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Sheridan Goes for Video

Mon, 07/01/2019 - 15:32

Group owner Sheridan Broadcasting Corp. has announced a content deal with Radio Disney.

Radio Disney will provide video content to Sheridan’s Atlanta-based WIGO(AM). The audio for that content will be “telestreamed,” as SBC says, on WIGO(AM), while there will be a video feed on the station’s website, www.wigoam.com.

The programming will be a one-hour weekday show called “The Radio Disney Hour.”

Ron Davenport Jr., chief operating officer of SBC, said, “We are honored and extremely flattered to be the first radio broadcaster licensed by Disney to use Radio Disney video content. The Radio Disney team has been incredible to work with, and we are very excited about the possibilities going forward.”

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The post Sheridan Goes for Video appeared first on Radio World.

Free FM Makes AoIP Leap With Wheatstone’s IP-12

Mon, 07/01/2019 - 13:20
Wheatstone’s IP-12 console

HAMILTON, New Zealand — Free FM, a community access radio station, is part of the Community Access Media Alliance, a network of 12 stations around New Zealand. We have been operating for 28 years, for many as AM-only, but on FM for seven years and are making strong inroads in transmedia delivery.

Free FM is a not-for-profit entity, governed by a charitable trust and we operate as a non-commercial broadcaster. We have a small staff and content is created by approximately 80 volunteers, representing a very diverse range of communities, individuals and interest groups in our broadcast area (the greater Waikato region of the North Island — population almost 470,000).

Free FM is partly funded by New Zealand On Air (a government agency) to provide access to broadcasting facilities for individuals or groups with ideas, opinions or cultural needs which may not have the opportunity for expression through the mainstream commercial broadcast industry. The purpose of stations like ours is specifically described in the New Zealand Broadcasting Act.

Access radio is, in essence, radio “by the people, for the people,” where the freedom of expression of ideas, values and beliefs is valued and protected. Many of those who come to make content with us have English as their second (or even third or fourth) language and we frequently have people involved who have physical or intellectual challenges. Much of the content created at our studios nowadays is in the form of prerecorded 30-minute or one-hour programs.

[AoIP Applies to Small Stations, Too]

Our philosophy at Free FM is also to stay ahead of the game, by adopting emerging technology where it is clear there are new opportunities to enhance what we do. While radio broadcasting is still our major activity, we have over the last 10 years become our sector’s leader when it comes to digital content delivery and embracing new developments (such as smart speakers). We are always keen to see and evaluate what is coming over the horizon in terms of how listeners are accessing content and what they want to do with it.

It had become painfully obvious that our analog studios were barely fit-for-purpose. There’s a limit to how far you can push things and much of what we had was well used before it came to us back in the 1990s. It became obvious that a complete refit was necessary, replacing decades of add-ons, patches and mis-matched equipment.

Naturally, we wanted to find a technically advanced solution, but budget was also a major consideration. In doing our homework, we looked at all the available digital consoles and audio delivery systems available and considered how they might work for us. One of the big factors to consider was robustness and ease of use for nonprofessional people. And because of language considerations, we were also keen to find products that were intuitive and easy to understand.

In our search, Wheatstone kept coming up as a front runner. Marcus Bekker from Southern Broadcast was already known to us as someone who completely understands our sector. He became an invaluable advisor when talking about our specific needs and wants.

[From 2018 — Digital Radio Developments in New Zealand and Australia]

We did comparisons at every level, and everything we saw reinforced the view that adopting Wheatstone’s WheatNet-IP Blade technology would provide us with not only what we need right now, but also form the foundation to support whatever future direction we may take. 

We locked onto Wheatstone’s IP-12 console as an affordable way to get us into the IP audio world. It had the ideal number of channels (12), and it was easy to navigate. We liked that each input module has an LED source display that we could name and that the meter bridge has easy-to-read bargraph meters and a prominent onboard timer. Because the IP-12 is a WheatNet-IP audio networked console, it gives us an in to an entire ecosystem for controlling, automating, processing and routing audio. It’s a very powerful system, and we now we have the capacity to develop other options if we wish, such as video, real-time social media content, or other input sources, with relative ease. 

What is important to the future of Free FM, and stations like ours, is that we remain relevant and responsive to our changing environment. Digital delivery options are perfect for what we do, and it makes great sense to be at the sharp end of that platform as it grows and changes.

We are very pleased with the bang-for-buck we get from our new infrastructure as it is, and we look forward to the coming years with confidence that we have made the right choice.

For information, contact Jay Tyler at Wheatstone in North Carolina at 1-252-638-7000 or visit www.wheatstone.com.

The post Free FM Makes AoIP Leap With Wheatstone’s IP-12 appeared first on Radio World.

Best of Show Up Close: Digigram Iqoya Talk

Fri, 06/28/2019 - 22:14

“Best of Show Up Close” is a series about nominees and winners in the annual Future Best of Show at NAB Award program.

Digigram nominated its Iqoya Talk. It is a portable IP codec designed for field work with built-in 4G/LTE, Ethernet, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. It is battery-operable and features an onboard recorder, touchscreen and is 5G-ready.

We asked CMO Raphael Triomphe about it.

Radio World: What is the product and what are its targeted uses?

Raphael Triomphe: Iqoya Talk is Digigram’s all-new portable codec. The codec is so easy to use, secure and reliable than its baseline is “Simply powerful.” It is built for live remote broadcasting operations that require high-reliability transmissions with superior audio quality. It allows up to four journalists and guests to perform a studio-quality on-field reportage, without the help of any technician. Configuration can be done upstream, by predefined scenarios in the studio.

[Read: Best of Show Up Close: Wheatstone AirAura X5]

RW: What sets it apart from similar offerings in this product class?

Triomphe: One of the main features of a portable codec relies on its ability to stream the audio to the radio station. With the Digigram’s Iqoya Talk, you will have a great deal of built-in connectivity options included without extra cost. Iqoya Talk is well equipped with two Ethernet ports, two cellular modules, one dual band Wi-Fi module and two USB ports. That’s a lot.

The other important point is how many journalists and guests can participate in the remote broadcast event. Thanks to its three mic-line inputs and four headphones outputs, Iqoya Talk is one of the portable codecs allowing the most guests at once.

Before starting the design of the product we asked many journalists and technicians for their thoughts about what would fit their everyday needs in a remote codec. We understood that ease of use is the key point. So with its smartphone-like intuitive ergonomics, all the needed operations for a remote broadcast with Iqoya Talk can be operated by nontechnical users, whenever and wherever they are, with just two clicks.

