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User Report: Radio Workflow Provides Dividends to Regional Media

Tue, 10/01/2019 - 19:19

DAVENPORT, IOWA — Regional Media partnered with Radio Workflow in September 2018. Throughout our first year, we have improved our productivity in sales and budgetary goals, team collaboration and overall success of our 14 radio stations.

We were presented with this new, fast-growing Consumer Relationship Management System, and it was easy to get acquainted with. It is an easy, simple to use system. Through detailed, well-instructed demos and tutorials from Radio Workflow, my team and I were able to learn how the system worked in order to get the most out of its features.

Radio Workflow has a 24-hour support team available to answer our questions and adjust anything in our system to suit our needs. They do a great job ensuring our knowledge of the system and providing different tips on how to optimize our use of it.

Before partnering with Radio Workflow, we used another system for our sales, keeping track of our accounts, production, etc. My team at Regional Media is able to merge our accounts and documents easily with Radio Workflow. We can view a list of all of our accounts and organize them based on seasonal businesses, current clients of ours, along with prospective business. Radio Workflow allows us to keep better track of our progress and set/achieve monthly goals throughout the entire company.

Regional Media works with our clients to ensure they are getting the most out of their advertising with our radio stations; and Radio Workflow gives us the tools to do this efficiently and professionally. Through their digital proposals and contracts, our advertising campaigns are broken down concisely for our clients to review with multiple options, choose what suits them best, convert everything to a contract and sign, all from any web browser on any computer. My team along with our clients enjoy how accessible this cloud-based system is. We have increased our closing ratio, increased our client return and earned more new businesses since partnering with Radio Workflow.

In addition to its customer relationship management elements, Radio Workflow is notable for its production features and traffic merging capabilities. Using Radio Workflow in production removes the possibility for error and allows us to work more efficiently with our production team. We input all of our production orders in one place, including our scripts, any necessary media and additional files, along with instructions for what needs to be included in the production order. Our production team accesses all of this, produces the spot and provides our sales team with finalized projects in Radio Workflow.

We keep better track of the spots we have running, when they will expire, and what still needs to be completed. Radio Workflow keeps our entire team in-sync from production to sales and management with lower probability for human error as everything is at our fingertips through its cloud-based format.

Radio Workflow will soon release their own traffic system and we will integrate that, allowing us access to everything we need under one domain. We look forward to continuing our partnership with them.

For information, contact Robert Maschio at Radio Workflow at 1-855-973-1145 or visit www.radioworkflow.com.

The post User Report: Radio Workflow Provides Dividends to Regional Media appeared first on Radio World.

“We Are Accountable as Broadcasters”

Tue, 10/01/2019 - 11:53

The author is an Earle K. Moore Fellow at the Multicultural Media, Telecom & Internet Council.

Jamila Flomo

According to a 2011 Census Bureau report, 21 percent of the U.S population speaks a language other than English at home. Yet many of these individuals find themselves at a profound disadvantage when emergencies strike because very few of America’s radio stations routinely transmit emergency information in widely spoken languages other than English.

Notably and infamously, in August 2005, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, close to 100,000 Spanish-speaking individuals were left with no radio lifeline after the only Spanish language station in New Orleans was knocked off the air.

To date, the FCC has no multilingual emergency broadcasting requirements. “It means that if you speak only Spanish, and a hurricane hits, you are on your own,” said Brent Wilkes, the former CEO of the League of United Latin American Citizens. Although the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) supports extending alerting to the non-English speaking populations, stations have the choice to provide emergency information only in English.

America has no national language, so it is imperative that the broadcast marketplace ensure that those who do not speak English still receive life-saving information during emergencies.

NEXT SOLDIER UP

The idea of requiring EAS in languages other than English is not a new concept and can work if each local area has a “designated hitter” selected in advance to broadcast in languages other than English. The concept is based on the U.S. Army’s training of platoons: If a soldier goes down when the platoon is taking a hill, another soldier takes his or her place, and the job still gets done.

In 2018, this idea worked when three radio station groups voluntarily cooperated to provide vital information to Spanish-speaking residents to communities threatened by Hurricane Florence. At the request of MMTC and LULAC, Miami-based Spanish Broadcasting System (SBS) voiced and transmitted Spanish-language alerts for Cumulus Media and Dick Broadcasting, which serve Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head.

The execution of the process was quite simple. According to Dick Broadcasting’s Aaron Wilborn, “Broadcasters can pick up the phone and in two hours it can be broadcast, put on the air and done.”

These broadcasters made it possible for 22,000 Hispanic residents in Myrtle Beach and 21,000 Hispanic residents in Hilton Head to receive information about health care issues, avoiding injury, shelters and where to find missing bodies after the hurricane hit. The initiative worked because “[w]e are accountable as broadcasters and license holders,” said Jesus Salas of Spanish Broadcasting System, the largest Hispanic owned media company in the United States.

“These companies are an example to other broadcasters of the essential services that they should provide to the public they serve in times of disaster,” said MMTC President Maurita Coley. “America’s broadcasters should engage now, in this hurricane season, to save the lives of everyone, no matter what languages they speak.”

Got an opinion on an issue of importance regarding radio technology, management or regulation? Email radioworld@futurenet.com.

The post “We Are Accountable as Broadcasters” appeared first on Radio World.

DJ-Run Internet Radio Station Thriving

Tue, 10/01/2019 - 02:00

OTTAWA, Ontario — On Nov. 10, 2014, DJ John “Milky” Mielke and his fellow on-air talent at Ottawa’s CKKL(FM) — BOB-FM — were unexpectedly laid off when CKKL changed its format from’70-’80-’90s pop to new country. In response, Mielke launched his own internet radio station BlastThe Radio.com from his basement studio. RWI covered his efforts in 2015: Radio Station Not Required.

John Mielke behind the mic at BlastTheRadio.com in his Ottawa home. Credit: BlastTheRadio.com

Today, BlastTheRadio.com (aka “BTR” to its many fans) continues to stream Milky’s live show 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., plus content from other contributors who have joined BTR’s roster and automated music playout 24/7. It all originates from his house in suburban Ottawa, Canada.

“When we started it was just me on the air,” said Mielke. “But as things have progressed we’ve been able to add other on-air shows. Veteran broadcaster Brian Kelly was the very first to reach out to us wanting to participate. He voices tracks six hours both Saturday and Sundays now.”

Also playing on BTR are podcasts from a number of former Canadian radio DJs such as Jesse and Jenna, Scotty Mars, and Jeunesse; plus weekday sports reports from Bruce Barker. Many of these are recorded in BTR’s “Podcastle;” a studio put together in Mielke’s dining room.

The studio at BlastTheRadio.com. Credit: BlastTheRadio.com

“We’re working with a number of local clients to develop podcasts for them,” Mielke said. “Some of that programming is also sourced for on-air broadcast, and I’ve just started hosting a weekend countdown show that airs Saturdays and Sundays.”

STEADY INCREASE

Since launching in 2015, BTR’s audio stream has racked up almost 600,000 “Listens” (unique streaming sessions), and built a fiercely loyal fan base in Ottawa and around the world.

“Initially we started off on one streaming platform — making it very easy to see just who was listening and when,” said Mielke. “Over the years we’ve added other audio streams in order to serve our audience via our phone app, smart speakers, and most recently an in-studio video feed.”

To build its brand awareness among Ottawa radio listeners, Mielke takes BTR on location whenever he can.

