosts, puppeteers, recording artists, singers, stunt performers, voiceover artists and other entertainment and media professionals has reached a tentative three-year agreement for a new contract with Telemundo.

It’s positive news for unionized employees, and comes four years after a trio of unfair labor practice charges filed against the NBCUniversal-owned Hispanic television network on behalf of certain telenovela actors by the labor union were settled.

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Categories: Industry News

Gray’s Q3 Earnings Release Date Confirmed

Radio+Television Business Report - Wed, 10/06/2021 - 15:30

Happy Diwali … and earnings release day, Gray Television investors.

The broadcast TV station owner has finalized the date and time for the distribution of its Q3 2021 fiscal report card.

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Categories: Industry News

A Launch Date Is Set For Fox Weather

Radio+Television Business Report - Wed, 10/06/2021 - 13:05

As of October 25, the FOX brand won’t be known for solely news, sports, business news, and for reality programming including The Masked Singer.

It’s a new entrant in the growing desire to offer consumers more coverage of a subject largely free of political bias concerns — the weather.

Introducing FOX Weather, which will use FOXWeather.com and an app available via download from the Apple App Store and for Android-based phones, too.

“You’ll be able to read all the awesome web stories we’ve been writing over the past several months … Excited for everyone to see!,” Scott Sistek, a meteorologist at FOX TV Stations-owned KCPQ-13 in Seattle, Tweeted on Wednesday morning. 

The new service marks FOX News Media’s eighth platform under the leadership of CEO Suzanne Scott, as its original linear FOX News Channel network celebrates its 25th anniversary this week.

Who can viewers expect to see when they log on to FOX Weather? WABC-7 meteorologist Amy Freeze has joined FOX Weather as an anchor; her departure comes after the notable exit of Bill Evans from WABC-7 in late 2019.

FOX News Media President Sharri Berg said, “We have been working towards this moment for the last nine months and are thrilled to debut FOX Weather with our talented and innovative team, including Amy Freeze whose versatility and decades of experience are a great addition.”

A free service, FOX Weather will also be available on internet-connected TVs via FOX NOW, the FOX News app, and Tubi.

Categories: Industry News

Jim Thompson Plans His Retirement From BFA

Radio World - Wed, 10/06/2021 - 13:01
 Jim Thompson

The Broadcasters Foundation of America announced a succession plan for its presidency.

Jim Thompson has held the position since 2009 and will retire at the end of next year.

BFA announced a succession plan in which he and Tim McCarthy will serve as co-presidents starting Nov. 1 of this year and extending through 2022. Thompson will then “move into an active consultancy role.”

[Read: Broadcasters Foundation Asks for Your Help]

“The search committee unanimously chose McCarthy as the best candidate for the position, and the board of directors unanimously endorsed him and the succession plan,” the organization said in an announcement from Scott Herman, chairman of the organization.

Chairman Emeritus Phil Lombardo worked with the search committee both times.

Tim McCarthy

McCarthy most recently was with ESPN/Walt Disney Co. as senior vice president and general manager of audio play-by-play and general manager of New York and L.A. Radio. He joined ESPN in 1998 as general manager and president of WABC/Radio Disney/ESPN, and began his career in radio at WABC Radio in 1990.

BFA cited his philanthropic efforts for organizations like The Epilepsy Society of New York and The Voice of 9/11 Dinner.

[Read: Broadcasters Foundation Opens Grants to Those Affected by COVID-19]

Thompson was president of Westinghouse Broadcasting’s Radio Division, president and co-owner of Liberty Radio Group and general manager of KYW(TV) Philadelphia.

Thompson was quoted: “I cannot think of a more worthy task then helping our colleagues in their darkest moments.”

The foundation distributes money to broadcasters who have lost their livelihood through a catastrophic event, debilitating disease or unforeseen tragedy. It grew from the original broadcast pioneers, founded by H.V. Kaltenborn.

 

 

The post Jim Thompson Plans His Retirement From BFA appeared first on Radio World.

Categories: Industry News

What To Do When A Scandal Touches Your Talent

Radio+Television Business Report - Wed, 10/06/2021 - 12:15

It is defined as “a claim or assertion that someone has done something illegal or wrong, typically one made without proof.”

