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Inside WTOP: A Special Radio World Facility Tour Webinar

Mon, 09/09/2019 - 15:08

WTOP and its sister stations Federal News Network and The Gamut recently moved to its new, spectacular studio plant on the D.C./Maryland border. Knowledgeable radio industry visitors are walking away marveling about it.

Now Radio World readers can visit too thanks to this special one-hour, multimedia webinar tour hosted by Radio World Editor in Chief Paul McLane.

We take our video cameras inside — to the Glass Enclosed Nerve Center, the WTOP editor’s desk, the specialized production and support studios, and the technical operations center of this big AoIP-based specialty media facility.

We learn from WTOP Technical Operations Manager Brian Oliger about the design philosophy behind the project, and from RadioDNA President Rob Goldberg about the installation and integration challenges.

WTOP is a special success story. It was again the nation’s top-billing radio station in 2018, according to BIA Advisory Services; it was the only station in the top 10 that is not located in New York, L.A. and Chicago, and the only one not owned by iHeart or Cumulus; and it is consistently the No. 1 station in Nielsen’s 12+ ratings in Washington, a market of almost 5 million people.

Originally airing Aug. 28, this 1.5-hour webinar is now available on-demand. See it here.

The post Inside WTOP: A Special Radio World Facility Tour Webinar appeared first on Radio World.

Arizona LP Licensee Agrees to $1,500 Consent Decree

Mon, 09/09/2019 - 14:38

An Arizona licensee has agreed to a $1,500 consent decree with the Federal Communications Commission after a series of underwriting, procedural and construction transgressions.

San Tan Educational Media, licensee of low-power FM station KFXY(LP) in Mesa, Ariz., admitted to violating several sections of FCC Rules and the Communications Act including failing to file an application for commission consent to change its entire governing board; constructing and operating a tower and antenna that were at a lower height than approved by the commission; and false certification of certain permits — though the commission found the last charge was a result of carelessness by former employees rather than an outright intention to deceive the commission.

[Read: FCC Moves to Revoke Licenses of Broadcasters Who Missed Regulatory Payments]

As a result, the Media Bureau and Enforcement Bureau entered into a consent decree with San Tan to resolve those matters. Part of that consent decree also resolved issues as part of a secondary investigation into whether San Tan violated commission underwriting laws by broadcasting announcements that promoted the products, services or businesses of its financial contributors.

When it came to that underwriting investigation, the FCC stressed that although LPFM radio broadcasters, due to their noncommercial and nonprofit nature, benefit from being exempt from regulatory fees and from having fewer requirements than those imposed on commercial entities, that flexibility is not unlimited. That means that restrictions prohibiting the airing of commercial advertising applicable to noncommercial educational FM broadcast licensees is in effect to protect the public’s use and enjoyment of commercial-free broadcasts.

Although the FCC has said that an LPFM licensee may broadcast underwriting announcements identifying entities that donate to the station, such announcements cannot promote an entity’s businesses, products or services. And even though there are no hard and fast rules on underwriting announcements, the commission said that the longer the announcement, the more likely it is to contain material that is inconsistent with the identification-only rules. In the case of KFXY(LP), the commission investigated a complaint that alleged that the station broadcast a series of announcements that violated those underwriting laws.

As part of its consent decree, San Tan admitted that those broadcasts violated the commission’s underwriting laws. In addition to the $1,500 civil penalty, San Tan will implement a five-year compliance plan to avoid future violations of the underwriting laws.

The commission also concluded that none of the violations affects San Tan’s basic qualifications to be a commission licensee.

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Smart Speakers Grow in Importance

Mon, 09/09/2019 - 12:03

People are talking to Alexa; but the smart speaker isn’t the only one listening. Radio industry leaders are paying attention — designing digital plans to make listening to their own streams on voice assistant platforms as easy as possible.

Smart speakers in the home have expanded the audio landscape quickly. Radio broadcasters have been watching this trend from its outset, as we have reported, and they continue to seek ways to take advantage of the voice-driven technology.

How Americans consume audio is always evolving, experts say; but smart speakers continue to be on the leading edge of change right now.  A recent blog post by Westwood One was headlined “Smart Speaker Popularity Continues Full Speed Ahead.” Jacobs Media’s Techsurvey 2019, which polls radio listeners, found that about one in four of their homes have a speaker. More broadly, the Consumer Technology Association puts the number at 31%. Some estimates are even higher.

Interestingly, uptake appears to increase significantly in major markets like New York and Philadelphia, where nearly 50% of homes have one, according to recent data from Nielsen. It tracks the number of smart speakers found in PPM panel homes.

Jacobs Media’s Techsurvey indicates that the most common use of a home smart speaker (at least by the radio listeners Jacobs focuses on) is asking a general question, but a quarter listen to music from an AM/FM radio station. Fifteen percent listen to news or talk from an AM/FM station.


Analysts interviewed for this story expect the home speaker movement, led by Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Home, to continue to expand into more homes. Changing economics created by technology advances appear to have created a sense of urgency among major radio group owners to bulk up efforts to reach audience via home smart speakers.

The Jacobs survey found that 9% of respondents say they listen to a lot more radio since owning a smart speaker. The respondents were fairly evenly split among those who listen for music and others who listen to news/talk radio stations.

That same survey found that just over half of listeners say all or most of their AM/FM radio listening is done in the car, which leaves broadcasters scrambling to fill the home listening market, experts say.

Bob Kernen, chief operating officer for jacAPPS, the mobile app developer division of Jacobs Media, said savvy radio broadcasters are focused on smart speakers as a new way of getting radio into — or back into — the home.

“Broadcasters are focusing more on their digital streams, but the opportunities go way beyond that,” Kernen said.

“Podcasts are another immediate opportunity.”

Capitalizing on Amazon skills to make sure internet streams can be found easily on voice-driven technology platforms is important, Kernen said.

“It’s all about getting the invocation name right. And that’s getting tougher and tougher as more and more skills get produced, because you can only get one. Then stations need to promote that on the air,” Kernen said.

Radio broadcasters typically guard their streaming numbers closely, so it’s difficult to estimate the overall growth from home speaker listening, several observers told Radio World.

Major broadcast groups like National Public Radio and iHeartRadio are making significant efforts to penetrate the home speaker space, but many other ownership groups are diving in too.