Our Iqoya Talk is ready to tackle any event and make everyday life easier, whatever the outside conditions. To simplify and to secure the connection, we also utilize a SIP infrastructure. To manage, monitor and get instant remote access to the portable codec, a suite of web applications called Iqoya Connect comes along with our portable codec. Management of your codecs fleet has never been so powerful and simple.

The housing of our Iqoya Talk has been designed to be strong and long-lasting. As we know that sometimes, it can be hard to find a mains plug on the field, Iqoya Talk can accept up to two hot-swappable batteries and can be used for up to 12 hours without interruption.

Iqoya Talk is ready to go. It comes with either an optional hard case or convenient backpack to carry all the material you need comfortably and in complete discretion.

RW: What does it cost? Is it available now?

Triomphe: $4,490, available now on preorder, with delivery end of July.

RW: More generally, what do you see as the most important trends or changes happening these days in how broadcasters do remote live audio operations?

Triomphe: Closer than ever to the action and often alone in front of a multitude of uncertainties, journalists today have to be hyperefficient. Information is being shared and consumed faster than ever, everyone needs to be everywhere at the same time. Despite a constrained environment, contributors are still expected to provide quality content, on the move and in the blink of an eye, from wherever they may be and technicians are expected to set up their systems in advance from a remote location.

For all those reasons, our solutions for remote broadcasting has been developed to make the day-to-day operations of journalist and radio engineers simpler.

RW: What else should we know?

Triomphe: Digigram is focused in audio transport in remote broadcast but also in distribution applications. Last year we released a new range of IP audio codecs called X/Link, and next month we will strengthen the range by launching a new product for transporting an FM/MPX composite signal over IP networks. The focus of Digigram in terms of audio transport is to constantly develop qualitative solutions that will answer our customer needs.

The Future Best of Show Awards program honors and helps promote outstanding new products exhibited at industry conventions like the spring NAB Show. Exhibitors pay a fee to enter; not all entries win. Watch for more coverage of participating products soon. To learn about all of the nominees and winners, read the 2019 Best of Show Program Guide.

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The post Best of Show Up Close: Digigram Iqoya Talk appeared first on Radio World.

Be Like Ghostface Killah

Fri, 06/28/2019 - 21:19

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

A few heads probably turned when a Miley Cyrus single popped up this spring, for reasons beyond the song. “DREAM” features that ethereal, low-key electronica in vogue at the moment, with the pop star weaving stories of parties and debauchery over a snaky beat. And just as the song closes, the light keys of one of hip-hop’s most iconic breakdowns plays; this is no surprise, since pop is, if nothing else, self-referential.

Then, out of nowhere emerges one of rap’s undisputed legends and one probably on the short list for least likely to be on a Miley Cyrus song. Avid music fans know Ghostface Killah from his tenure with the group Wu Tang Clan. But the rapper has since forged a rare career as a unique character and storyteller, with scores of concept songs and even albums to his credit. Ghostface is one of the few hip-hop artists left committed to songwriting in a way that creates an aesthetic reminiscent of an action film or dense drama. He’s been a crime boss, a falsely accused man, a prizefighter, a rebel against authority and countless other characters in songs penned over his long career. Along the way, he’s concocted a lexicon of verbiage, alter egos and mythology that are unmistakably his. The Cyrus song verse is a short one, but it’s impactful. You cannot help but be enthralled by the guy who refers to himself as Tony Stark, also known as Iron Man, and his charisma.

[Read: Community Broadcaster: It’s An Emergency]

How does all this relate to community radio? It is the New York artist’s email forays that may get you thinking about how our time with our closest friends, donors and fans can be equally resonant.

Like so many music performers, Ghostface Killah has been pushed to connect with fans in new ways. For virtually everyone, that’s on social media and their own websites. You can find the Wu Tang Clan member in all those places. He even has a newsletter, promoted as a place to get new music, giveaways and a glimpse of the artist.

Team Ghostface sends out a lot of newsletters. They are short and filled with the non-sequiturs the artist is known for. Each newsletter has a voice and manner a fan would associate with the musician. They are, in fact, so good you might think he wrote them himself. Stories from his glory days, new music or just witticisms, each newsletter is never more than a few hundred words. Yet it is just enough to have you looking forward to what comes next.

Contrast the Ghostface Killah newsletter sometime against your station’s newsletter. What could you learn in this style of communication? A lot, it seems.

Radio folks can be a verbose bunch. We can be talkers and, as a result, have so many words for what we think and feel. Station newsletters can be strikingly similar to the personalities of radio staffers and volunteers. In other words, there is a ton being said. There are paragraphs upon paragraphs about pledge drive, compound sentences about events, and dozens of words about programming. There is enough here to make you wonder how many people really read all this. Moreover, I am reminded of the short, punchy style of newsletter the aforementioned artist employs to promote himself. Is community radio promoting itself in its newsletters as assertively? Are we offering incentives to subscribe and stay subscribed? Or are we perhaps being a little complacent and assuming people will sign up because community radio is what it is and they will just subscribe because of what we say we are.

Photo: Enrico Fuente

Try an experiment sometime and send your newsletter to a casual acquaintance. How much of it does she or he read? Perhaps the friend can tell you what she or he did not read, and why. You may discover, in this busy world, people only have so much time and attention. How long your newsletter is, how you write and the personality that comes across, as any marketer will tell you, are crucial issues.

With so many distractions, your voice and how it sticks with people counts. Witness the Detroit Free Press, which speaks online in a way that has created waves of followers. Note the observations about Ghostface’s newsletter; it sounds authentically like him, and fans flock to it for this reason. Does your station have that personality? How can you find it, if not?

Newsletters are more and more a go-to from organizations and artists. Community radio is no exception. Your station should be meticulous with its newsletter and look at every edition as a chance to create lasting impressions.

[Subscribe to our newsletter and get it delivered right to your inbox.]

 

The post Be Like Ghostface Killah appeared first on Radio World.

Bask in the Glow of New Gear: Summer of Products 2019

Fri, 06/28/2019 - 10:09
Getty Images/Dmitry Fisher

It’s new equipment season again!

Radio World’s “Summer of Products” feature is all about new gear that has come onto the market in recent months, especially during spring convention season.

Check out the first installment of broadcast goodies in this gallery.

IK Multimedia iKlip 3 Series Device Mounts

Ideal for organizing smart devices around the studio, IK Multimedia is the iKlip 3 series of tablet computer and smartphone mounts.

The iKlip 3, iKlip 3 Video and iKlip 3 Deluxe provide mounting options for keeping smart devices within visual range and at visually useful angles rather than relying on laying the device on the table or trying to prop it up.