That said, allegations, in today’s world, can create myriad concerns for the individual being accused of a crime, or inappropriate behavior. It can also present a host of challenges for their employer.

When the allegations involve a high-profile personality at a broadcast media station, extra scrutiny can only exacerbate the matter for the station’s local management and, ultimately, its owner.

What’s a market manager to do if a situation mirroring that of Hubbard Broadcasting in Chicago surfaces at their stations?

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Categories: Industry News

Broadcasters Foundation President To Retire

Radio+Television Business Report - Wed, 10/06/2021 - 09:29

Jim Thompson, President of the Broadcasters Foundation of America since 2009, will retire at the end of 2022.

A succession plan is in place, which sees Thompson and broadcast veteran Tim McCarthy serve as Co-Presidents through 2022, at which time Thompson will move into an active consultancy role.

The changes are effective November 1.

Thompson is well-known across the broadcast industry. During his 40+ year career, he was President of Westinghouse Broadcasting’s Radio Division, President and Co-Owner of Liberty Radio Group, and served as General Manager of KYW-3 in Philadelphia.

The BFA says its Search Committee unanimously chose McCarthy as the best candidate for the position, and that its Board of Directors unanimously endorsed him and the succession plan.

Scott Herman, Chairman of the Broadcasters Foundation, commented, “I have known Tim for almost 20 years. He is an outstanding leader and I look forward to working with him and Jim for a seamless transition. Jim has done a phenomenal job getting the word out about our mission and increasing the number of broadcasters we help. The entire Board and I are delighted that he will remain with the Foundation as Co-President and then as a Consultant.”

“Serving the mission of the Broadcasters Foundation has been the most rewarding experience of my career,” said Thompson. “I cannot think of a more worthy task then helping our colleagues in their darkest moments. The search committee and the Board have made an excellent choice in Tim — I know I will be leaving our mission in good hands.”

Chairman Emeritus Phil Lombardo added, “I worked with the search committee 12 years ago to bring Jim onboard, and I am pleased to again have worked with the current search committee to identify Tim as the best person to take on our mission of helping broadcasters in acute need.”

Commenting on his new role, McCarthy said, “I look forward to working with Jim and the entire Board to continue the important work of the Broadcasters Foundation. I have been in broadcasting throughout my career, and it is an honor to be in a position to give back by providing aid to those in our industry who need it most.”

McCarthy is widely known for his lengthy tenure at The Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN Audio, and before that with ABC Radio under Disney ownership. He served as SVP/GM of  Audio Play-By-Play and General Manager of New York and Los Angeles, overseeing ESPN Radio stations in each market. He joined ESPN in 1998 as President/GM of WABC-AM in New York and for ESPN Radio and Radio Disney. McCarthy began his career in radio at WABC Radio in 1990, in an era when its Talk format was surging in popularity, fueled by local hosts including Bob Grant and the syndicated Rush Limbaugh.

The Broadcasters Foundation has distributed millions of dollars in aid to broadcasters who have lost their livelihood through a catastrophic event, debilitating disease, or unforeseen tragedy. Personal donations can be made to the Foundation’s Guardian Fund, corporate contributions are accepted through the Angel Initiative, and bequests can be made through the Foundation’s Legacy Society. For more information, please visit www.broadcastersfoundation.org, call 212-373-8250, or email info@thebfoa.org.
Categories: Industry News

Fair or Foul? TEGNA, Dish Brace For Retrans Impasse

Radio+Television Business Report - Wed, 10/06/2021 - 09:15

Yet another battle royale over retransmission consent fees is taking shape.

This time, it involves one of the nation’s two direct broadcast satellite (DBS) companies and the company that Standard General, headed by Soo Kim, and Apollo Global Management seek to own.

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Categories: Industry News

Now Launching: OpenRTB Support for Audio-Only Out-of-Home

Radio+Television Business Report - Wed, 10/06/2021 - 08:59

Vistar Media, a programmatic technology provider for the digital out-of-home (DOOH) advertising segment, has extended OpenRTB integrations to include audio-only out-of-home opportunities to marketers.