A graphic from the “Westwood One 2019 Audioscape” report indicates that marketers and agencies are “immersing themselves” in voice-activated advertising. The increase in use since early 2018, the report stated, “is stunning.” Data was gathered by Advertiser Perceptions.

Larry Linietsky, senior VP of operations and business development for Cumulus Digital, said the radio broadcaster has put a lot of emphasis on the smart speaker segment.

“We have Alexa skills for 367 of our 428 stations, and we have Google actions for 17 of our largest podcasts,” Linietsky said.

Cumulus’ digital department works on streaming, podcasting, web and station application solutions. It has developed Alexa and Google home skills that help extend radio messages into digital consumer touch points, Linietsky said.

“Via our partnerships with iHeartRadio and Tunein, we have access points on all smart speakers through numerous methods. We think smart speakers bringing shared listening behavior back into the home, which is something radio has always been good at.

“Cumulus looks at the percentage of listening per month that is coming through smart speakers and it is about 20% of total online listening hours in 2019. That’s from nearly zero percent in 2017,” Linietsky said.

The broadcaster’s digital platforms for streaming include websites/desktop, mobile apps, connected TVs and smart speakers. The majority of the company’s streaming occurs on mobile and desktop, according to Linietsky.

Meanwhile, Beasley Media Group is extending its brand to be “highly relevant across as many platforms as possible,” including smart speakers, said Justin Chase, EVP of programming for Beasley.

“As good as our Alexa skills are now, we are in the process of improving them and rolling out skills on the Google platform. Beasley sees the incredible growth of smart speakers and we will continue to be committed to the strategy long into the future,” Chase said.

Beasley was the first major broadcast company to roll out custom Alexa skills, Chase said, and the company is seeing at least 20% of its streaming audience on smart speakers.


The move from tabletop home radios to smart speakers will likely benefit AM radio stations with poor signals facing increased signal interference, according to James Cridland, a radio “futurist” watching the space closely.

“The research shows that people use more audio after they purchase a smart speaker, and they are in a shared space like the home, which is beneficial,” Cridland said.

So far aggregators that provide live streaming and on-demand audio services are doing a pretty good job at the basics, Cridland said, especially those owned by the radio business, like Radioplayer in Canada, the U.K. and parts of Europe; RadioApp in Australia; and iHeartRadio in Canada and the United States.

“However, TuneIn appears not to care about radio, frequently carries outdated and wrong information about stations, and is a poor experience, especially with smart speakers,” Cridland said. “It›s a disappointment that the radio industry continues to be so reliant on a partner that is so disinterested in them.”

Podcasts and on-demand content on smart speakers are not especially popular, Cridland said, and are likely better suited for headphone listening.

“Some broadcasters are adding additional streams to smart speakers; others are even dabbling with contesting, on-demand sports reports and audio event calendars. But a smart speaker seems ideally positioned to carry the live radio station output,” he said.

Radio broadcasters will follow when listening patterns shift, said Mike Bergman, senior director technology and standards at the Consumer Technology Association.

“If these personal digital assistants become a dominant mode of entertainment in the home, radio is certainly smart to find penetration opportunities,” Bergman said. “If a broadcaster is not tapping into connected speakers they are probably missing out.”

NAB says it touting the benefits of voice assistants in the home, believing smart speakers now allow local radio broadcasters to reach millions of listeners.

“Music listening and tuning into news programming are two of the top uses for smart speakers. As smart speaker ownership continues its growth, local radio will benefit greatly from this new opportunity to engage with our audience,” said Zamir Ahmed, VP of media relations for NAB.

Other tech leaders say radio is making significant gains in stream counts and time spent listening by promoting specific skills to find local stations on smart speakers.

“We have seen data that show radio groups that promote their skills on air are measuring more than 50% of digital listening on smart speakers,” said Pat Higbie, CEO and co-founder of app developer XAPPmedia.

The company works with NPR and Cumulus on delivering voice interactive campaigns for advertisers like Chex, Mattress FIRM, Case Knives, ADT, Walmart, Lagunitas, Target and others. XAPPmedia is pushing radio clients to maintain a high level of on-air promotion of skills.

“The potholes are there for stations that stop the on-air promotion of skills, because Alexa and Google Assistant are becoming more prevalent in the car, so radio owners must keep their stations top of mind in order to stave off competition in the car,” Higbie said.

“In addition, having your radio station only accessible behind an aggregator skill reduces discovery and your ability to hone the listener experience.”

Voice interactive advertising is changing radio monetization on smart speakers, Higbie said. Voice interactive ads include a call to action for listeners to connect with the advertiser via Alexa skills and Google Assistant actions, he said.

The following are highlights from the “Westwood One 2019 Audioscape” report, which uses data from Edison Research and Advertiser Perceptions.

“AM/FM radio and Amazon Music lead in share of smart speaker time spent listening” — The report found that in the second quarter of this year, AM/FM radio (18%) and Amazon Music (17%) led in share of listening on a smart speaker, according to Edison Research. “This is a result of AM/FM radio stations developing voice-activated applications to enable listening on smart speakers and their aggressive promotion of Alexa and Google Home listening.”

“Smart speaker ownership growth isn’t slowing down” — It said the number of Americans who reported owning a smart speaker increased threefold from the second quarter of 2017 to the same period two years later. Estimates on ownership vary, but Edison Research put it at 30% of Americans owning a smart speaker now.

“Marketers and agencies are immersing themselves in voice-activated advertising” — This is shown in the graphic in the main story and is based on research by Advertiser Perceptions. It also found that among media agencies and brands that haven’t started using smart speaker applications, “their likelihood to use these marketing initiatives within the next six months has increased.”

“Millennial podcast growth is powered by ethnic and female audiences” — The Westwood One report also explored trends in podcasting and found that in Q2 of this year, millennial 18–34 podcast daily reach grew 13% over the prior year, to 17.3%. “Driving this growth is 18-34 African Americans, Hispanics and women. These segments are growing faster than the overall 18–34 demo.”

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IBC Sneak Peek: ENCO Unveils Cloud-Based Radio Automation Disaster Recovery

Mon, 09/09/2019 - 12:00

ENCO says its DAD Disaster Recovery (DAD-DR) is a cloud-based companion to the company’s DAD radio automation system that is ready to take over program and ad playout on a moment’s notice in case of a natural disaster or critical technical failure.