The “Podcastle,” a podcasting studio created in Mielke’s dining room. Credit: BlastTheRadio.com

“We co-host an annual Superhero Breakfast where families are invited to a local restaurant to have pancakes with their favorite superheros,” Mielke said. “I emcee countless events. Every Christmas several of us install Christmas lights in exchange for a donation to a local crisis line, and we solicit donations on Taffy Lane [a street in Ottawa where every house is decorated] over the course of two weekends. Plus we make bumper stickers and magnets available at various locations as well.”

“Our fans are our biggest form of advertising, really,” he added. “They take it upon themselves to do things like put www.BlastTheRadio.com on computers on the sales floor of the local Best Buy, or on cellphones at various mobile retailers. They also send me countless photos of them having spelled out BTR or even BlastTheRadio with monogrammed coffee mugs and towels they’ve found at stores.”

PROFESSIONAL FREEDOM

BTR’s new voice announcing booth was built inside a repurposed personal sauna. Credit: BlastTheRadio.com

Like the commercial radio station Mielke used to work at, BlastTheRadio.com is a money-making venture. Given that BTR is very much a one-man-band, “ad sales are the big challenge as I’m busy hosting a daily show, uploading content, producing podcasts and producing station imaging; plus I have other businesses that I run,” he said. “The sponsors we do have are people who have come to us through — mostly — word of mouth.”

“I’m very lucky in that I run a successful web enterprise that services conventional radio (www.MilkmanUnLimited.com) that provides me with an income,” Mielke continued. “I do some voice work for local clients as well as a few international ones. Most recently I was signed-on to be the voice of ABC Local Radio Networks’ New Country format.”

Challenges aside, Mielke loves being the voice of BlastTheRadio.com, and doesn’t regret leaving on-air work behind.

“Online is the most freedom I’ve ever had in a 30-plus year radio career! “ he said. “I can’t think of anything more exciting than being at the forefront of what is going to carry the medium I love so far forward.”

The post DJ-Run Internet Radio Station Thriving appeared first on Radio World.

Have You Bought Your Last Tube?

Mon, 09/30/2019 - 17:57

If you’re running an older tube transmitter, you might have had the thought: Should you continue buying tubes or would you be better off with a new transmitter? It’s a question that still faces many broadcast managers. Radio World’s September ebook explores the topic.

What factors should be weighed when making this important ROI decision? Are tube transmitters more rugged and forgiving? How much more efficient are solid-state designs? How do tube and solid-state compare in terms of failure modes, frequency agility and ongoing maintenance costs? What is the expected life of a tube today? And what else should engineers know about the costs of ongoing tube operation?

In two articles, longtime Radio World contributor Michael LeClair and Nautel’s Jeff Welton, winner of multiple engineering awards, took on this topic. Read it here.

 

The post Have You Bought Your Last Tube? appeared first on Radio World.

Inside the September 25th Issue of Radio World

Mon, 09/30/2019 - 17:05

Build your own EAS receive antenna … Peruse the program of the Broadcast Technology Symposium … Learn about efforts to expand World Radio Day awareness in the United States … And see what the former offices of USA Digital Radio looked like after a gas explosion.

ALERTING
“We Are Accountable as Broadcasters”

Jamila Flomo makes the case for multilingual emergency broadcasting.

TECH TIPS
Seeking Enlightenment About Lightning Protection?

Jeff Welton, chosen SBE’s educator of the year in 2018, talks about best practices for preparing your transmitter site.

ALSO IN THIS ISSUE:

 

The post Inside the September 25th Issue of Radio World appeared first on Radio World.

2019 Marconi Award Winners Saluted

Mon, 09/30/2019 - 13:55

One of the highlights of the annual Radio Show is the announcement of the winners of the NAB Marconi Awards, which are awarded to radio stations and on-air personalities to recognize excellence in radio. The award, named after inventor and Nobel Prize winner Guglielmo Marconi and established in 1989, honors both the public faces and the behind-the-scenes operators, from the best radio personality of the year to the best college station of the year.

For the first time in 2019, the awards also recognized the best radio podcast in the nation.

Winners came from across the country. From the northwest, the NAB recognized KIRO(FM) in Seattle as news/talk station of the year. From all the way to the southeast, the NAB honored WHQT(FM) in Hollywood, Fla., as urban station of the year.

[Read: Live From the Radio Show]

Small- and mid-market stations are routinely honored alongside their larger-market brethren. This year the NAB honored KIPR(FM) in Little Rock, Ark., as medium market station of the year as well as KWYO(AM) in Sheridan, Wyo., as small market station of the year.

The award is a long time coming for KWYO, which signed on the air in July 1934, making it Sheridan’s first radio station and the second oldest radio station in Wyoming. More than eight decades ago, KWYO began operation with a stack of 2,000 phonograph records that ranged from grand opera to jazz. The station now plays a classic country format.

Familiar big-market radio personalities also made the winners list: Ryan Seacrest was named network/syndicated personality of the year. Familiar big-market stations also were honored, including newser WTOP(FM) in Washington.

The Boston market also had its due this year when the duo Felger & Massarotti of WBZ(FM) were named major market personalities of the year. WBZ was also honored as sports station of the year.

The growing importance of podcasts were also celebrated. The NAB named WCCO(AM)’s “Denied Justice” as the year’s best radio podcast. The program was created in collaboration with the Star-Tribune newspaper in Minneapolis and was based on a series of uninvestigated rape cases.

In an article on the WCCO radio website, podcast creator Jordan Green said that “every time I called those women to get their stories for the podcast, we could sense that they were opening up a vein to bleed the worst day of their life … [in the hopes] that they could change what happened to the next girl, or the next boy. And they did change it. Let me tell you, the laws of Minnesota are changing.”

Following the initial airing of the podcasts, WCCO said that the Minnesota attorney general convened a sexual assault investigative task force to make recommendations for changes in state law.

The Marconi finalists were selected by a task force of broadcasters, and the winners were voted on by the NAB Marconi Radio Awards Selection Academy. Radio personalities and previous Marconi Award winners returned to the 2019 Radio Show to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the award. Emcees and presenters throughout the event included Delilah, Rickey Smiley along with Tom and Kristi of “The Bob and Tom Show.”

2019 NAB Marconi Radio Award Recipients:
Legendary Station of the Year — KRTH(FM), Los Angeles
Legendary Station Manager of the Year — Dan Seeman, Hubbard Twin Cities and
Hubbard North, St. Paul, Minn.
Network/Syndicated Personality of the Year — Ryan Seacrest, Premiere Networks
Major Market Personality of the Year — Felger & Massarotti, WBZ(FM), Boston
Large Market Personality of the Year — Crisco, Dez and Ryan, KSTP(FM), St. Paul, Minn.
Medium Market Personality of the Year — Mike Street, WBTJ(FM), Richmond, Va.
Small Market Personality of the Year — Scotty and Catryna, KCLR(FM), Columbia, Mo.
Major Market Station of the Year — WTOP(FM), Washington
Large Market Station of the Year — KSTP(FM), St. Paul, Minn.
Medium Market Station of the Year — KIPR(FM), Little Rock, Ark.
Small Market Station of the Year — KWYO(AM), Sheridan, Wyo.
AC Station of the Year — KRWM(FM), Bellevue, Wash.
Best Radio Podcast of the Year — “Denied Justice Podcast,” WCCO(AM), Minneapolis
CHR Station of the Year — KRBE(FM), Houston
Classic Hits Station of the Year — WMGK(FM), Philadelphia
College Station of the Year — WRHU(FM), Hofstra University, Hempstead, N.Y.
Country Station of the Year — KYGO(FM), Denver
News/Talk Station of the Year  — KIRO(FM), Seattle
Religious Station of the Year — KKFS(FM), Sacramento, Calif.
Rock Station of the Year — WRIF(FM), Detroit
Spanish Station of the Year — KLOL(FM), Houston
Sports Station of the Year — WBZ(FM), Boston
Urban Station of the Year — WHQT(FM), Hollywood, Fla.