As such, The Trade Desk is the first omnichannel demand-side platform (DSP) to support this extension, allowing it to programmatically purchase audio inventory from networks such as Vibenomics.

An emerging category within the out-of-home media landscape, audio OOH “allows brands to influence consumers with engaging messaging seamlessly blended into a retail environment,” Vistar says.

Call it addressable advertising, radio style — but, minus the local radio station airing throughout a store.

“With the growth we’ve seen from both DOOH and Audio as separate emerging channels, it was the logical next step to expand our omni-channel offering into audio OOH,” said Maggie Mattingley, Senior Manager of Inventory Partnerships at The Trade Desk. “Through Vistar’s new audio capability, we continue to provide the best possible digital media available for advertisers and agencies to deliver a holistic digital advertising campaign.”

To be fair, the technology is likely in use at large retailers with a regional or national imprint, such as a grocery store chain.

In a recent visit to Tint World in Boynton Beach, Fla., Hubbard Broadcasting’s WRMF-FM was audible in the showroom; a nearby Hyundai dealer had sibling WEAT-FM “Sunny 107.9” on for customers.

Still, it presents a possible opportunity for Radio — unique streams to retail that it could use for its own addressable advertising opportunities.

“Exposing our unique audio inventory to omnichannel DSPs such as The Trade Desk to transact against Audio Out-of-Home is a logical next step in the growth trajectory for our network and the industry at large,” said audio industry veteran Paul Brenner, today an executive at Vibenomics. “The reach of our audio network combined with Vistar’s market-leading SSP capabilities helps the buy-side flex their programmatic spending, target specific market areas, provide brand support and measurement such as incremental lift and return on ad spend.”

For more information about Vistar, please direct inquiries to info@vistarmedia.com.

How has revenue recovered from the onset of a pandemic that saw generally steep declines and where some categories continue to experience slower than hoped for rebounds? As the country continues to emerge from restrictions and quarantines, what’s in store for 2022, the first full year after COVID-19? Where are the strong pockets of opportunity for broadcast advertising, and what are the challenges to growing its share? A panel of experts are preparing for a provocative Forecast 2022 discussion about who is going to “show us the money” in the year to come.

Moderator: Mark Gray, CEO, Katz Media Group
Steve Lanzano, President/CEO, TVB
Jen Soch, Executive Director/Specialty Channels, GroupM

TO REGISTER NOW TO ATTEND FORECAST 2022, SIMPLY CLICK HERE!

Categories: Industry News

COVID Doesn’t Care About Trade Shows

Radio World - Wed, 10/06/2021 - 07:48

The author is editor in chief of Radio World.

Proving yet again that being of Irish extraction carries no immunity against Murphy’s Law, I signed off on your previous issue of Radio World, right, including its preview of the NAB Show, on Sept. 7 — only to learn on Sept. 15 that the National Association of Broadcasters had cancelled their event in the face of a resurgent pandemic and the pullout of major exhibitors. The collocated Radio Show and AES Show also were cancelled.

This news broke on our issue’s cover date but before many print readers would have read that show preview. 

Oh well. 

We knew of course that this might happen; but for weeks up to our deadline, the association insisted that the show was a “go,” and we proceeded on this assumption. I trust that attentive readers understood why they received an issue with a preview of an event that wouldn’t take place!

The inconvenience to me is minor. Harder hit are companies that intended to exhibit and had already shipped equipment to Las Vegas in anticipation; conference planners who designed sessions and panels; and broadcasters who had booked travel and were looking forward to doing some in-person networking again.

It was always an aggressive plan on the part of NAB to try to have a trade show this fall (plus another one six months later). But when it created the plan back in the early months of the pandemic, the chance that things would be well on their way back to normal by now seemed a safe bet. 

Obviously that’s not the case, with the variant causing cases to spike again in late summer and with Americans still arguing over sensible health precautions like masks and vaccines. 

In trying to have a show this fall, the association also no doubt was influenced by the fact that the loss of the 2020 show cost it a considerable amount of revenue. The annual convention is an engine that helps fuel NAB’s work as a lobbying force and broadcast advocate. So the decision to cancel a second time must have been particularly painful. 