The iKlip 3 is designed for microphone stand or boom mounting and includes a newly designed holding bracket with more durable rubber pads and a spring mechanism that allows users to rotate the device up to 360 degrees.

IK Multimedia iKlip 3 Series Device Mounts

The iKlip 3 Video is like the iKlip 3 but aimed at camera tripod mounting.

The iKlip 3 Deluxe includes both the mic stand mounting bracket and the tripod mount attachment.

According to IK Multimedia all three utilize materials superior to the previous iKlip series along with featuring a simplified mounting grip.

Prices: iKlip 3 and iKip 3 Vide: $49.99; and iKlip 3 Deluxe: $69.99.

Info: www.ikmultimedia.com

Wheatstone SwitchBlade Interface

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.

Wheatstone SwitchBlade Interface

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.

The company 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.”

Info: www.wheatstone.com

ENCO enCaption Captioning Tool

ENCO says that its enCaption captioning tool is finding a home at radio stations, enabling hearing-impaired audiences to consume radio programming online or via over-the-top (OTT) services.” Furthermore it could be paired with visual radio programming.

ENCO enCaption

Washington-based noncommercial station WAMU(FM) is testing the concept.

According to ENCO, WAMU Senior Director of Technology Rob Bertrand explained, “Our integration is still in the proof-of-concept stage, but we are happy with what we’ve been able to demonstrate so far. We look forward to being able to deliver our content to all members of our community, including those who have historically not been able to be reached by audio content.”

ENCO points at formats such as talk radio as being especially in need of captioning for deaf and hard-of-hearing potential listeners. In addition, the company says, “Automated captioning also enables immediate creation of searchable transcripts that broadcasters can post alongside recorded audio clips, enhancing SEO for their websites while improving content discovery for site visitors.”

enCaption is a software-based system. Captions created by enCaption can be output as files or streams in standard WebVTT format or as a raw text data stream for integration with the station’s website media player, mobile or OTT app. enCaption can also turn an audio-only source into a video stream with open captions overlaid on a plain background or graphic, or combined the audio with a separate video stream while embedding closed captions for display in a web-based video player.

Info: www.enco.com

GatesAir IntraPlex Ascent Codec Manager

The Intraplex Ascent offers a cloud-based, redundant transport platform for multichannel contribution and distribution, while eliminating the need for many separate codecs and auxiliary hardware components.

GatesAir IntraPlex Ascent

“GatesAir is taking the next logical step for our customers with direct integration into the IT infrastructure,” GatesAir Vice President and Intraplex Product Line General Manager Keyur Parikh said in a press release.

According to an announcement, Ascent is the first Intraplex system to live on a commercial-off-the-shelf x86 server, and it’s available as either a 1RU server or a virtualized software solution. Both versions support up to 32 audio channels and are interoperable with most Intraplex AoIP codecs. This solution is also AES67 compliant and compatible with Ravenna, LiveWire+ and Dante AoIP networking solutions, GatesAir says.

Ascent enables users to manage multiple Secure Reliable Transport streams on one platform; SRT is a low-latency, open source streaming protocol that provides packet encryption and retransmission capabilities, GatesAir explains. Also, the platform features Dynamic Stream Splicing, which is a proprietary technology used to diversify SRT data across redundant networks, eliminating some packet losses and network failures.

Info: www.gatesair.com

Inovonics Sofia Audio Stream Monitor

A new member of Inovonics’ SiteStreaming family of monitoring and streaming products is called Sofia.

Inovonics Sofia Audio Stream Monitor

The Sofia offers signal monitoring tools such as signal loss, strength and other measurements.
According to the company, Sofia has independently adjustable analog and AES digital audio outputs along with AoIP networking.

It is AES67-compatible. It allows up to 10 people to listen remotely to the same audio stream simultaneously.

Sofia will display Artist Experience logos and art via a web interface.
It comes in a half-rack box. Inovonics says that firmware updates will be free.

Info: www.inovonicsbroadcast.com

 

[Read more about new products here.]

The post Bask in the Glow of New Gear: Summer of Products 2019 appeared first on Radio World.

Strickland Taught the Industry About RF Safety

Fri, 06/28/2019 - 09:48
Suited up, Richard Strickland is shown in an undated photo prepared to climb a tower and take RF measurements.

When it came to teaching engineers about RF safety, few could hold a candle — or an RF monitor — to Richard Strickland. During his long career, first with Narda and later his own company RF Safety Solutions, Strickland instructed thousands of engineers and managers on topics related to RF radiation safety and compliance.

Strickland died in 2018 at age 73, following a long battle with cancer. Friends and family members recalled his personal and professional life for Radio World.

Even as a child, Strickland enjoyed taking things apart to see how they worked. His formal education in electronics began when he was in the Coast Guard. He served as an Electronics Technician I and got additional training in ships’ radar. During his tour of duty, he served in the Pacific during the Vietnam war. 

He continued his education when he left the service, earning his bachelor’s degree in physics and mathematics from the University of Massachusetts, Bridgewater. He went on to earn his MBA from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. 

Strickland honed his skills in RF engineering and discovered the parts that he really liked by working for several companies, initially designing radomes for antennas. His last employer was Narda; there, he worked for ten years as director of business development. 

[From 2010 — May I Climb This De-Energized Tower?]

In that position, he would determine which products were developed and their performance characteristics. He was program manager for the Nardalert XT RF personal monitor; for his work on that product, he received an R&D 100 Award from a research magazine.

At Narda, he initiated the development of RF radiation safety courses and led them. Topics ranged from basic employee awareness seminars to in-depth application-specific courses. Audiences included environmental health and safety professionals, engineers, technicians, professional consulting engineers (PEs) and senior managers of major organizations. In all, he taught over 400 public and private seminars on RF radiation safety. 

Strickland was both a featured speaker and member of radio frequency radiation panels at the National Association of Broadcasters, the Radio Club of America and the International Wireless Conference and Exhibition. He was the author of numerous articles on RF safety practices and measurement issues, including an occasional column in Radio World.

Strickland had always wanted to be his own boss, and in 2003 he left Narda and founded his own company. There, he could focus his energies on the things that he liked to do the most. For him, that was sharing his knowledge of RF radiation and safety issues with others, as well as his own hands-on form of consulting. 

MANY INTERESTS

Tom Ray, president of Tom Ray Broadcast Consulting, knew Strickland for 10 years. He shared stories from his work with Project Xanadu and SBE Chapter 15 in New York City.

At the time of  Project Xanadu, a mall development project, Ray was director of engineering for WOR, New York. ‘“The Xanadu project was being built very close to the 50,000 watt WEPN AM 1050 transmitter site, located in North Bergen, N.J. Construction workers were getting shocked by the RF, and the large cranes in use at the site were especially hazardous,” Ray said.