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The post 2019 Marconi Award Winners Saluted appeared first on Radio World.

FCC Looking to Modernize Local Public Notice Rule

Fri, 09/27/2019 - 19:53

The Federal Communications Commission is proposing to create a standardized set of rules when it comes to the listing of local public notices by broadcast applicants.

In a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) released at its September Open Meeting, the FCC proposed updating the current rule that says TV and radio broadcast applicants must give public notice to the local communities they serve when filing certain applications. The current rule requires applicants to provide written notice in a local newspaper or broadcast on-air messages that announce the filing of an application (or in some cases, to do both).

But because the notice requirements differ based on the type of applicant, station and application, the FCC said that the rules have become “needlessly complex.” Plus, given the ubiquity of online information sources coupled with the elimination of the main studio rule, and the transition from physical to online public inspection files, the current rules have become “anachronistic,” the commission said.

As a result, the FNPRM is proposing to modernize and simplify the public notice requirements, reducing the costs and burdens of the existing procedures, and making it easier for the public to participate in the licensing process.

“I remain strongly supportive of the merits of removing the newspaper publication requirement and other reforms and seek to move the item to final order expeditiously,” said FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly. But he said that any final proposal that supports what O’Rielly calls “burdensome information disclosures, additional script language or litigation traps for stations in the form of compliance burdens” will find O’Rielly in opposition.

In all, the FNPRM proposes to:

  • Replace the current newspaper publication requirement with a written public notice posted online on a publicly accessible website that includes a direct link to the broadcast application in question;
  • Simplify and standardize the public notice requirements for on-air announcements;
  • Clarify the local public notice obligations of international broadcast stations and low-power FM stations; and
  • Update the commission’s rules concerning public notice for stations designated for evidentiary hearings.

All four commissioners and the chairman approved the notice of proposed rulemaking. The FNPRM will be accepting comments in the ECFS database using Media Bureau Docket numbers 05-6, 17-105, 17-264.

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The post FCC Looking to Modernize Local Public Notice Rule appeared first on Radio World.

Ennes Educational Trust Scholarship Recipients Announced

Fri, 09/27/2019 - 19:44

The Society of Broadcast Engineers has announced the recipients of The Harold E. Ennes Scholarship, Robert D. Greenberg Scholarship and John H. Battison Founder’s Scholarship and the Youth Scholarship.

These are awarded to individuals interested in continuing or beginning their education in broadcast engineering and technology. The Youth Scholarship is specifically for a graduating high school senior interested in broadcast engineering as a career.

SBE President Jim Leifer, CPBE, said, “Education is still one of the prime efforts of the SBE. These four rising engineering talents have earned their educational awards through the Ennes Educational Foundation Trust, and it’s an honor for us to help them achieve their educational goals in broadcast engineering.”

Harold E. Ennes Scholarship recipient is Nicholas Church of Rhinelander, Wis. In May 2019, Church began working as the director of operations and technology at WXPR(FM), a public radio station in Rhinelander. After earning his SBE Certified Radio Operator, he began his broadcast education towards achieving the SBE Certified Broadcast Technologist and Certified Broadcast Networking Technologist certifications. He has a B.A. in music with a management studies concentration from St. Olaf College and is drawn to technology including amateur radio, microcontrollers, programming and creating efficiency through automation, according to a release from the SBE. After earning his SBE Certified Radio Operator, Church began his broadcast education towards achieving the SBE Certified Broadcast Technologist and Certified Broadcast Networking Technologist certifications.

Robert Greenberg Scholarship is Chris Gamelin of Middletown, Ct.. His interest in broadcasting began when he was 12. He learned how radio worked and started his own internet radio station and collected money to build a professional studio. According to a release, he has improved his radio skills at WNHU(FM), the University of New Haven and WQUN(AM) at Quinnipiac University. He is currently a student at the University of New Haven, hoping to finish his part-time schooling soon. Gamelin has also worked as an assistant engineer at Entercom, and is now a maintenance technician at WFSB(TV). He has learned to operate UAVs.

John H. Battison SBE Founder’s Scholarship has been awarded to Sadie Levy. She recently graduated from Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, where she worked on various school productions as a Digital Media Dept. intern. Additionally, she was awarded scholarships to study digital electronics in pre-college programs at both The Cooper Union and New York University. This past summer, she completed a media internship in a New York City government office. According to an SBE release, these opportunities made her realize that she would love to contribute to the field of recording and new media. She plans to major in electrical engineering, with an interest in media production, at Northeastern University in Boston.

Andrew Marcus Heller of Two Rivers, Wis., received the Youth Scholarship. His father owns two AM radio stations. Andrew was the first person to turn on WTRW’s solid-state transmitter at age three, and then again, WGBW’s 12 kW transmitter at Denmark, Wis., at 11 years old. He has been involved in his high school audio/video efforts. With a 3.9 grade point average in his senior year, he was accepted to the science and engineering program at the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities.

Each scholarship worth $1,500

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The post Ennes Educational Trust Scholarship Recipients Announced appeared first on Radio World.

Wisconsin Broadcasters Clinic Preview: Podcasting

Fri, 09/27/2019 - 16:38

The Wisconsin Broadcasters Clinic, Oct. 15–17, is a highly anticipated annual event for radio broadcasters. Like a miniature NAB Show it offers a wealth of information from a show floor along with useful sessions. Radio World is previewing several of those upcoming sessions.

Craig Bowman is senior vice president, Broadcast Technology, for Futuri Media. He’s going to preach the podcasting gospel that will help broadcasters maximize brand ID and revenue opportunities, in “Maximizing Your Content ROI With Podcasting,” Oct. 15, 1 p.m.

Radio World: Is it safe to say that “Podcasting” is the word of 2019 for radio broadcasters?
Craig Bowman: It’s definitely the word of 2019, but that’s not to say that it’s a fad. Podcasting has become a term so generic that it’s become synonymous with any spoken word, on-demand audio content. In fact, a huge study Futuri did with the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications found that 70% of people who say they listen to podcasts do so on YouTube, which doesn’t support what traditionalists refer to as podcasts.

RW: At first glance podcasting might seem to be a rival or threat to radio broadcasters. Is it?
Bowman: Podcasts are only a threat to radio broadcasters who don’t get in the game. Radio broadcasters know great audio, so it makes perfect sense for broadcasters to embrace podcasting. Podcasts are a great opportunity for radio to time-shift their content so that listeners can interact with it on their terms, as-well-as a vehicle to allow their talent to be more personal with the audience. Podcasts allow your talent to share their hobbies, likes, dislikes, etc. and better connect with your existing audience without sticking to your on-air clock. Discovery of this content then leads to more listeners to the daily broadcast. Creating a personal connection for your brand and personalities with your listeners is key to your success.

RW: How can a broadcaster/station owner take advantage of podcasting for their own benefit?
Bowman: Using podcasts to distribute longer-form, brand-appropriate content than you may be comfortable airing on your station. You could, as an example, podcast an entire city council meeting using chapter markers to allow listeners to skip to the subject of interest. Podcast full-length interviews with artists, programs about local interests, etc. To flash back to “the day” you could publish a podcast to your smart device every morning with school lunches, is there an assembly at school, and every parent’s nightmare, “Today is Picture Day.” Podcasting creates an outlet for all of the radio elements which have come to be known as clutter.