Providing a fully featured clone of the broadcaster’s on-premises DAD deployment, the company explains that DAD-DR stays in continual synchronization with changes made on the local DAD system to ensure that backup content is up to date and all scheduled ad spots will run.

DAD-DR works with ENCO’s browser-based mobile control interface, WebDAD, allowing users to remotely update playlists, add new content, voice track shows, and perform library maintenance. It’s possible to automate or control the transition from the station’s main DAD system to the cloud backup from a web browser. This ensures that customers are able to switch over to DAD-DR even if they can’t get to the studio in person.

In addition, DAD-DR makes routine systems maintenance less disruptive, as stations performing on-premises upgrades can switch over to their cloud-based backup during the process to eliminate any risk of on-air impact.

IBC Stand: 8.A59


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Inside the September Issue of Radio World International

Mon, 09/09/2019 - 09:16

As part of a plan to transform its business, Spectrum Radio Network has completed a move to new studios in the center of London. The facility offers a hub for stations broadcasting to the United Kingdom and the world with new targets including podcasters and agencies. Read about the station’s strategy and more in the September issue Radio World International.


Industry Professionals Head to Amsterdam for IBC2019

Radio is well-represented at September’s giant media and technology show


Ten Codec Questions to Consider

Important points to take into account when implementing codec technology


WorldDAB Announces Excellence in Automotive Award

Summer of Products

Buyer’s Guide: Audio Transport

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

IBC Sneak Peek: 2wcom Introduces 4audio MPX Range

Mon, 09/09/2019 - 02:00

2wcom says its FM/RDS and analog/digital MPX over IP product line is undergoing a “monumental change.” The German firm is replacing its C02 RDS encoder, S02 stereo generator and the analog/digital MPX over IP codecs FMC01 with the new 4audio MPX product series.

According to the company, the new software-oriented and Linux-based scalable 4audio MPX range lets operators configure the system according to specific requirements. The compact solution is housed in a 19-inch’ 1HU rack unit.

The new line let’s users, for example, combine the RDS encoder, stereo generator and an analog/digital MPX over IP codec into one device that is able to generate the MPX signal and encode or decode it 100% lossless for further distribution.

The solution also gives operators the option to select the modules depending on their needs. At transmitter sites users can easily add local RDS data to the MPX signal already assembled at broadcaster’s main studio.

An optionally available SAT receiver enables technical staff to receive the MPX signal via satellite if it’s more economical compared to operating IP or both sources in parallel for redundancy switching to the best signal available. In addition the 4audio MPX-d decoder can be equipped with a FM tuner module to monitor audio and RDS signals or to rebroadcast the received programs.

4audio MPX provides a variety of new software-activated features. The device is equipped with inputs for analog/digital MPX, analog audio, AES/EBU and AoIP. As a result, the stereo generator now also supports all common standards and protocols for AoIP streaming, control and status.

IBC Stand: 8.E78

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DRM Plans Workshop on Digital Radio Implementation

Sun, 09/08/2019 - 18:00

Asian-based broadcasters who are considering a transition to digital radio will have the opportunity to receive an intensive course focusing on the subject at a workshop organized by the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union and the Digital Radio Mondiale Consortium.

The DRM Digital Radio Implementation and Rollout workshop will take place from Oct. 9–10 in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia.

The workshop is designed to give attendees an understanding of DRM digital radio services, its technology and features, planning methods, step-by-step implementation examples and the sharing of solutions and strategies for those looking to move from analog to digital radio.

Across the two days of the workshop, experts will share their knowledge and up-to-date information on the state of digital terrestrial radio broadcasting and some of the issues and challenges it faces.

[Read: U.S.-Based Shortwave Broadcasters Eye Digital]

ABU members can attend the workshop with no registration or participation fees; non-members must pay a fee of US$100. Special accommodation rates are available, though the number of rooms are limited.

The workshop will take place at the Holiday Inn Express Kuala Lampur City Centre.

For more information, or to register, visit

The post DRM Plans Workshop on Digital Radio Implementation appeared first on Radio World.

IBC Sneak Peek: Elber Showcases Latest Gear

Sun, 09/08/2019 - 12:00

At IBC2019 Elber will showcase the Wayber II analog FM/digital (QPSK, 16-64QAM) microwave link, together with the state-of-the-art SIGNUM IRD.

Able to transport L+R, AES-EBU, MPX and SCA signals, the company says the Wayber II offers quality performance both in signal processing and microwave applications.

The front panel is fitted with a 3.5-inch TFT touchscreen, an Ethernet management port, a USB connector for customer authenti­cation and firmware upgrades, as well as LEDs for immediate information about equipment sta­tus.

The back panel hosts all I/O connectors for both baseband and RF signals. If inputs are left- and right-channel, the transmitter can also act as a stereo encoder, generating the MPX signal adding SCA sub­carriers or (optionally) creating RDS data through the UECP protocol over a RS-232 interface.

Elber’s Signum it is a compact and reliable IRD [Integrated Receiver Decoder] designed for the high-end Radio distribution market.

According to the company, the system demodulates one or two DVB-S/ S2 signals up to 32APSK (single/multi-stream), achieving 256 KS/s as minimum symbol rate. The TS demodulated signals can be aligned and configured in 1+1 switching for redundancy. Redundancy can also be achieved with external ASI and TSoIP inputs.

Signum supports MPEG-1 LI/II audio codec, providing analog and digital outputs. In addition, users can set a data PID to be decoded and passed to the internal RDS encoder, generating the dual MPX FM output.

Elber says the EDI interface means Signum is a suitable solution to feed transmitters in DAB/DAB+ environments. It also supports BISS 0/1/E descrambling.

IBC Stand: 8.D35


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IBC Exhibitor Viewpoint: Chris Crump, Comrex

Sun, 09/08/2019 - 02:00

IBC2019 is almost here. Between now and then Radio World will conduct several short Q&As with manufacturers about their plans and offerings, to help you get the most out of the big annual trade show. Chris Crump is sales director for Comrex.

Radio World: How has business been for the company since last year’s IBC Show?