Yet few people would be well served by a lightly attended event with many empty booths. And I confess to being relieved that I won’t have to sit in an airplane or mingle in exhibit aisles just yet. Thankfully, the situation seems to be improving now in early October.nation

Radio World believes in a strong technology marketplace. NAB Shows play a vital role in that. So here’s hoping that by springtime, you and I can start meeting in person safely again. 

It’s sobering to realize this though: When we do meet in April, it will have been three years since our industry last met in Las Vegas. Wow.

[Read the Sept. 29 issue of Radio World.]

The post COVID Doesn’t Care About Trade Shows appeared first on Radio World.

Categories: Industry News

Products Get Smaller, Faster, Easier to Use

Radio World - Wed, 10/06/2021 - 07:32

DJB Radio was founded in 1995 with what was then a DOS-based radio automation system. Led since 2012 by automation innovator Ron Paley, its lineup now includes award-winning automation, logging and content retrieval software offerings.

Adam Robinson is the vice president of corporate operations of DJB and former operations manager and director of engineering and IT for the Evanov Radio Group.

Radio World: The basic question of the last year and a half: How has the pandemic experience changed workflows for your clients?
Adam Robinson: Change, for the most part, has been remote control, remote access and remote workplace. DJB was well positioned for that, given that our software has always been designed for “unattended use.”

We’re seeing hybrid models everywhere; some are using the studio, some are working from home; in some cases, you’ve got half of a morning show in the studio, half at home. The software is there to help them work together in a common workspace.

It’s fair to say that most automation systems had the ability to do some remote functionality. But we really got tested when users themselves started coming up with unique scenarios. Instead of asking us, they came back and said, “Hey, just so you know, we’re using your software like this.”

RW: Can you provide an example?
Robinson: Sure. WBGO — one of our biggest customers, their transmitter is in New York City — is a listener-funded jazz station. They came to us last year and said, “We need a solution to replace everything, because we need to be able to manage this remotely.” This was our dearly departed friend, engineer Chris Tobin.

We got them turned over in about eight days. We were anticipating a hybrid model, some people in the studios, some working from home and some at the transmitter site; and we would set it up so that all the elements in the background could talk to each other.

But the staff all started working remotely. They took shifts for who logged into what machine when; and they built a whole model that has no studio, no physical plant outside of three computers running at the transmitter site.

The programming people, the traffic people, the on-air staff, the producers — everybody does their work and then logs in remotely, uploads it and off it goes.

Then they started figuring out ways to automate. For instance, using our Radio Spider program, they’re able to put all of their information into a shared drive. Spider grabs it, pulls it out and pushes it to the automation system.

RW: What automation system is WBGO using?
Robinson: They’re using our DJB Radio platform, our workhorse. They’re going to upgrade to our latest platform, DJB Zone later this year; but just using our tried and true DJB Radio software platform, they were able to accomplish all of this.

This article is excerpted from the ebook “Automation: The Next Phase.” Click the cover to read it.

RW: What capabilities may come as a result of experiences of the pandemic?
Robinson: We’re in the process of developing apps that are going to allow for more users to access things remotely. You should be able to work from anywhere; and you shouldn’t have to use a different interface because you’re working remotely. We’re creating an environment where you’re using the same interface no matter where you are, bringing everybody together in a centralized or virtualized server space.

RW: You said the buzzword of the year, virtualization. What does that mean for a company like DJB?
Robinson: The sky’s the limit. Once we get our heads out of the physical radio space, we stop thinking in terms of tactile user interfaces, about control rooms and consoles and touchscreens, and we start thinking about radio as more of a virtual environment.

I wrote last year in an article in Radio World that we have the ability to take our automation systems and push them into the cloud. We just need a server, then we have all these apps that go on top of that to allow users to be able to remote into it.

Had this pandemic happened five years ago, it would have been a different situation; but we were already in the process of doing this centralization model, to find ways to remove the brick and mortar side of a station and make it so that clients could broadcast from “anywhere.”

RW: When you talk with clients, what concerns do they raise?
Robinson: The biggest is the reliability of public internet connections, because no matter where you are, you’re at the mercy of whatever connection you can get.