RW: Can podcasts be profitable for the broadcaster?
Bowman: Yes. Preroll, dynamic midroll, live reads, etc. It’s important to keep in mind that the revenue in this space may not match what you get for your terrestrial efforts today, but it will certainly grow and is worth your attention. And branded content, when done well, can be huge. Go to that auto dealership with one of your younger personalities and pitch a series on buying your first car — what to look for, how to get financing, how to maintain it after purchase, etc. The personal connection between a podcaster and a listener makes this a prime (and by that I mean rate) opportunity for live endorsements!

RW: Is there more to podcasting than the obvious/what is the on-demand ecosystem?
Bowman: There is, unquestionably, a market for on-demand audio — not just original podcast content that you don’t broadcast on-air, but by making great broadcast available in an on-demand, time-shifted fashion so listeners can access it even if they weren’t able to catch it live, or if they want to hear it again. Radio is entering the same renaissance that television did a long time ago when the DVR started to get market penetration. People wanted their TV content available to watch when they were ready to watch it, not when TV stations insisted on playing it. Repurposing audio not only gives your audience a choice when they consume your content but with PPM encoded audio a station can receive credit to the original broadcast if listened to within 24 hours! As mentioned before, pushing your content to as many locations as possible increases the discoverability of your brand beyond the scan button or the billboard.

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The post Wisconsin Broadcasters Clinic Preview: Podcasting appeared first on Radio World.

Community Broadcaster: Just Give

Fri, 09/27/2019 - 13:50

The author is membership program director of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters. NFCB commentaries are featured regularly at www.radioworld.com.

With noncommercial radio station pledge season in full effect, these delightful media organizations are pulling out all the stops to get you to donate. There are socks aplenty available as thank you gifts for your gift. Would a warm hat motivate you to give? How about a candle that doubles as a Bluetooth speaker? Your local station has concert tickets, books and any number of incentives to get you to pick up the phone or go online.

Typically, a donation to your local station will get you one of the fancier premiums when you give $10 per month on up. All well and good if you are a longtime listener or someone used to the noncommercial radio pledge drive. But what if all this is new to you, or you’re worried about making that big of a gift? The lingering concern among many stations is that these numbers as we know them might turn away first-time donors.

[Read: Community Broadcaster: Acting on Equity]

What if your community radio station tried something altogether different?

For stations constantly on the hunt for financial support, messing with established protocols might seem improbable. However, this is precisely the bet a group of stations are placing, with the help of one of their stations’ most recognizable names.

Ira Glass is known around the world as the host of “This American Life,” a radio sensation for decades. Glass is also a fixture during radio on-air fundraising. He’s done some of the most legendary and successful pledge drives, including telling listeners they don’t need to donate and calling up people who don’t donate, who are turned in by family and friends. Here is a sampling of some of these humorous spots from years past.

This year, Glass has come back with the most surprising of suggestions: just give $1.

Radio fundraising types may find that number a little shocking, especially when you discover it comes with streaming thank-you gifts. But credit Glass and almost two dozen stations with the temerity to spark a conversation with new donors. This level is a clever way of introducing them to what is referred to in the noncommercial radio space as a sustaining membership.

The aging of noncommercial radio’s base and the need for fresh members is an ongoing issue nationwide. Glass is one of many people thinking deeply about what inspires people to give, and how do stations make the giving process as easy and welcoming as possible to those reluctant to make a larger commitment. This latest experiment is an effort to win new donors, particularly those accustomed to giving-by-text and making small gifts in the digital era. In this effort, these new members will receive in the coming months emails written by Glass himself, encouraging them to take their $1-per-month donations up higher.

Many community radio stations have tried these sorts of initiatives. Do they work? Time will tell if this one knocks it out of the park, though having Ira Glass on your side is a huge boost.

Even if your station doesn’t have a heavy hitter like Glass to help, this kind of model could be tried near you. Or maybe it is a little too risky. Getting $12 annually could hurt some stations, surely. However, one thing is certain: your station cannot afford to not try bold moves to bring in new donors. Your station and its unique local programming depend on future generations.

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World Radio Day Organizers Raise U.S. Profile

Fri, 09/27/2019 - 12:17

“Since its origins, radio has been shown to be the most useful medium of social communication for humanity.”

Jorge Álvarez

So states the home page of World Radio Day, celebrated in February of each year. An offshoot, the Academy of Radio Arts & Sciences of America, seeks to raise awareness of World Radio Day in the United States.

Radio World asked Jorge Álvarez, president of the Spanish Academy of Radio, about the effort.

Radio World: What is the history of World Radio Day and why was it created?
Jorge Álvarez: It began when I realized that the United Nations had established World Television Day and World Press Freedom Day, but that there was not a World Radio Day.

I sent a letter to the director general of UNESCO, Kōichirōō Matsuura, in January 2008, requesting the establishment of World Radio Day. The response from UNESCO was positive, indicating that the government of Spain would have to make the formal proposal.

So the Spanish Academy of Radio collaborated with the Permanent Delegation of Spain to UNESCO, for three years, to prepare a proposal to be presented at the 187th Session of the UNESCO Executive Committee in Paris in September 2011.

Initially, we choose October 30 as World Radio Day as a tribute to the famous radio broadcast of 1938, “The War of the Worlds,” which had the support of a large number of radio broadcasting associations of the five continents. However, after an intense debate of the 58 countries represented in the executive board of UNESCO, the date chosen was February 13, the anniversary of the birth of United Nations Radio in 1946.

In November 2011, the General Conference of UNESCO, formed by 96 member states, finally proclaimed February 13 as World Radio Day. In 2012, the 67th General Assembly of the United Nations endorsed this proclamation, thanks to the proposal of the Permanent Mission of Spain to the United Nations, with the collaboration of the Spanish Radio Academy.

RW: What role does the academy play?
Álvarez: The Spanish Academy of Radio was the promoter of the World Radio Day initiative and made a great effort for more than three years collecting support from radio stations around the world and from the different permanent delegations at the UNESCO executive board, to get the vote in favor of the establishment of World Radio Day.

In addition, the academy took the initiative to create the International Committee of World Radio Day, formed by the most important international organizations of broadcasting of the five continents. We’re honored that ITU is represented too.

For more information and to download free photos and documents, you can visit www.academiadelaradio.es/wrd/history.html and https://premiosradiotelevision.com/index.php/2018/01/19/origen/.

Officials gather for a UNESCO World Radio Day meeting in Paris in 2017.

RW: And what is the purpose of the World Radio Day Committee?
Álvarez: Shortly after UNESCO’s proclamation of World Radio Day, the Spanish Radio Academy created the World Radio Day Committee, which held its first official meeting on Sept. 11 in Madrid at the International Press Center. One year later, the committee hosted another meeting in Madrid with the participation of UNESCO’s General Director of Communication, Janis Karklins. In 2013, the committee along with 16 organizations met in Paris at Radio France Headquarters.

The purpose of this committee is to collaborate with UNESCO every year on the organization of the World Radio Day celebrations, proposing the slogan of celebration and the various activities to be developed. Usually, this committee meets twice a year at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. I was the first president of this committee; since 2014, the it is coordinated by Giacomo Mazzone, director of institutional relations of the European Broadcasting Union.

RW: Describe the effort to develop awareness of World Radio Day in the United States.
Álvarez: The academy considers it very important to promote events to celebrate World Radio Day in the United States.

Each year the official WRD website, worldradioday.org, incorporates a world map where is possible to record the celebrations and events planned by radio stations and institutions. We realized that the United States recorded few events and so the academy wanted to start a promotion in this country, especially when radio stations in the Spanish language are increasingly important.