Chris Crump: Overall, business is steady. We had a very strong end to the calendar year but we haven’t seen the normal growth that we are used to seeing in the first half of the year. But we are feeling encouraged by recent activity leading into the fall sports season. 

RW: What are you hearing from your customers about their business outlook this year? In what areas should we expect growth or the most interesting projects?

Crump: I think everyone is very guarded with their purchasing decisions. And it seems to be the same across the board throughout the industry. We are seeing an uptick in podcast-related purchase, and smaller specialty studio builds. There are quite a few streaming and content delivery projects that are keeping us busy.

RW: Within the last year or so the two large station ownership groups have emerged from bankruptcy. Are you seeing any increase in equipment sales or interest? What is your feeling for the overall health of the radio industry?

Crump: Equipment sales are increasing as the result of ISDN services being discontinued or priced beyond reasonable. Based on the market trends we’ve observed, the radio portion of our business remains steady, but purchasing is guarded. It seems like a reaction to a predicted recession that may or may not happen. But radio, to us, seems healthy. Stations are billing and providing a great marketing partnership for their advertisers and using our gear to provide added value and NTR from remote broadcasts.

RW: You’ve been active in the equipment manufacturing market for years. What’s the biggest  problem or challenge facing manufacturers right now? Does the trade row between the United States and China greatly affect you?

Crump: Since we don’t manufacture or directly source from China, you would think that we would not be affected by the recent tariffs. But our component vendors have already applied tariff “fees” since they often source components that are subject to the trade war. While it does affect us, I can’t say it is affecting Comrex greatly. For the time being we can absorb some of these costs, but future tariff increases might have an effect on our product pricing. I really hope for all of our sakes that this is resolved soon.

RW: What new goodies will your company be showing? Why should attendees visit your stand?

Crump: We will be introducing our new Access NX Rack and Access MultiRack products to the European market. Both are AES67 compatible. NX Rack is a single full-duplex IP audio codec compatible with our family of Access and BRIC-Link codecs. Access MultiRack is five instances of Access in a 1RU 19-inch rack unit with AES67 I/O. We’ll have some of our other products on hand at 8.P45 in Pod section between Halls 7 and 8.

RW: Going by the interest on our website, AoIP technology is on the top of the list for product acquisition and upgrades. Is that something you are seeing and if so, how are you addressing that?

Crump: Well, our new Access NX Rack and MultiRack address that nicely by interfacing with AoIP routing and control systems that support the AES67 standard. Response from customers that have already installed our new units has been very enthusiastic, so we feel as though our timing for these new products is spot on.

RW: What do you anticipate will be the most significant technology trend at the 2019 IBC Show?

Crump: Virtualization and cloud-based services. It seems that the industry is being pushed (or pulled) in that direction.

RW: Will you be attending any sessions or looking forward to any events?

Crump: Once I’m on the stand, I’m on the stand. While I’d love to see some sessions, I’m at IBC to see Comrex dealers and customers. That’s my main priority.

RW: You’re a show veteran, how has the show changed since your first visit?

Crump: I’ve gotten really good at picking restaurants in Amsterdam. So, my show experience has gotten significantly better over the years as a result.

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IBC Sneak Peek: Wheatstone SwitchBlade Interface

Sat, 09/07/2019 - 02:00

The multifaceted SwitchBlade IP device “includes audio codecs, SIP messaging and ACI [WheatNet-IP Application Control Interface] control interface. It is the first product of its kind to combine the power of AoIP logic control with SIP connectivity and codec bandwidth optimization to transport both high-quality programming and the control logic critical for full studio operation between sites,” according to Wheatstone.

The ACI allows for sending commands such as turning microphones on or adjusting EQ.

SwitchBlade has two Ethernet connections, one for connecting to a SIP service provider or SIP-enabled PBX phone system and the other for connecting directly into the WheatNet-IP audio network. SwitchBlade also has codecs, such as including 256 kbps stereo Opus and G.711.

Wheatstone says that uses for the SwitchBlade include: Consolidating program operations for several stations scattered across a region; live remote production, including high-quality programming and console/mic control between home studio and sports or concert venues; sharing program and operating control between sister studios over an IP link; one-to-many STL codecs between one studio and several transmitter sites; a SwitchBlade at the studio feeds two, four, six or more existing SIP-compliant codec units at each transmitter site; and transferring high-quality music between two facilities or from a cloud-based automation system over the common internet.

Wheatstone Sales Director Jay Tyler explained, “SwitchBlade is the missing link for connecting WheatNet-IP facility to WheatNet-IP facility from city to city or across the world. Not only will it carry the audio, it carries the control, which means you can send and receive router commands, automation control, and even fader levels across the two locations.” He added, “Switchblade finally makes it possible to monitor each point of the audio chain and switch audio locally from network operation centers around the world.”

IBC Stand: 8.C91


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IBC Sneak Peek: Nautel Displays Latest MW, FM Transmitters

Sat, 09/07/2019 - 02:00

Nautel will show a range of its medium wave and FM transmitters, including products from the NX, GV and VS lines.

The company will also host two special events. On Saturday, Sept. 14 from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. it will hold an interactive panel session on “DRM Implementation — A Solution For All Your Needs.”

On Sunday, Sept. 15 from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. Nautel will host “Digital Radio in North America & Emerging Markets,” presented by Xperi.

Both events will be followed by 50th Anniversary receptions.

IBC Stand: 8.C49


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U Belong on YouTube!

Fri, 09/06/2019 - 12:15

I once created a custom coffee product for a radio station.

It’s not as weird as it sounds. We wanted to promote an upcoming new morning show and one day while sipping my morning beverage, it occurred to me that a good cup of coffee delivers the attributes of a morning show. Both products wake people up, make them cheerful, have a distinct flavor, etc.

So I got our friendly neighborhood roaster to make me a good blend — which I then labeled with the name of our morning show — and sold our brand by the pound at his café. Next, through an advertising agency, I placed commercials on our direct competitor.

Then I called the press to let them know. That we were able to advertise on a direct competitor was big, somewhat scandalous news. Of course, now you can advertise every day on a direct competitor without the shenanigans, and you’ll have a lot more impact than even one high-school type of stunt.

Want to go where few stations do, but where your listeners entertain themselves every day? Advertise on YouTube!

While Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and others get all the press, Google’s YouTube has been taking over the planet. Oddly, some don’t even think of YouTube as a social channel even though it has all the community elements that enable engagement. If that doesn’t impress, perhaps this statement from Google will: “In an average month, 18+ year olds in the United States spend more time watching YouTube than any television network. On mobile alone, more 18- to 49-year-olds watch YouTube during prime time in the United States, than they do the top 10 prime-time shows combined. Over the last two years, the number of small and medium-sized businesses advertising on YouTube has doubled.”

Want to increase ratings? Find your target audience on YouTube.

Why, for the most part, is local radio missing in action? Too many station leaders/decision makers feel that outside advertising either isn’t needed for a broadcast radio station, or that it’s a luxury. It’s a bit ironic and even hypocritical that folks who rely on advertising sales themselves are willing to say that it’s not necessary. Now more than ever, radio needs reinforcement outside itself to show relevance.

While it takes substantial investment for radio commercials to be meaningful on broadcast television or cable, radio stations of any size can afford some level of YouTube video campaigns. I say this because of the amazing targeting and capability to cap bids of advertising. Target by age/gender/Zip code/household income and many shared traits, or by preferences that match your format. Plus, you can pick a channel (music, news, etc).

Cost per thousand depends on demand, so you’ll want to start with a small test. Ads could be as low as $0.05 to $0.25 each — and if you use “TrueView,” you pay only for ads watched. Ad formats include non-skippable, skippable in-stream ads, bumpers and many more. You can even sequence ads, meaning that each person sees a series of ads/promos you create in order.

(I am also a big believer in having a station channel on YouTube, and we’ll cover that in an upcoming article.)

You’ll be getting back a lot of key performance indicators (KPIs) on your campaign(s), so you’ll also be learning about your audience behavior as you proceed.

Your listeners may lie to their parents, wife, husband or kids … but they are not going to lie to their search engine. If you choose to find your target audience on YouTube by using their search behavior, you’ll be hitting a real sweet spot — and that is the absolute truth!

Mark Lapidus is a longtime contributor to Radio World. Email him with comments or your own promo successes at

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IBC Sneak Peek: OPNS Offers SoundID

Fri, 09/06/2019 - 02:00

Based on noise-resistant fingerprint comparison methods, SoundID from OPNS delivers content recognition that can generate broadcast playlists on any type of content, such as ad spots, music, jingles, fillers, interviews, and to produce related reports and statistics.

SoundID uses OPNS’ in-house algorithms and, according to the company, provides at least 99% recognition accuracy of fingerprinted source items inside broadcast streams.

The solution monitors and reports on any sound from radio, television, or any other input stream. It provides information on when and what was played, and can also tell the user if (and where) something was cut out of the original piece.

Available as either an on-premises tool or cloud-based solution, SoundID also provides content discovery by fingerprint pattern recurrences to detect any unknown content from competitor’s streams.

It also carries out audience measurement based on fingerprints dynamically generated on smartphones. This, the company says, means there is no privacy issue, no source modification, no dedicated hardware required and results in automatic data collection from a broad panel of radio listeners.

SoundID is based on a scale-out architecture and is suitable for both large and smaller broadcasters.

IBC Stand: 10.D41


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Community Broadcaster: Rain Down Reporting

Thu, 09/05/2019 - 21:05

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

The news cycle over the last week has been filled with disturbing images depicting the devastation wrought by Hurricane Dorian. It is the latest in a string of natural disasters that have struck the nation, but they surely will not be the last.

Such moments cause great stress in cities and towns. While many states have endured wildfires and earthquakes, hurricane season sparks a visceral reaction in many of us. That’s because, as we have witnessed over the last few years, no coast is safe from monster storms threatening life and property. And the damage done to one state will have ripple effects in neighboring states. This was the case with Hurricane Katrina, which smashed Louisiana in 2005, but prompted residents to flee to Texas as well as northward.

Beyond the economic effects of recovery, the regions damaged by hurricanes are financially reshaped forever. Cities affected by Hurricane Ike in 2008, for example, completely changed as a result.

[Read: Community Broadcaster: In It Together]

Hurricane season continues until Nov. 30. Unfortunately, it is nearly certain that a community radio station like yours may be asked to cover the issues of your community should a disaster like a hurricane strike.

Is your community radio station ready to respond? Here are few tips:

The SAFER (Station Action for Emergency Readiness) manual remains a go-to guide for community radio. Originally a joint project of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters and National Public Radio, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting-funded project has an array of guidance for stations in dealing with their practical needs, so that journalism can continue to flow.

Poynter provides a helpful place to start if your radio station is figuring out how to cover hurricanes. In addition to suggesting websites like that of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NOAA’s National Hurricane Center, the variety of free community-sourced resources may help your station tremendously.

Speaking of Poynter, this article on fact-checking during hurricane coverage is essential reading. Online rumors, doctored photography and panics are commonplace in the digital era of natural disasters. Clearing up confusion is one of the best services a community radio station can offer during its hurricane coverage.

If your community radio station is facing capacity issues, particularly if you broadcast to underserved areas, consider seeking funding for your work. The ProPublica Local Reporting Network, Report for America and Solutions Journalism Network are just a few of the nonprofits providing logistical and financial support to media groups with ideas and initiatives. These and many more having rolling grant cycles. NFCB highlights more grant opportunities regularly as well.

However, do not forget to ask closer to home about funding in times of need. County and state resources may be available to your station when it comes to emergency broadcast reporting and journalism. Your station is always encouraged to be responsible with your ask — meaning, do not seek monies for journalism and funnel it elsewhere — and have a firm strategy of where you need the most assistance.

And finally, there is a noncommercial station’s most solid support, its listeners, that can be appealed to for a big project like a disaster journalism effort. Any fundraising professional will tell you donors like to give to something tangible. Few station endeavors are more ambitious or reflect your values quite like funding journalism to tell stories in the midst of and the aftermath of a hurricane or other natural disaster. Audiences demand more contextual coverage. Your station, with the right plan and appeal, can deliver.

Hurricanes seem to be becoming more frequent each year. Even if your community is not in the line of fire when a storm hits, there’s quite a possibility that your listeners will be affected. Ramping up to address the scourge of weather will only remind audiences of your relevance to their lives.