“They hired Strickland, who came in and took measurements to prove it was a safe working environment, as long as precautions were being taken, such as grounding the cranes and avoiding a few RF hot spots. Since the cranes moved around as the construction progressed, he would check back every four weeks to confirm the site was always safe.”

The late Richard Strickland, shown with wife Claudia.

From his days with the SBE chapter, Ray recalls Strickland as both a great storyteller and generous giver of his time. 

“A discussion about RF safety compliance and regulations could bore you to tears, but Strickland brought it to life with his case histories. He got people involved with a good story, and knew not only the regulations, but also the science behind them. We would pay him for a three-hour session at our SBE meetings, but he would always stay after the session for Q&A, and not leave until everyone’s questions had been answered.”

Carl T. (Tom) Jones Jr., president of Carl T. Jones Corp., worked with Strickland and remembers him as something of a Renaissance man. 

[From 2012 — RF Safety Surveys at Broadcast Sites: A Basic Guide]

“There are others who do RF measurements, consult on RF radiation issues and do the actual measurements. Richard was unique in that he did all of those things. His company was really a one-man shop.” In later years, as his health began to fail, Strickland sub-contracted the measurement part of projects to Jones, which is how they became acquainted. 

He adds that Strickland was equally well versed in broadcast, radar, cellular and satellite uplink RF measurement as well as safety compliance standards. 

“Richard was an amazing person, with an immense knowledge base. He gave a great deal to the industry, and trained thousands of engineers and managers.”

Strickland had several interests outside of work, one of which was world travel. He and his wife were avid travelers through Europe, Alaska, the Caribbean and South America. Strickland looked forward to adding countries to the list of more than 70 he had visited. 

He was also a master craftsman and woodworker, building beautiful cabinets and furniture of his own design. Most of the work was done in a well-furnished shop he had set up in his garage. In  later years, he was also an amateur photographer, who took numerous landscape and wildlife photos. 

Comment on this or any story. Email radioworld@futurenet.com.

The post Strickland Taught the Industry About RF Safety appeared first on Radio World.

Cumulus Announces Deal to Sell WABC(AM) to New York Businessman

Thu, 06/27/2019 - 13:14

 

This has been a big week for radio transactions. Coming close on the heels of Cox Enterprises’ decision to sell control of its radio portfolio to Terrier Media, Cumulus Media announced plans to sell iconic New York station WABC(AM) to Red Apple Media.

According to the Thursday announcement, the wholly-owned subsidiary of Red Apple Group will buy WABC for $12.5 million in cash, pending regulatory approval and other customary closing conditions. If all goes as planned, the deal will close in Q3 of this year.

John Catsimatidis

In a press release, Cumulus President/CEO Mary G. Berner noted that the deal will enable Cumulus “to use the sale’s net cash proceeds to pay down debt and invest in the company.” 

[Mary Berner and Kevin Perry to Join NAB Radio Board]

Red Apple Group Chairman and CEO John A. Catsimatidis said in the announcement that WABC(AM) “is a real New York legend with a rich history in broadcasting.” He explained, “Our purchase of 77 WABC(AM) Radio is the next step in building a new broadcasting business, and we look forward to considering the acquisition of more broadcasting assets.” 

According to his website, Catsimatidis, a Greece-born, New York City-raised businessman with a history of political activism, created a radio show “The Cats Roundtable” in 2014 that is now syndicated in 14 states and online. 

Catsimatidis added that Red Apple Media intends to keep the current WABC staff and talent, characterizing them as “excellent.” Berner also expressed pleasure that the WABC employees will be retained “to continue building this iconic station’s legacy” after Red Apple takes over programming control. 

The post Cumulus Announces Deal to Sell WABC(AM) to New York Businessman appeared first on Radio World.

Hybrid Radio Making Strides

Thu, 06/27/2019 - 12:47

 

A Panasonic prototype Connected Radio implementation.
Courtesy David Layer

The promise of “hybrid” radio technology has yet to be realized, with no widespread adoption by carmakers just yet. But while 2019 may not be a breakout year, participants say significant milestones are being met.

The term hybrid radio refers to platforms to provide a seamless combination of broadcast radio and internet technologies. (It is not to be confused with the term “hybrid” that is sometimes used to describe the dual analog/digital format in which most HD Radio stations broadcast.)

A hybrid of broadcast radio and internet connectivity, experts say, will offer radio listeners many benefits. The players in this hybrid radio ecosystem include familiar names like RadioDNS and Xperi, both promoting applications that combine broadcast and IP technologies. Efforts by the National Association of Broadcasters’ Pilot initiative are also playing an integral role in development, participants say.  

Their  research involves finding ways to link a “fetched” stream address from available broadcast services with over-the-air broadcast hardware, work that coincides with the growth of built-in connectivity in automobiles.

COMPLEMENTARY 

Hybrid radio embraces the complementary strengths of broadcast radio and the internet, observers say, and developers are seeking to create a unique distribution system. Backers believe deployment  in the auto environment will accelerate soon and that best practices for radio broadcasters will follow. Voice command, already an integral part of the home speaker listening environment, also is expected to play a crucial role in hybrid radio’s development. 

The presence of built-in internet connectivity in automobiles and the expected impact of the 5G rollout both support introduction of hybrid technologies, backers say.

Nick Piggott, project director for RadioDNS, said hybrid radio recognizes that broadcast radio and the internet have different, complementary strengths.

“Hybrid radio creates two routes to the radio receiver, one via broadcast radio and the other via IP. Broadcast is cost-effective, reliable and robust and is great for time-critical audio. Over the IP channel, we can deliver lots of additional metadata about the audio, high resolution visual information, interactivity. 

[Xperi Explores Hybrid Radio at NAB]

“There’s lots of different ways the two distribution paths can be combined to create a better experience of radio,” he said. For instance, once a listener chooses a station or saves it on a preset, it will always play for them as long as either broadcast or IP is available.

RadioDNS is an organization that promotes technical standards for combining broadcast radio and internet technologies that enable interoperability, giving broadcasters and manufacturers freedom of how to implement hybrid radio. 

Members of RadioDNS include iHeartMedia, Cumulus, Entercom, Cox, NPR and NAB. Piggott said this participation gives automotive manufacturers confidence to move forward with launch plans in the United States. He predicts that will happen in the next 12 months.

Among automakers, Audi in particular has been aggressive, already offering hybrid radio on its European models as each model is refreshed and apparently eager to launch in the U.S., according to NAB and other observers. Audi conducted a  live demo of its hybrid solution at the spring show, using local Las Vegas stations.