If you are in a major market, a Chicago, New York, L.A., Phoenix, you’ve got internet up the wazoo; but if you’re in a little town in middle America, you might not have the infrastructure. Because it all comes down to bandwidth.

So we’re trying to create systems that don’t rely so heavily on big bandwidth usage — to rationalize the amount of bandwidth available and create processes that allow people to experience the same level of complexity that you would in a major market, but in smaller markets.

RW: We hear a lot that this is part of a larger migration that was coming but accelerated by the pandemic.
Robinson: We were given the mandate from the biggest users of automation that they wanted to centralize and virtualize as much as they possibly could, so we were already moving in that direction.

But how do we make it so that virtualization doesn’t destroy the core of radio? How do we keep it so that your station or cluster still has that live, local feel?

A lot of that is up to the talent, but we have to provide them with tools to do that, whether that’s cameras that show the Main Street of whatever town they’re broadcasting from, or software that provides them with current weather updates from their environment. Our automation comes with built-in weather software that allows users to put in the ZIP Code and it will tell you the forecast and the current temperature and the highs and lows in whatever city you’re working in.

RW: There are free or low-cost software products that might appeal particularly to buyers with smaller budgets. Is there an argument against those?
Robinson: It comes down to two things: support and the engineering behind these programs.

I’m not going to speak ill of any of them, but these are apps that were created by software developers, they weren’t built by radio people. DJB’s software is built by radio engineers for the radio industry, and we have a whole bunch of price points that we sell at so that we can tailor our software for the smallest of broadcasters to compete with those free or very inexpensive products. And we have stuff that competes with the big guys for major market or multiple market scenarios plus virtual offerings.

RW: Tech support is something readers often ask me about.
Robinson: The level of tech support we offer is, as far as I’m concerned, everything that you need to be able to keep your radio station on the air 24/7.

Our support packages are tailored to our users. You buy a manageable annual support package from us. That includes updates; that includes 24/7 off-air support, it includes access to our ticketing system and our online resources. We’re a full-service company and we pride ourselves on our relationships. Our customers are our partners, not just people who buy stuff from us.

RW: What do you see coming as far as joint development between automation companies and manufacturers of other devices? Whether it’s a surface or anything else?
Robinson: I think that’s a natural next step. It’s the evolution of broadcasting, it’s the evolution of where we’re going. The hardware companies are building more software; and we’ve talked to all of the major manufacturers about synergies, about cross-platform development.

All of our automation products, both Radio and Zone, work really well with driver support for Wheatstone and Axia. We’re in the process of building support for SAS consoles and routing systems.

There’s going to be more commonality. If somebody asks me, “Hey, I really like Product X, can you talk to it?” Well, yeah, we probably should.

RW: Are there big improvements yet to be made in automation?
Robinson: Absolutely; but I think we’re at a point where a lot of our customers just want something simple that works.

We have “realized the dream” of automation software; and now the communication infrastructure, the rest of the world, is starting to catch up. Everything is internet-based. I’m on a cellphone, and you’re talking to me on a hosted VoIP system using a server in who-knows-where. We’ve realized the dream of being able to work from anywhere, do anything anywhere, have access to anything from anywhere; now we just need to refine it.

We also have to ask, “How many of the features that are already offered are customers actually using?” You’d be surprised to find out that for a lot of them, it’s less than 50%.

So we are looking at finding ways to make things smaller, faster, easier to use. We’re probably looking at fewer features rather than more these days.

RW: Anything else to know?
Robinson: DJB is an up-and-coming software company. Our big plusses are our support, our partnerships with our customers and the ability for us to be able to pivot quickly.

In terms of innovation, are we looking at AES67? Is that the future? Or are we looking at SIP-based servers and the Opus codec for being able to transport audio from place to place? Is virtualization going to app-based or does it continue to be core programs running on established operating systems that we create interfaces for?

These are the questions circling around our development meetings, and the only way to find the answer is to give it a shot. We have a catchphrase: “Yeah, we do that!” That’s kind of the mantra for DJB.

The post Products Get Smaller, Faster, Easier to Use appeared first on Radio World.

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