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User Report: Omnirax Eases Rebuild for Entercom Houston Cluster

Thu, 09/05/2019 - 12:29

HOUSTON — At Entercom Houston, our studio facility might best be described as “vintage.” Originally built in the mid-’90s as a duopoly facility for two AMs and two FMs by Westinghouse/Group W, it was expanded several times by subsequent owners, eventually growing to house six stations and 15 studios.

The studios were built on custom raised floors, which over the years had become soft in many spots. Efforts to repair the soft spots proved unsatisfactory, so eventually, we decided to scrap the floors and rebuild all the studios. A 15-studio build anywhere is a major effort, but making it happen while several live and local, high-profile stations, including two sports talk stations and the radio network for an NFL team are broadcasting from them requires careful planning and execution. Any time-saving advantage you can get is welcomed.

I’ve known David Holland and his guys at Omnirax for many years, and their solutions have helped greatly during a few challenging builds. Many years ago, while working for another company, I was tasked with building a new facility for four stations in a medium-sized market. We had a few months to plan and stage equipment, but the new studio building was handed off to us by the contractor just two weeks before a hard deadline to vacate the old facility — during the Christmas holidays. Omnirax helped us meet the deadline.

For this project, our biggest challenge was budget. We had a number we needed to stay under. Omnirax worked with us to design furniture that met our needs, fit our budget and looked great — all without sacrificing their consistent quality.


If I could pick just one word to describe working with Omnirax, that word would be easy. You send them a floorplan of your facility, then log into David’s AutoCAD machine, and work through design options with him. Not long after, he gets back to you with finalized plans, and your new furniture moves into production.

The whole process is efficient and easy.

Assembly is easy too. Everything arrives clearly marked, with photos detailing every step of construction, and a couple guys can assemble the furniture for an average studio in about an hour. Everything fits together flawlessly.

When the furniture is assembled, you don’t have to worry about cutting holes for consoles, or wire runs through the countertops — it’s already done for you — all planned out during your AutoCAD session.

Over the last 25 years, I’ve been involved with a lot of studio renovations — sometimes with new furniture, but sometimes not. Many times, when rebuilds didn’t involve new furniture, I’ve been left scratching my head when contemplating the furniture designer’s decisions. When assembling studios around Omnirax furniture, I often find myself marveling at just how thoughtful and functional their designs are.

Given the opportunity, I always choose Omnirax.

For information, contact Philip Zittell David Holland at Omnirax in California at 1-415-332-3392 or visit

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Radio Execs Look at Industry’s Future at the Radio Show

Thu, 09/05/2019 - 11:39

CEOs from the three of the largest radio broadcast groups — iHeartMedia, Entercom and Cumulus Media — will headline the Radio Show session “2020 and Beyond: Insights From the Top.” The luncheon program, held on Sept. 25, will address the future of the industry in what is described as a candid conversation about strategies for success in today’s constantly shifting audio landscape.

[Read: Radio Show Announces Tech Program]

Moderated by NBC News’ Stephanie Ruhle, the panel consists of Mary Berner, president and CEO of Cumulus Media; David Field, president and CEO of Entercom; and Bob Pittman, chairman and CEO of iHeartMedia.

These top CEOs will offer insight on tactical partnerships, best platform choices, talent recruitment, imaginative programming and creative sales approaches, among other topics.

The Radio Show will be held September 24–26 in Dallas and is produced by the National Association of Broadcasters and the Radio Advertising Bureau.

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FCC Expands DIRS to Georgia and the Carolinas

Thu, 09/05/2019 - 11:17

The FCC is extending its disaster data collection to additional counties in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina for Hurricane Dorian.

The Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau of the Federal Communications Commission had announced the activation of the Disaster Information Reporting System in response to Hurricane Dorian on Sept. 2. DIRS is a voluntary, web-based system that communications providers, including wireless, wireline, broadcast, cable and voice over internet protocol providers, can use to report communications infrastructure status and situational awareness information during times of crisis.

The FCC requests that communications providers that provide service to any areas listed below expeditiously submit and update information through DIRS regarding, inter alia, the status of their communications equipment, restoration efforts, and power (i.e., whether they are using commercial power or back-up power).

Communications providers can accomplish this by accessing DIRS at Providers that have not previously done so will be asked to first provide contact information and obtain a user ID when they access DIRS. There is a link on the login page that will allow them to obtain a user ID and password. If a user does not remember his/her password, he/she should use the forgotten password link on the login page.

Communications providers are reminded that for providers that participate in DIRS, the separate Network Outage Reporting System obligations are suspended for the duration of the DIRS activation with respect to outages in the counties/municipalities where DIRS has been activated. Reports are requested beginning at 10 a.m. on Sept. 5, and every day after that by 10 a.m. until DIRS is deactivated.

Communications providers that serve an area listed below and that have already provided contact information in DIRS will be sent an email requesting that they provide the above-referenced status information through DIRS. For any communications providers that have not already logged onto DIRS to input their contact information, the Commission encourages them to do so as soon as possible.

Counties of Interest for This Activation Include:

Florida: Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Clay, Collier, Desoto, Duval, Flagler, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Indian River, Lake, Lee, Marion, Martin, Miami-Dade, Nassau, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Polk, Putnam, Seminole, St. Johns, St. Lucie, Sumter, Union and Volusia.

Georgia: Appling, Atkinson, Bacon, Brantley, Bryan, Bulloch, Burke, Camden, Candler, Charlton, Chatham, Clinch, Coffee, Echols, Effingham, Emanuel, Evans, Glynn, Jeff Davis, Jenkins, Liberty, Long, McIntosh, Montgomery, Pierce, Richmond, Screven, Tattnall, Telfair, Toombs, Ware, Wayne and Wheeler.

South Carolina: Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Beaufort, Berkeley, Calhoun, Charleston, Clarendon, Colleton, Darlington, Dillon, Dorchester, Florence, Georgetown, Hampton, Horry, Jasper, Lee, Lexington, Marion, Marlboro, Orangeburg, Richland, Sumter and Williamsburg.