David Layer, vice president of advanced engineering at NAB, said, “Audi has developed an amazing hybrid radio, making use of not only RadioDNS standards but using streaming audio support from Radioplayer and Jump2Go, as well as directly from broadcasters.” (Radioplayer is a not-for-profit organization providing hybrid radio support around the globe.)

Volkswagen and Porsche also plan to add hybrid radio in Europe, according to RadioDNS. 

The NAB, Layer said, continues to reach out to automakers and receiver manufacturers as it pushes ahead with its dashboard initiatives, focused on near-term enhancement of over-the-air radio in vehicles.

CONNECTED

Xperi, owner of HD Radio, is active in this space. Its DTS Connected Radio uses an IP connection installed in a vehicle to deliver analog and digital FM by pairing broadcast programming with IP-delivered content. At the spring show, attendees could see a number of prototype hybrid radio implementations based on the DTS Connected Radio platform.

“And we know that at least three of the most important Tier One automotive suppliers, Harman, Panasonic and LG, are using this technology,” Layer said.  

Separately Xperi and LG recently announced the development and integration of DTS Connected Radio technology into automobiles sold around the world, with the first implementation arriving at dealerships in 2020. Xperi has said it is working with a  major global car brand manufacturer on its rollout but has not identified that company yet.

 For its part, NAB is supportive of “both Xperi’s DTS Connected Radio and RadioDNS,” Layer said. “It’s important to know these are not competing interests. To the contrary, they are cooperative interests.”

Xperi makes available a Connected Radio Evaluation Unit, or CREU, to potential users and implementers of its DTS Connected Radio platform, such as automakers and Tier One manufacturers, to allow them to develop receivers using that technology. 

 Layer said that Pilot, a technology and innovation initiative of NAB, obtained a CREU and is working with NAB members to innovate ways to design the radio user interface to take advantage of the capabilities of hybrid radio and then to take those ideas to receiver manufacturers for implementation.

Xperi says it is demonstrating live metadata in 16 markets operating through Connected Radio in real time. It is also developing how the platform will work with Amazon Alexa smart speakers and its voice control capabilities.

ON-DEMAND?

Certain aspects of hybrid radio will be of keen interest to radio stations, Layer said. Basic features include delivery of metadata (text and imagery) over the internet and tied to the over-the-air audio, as well as delivery of simulcast streaming audio.  

“This would be things like album art, song title and artist information. It could also include enhanced advertisements,” he said. “And specifically how the streaming audio signals get used by the receiver is a topic of great interest among broadcasters.” 

Layer said that costs involved in streaming, for both broadcasters and listeners, make it imperative that hybrid radio receivers use streaming audio only when the over-the-air signal is unusable.  

More advanced hybrid radio features include interactivity between broadcasters and listeners and the availability of analytics about how listeners consume and react to programming.

In addition, Layer said the potential for hybrid radio to deliver audio on demand is being researched. “This is clearly a feature that is desired by listeners. Imagine a radio receiver that can play back a station’s most recent traffic or weather report anytime, with the touch of a button, or offer the listener an archived version of today’s morning program.”

Participants say they expect hybrid radio to create new value for broadcast radio and believe that its use won’t be limited to the automotive sector. Samsung mobile phones and some tabletop radios with a Wi-Fi connection have implemented hybrid radio in Europe, according to RadioDNS.

This is the first of a series of occasional articles exploring the hybrid radio ecosystem. Comment on this or any story to radioworld@futurenet.com.

The post Hybrid Radio Making Strides appeared first on Radio World.

Russia Studies DRM in the FM Band

Thu, 06/27/2019 - 11:08

Russia will begin testing the Digital Radio Mondiale digital radio standard in the FM Band in July in St. Petersburg.

DRM tests will begin in St. Petersburg in July. Credit: TUBS Wikipedia

Russian firms Digiton and Triada TV are working with Fraunhofer IIS, RFmondial, chipmaker NXP and others to carry out the pilot.

The organizers will install a DRM-capable transmitter mid-July and begin regular simulcast broadcasts (DRM for FM) immediately after site acceptance checks are complete. The transmitter will reportedly be on air for six months and have an analog transmitting power of 5 kW and a digital output power of 800 W.

[Read: Russia Tests DRM]

This round of tests marks the next step in the country’s DRM experimentation and one which some consider to be the last phase before full adoption. In addition to featuring simulcast broadcasts, the new tests will also use a higher transmission power than the previous DRM trials in Russia, which took place in 2014 and 2015.

DRM says the main purpose of this latest test is to “demonstrate the opportunities and advantages public and private broadcasters can derive from implementing the standard, as well as to showcase digital radio’s benefits for listeners.”

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The post Russia Studies DRM in the FM Band appeared first on Radio World.

Is Your Transmitter Ready for Lightning Season?

Thu, 06/27/2019 - 10:51

Your transmitter and RF plant are mission-critical. Are they ready for lightning season?

With summer arriving for much of our readership, Radio World’s latest ebook will help you to answer that question.

What characteristics of lightning should you know about to manage a transmitter site properly? What are the principles of good protection? What choices in facility design can you make to help protect the equipment? How should your transmitter site be laid out? What should you know about AC line protection products?

And if your site does take a lightning hit, what should you do next? What best practices should you know about ahead of time to plan against that eventuality.

 

Read it here.

The post Is Your Transmitter Ready for Lightning Season? appeared first on Radio World.

How to Cover Live Events Successfully

Thu, 06/27/2019 - 03:07

The author is sales and marketing manager at 2wcom.

Anke Schneider

Certain requirements when covering live events are increasing. Compatibility, audio quality, flexibility, simplicity and transmission robustness are the current buzzwords. Broadcasters need solutions that support studio-to-studio, studio-to-transmitter links and cross-media tasks. The latter also means production considerations for content distribution and storage include both radio and television.

GENERAL REQUIREMENTS

For mixed networks with expanded facilities that include a vocal booth, OB van, live event studio, main station studio and regional studios, high-levels of interface compatibility (even through third-party apps) and distribution technologies are mandatory.

There can be challenges connecting studios and negotiating codecs as well as protocols.

It is thus essential that all major internet interoperability protocols are supported. These include Livewire+ for studio environments, Dante for smaller broadcast networks (studios, concert halls or theaters), Ravenna for distribution in large audio networks and SRT to provide content for both radio and television.

Standards like EBU N/ACIP Tech 3326, AES67, SMPTE ST 2110 and NMOS harmonize data exchange between the protocols. Keeping in mind that the main challenge is operating mixed networks, protocol transformation, for example from Livewire to Ravenna, eases an operator’s task.