In 2018 the Academy awarded the WRD prize to radio station WURN, “Actualidad 1040 AM” in Miami, Florida. The prize is sponsored by international equipment manufacturer AEQ. This was the most important World Radio Day event held in the U.S. that year.

RW: You recently presented the World Radio Day Award to the National Association of Broadcasters.
Álvarez: The NAB was one of the broadcasting organizations that supported the academy in its proposal to UNESCO to establish World Radio Day. In February I visited NAB headquarters in Washington, along with with my communication director Fátima Estramiana, to present the award to Sen. Gordon Smith. The event was attended as well by the ambassador of Spain in Washington, Mr. Santiago Cabanas.

Jorge Álvarez presented the World Radio Day Award to NAB and its President/CEO Gordon Smith in February.

RW: What actions would you like American radio organizations to take in the future? What else should we know?
Álvarez: I would like radio organizations and any radio professional to join the Academy of Radio Arts & Sciences to work closely together in the World Radio Day celebrations in the United States. For more information you can visit the website, radioacademy.us.

At this time, the Academy of Radio Arts and Sciences is forming a jury of radio professionals to award the World Radio Day Award 2020 on Feb. 13; the jury is being coordinated by Frank Montero, a prestigious communications attorney based in Washington. Prospective judges are encouraged to apply by emailing academy@radioacademy.us.

WORLD RADIO DAY COMMITTEE

The 19 members of the WRD Committee are the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU); Association of European Radios (AER); Asia Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development (AIBD); World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC); Arab States Broadcasting Union (ASBU); African Union of Broadcasting (AUB/UAR); Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication (BNNRC); Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU); Permanent Conference of Mediterranean Audiovisual Operators (COPEAM); European Broadcasting Union (EBU/UER); Egta; International Association of Broadcasting (IAB); Islamic Broadcasting Union (IBU); International Telecommunication Union (ITU); International Organization of the Francophonie (OIF); Public Media Alliance (PMA); Spanish Radio Academy; United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); International Radio and Television Union (URTI).

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BMW Vehicles Now Feature RadioDNS

Fri, 09/27/2019 - 09:52

BMW cars have a brand new feature available to drivers in Europe and North America, the Service and Program Information standard from RadioDNS.

The standard is being used in BMW’s vehicles to gather station logos directly from radio stations to keep dashboards updated.

The logos are updated over IP for FM stations, updated over DAB EPG for DAB services.

[Read: In-car Updates From Radioplayer, BBC Sounds]

BMW joins Audi, Volkswagen and Porsche to include the standards. For radio stations to be able to participate in this service, they need to publish their metadata to RadioDNS’ standards. To do that, visit RadioDNS’ website.

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KDNK Organizes With ENCO

Thu, 09/26/2019 - 18:28

Public radio station KDNK(FM) in Carbondale, Colo., depends on ENCO Systems’ DAD automation to handle its library of tens of thousands of songs and elements along with scheduling programming. It’s especially crucial considering that most of the staff is volunteers lacking in-depth training.

A release explains, “DAD serves as a critical network hub that connects KDNK’s on-air studio, newsroom, production room, and program department.”

[Read: User Report: KHNS Derives Efficiency From ENCO DAD]

KDNK Music Director Luke Nestler said, “While our DJs allow our station to be live 18 hours per day, DAD makes it very easy to automate the playout of fresh music playlists overnight from midnight to 5 a.m., at which time it triggers a live NPR satellite feed of “Morning Edition.”

“For a station like ours with a very small paid staff, the automated functionality of ENCO’s Dropbox utility is a very big timesaver,” Nestler added. “Without it, we would have to handle ingesting shows as a manual process, while guarding against human error. As part of its overall functionality, DAD automates this entire process reliably the moment a new episode arrives.”

A particular highlight is DAD’s work with the station’s sound library. Nestler estimates that 88,000 pieces of music have been copied and organized into different libraries residing in their digital archive. These libraries span a wide range of musical tastes, including folk, rock n roll, bluegrass, country, soul, R&B, funk, hip-hop, and electronica along with one dedicated to elements and clips.

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College Radio Day Approaches

Thu, 09/26/2019 - 17:17

The ninth annual College Radio Day is fast approaching. According to a release, the event “will unite over 360 college stations from 26 countries around the world to bring awareness to the work and value college stations bring to the broadcasting medium.”

Recently announced was the appointment of The Black Keys as the official ambassadors for the day. Black Key Pat Carney said, “The importance of college radio can’t be overstated. Dan [Auerbach] and I are proud to be the ambassadors of College Radio Day.” As ambassadors of the event, Carney has recorded an exclusive interview for college radio stations to play on the air during the day.

The group’s mist recent album received significant college radio play. It was on the top spot for five consecutive weeks on the North American College & Community Radio Chart, giving The Black Keys the title for NACC’s longest run in 2019.

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FCC Proposes Framework for Online Station Public Notices

Thu, 09/26/2019 - 15:54

The FCC has voted on a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposing changes to update the FCC’s rules to bring broadcast application public notifications into the digital age.

TV and radio stations had been required to file “certain applications” in “a local newspaper,” or “on air” and in some cases both, depending on the type of application, the primary reason being to direct them to the station’s studio, where they could review the documents.

But with the rise of internet usage and the FCC’s migration of those station application documents from their studios to an online database (some written notice requirements remain), the FCC under Chairman Ajit Pai said that needed to change and has now come up with a plan, which the commission adopted at the Sept. 26 open meeting and will still need to be subject for public comment before a final order is voted:

  • “Replace the newspaper publication requirement with written public notice posted online on a publicly accessible website (either the station’s site or an affiliated site) with a link to the application;”
  • “Simplify and standardize the public notice requirements for on-air announcements (they must direct the public to the FCC database);
  • “Clarify certain local public notice obligations, such as those pertaining to international broadcast stations and low-power FM stations;” and
  • “Streamline and update the commission’s rules concerning public notice for stations designated for hearing.”

“I am pleased that this item recognizes that local public notice of licensing activity is required by statute, and searches for ways to use modern tools to make it more effective,” said Commissioner Geoffrey Starks. “Specifically, I support the item’s proposals to continue to require both on-air and written notice of certain licensing proceedings and questions on the best way to offer such notice online. I am hopeful that a robust record will develop on these issues.”

Commissioner Michael O’Rielly said the FCC needs to eliminate or modify “all” government burdens on broadcasters so they can compete with unregulated competitors. He said he strongly supported the item and hopes the FCC can move to an order quickly. Commissioner Brendan Carr agreed. Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel called it a “smart update.”

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User Report: KHNS Derives Efficiency From ENCO DAD

Thu, 09/26/2019 - 15:44

HAINES, ALASKA — As the Voice of the Wilderness, public radio station KHNS(FM) has been broadcasting to the Alaskan Panhandle communities of Haines, Skagway and Klukwan since 1980. Situated near majestic mountains and the Upper Lynn Canal, our listener-supported station is a source of music, news and programming from networks such as NPR, BBC World News and Alaska Public Radio.

Our staff has been downsized from 10 to four full-timers over the years and our budget remains tight — now even tighter with Alaska vetoing public broadcasting funding in June. But we’ve managed to maintain a highly-efficient and reliable broadcast operation in large part due to our ENCO DAD radio automation system.

Over several generations and system upgrades, DAD has supported our operation in what I would call a flexible, hybrid configuration that lets us to choose when and how our station automates playout. While DAD is programmed to deliver our 24/7 playlist, we are only fully automated overnight and on the weekends. Since DAD continuously plays out our playlist as a background process, it’s always there and ready to go should we need it.