North Carolina: Beaufort, Bertie, Bladen, Brunswick, Camden, Carteret, Chowan, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Currituck, Dare, Duplin, Edgecombe, Gates, Greene, Halifax, Hertford, Hoke, Hyde, Johnston, Jones, Lenoir, Martin, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Pender, Perquimans, Pitt, Robeson, Sampson, Scotland, Tyrrell, Washington, Wayne and Wilson.

If your station has any hurricane-related news or pictures send to

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IBC Sneak Peek: Tract and Digispot Showcase Synergy Mini

Thu, 09/05/2019 - 11:15

The Synergy Mini is said to be a full-featured digital broadcasting center.

Available from Russian firm Tract and German company Digispot System GmbH, the unit provides a comprehensive set of integrated tools that lets station staff produce and broadcast live and automated radio programs.

Able to also be used as a rebroadcasting device, the mixer handles parallel microphone recording and works with both analog and digital signals from satellite receivers or internet streams.

The companies say additional features, such as ease-of-use, optimal functionality and a reasonable price, make it versatile and suitable for FM radio, internet radio, podcasts, outside broadcasting tasks, corporate radio and educational purposes.

Synergy Mini includes AoIP functionality with a driver called ,,Foxwire” and the free automation software system, Digispot Synergy. The result is a “complete solution” able to manage different tasks.

The FM-starter studio package includes a suite of software and hardware tools designed to work together with the mixer. The package includes a multifunctional touch display with onscreen level metering, three microphones with windshields; three microphone stands; three pairs of headphones; a pair of active loudspeakers; and a mic live indicator and a fully integrated playout system. This solution, add the firms, is appropriate for both novice and experienced staff and lets operators create a valuable radio station.

IBC Stand: 8.D14


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Spectrum Radio Network Unveils New London Studios

Thu, 09/05/2019 - 00:00

LONDON — The Spectrum Radio Network has completed a move to new studios in the center of the United Kingdom’s capital city.

John Ogden is network director for Spectrum Radio. All photos: Rebecca Turpin/Orange Media Co.

Launched in 1990 as a multiethnic radio station broadcasting to London on 558AM, Spectrum has recently relocated as part of a plan to transform its business. “We now see ourselves as a facilities provider to anyone who wants to broadcast to London, the U.K. or any other territories” says its network director, John Ogden.

“We’re all broadcasters ourselves here, so we know what stations want — that’s economies of scale and a clear path to getting on air. It means you don’t have to worry about sourcing studios, internet connectivity or disaster recovery.”

Radio Baikal studio at Spectrum includes the Axel Oxygen 3000 console.


Ogden explains the need for the move from its former location in Battersea, a southwest London suburb, to the new location on the South Bank, close to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and the Tate Modern art gallery. “Being in central London now means we are more attractive to staff, clients and advertisers. We were becoming restricted in how we could expand — we needed to take our technology to the next level. The move gives us much more flexibility to create something that really ticks all the boxes.”

Spectrum’s seven studios are currently home to 12 stations, including U.K. services Fix Radio, which targets tradespeople and those working in the construction sector in London and Manchester, and Love Sport Radio, alongside Middle Eastern broadcasters and the Russian pop station, Radio Baikal. Spectrum also has its own channel on the Switchdigital London 2 DAB digital radio multiplex, carrying a range of global broadcasters. The network’s staff include Arabic, Mandarin, Cantonese and Spanish speakers.

Paul Miller is head of broadcast operations at Spectrum Radio Network.

Moving these services to a new home meant the network needed a clear map of what was required. Security was a critical consideration, says Ogden: “I needed to be able to say to clients that we have gold-standard connectivity. We had to have a series of fail-over systems in place to keep stations on air and give peace of mind that nothing is going to compromise their broadcast.”

Ogden praises the network Head of Broadcast Operations Paul Miller, for transforming the facility into what he calls a “world hub.”

“What Paul’s created with this architecture is something that just works.” This included overcoming some unusual challenges — for Middle Eastern stations broadcast in the U.K., Miller had to devise a way of including the Azan call to prayer at the correct time for listeners in London. The answer was unique software, which looks at the phases of the moon to calculate the daily prayer times.

Graham Mack of Fix Radio broadcasts from Spectrum Radio’s studios.

It then automatically fades the broadcast at the Middle Eastern timings, covering it with other content, and inserts the Azan at the correct times for London. Ogden says: “it’s a highly sensitive maneuver for such an important part of the programming.”


The new studios feature a range of equipment covering different client requirements. From Axia, this includes iQ mixers, Pathfinder software, and xNode IP audio interfaces. Sonifex products include S2 mixers, RB-DA6 distribution amplifiers, plus silence detectors and profanity delay units. The facility also uses Electro-Voice RE20 microphones and Broadcast Bionics PhoneBOX software. One studio features a custom system installed by the Italian broadcast company Axel Technology, including its Oxygen 3000 mixer.

Studios at Spectrum Radio Network feature the Sonifex S2 mixer.

Spectrum also uses the ISDN replacement service ipDTL for simple, low-cost remote broadcasts. Miller reports one client station, Love Sport Radio, used the IP streaming service for recent broadcasts from Madrid: “The presenter had the ipDTL software on his phone with an IK Multimedia iRig interface — I have to say it was really reliable.”

To support the move, Spectrum rebuilt its website, with a new look and logo, and is also branching into the fast-growing podcast world. “Our first new offer as a facilities provider is to make highly professional podcasts,” explains Ogden. “At any one time there’s now over 700,000 podcasts out there — so quality is really important. We can advise on editing and uploading to whichever channels clients prefer.”

As for the future, Ogden says: “our ambition would be to develop more studios — to see more international stations using our facilities for broadcast across London and around the world. And we want to help podcasters and marketing companies with studio hire, outside broadcasts and radio promotion days. We’re really looking forward to the next stage of Spectrum’s development.”

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Meet the Mosquito Network

Wed, 09/04/2019 - 16:26

We can’t fully appreciate the importance of news from home to those who served in World War II. In the Pacific campaigns, G.I.s, sailors and Marines fought bloody island-hopping battles; as each island was cleared, garrison troops and hospitals moved in and carried on their own war against mosquitoes, isolation and boredom. The island fighters were fortunate if dated mail caught up with them before they moved on to the next target. Timely personal-level communications were pretty much absent.

Possibly the earliest military station in World War II — this one located in the Panama Canal Zone.