[Read: NRJ België Goes Full AoIP]

Protocols such as HTTPS, TCP/IP (Icecast for internet radio streams), ICMP, DHCP, Discovery, Bonjour, IGMPv2, IGMPv3, SFTP and UDP let users control data transmission and communication between single points. They also ensure content accessibility via the station’s website or media archive.

WHICH AUDIO CODEC?

For real-time applications, such as audio description or mobile target groups (truck or taxi drivers), high audio quality and low latency are extremely important. This is especially true for popular events like the FIFA World Cup. For this purpose, codec algorithms such as PCM, E-aptX or Opus should be supported.

Audio over IP networks for events can involve a high number of live studios and a central server for hybrid distribution.

When uploading files to websites or media archives, transcoding from the above mentioned high-quality codecs to more economical ones should also be possible (e.g. all AAC profiles like AAC xHE, Ogg Vorbis and all common MPEG layers).

With cross-media applications in mind, transcribing the audio in combination with an image generated from the produced video ensures the smart display of broadcast content on a station’s website. Both, transcoding and transcribing enable radio stations to subsequently provide broadcast content to the audience and to store the content for future reuse.

For events, the flexible management of recorded audio content and sound backgrounds is made possible by combining individual audio streams into multichannel streams. This can include audio from the stage, sideline or grandstand, or even speaker comments. In local studios it’s necessary to exchange regional content and ancillary data as well as broadcasting them in parallel to the main stream. To ensure the precisely synchronized routing of different streams between linked networks and good latency management, Precision Time Protocol (PTPv2) or 1pps should be supported.

TEAM SUPPORT

In addition, to guarantee optimal broadcast coverage of an event it’s important to assist the teams on-site and to guarantee flexibility in daily operation. And, if more temporary channels are needed, corresponding channel activation scalability is necessary. Preconfiguration of hardware and software for operation, management and control should be possible via an easy-to-use web interface and remotely via SNMP, Ember+ or JSON. A SIP phonebook simplifies the process by providing an uncomplicated connection between the individual studios and automatic negotiation of codecs and protocols.

SIP entries and status information accessible via a web interface and with the hardware grant flexibility to reporters in the field if WLAN is not available. To increase the independence of production teams, it’s important to support DHCP. This permits the automatic allocation of IP addresses, helping to avoid the need to request an IP address from the Help Desk.

ENSURING DISTRIBUTION

A multilayer concept ensures transmission robustness. Hardware devices should be equipped with at least two power supplies (optionally hot-swappable). Protection against IP packet loss offers Pro-MPEG FEC or Reliable User Datagram Protocol, which is more effective and more economical in means of bandwidth (Note: RUDP needs a duplex IP link and unicast/multiple unicast).

Further redundancy can be achieved by transmitting two streams or different audio qualities in parallel and in case of interruption of the main stream the respective receivers switch seamless to the second one..

Finally, it’s impossible to ignore the advantages of IP-based networks but for the sake of harmonization between old and new transmission technologies, hybrid solutions are mandatory.

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The post How to Cover Live Events Successfully appeared first on Radio World.

Cox Selling Control of Radio Station Portfolio

Wed, 06/26/2019 - 20:31

Cox Enterprises isn’t leaving the radio business completely, just yet … but …

The Atlanta-based multimedia conglomerate has announced that it is essentially selling its radio station portfolio, along with the CoxReps and Gamut advertising businesses to Apollo Global Management. According to a release, Cox Enterprises will maintain a minority stake in the Apollo-controlled company that will take over the properties. This new formation will be called, perhaps confusingly at first, Cox Media Group.

At stake is over 60 radio stations in 11 markets, including legacy station WSB(AM) in Atlanta, started by Cox property, the Atlanta Journal, in 1922. CoxReps is a leading national advertising rep firm.

The acquiring entity, also known as Terrier Media, is the same Apollo Global Management operation formed to hold Cox’s TV stations and Ohio radio stations and newspapers, sold (pending regulatory approval) in February.

In a release Cox Enterprises President and CEO Alex Taylor said “We are happy our Cox Radio and national ad platforms will continue to be operated with our television group.” He added, “Keeping these media businesses together gives us even more confidence in the future success of the new company. We have spent many years fostering a culture of collaboration and innovation across these businesses and are pleased to see that work will continue.”

From the Apollo perch, David Sambur, Chairman of the buyer and Senior Partner of Apollo Global Management said, “Cox has deep roots in the media industry and has stood for the highest quality in local journalism for the past 120 years. As we shepherd these businesses into the future, we are committed to investing in high-quality programming and fostering innovation in local media.”

The transaction is subject to approval from regulatory authorities. Furthermore, to complete the deal two radio stations will have to be divested, WPYO(FM) in Orlando, Fla., and WSUN(FM) in Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla.

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The post Cox Selling Control of Radio Station Portfolio appeared first on Radio World.

RME Rolls Out Babyface Pro Podcasting Bundle

Wed, 06/26/2019 - 11:29

Interface manufacturer RME has created an all-in-one podcast audio bundle, the new Babyface Pro/Audio-Technica Podcast Bundle.

The selection brings together RME’s Babyface Pro audio interface and TotalMix FX mixing software with Audio-Technica’s BP40 Condenser Microphone. Also included is an On-Stage Clamp Desktop Boom Mic Stand and a Podcast Engineering School educational course.

[Check Out More Products at Radio World’s Products Section]

At the heart of the bundle is RME’s Babyface Pro, an interface with multiple ins/outs allowing for a variety of podcast setups — two mic preamps, two headphone outputs for simple host/guest monitoring and the ability to configure a mix-minus as separate audio sources. The unit also allows independent adjustment of sound settings for every source, individual headphone mixes for up to six guests and compatibility with any recording software as well as Mac, Windows and iOS.

The Babyface Pro comes with a free TotalMix FX Remote iPad app which allows users to configure the mix-minus setup as separate audio sources, so podcasters can control what guests and listeners hear with no additional cables, mixer or hardware. Users can also mix multiple software applications simultaneously for adding music beds, sound effects and other audio clips to a podcast.

RME has partnered with Audio-Technica to include the company’s BP40 Condenser Microphone. Optimized for broadcast applications, the A-T BP40 offers a humbucking voice coil to prevent unwanted interference. An On-Stage Clamp Desktop Boom Mic Stand, as is a 10-foot microphone cable.

The final piece of the bundle is a Podcast Engineering School Educational Course, an online course providing an overview of the podcast production workflow using a Babyface Pro. The course covers setting up a Babyface Pro, production scenarios and tips, recording online guests, and post-production tips.

The Babyface Pro/Audio-Technica Podcast Bundle runs $1,299.