Like our turntables and CD players, DAD has its own slider on our control room board. At the start of their shifts, our DJs pot down DAD, do their live shows and then pot DAD back up when they’re finished. DAD plays any time there isn’t a DJ sitting at the board, running through a daily playlist that has backup programming if a volunteer can’t make a regularly hosted show.

This flexible DAD setup allows our DJs to deliver a fresh, original show, playing music from our two turntables and CD players — as well as a DAD mini-array — as they’ve always done, and more important, preserving our station’s unique, regional sound.

While we chose DAD for its comprehensive functionality, we’re still discovering valuable features and capabilities. One such recent upgrade is ENconveyor, which automates the download of audio files, such as syndicated shows, from various web or FTP sites on the internet, and delivers them to our DAD media library, with metadata.

DAD’s DropBox application, also a recent upgrade, scans a watch folder associated with our own FTP site. When new media files arrive, DropBox retrieves them according to rules-based criteria. Together, these two new features save considerable man-hours and labor.

The ability to access the DAD system remotely from any mobile connected device, is another big time-saver. For instance, for our 1950s big-band retrospective, “Melodies and Memories,” our producer can access the DAD system remotely, from a desktop application in her home, to upload the latest show for broadcast on Sundays at noon.

Whenever a problem occurs while I’m off-site, such as satellite network disruption or weather emergencies, I can remotely access DAD using an iPad or smartphone to turn on weather advisories or technical difficulties messages. That flexible remote accessibility eliminates the long drive to the station.

For every KHNS department, including KHNS Local News, DAD is a vital platform underlying all that we do on a daily basis. We find the ENCO DAD system to be reliable, user-friendly, intuitive and for our lean operation, crucial for delivering the on-air product that our listeners rely upon and enjoy.

For information, contact Ken Frommert at ENCO Systems in Michigan at 1-248-827-4440 or visit www.enco.com.

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Live From the Radio Show

Wed, 09/25/2019 - 13:17
The nationally syndicated “Bob & Tom Show” broadcasts from the Radio Show in Dallas on Wednesday morning. Photo: Paul McLane

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BTS Explores Tech’s Role in Content Wars

Wed, 09/25/2019 - 11:54

What form will the next generation of broadcast architecture take? A technology committee organized by the National Association of Broadcasters is exploring that question; and its work will be one of the radio-friendly topics on the agenda of the upcoming IEEE Broadcast Symposium.

A closeup of the Connecticut State Capitol in Hartford. The IEEE BTS Symposium will be held at a nearby hotel.

Highlights of the BTS include a series of talks about emergency alerting; a new “Women in the Industry” breakfast; and a discussion of new protection requirements for Class A AM stations. Further themes include 5G, ATSC 3.0, IT security and regulation.

The annual technical conference will be held over three days at the Hartford Marriott Downtown in Hartford, Conn., at the beginning of October. Below are highlights of likely interest to Radio World readers.

Michelle Munson keynotes Tuesday’s luncheon.

CONSUMER INTERFACE

On Tuesday Oct. 1, Michelle Munson, co-founder and CEO of Eluvio, will keynote. She founded Aspera and led it as CEO until May 2017, including through its acquisition by IBM. She speaks frequently about content networking, machine learning, block chain and cloud infrastructure.

Tuesday afternoon the focus turns to “the consumer interface.” Tim Carroll, senior director, sound technology for the office of the CTO at Dolby Laboratories, is among the presenters.

Tim Carroll will discuss new audio systems, part of an exploration of the “Consumer Interface.”

“When first speaking with Peter Symes, the chair of the ‘Consumer Interface’ sessions, I was thinking this was related to HDMI or WiFi or other such interfaces,” Carroll said. “In fact, the focus is on the technology/human interface and will include not just a description of specific technologies but more specifically how these technologies can improve experiences for consumers and what might be required from consumers to enable new features.”

For instance Carroll said his own talk about “New Audio Features” will explore technologies like immersive audio and how it can be delivered by Dolby Atmos, accessibility improvements such as dialog enhancement and how consumers will be able to make such features work to their benefit.

“Engineers will get a view of what the consumer side can support and what will be required to enable it upstream in the broadcast facility.”

He expressed amazement at how far consumer technology has progressed.

“Devices like sound bars have become smaller and cheaper and yet perform far better than their predecessors. They provide a consistent, compelling experience while requiring very little setup experience to get it right. This results in consumer environments that are higher quality and more predictable than ever before, making it easier for broadcasters to satisfy viewers — and listeners.”

“RELENTLESS” DISASTERS

Several presentations, also on Tuesday, will explore emergency alerting. Hasn’t this subject been covered in great detail already? We asked Matthew Straeb, EVP/CTO of Global Security Systems and Alert FM.

Three presentations on Tuesday will focus on emergency warning, with speakers from FEMA, the NAB and Global Security Systems. Shown is a promotional image for Alert FM from GSS.

“Last year’s relentless season of natural disasters, from hurricanes in Houston, Florida and Puerto Rico, to wildfires in California, has solidified radio broadcasting as the last resort for sending out life-saving information when power, cell and internet fail,” he replied.

Matthew Straeb of Global Security Systems is chair of the Emergency Alerts and Information Working Group of the National Radio Systems Committee.

“The future of broadcasting, to remain relevant and avoid becoming a victim of spectrum grab by FCC and others, will depend on the validity of this outcome and entertainment value. The incredible benefit of sharing essential information with communities, residents, first responders and the rest of the nation using terrestrial radio has become an aid and lifeline.”

Reliability issues, Straeb said, can impair the effective delivery for emergency alerts, which are of little value when one’s smartphone has no service or a dead battery. “That’s where FM broadcasting’s ubiquitous and pervasive infrastructure remains valuable.” He said he’ll describe building blocks of a nationwide network and a path for the consumer electronics industry to integrate emergency alerts into products and make it easily accessible for Americans.

Straeb said the most important challenge facing the U.S. radio industry is the relevance of terrestrial radio listening in the car.

“As Americans move from terrestrial to online listening, how does radio continue to stay top of mind as you cross that divide from terrestrial to online? There is a plethora of content competition. If we lose the terrestrial radio platform or it becomes diluted we are at risk,” he said.

“That’s why we believe the promotion of the radio platform for emergency alerts is critical. It’s one reason we created the NRSC ‘Emergency Alerts and Information Working Group,’ to assimilate the value proposition of radio for saving lives. As chair, I would invite any interested persons to join.”

MORE CAPACITY

Alan Jurison, who by day is senior operations engineer for iHeartMedia, chairs radio sessions offered on Wednesday morning.

“Several of the papers are focusing on next-generation transmission methods for radio,” he said.

“David Layer of NAB and Harvey Chalmers of Xperi will discuss the lab results of MP11, an exciting new extended hybrid mode enabled by fourth-generation HD Radio transmission hardware. It adds an additional 24 kilobits per second to the hybrid signal, for a total of 144 kbps of transmission capacity. The lab testing of this mode was critical before the industry moves to field trials.”

David Layer of NAB and Harvey Chalmers of Xperi will discuss lab results of MP11, a new extended hybrid mode enabled by fourth-generation HD Radio transmission hardware.

Jurison said that with more broadcasters employing MP3 mode for additional digital capacity and with the MP11 mode showing promising results, a presentation by Philipp Schmid of Nautel is timely. He will delve into peak power reduction for extended IBOC service modes.