Radio programming from America was available but only on shortwave. And shortwave radios were not generally available. The fortunate few had been issued “Buddy Kits” that included a radio, a small PA system and a record player for discs sent by mail. But for most there was no way to receive short-lived information such as news and sports. They were left with enemy radio propaganda such as Japan’s “Orphan Ann/Annie” (aka one of several Tokyo Roses) and the “Zero Hour” program.

No wonder that the idea of having a local island radio station doing “live from home” was so fiercely supported. Enlightened commanders saw the idea as a terrific morale-builder. The only problem was how to pull it off.

A solution, not uniquely, came from within the ranks. It started with the work of some bored but talented soldiers in the Panama Canal Zone who in 1940 built a couple of 50 W transmitters and put them on the air without authorization, labeling them “PCAN” and “PCAC.”

GIs listen to a radio, possibility one of the AFRS broadcasts.

In Alaska, 7,500 miles northwest of Panama City, what started as programming through a loudspeaker system became a bootleg radio operation at Kodiak. Coming on the air in January 1942 and calling itself “KODK,” it delivered a whopping 15 watts to the troops. Sources with hindsight later said that the Armed Forces Radio Service (“AFRS”) was born here, when one of its progenitors visited the Alaska operations and “came up with the idea.”

There were similar stations in Hawaii and the Philippines, including the ill-fated island of Corregidor, where a station called “The Voice of Freedom” was an AM repeater for shortwave broadcasts from the U.S.

As troop buildups began in the South Pacific, joint Allied radio operations were established, notably in New Zealand and Australia. These stations were popular with Americans but they also kindled an appetite for “real radio from the States.”

Soldiers in the field listen to a broadcast.

Meanwhile things were happening in Washington. The government’s “Morale Services Division” had been created in 1940, though its mandate hadn’t focused on radio. But as cumbersome as government can be, soldiers’ demands for American radio content eventually reached the right people. Increased priority was given to the recording and distribution of network radio programs by electrical transcription. But that still wasn’t live broadcasting.

The Morale Services Division was renamed theSpecial Services Division (SSD) and tasked with live broadcasting. The broadcasting division of the SSD would become the fabled Armed Forces Radio Service.

AFRS began to place “local/relay stations” among the troops. In the Eastern theaters such stations often used existing facilities, but in the Pacific they had to build from the ground up. To facilitate the effort, AFRS created a “station in a box” package that included a transmitter, long-wire antenna and recording and reproducing equipment. Installation teams boated from island to island to plant these mini-stations. Most of them came alive in 1944 and 1945 and, as the island-hopping campaign moved toward Japan, many were soon abandoned, some after only a few months’ operation.

“Stations in a box” were first unpacked in Noumea, New Guinea; then it was on to New Caledonia where AFRS hatched the first of the “Mosquito Network” stations. As WVUS it was among the first such to be given an FCC license (most of the Pacific’s licensed-station calls would then begin with “WV”).

Guadalcanal was the next priority for AFRS. Space precludes station-by-station descriptions, so I’ll use Guadalcanal as a definitive example. The “studios” were in a wooden shack humorously called “Radio City.” The first antenna was a 60-foot-high long-wire stretched between two palm trees (climbed by the more dexterous of the youthful assembly gang). Somehow the wire was “tuned” to work on 730 kHz. Later the antenna was raised to 90 feet and the frequency to 690 kHz. “AES-Guadalcanal” would be licensed as WVOQ.

The “studio” was equipped with a rudimentary mixing console and a Presto Model “Y” disc recorder that doubled as the program-transcription playback turntable. A good shortwave receiver was critical (a favorite shortwave receiver was the Hammarlund “Super-Pro”). Some stations actually built diversity-receive systems to improve reception.

A typical broadcast package: note the simple mixer and a turntable that pulls double-duty — able to cut or play back discs.

A staff usually consisted of five or six soldiers. The station kept an intermittent schedule based around troop down-time and usually went quiet around 10 p.m. local time. The typical broadcast week was 80 to 90 hours; part of that filled by shortwave programs from the states. Forty to 50 hours per week were taken by transcribed network programs shipped by AFRS, and the rest of the flexible schedule was “live and local” — GIs-talking-to-GIs (a precursor of “Good Morning Vietnam!”).

Power for the station came from a shared generator. At night, when the load on the generator often increased, record speed would vary with generator load.

Of course each island station had its own story to tell: soldiers shinnying up palm trees with a wire in their teeth; “studios” usually in tents (sometimes made more soundproof and weather-impervious by the addition of a second tent above the first). Some listeners may have had the “Buddy Kits” or perhaps a radio sent from home … or maybe something home-built by the tech-savvy soldier. The stations were also rebroadcast on hospital and mess-hall PA systems and on ships within reach.

It didn’t take long before each station had 100% listener penetration.

Live stateside programming was usually captured from shortwave stations in California (John Schneider and Dr. Adrian M. Peterson have told their stories in Radio World). There were, however, two problems with this arrangement: 1) Shortwave propagation to the Pacific was generally at its best during the period when American radio networks were silent and 2) the politics behind AFRS and the rules of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) dictated that programming must be shorn of its commercial content. This last was a new task for pre-eminent studios such as Radio Recorders in Hollywood. Such service providers had been recording network shows for delayed West Coast broadcasting. Deleting commercials from these disc-recorded network programs required them to learn “The Three-Turntable Two-Step.”

An affiliate of the Mosquito Network

Many of the Pacific island stations were informally part of the “Mosquito Network” or affiliates of the “Jungle Network.” Stations in the Central Pacific (often by and for the Navy) were part of “PON” (The Pacific Ocean Network).

Where radio goes, promotion follows — even in the military.

There were probably 50 or more island stations installed, removed and relocated in 1944 and 1945. Their numbers diminished rapidly as the Allies congregated closer to Japan. And as the war wound down and ended, the AFRS stations came together in the Philippines and Japan as the long-lived “Far East Network.”

Chances are that if your father or grandparents served in the Pacific during World War II, he, she or they would have been informed and entertained by these stations.

They brought the front lines just a little closer to home.

Mark Durenberger is a technology consultant with the Minnesota Twins and has six decades of broadcast and satellite experience. Mark began his contributions to Radio World forty years ago. Reach him at

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