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The post RME Rolls Out Babyface Pro Podcasting Bundle appeared first on Radio World.

DAB+ Gains Momentum in the Auto Space

Wed, 06/26/2019 - 08:29

The author is communications manager for WorldDAB.

LONDON — As DAB+ continues to establish itself as the future platform for radio across Europe, focus is now shifting to developing the DAB+ experience in the car.

Aris Erdogdu

On one hand, drivers expect radio to be a seamless experience offering good performance, more and more tailored content, relevant information and as little distraction as possible. On the other hand, car manufacturers want a radio performance that exceeds FM, is able to display information on the screen, and does not put the driver at risk.

AUTOMOTIVE CONFERENCE

On June 20, WorldDAB Automotive 2019 brought together experts from the broadcasting and automotive industries to discuss how they are working together to further improve the in-car digital radio experience.

Speaking at the conference held in Turin, Italy, WorldDAB Automotive Working Group (AWG) chair Laurence Harrison, highlighted some of the work the AWG has been doing on various fronts to further develop DAB+ in the car and build long-term collaborations between broadcasters and car manufacturers.

Laurence Harrison is chair of the WorldDAB Automotive Working Group.

Harrison touched on the launch of second version of the User Experience (UX) Design guidelines, which was published in February and are designed to help manufacturers and broadcasters deliver the best digital radio experience in the car.

Based on conversations between the AWG and all the leading automotive manufacturers, the updated guidelines give clearer direction to hybrid radio as providing the best UX in connected cars particularly when DAB+ is included. The guidelines also give clearer signposting to other research and useful guidance on features such as user interface (UI) design, station logos and other on-screen information.

WorldDAB member Arqiva, which operates DAB networks in the United Kingdom, is conducting tests on the delivery of logos via DAB using Service and Programme Information (SPI) standards and is hoping to build on the success of early results.

Harrison also highlighted the importance of the Test Routes that WorldDAB has now made available. Following work within the WorldDAB Receiver/Antenna Performance Taskforce, and in order to help with DAB testing for cars in different markets, WorldDAB has published test routes from a number of markets in order to help any company producing vehicles, antennas, or equipment to test their products and services on a route showing different conditions for DAB+.

[Read: WorldDAB Automotive 2019 Studies DAB+ in the Dash]

Finally, he also outlined the next phase of the Groups’ work, which will be to identify consumer use cases for digital radio in connected and autonomous cars. Initial use cases have been identified covering personalisation, a seamless experience between devices and platforms, a new UI sing voice and on-demand content, and richer visuals on bigger screens. The AWG will now focus on collaborative actions that can be undertaken to support delivery of these use cases.

TAILOR-MADE CONTENT

Speaking at the conference in Turin, Eugenio La Teana, head of research and development at EuroDAB Italia, emphasized that DAB+ enables the creation of new and innovative content, and can help display useful information such as travel and traffic on screens. To that effect, RTL 102.5 and Autostrade per l’Italia have teamed up to create a digital-only station tailored for the needs of drivers that spend a lot of time in the car. The station, which is live 24/7 throughout the year, provides traffic updates between every other song.

If we are to draw one lesson from WorldDAB Automotive 2019, it’s that DAB+ is making waves both in and out of the car something that is echoed by the EECC directive introduced by the European Union at the end of 2018, which requires all new car radios sold within the EU to be capable of receiving digital terrestrial radio by the end of 2020.

DAB+ continues to gain significant ground across the globe, and with the automotive industry on-board, the future of digital radio in the car is looking bright.

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The post DAB+ Gains Momentum in the Auto Space appeared first on Radio World.

NAB to FCC: Just Show Your Homework

Tue, 06/25/2019 - 12:26

Just in case the FCC has missed the point so far, the National Association of Broadcasters just filed another batch of comments criticizing the commission’s planned hike in regulatory fees for U.S. broadcasters.

“The NPRM imposes a steep increase in radio station regulatory fees disproportionate to other fee payor categories, as well as the increase in the commission’s overall budget,” NAB wrote in its latest filing.

[Read: Associations Tell FCC Its Numbers Are Messed Up]

“The proposed radio fees are also based on flawed data.” Nor is the potential harm limited to radio, NAB continued. “The NPRM does not explain significant changes in regulatory fees for both satellite and VHF television stations.”

The nation’s state broadcast associations have also been vocal on this issue, as we’ve reported, and the latest NAB filing reiterates their argument over how the commission is calculating “payment units” in the radio industry, which affects the fee schedule significantly.

[Read: NAB Wants Better Explanation for “Remarkable” Radio Fee Hikes]

“NAB simply asks the commission to show its homework by explaining its calculations of the radio regulatory fees, instead of merely issuing a chart of final fees,” it wrote. “It is frustrating that the commission has not seen fit to issue an interim public notice or some other document with additional data that could help inform stakeholders’ responses to the NPRM. Given the apparent inaccuracy of the NPRM’s count of radio station fee payors, and the lack of information and clarity, affected parties are simply unable to provide meaningful input into the regulatory fee process.”

The NAB also warned the FCC to “carefully consider” the potential impact of the proposed changes for certain television stations.

Read the NAB’s latest comments here.

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The post NAB to FCC: Just Show Your Homework appeared first on Radio World.

Grant Helps Dunnellon Tigers Growl

Tue, 06/25/2019 - 08:19
Layout of the production studio

A media professional since 1972, I eventually found myself in south Florida in the new millennium, working as an audio engineer for the Miami Dolphins and the Florida Marlins. A move to central Florida several years later forced me out of the media business and into education, where I have been ever since.

At Dunnellon High School, I teach intensive reading to seniors and AP world history. The reading students who motivated me to create a “reading for radio” program about five years ago.

I had been searching for an incentive to motivate students to improve their technical reading skills and, of all things, a 250-foot radio tower on our campus sparked the process. Although used by the transportation department, I looked into an LPFM license for the school and was encouraged, until I started the budget — no way! As most readers will know and understand, we in education barely have enough money for essentials, not to mention trying to fund a project like that.

[Community Broadcaster: College Radio Shows the Way]

But the idea of combining radio with the academic needs of my reading students still seemed like a great concept. Imagine, having a school radio station run by students and then opening the on-air auditions to students who are struggling as readers.

A student-produced segment called “That’s a Rap” allows students to record their own raps.

I started researching internet radio, and suddenly this idea had legs. Still, funding would be a challenge, but it would be nothing like the cost of trying to implement an over-the-air presence.

This is where CenturyLink Communications entered the picture. The company sponsors an annual grant competition through its Clarke M. Williams Foundation. These grants are open to public school teachers who blend technology and academics to benefit their students.