Frank Foti of the Telos Alliance will offer “iMPX: Networked FM-Stereo Composite Connectivity,” discussing distribution of digital composite, or MPX. “This will be a growing trend over the years, as more functions we’ve typically relied on in hardware are moved to the cloud,” said Jurison.

Also on the docket is “Effective Monitoring and Protection Systems for Multiplexed TV and Radio Facilities” with Paul Shulins of Shulins Consulting and Jim Stenberg of American Tower.

“As we all know, everyone is tasked with more stations and sites than they once had,” Jurison said. “Comprehensive monitoring systems are essential to know about problems, hopefully before they exist, so you can be proactive, route around or fix the problem and keep your stations on the air and compliant.”

NEXT WAVE

Also Wednesday, Roswell “Roz” Clark, senior director of radio engineering at Cox Media Group, will discuss “Next-Generation Architecture for Radio.”

“Next Generation Architecture for Radio” is the theme for Roz Clark of Cox Media Group.

“The technology used for radio broadcasting has evolved significantly in recent years,” Clark said. “Advancements in content creation, digitization, HD Radio, metadata and display data have all been adopted and implemented into legacy systems. As the next wave of technology looms that includes virtualization and software-based systems, how will the infrastructure and content transport requirements be met to take advantage of these advanced technologies?”

He said the NAB Radio Technology Committee’s Next Gen Architecture Working Group is working with manufacturers, Xperi and broadcasters to answer that question.

“The presentation is an update on the ongoing efforts of this team. Engineers who are interested in what the future holds for the radio broadcast industry should find this topic interesting.”

Clark noted that radio engineering historically has benefitted from “adjacent” businesses that develop technical solutions that broadcasters then adopt and integrate into their own environment.

“Examples from the past include 66 blocks, data center servers, IP audio over computer networks, and software doing the work that was normally handled by discrete hardware,” he said. “What will it take to continue this trend of adoption to include cloud computing and virtualization? What are the requirements? How can products be designed to work together? Can the end result be easier to implement for everyone?”

Clark said that one of the most challenging issues related to the business of broadcast and technology is the human resources needed to take the business into the next generation.

“While technology continues to evolve and become cheaper, better and faster, the people that understand how to take advantage of these advancements and how they can be applied to broadcast are becoming rare. Attending events such as the IEEE-BTS Symposium is one of the ways to accelerate the knowledge needed for the future.”

Other talks of interest to radio engineers at BTS include “Real-Time Monitoring of RF System Performance” by Dan Glavin of Dielectric; “New Protection Requirements for Class A AM Stations” with Carl T. Jones; and a look at the 2019 World Radiocommunication Conference from Winston Caldwell of Fox.

BTS features a number of session titles beyond radio. A sampler: “Reputation-based Network Selection in Multimedia IoT,” “Group-Oriented Broadcast of Augmented Reality Services over 5G New Radio,” “Networking Requirements for ATSC 3.0 Implementation,” “Security Provisions in ATSC 3 Studio-to-Transmitter Link Transport Protocol” and “Software Defined Systems — The Future Platform.”

A Women in the Industry breakfast will feature Jaclyn Pytlarz, senior engineer, Dolby Labs.

On Wednesday, BTS will feature its first “Women in the Industry” breakfast. Featured is Jaclyn Pytlarz, a senior engineer at Dolby Laboratories in Sunnyvale, Calif., where she has worked in Dolby’s Applied Vision Science group since 2014.

Keynoting the Wednesday lunch is Mark Schubin, a video tech expert who likes to say that among other career highlights, he hooked up the TV in Eric Clapton’s bedroom. Also relevant if perhaps less exciting, Schubin has multiple Emmys and is chairman of the ATSC board of directors.

CONTENT TIDAL WAVE

The event’s organizers see a clear need for an understanding of the kinds of technical topics explored at their annual event.

Jurison said the industry faces plenty of challenges, “from having long-term digital strategies to retain terrestrial listenership or convert them into streaming listeners, ensuring we keep driving results for our advertisers on both terrestrial and digital platforms.”

Tim Carroll echoed Matt Straeb’s earlier comment about content competition.

“Consumers have so many choices for the sources of content it is increasingly difficult to provide services that are differentiated,” he said. “Quality robbing loudness wars are becoming a thing of the past, so what can make a service stand out and attract and keep listeners? Perhaps new features that make content more exciting to consume can help. Can radio do this?

“I believe the answer is yes,” Carroll said. “Audio improvements and new features have thus far been aimed at improving video services but are equally applicable to radio.”

IF YOU GO

Where: Hartford Marriott Downtown, Hartford, Conn.

When: Oct. 1–3

Who: Industry professionals and academia seeking to collaborate on current and challenges in the field of broadcasting

How: bts.ieee.org/broadcastsymposium

How Much: $630 for IEEE/BTS members, $750 others; single-day passes and discounts for students, advance registration and Life Members are available

The post BTS Explores Tech’s Role in Content Wars appeared first on Radio World.

Radio Minerva Enters the Digital Age

Wed, 09/25/2019 - 11:40

ANTWERP, Belgium — On June 1, Antwerp-based local, independent radio station Radio Minerva went on air from a new studio, marking its entry in the digital domain.

Radio Minerva developed special large-format displays for the track time remaining countdown on USB and CD players. Credit: mmpress

“After 37 years we’re proud to enter a new chapter. Going digital was not obvious and required a heavy investment,” said Radio Minerva founder and station director Frank Boekhoff.

“Thanks to many volunteers, the new on-air studio puts Radio Minerva on the cutting edge of new technology, in line with our nine-year broadcast license.”

UNIQUE FORMAT

Radio Minerva began broadcasting in 1982, offering a specific musical format of hard-to-find oldies tracks, evergreens, crooners and hits from yesteryear. Today, the station holds the second spot in the over-55 age bracket, enjoying an audience share of 12.7% in Antwerp, according to the IPradio, CIM ratings March 2018–Feb. 2019.

Radio Minerva’s nonprofit organization counts over 5,000 contributing members. The plan to renovate the station’s studio and transmission chain was already included in Radio Minerva’s application for a new broadcast license in 2017, explicitly stating its intention to switch to a digital on-air set-up.

Patrick Thijs, Radio Minerva studio engineer, shows off the connection cables, which are color-coded to indicate functionality. Credit: mmpress

“The analog studio was no longer reliable, and our BCS broadcast console, despite several upgrades and refurbishments, was worn out,” continued Boekhoff. “We also wanted to expand the current 16-fader setup with extra faders, but that wasn’t possible with the current configuration.”

With a volunteer on-air staff ranging from the age of 51 to 85, the key issue of the new configuration had to be its usability. Boekhoff wanted to avoid seeing the station’s senior presenters walk away because of technical headaches.

Last November the station transferred its broadcast studio to temporary quarters, allowing the staff to concentrate on the refurbishment of the new on-air studio, while maintaining the normal programming on 98 MHz FM.

The station’s army of unpaid workers completely stripped Radio Minerva’s riverside studio and started redecorating and painting the building. They renewed all of the mains, network and audio cabling with dedicated color function codes in a clear structure. The introduction of AES digital audio also resulted in fewer cables. They also revamped the ceiling insulation and put LED lighting in place.

TECHNICAL SETUP

“We added new equipment and a new equipment room within the physical boundaries of our building,” said Boekhoff.

After a thorough product comparison of three brands of digital on-air consoles, Radio Minerva selected a DHD 52/SX console, in combination with an MX-core.

“We compared the systems, their user-friendliness, reliability, the distributor’s support and maintenance and options for future expansion,” said Patrick Thijs, Radio Minerva studio engineer.

“The DHD mixing desk came out best. We opted for a 16-fader 52/SX type, which we expanded with an extra four-fader module. We also selected an MX core for budgetary reasons — the more powerful DHD 52/MX console came out quite expensive. Distributor Amptec suggested that we configure an MX core for the SX console.” Thijs added that the 20-fader layout also met the station’s initial requirements to manage the different audio sources.

[Read: Nostalgie Vlaanderen Goes to the Beach]

With a unique musical genre like Radio Minerva, the use of vintage vinyl records required the implementation of high-quality Technics SL 1200 turntables (connected to the DHD by means of a Sonifex RB-PA2 dual-stereo RIAA phone amplifier) and a Tascam MD-301 MkII MiniDisc player in the configuration.

“In the process of the rebuilding of our studio, we prioritized the requirement that the studio had to be backward compatible, with the ability to play different formats like the almost-obsolete MiniDisc, or vinyl,” said Boekhoff.

Radio Minerva’s New On-Air Studio Credit: mmpress

TRAINING SESSIONS

“In the early days of the station, the bulk of the audio was played from vinyl. From data we supplied to the artists’ rights association, SABAM, we learned that, today only about 70% of our playlist is recognized by the association’s software, meaning some of the tracks are very rare. The remainder of our repertoire is made up of vintage recordings, special tracks and hard-to-find vinyl. Today, however, we are seeing more DJs transfer these tracks to USB.”

Radio Minerva decided to continue using its Carmen Server radio automation software developed in house by Thijs for music scheduling, and Traktor F1 controller pad from Native Instruments for commercials.

The station equipped the on-air presenter desk with three Denon DN-500 USB players and three Denon DN-700C CD players, digitally connected via AES to the DHD core.

“Because of the poor readability of the ‘remaining time’ display on the Denon players, we decided to develop a prototype display with a micro-PC gathering data from the players and displaying them in big characters,” added Thijs.

DJ Eddy De Schutere trains in the new on-air studio. Credit: mmpress

“To facilitate the use of headphones when playing audio from a laptop, we put in place an extra patch panel with a laptop connection and a soundcard routed to the DHD console with two channels for monitoring the input signal.” The extra patch panel also features a standard output connection for TV crews when filming in the studio.

“The big advantage with this DHD setup is that we can add extra sources via snapshots, no need to change plugs,” continued Thijs. “And, even more important, with more than 40 DJs and presenters, we have an accessible working spot, offering all faders and controls — all other features like microphone settings, user profiles are locked.”

In the weeks prior to the launch of the new on-air studio, all of the Radio Minerva presenters were invited to participate in “hands-on” training sessions with the new gear.

TRANSMISSION CHAIN

A pair of KRK Rokit RP8 G3 active studio monitors and a Telos Hx1 telephone hybrid completed the new setup, with one Neumann TLM 103 and four Røde NT1 mics as standard, expandable with three Shure SM58 mics for presentations and concerts in the studio. The fanless, noise-free air-cooled DHD core was placed in the on-air studio, saving money on buying CAT-6 cables since fewer were required.

All of the production and editing computers were linked in a Dante network. Thijs and Boekhoff emphasized that also here budget and reliability were key in the choice for Dante, with the stability of the protocol and the lower cost of extra drivers playing a role.

With two new DEVA DB8008 silence monitors, one in the equipment room and one at the transmitter site, Radio Minerva safegu

The station’s volunteer workers renovated the whole studio. Station Director Frank Boekhoff is pictured second from left. Credit: Radio Minerva

arded its output continuity. In case of mains problems, three Eaton PX5 UPS devices of 3000 VA each guarantee 90 minutes of power supply.

“The DHD’s on-air signal is channeled via AES to the DEVA monitor and a BW Broadcast Ariane Encore audio leveler. The digital output is then routed to an Omnia One processor from where the MPX output is connected with a studio-to-transmitter link. A DEVA SmartGen 5.0 RDS encoder completes the chain. At present we only add RDS data during the station’s night programs,” said Thijs.

“The Omnia One’s low-latency output is divided into

Presenter Wilfried Vriens kicks off his program in the new studio on June 1. Credit: Radio Minerva

three signals by means of a Sonifex RB-DA6G distribution amplifier. One signal is rerouted to the DHD console for full monitoring with audio processing, a second signal goes to a Telos ProStreamer for our internet streaming, and a third signal is serving the monitoring in the equipment room.”

Radio Minerva’s signal is transmitted via a digital transmission system studio-to-transmitter link to the station’s BW Broadcast TX2500 v2 transmitter on top of the Antwerp Crown

Plaza hotel. This guarantees optimal coverage of the greater Antwerp area.

The new studios were inaugurated on June 1, when Radio Minerva invited personalities and presenters to visit the new on-air landscape.

“I’m happy that our new radio studio is up-to-date and future proof,” concluded Frank Boekhoff. “Thanks to the work of our many volunteers, we have been able to keep the budget within limits — otherwise this project would have not been possible.”

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User Report: Arrakis Digilink Evolves Through the Years

Tue, 09/24/2019 - 19:33

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W. VA. — In late 2006 or thereabouts I was asked by a colleague to help him select an automation program to recommend to one of his client stations that was looking to automate its talk format. He presented me with literature from Arrakis Systems on the Digilink-Xtreme automation product. After thoroughly reading the literature and going online to investigate further, I was sold on the system.

We then commenced planning the installation and programming of the system. We of course got the satellite package since most satellite delivered programming was already provided with automation cues. I found the instruction manual to be complete and easy to understand. After some experience with the system I found it to be self-intuitive to program. I understand that the system continues to perform flawlessly at that station.

In 2008 I was asked to recommend an automation system to one of my clients and, of course, I recommended the Arrakis Digilink-Xtreme. Again as in the first installation, I was impressed as was the client, especially with the ability not only to automate their talk format but to automate pro baseball, pro and college football and basketball games and the ability to handle baseball rain delays without human assistance.

In 2016, I was asked by the folks at Shepherd University for a recommendation for an automation system to replace the existing system they had at WSHC(FM). I recommended the Arrakis Digilink-HD system because of the newer features included in the software.

The system was quite easy to install, just like Digilink-Xtreme and as easy to program. Fortunately, I was forward thinking and insisted that they order the package that included the Bridge Switcher, a hardware matrix box originally designed to interface with multiple satellite feeds. I figured WHSC should have the ability to place any of their three studios on air if need be. In 2017, they were able to make an arrangement with West Virginia Public Broadcasting to carry much of their programming.

In 2018 Arrakis Systems announced a new automation program called Apex that looked to be cost-effective, and offered more features than Digilink-HD and Xtreme. After talking to the company’s Melissa Freeman and Ben Palmer, I recommended to WSHC management that they transition to Apex. I am happy to say that Apex has been all it was supposed to be and more. The transition to Apex occurred in short order one afternoon while we aired programming from the satellite receiver through the studio console.

In less than an hour, we were back on the air with Apex software running the show.

Yes, we have had some minor problems arise from time to time. However, we have never been off the air due to an automation problem. When we have had an issue that we couldn’t resolve on our own, Arrakis Customer Support came to the rescue. I can’t brag enough about Arrakis Customer Support. They have been the nicest people to work with, extremely knowledgeable and in all ways very attentive to customer needs. Hats off to all the employees at Arrakis Systems.

For information, contact Ben Palmer at Arrakis Systems in Colorado at 1-970-461-0730 or visit www.arrakis-systems.com.

The post User Report: Arrakis Digilink Evolves Through the Years appeared first on Radio World.

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