It seemed like a perfect fit. However, as a traditional broadcaster, I had a significant learning curve ahead, trying to wrap my head around a new-to-me, method of delivery.

I applied for the grant in the fall of 2015 and received word that I had been successful in April 2016. My first reaction was: “Now that I have the money, you mean I actually have to do this?!”

GETTING OFF THE GROUND Principal Wade Martin records one of many messages produced by staff members in support of The Growl.

I spent the entire summer of that year doing the research; and there was plenty of it.

First, investigating what the technical aspects of putting a station on the internet was all about. What, if any, were the government regulations; what licensure was required; how are royalties covered — basically learning how all the pieces fit together.

Next, of course, came a design and a location within the school. The administration came through with an unused office, and I designed the equipment configuration around that space.

Next came a meeting with the school system’s head of IT to explain the project and learn if the infrastructure would support streaming within the school (bandwidth being the potential problem). I explained that we would be sending our outbound signal to a web hosting company for streaming and that our IT requirements were minimal. One potential problem eliminated.

Next, I had to survey and select equipment that would meet our needs at a reasonable cost. I enlisted the help of Guitar Center Pro and found them to be very helpful in the selection process.

[College Radio Station Flies Overseas for Remote Broadcast]

Finally, I needed to find a software automation system that would fit our needs and our budget. You probably know that this market has become very active in the last few years, and there are dozens of products to choose from in every price range. I was fortunate to come across a talented young developer in Texas who has created a program called NextKast Pro. The program is sold as a download with program key and is incredibly reasonable and both powerful and flexible.

Student singers produce another segment of “Cover It,” during which kids cover popular songs.

The studio is broken into two halves utilizing two Windows-based PCs. One is dedicated to running the NextKast software and is our “broadcast” computer. The other is our “production station,” utilizing an Allen & Heath analog mixer, Shure and AKG studio mics and Audacity editing software for our production needs.

The last piece of the puzzle was our access platform. We have chosen TuneIn Radio utilizing either their mobile app or their internet presence at www.tunein.com.

At the beginning of the 2016-17 school year, students first were recruited to join “The Growl” (We are the Dunnellon Tigers, hence the name). Our goal was to get on the air prior to Christmas break. On Dec. 13, 2016, “The Growl” went live for the first time and has been on 24/7 since. Our format is eclectic as we attempt to provide both music of all genres and some very creative original student programming (written, produced and performed by our students).

For information contact Barry Carrus at readingforradio@gmail.com. Radio World welcomes stories about the creation and building of your radio station or media facility. Email radioworld@futurenet.com.

The post Grant Helps Dunnellon Tigers Growl appeared first on Radio World.

U.K. Radio Review May Herald End of FM

Tue, 06/25/2019 - 03:37

LONDON — Shutting down the United Kingdom’s FM Radio broadcasts may be the real purpose of the U.K. radio review, which starts soon and is scheduled to conclude sometime in mid-2020.

Margot James is Minister for the Department for Digital Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). Credit: UK government official photo

Announced by Department for Digital Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) minister Margot James at the annual U.K. Radio Festival on May 13, 2019, the review’s official rationale “is to look at the ways people listen to the radio in the digital age,” said Paul Chantler. He is a radio programming consultant and co-owner of the Fix Radio DAB station in London, who heard James speak at the festival. “In reality, the government are responding to pressure from the big radio groups to turn off FM to allow them to focus on digital broadcasting platforms,” Chantler told RWI.

Minister James made no statements about shutting down FM nor any other forms of U.K. analog radio broadcasting. But she did tell festival attendees that “Digital radio now accounts for more than 52% of all U.K. radio listening and we need a legislative structure that reflects this change, and gives us flexibility to deal with the change that lies ahead.” James added that the parties to be consulted during the radio review include the BBC and commercial radio broadcasters, radio manufacturers, the car industry and others in the radio supply chain.

[Read: U.K. Broadcasters Vary in Concern About Brexit]

With U.K. radio moving strongly into the digital realm — not just over the air, but also via smartphones and web-connected “smart speakers” — having the review now makes sense, according to John Evington, a partner at The Radio People consultancy and low-cost DAB solutions provider Viamux.

John Evington is partner at The Radio People consultancy and low-cost DAB solutions provider Viamux. Photo courtesy of John Evington

“There needs to be a clear strategy for radio as the lines between traditional linear radio, streaming services and podcasting become increasingly blurred,” said Evington. Reflecting on the likely topics to be raised during the radio review, “the focus will inevitably be on platforms and delivery and the technological advances that are likely to impact on the listener experience.”

For his part, Chantler believes that a complete “switchover” from FM to DAB — rather than the FM/DAB simulcasts taking place today — will dominate the radio review discussions; driven by Britain’s big radio groups.

“The reason there is so much pressure from the big groups for a switchover is that for many years, radio companies have been financing dual transmission on both FM and DAB,” Chantler explained. “This is extremely expensive. Now that DAB radio covers 90% of the U.K. and listening via digital platforms accounts for 52% of all listening, the government feels that now is the time to consider ‘forcing’ a full migration to digital radio.”

Paul Chantler is radio programming consultant and co-owner of Fix Radio DAB station in London. Photo courtesy of Paul Chantler

Chantler predicts that the U.K. radio review will set a date for turning off British FM broadcasting, and that this shutdown “will probably happen in 2022–2023.”

He is not in favor of this option: “My own view is that there is still a place for FM radio alongside digital,” Chantler added. “Although there are some small-scale opportunities for smaller community and niche stations to cost-effectively transmit on DAB, I still think some use could be made of FM for small non-profit stations.”

Evington agrees. “I believe that FM needs to remain for at least another 10 years,” he said. “However, there are some interesting scenarios that could be developed during that time. For example, we would like to see a phased digital migration for BBC national services beginning with Radio 3, which still occupies a large portion of prime bandwidth despite a listening share of just 1.2%. This would free-up space for a range of new commercial services benefitting the consumer and the exchequer.”

One thing appears certain: “Most people in the industry have been expecting this review for a long time and welcome it,” said Chantler.

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“Certainly, if the big groups get their way and a date is set for an FM switchoff, they will be able to save money by only broadcasting on DAB. They have been preparing for this for many years with the creation of big, well-branded national stations such as Heart, Capital and LBC (owned by Global) and Magic, Kiss and the Hits Network (owned by Bauer). Earlier this year, Wireless Group/News UK (the third biggest player in U.K. radio) invested heavily in revamping Virgin Radio — which is a national DAB-only station — by recruiting BBC Radio 2’s star DJ Chris Evans.”

The post U.K. Radio Review May Herald End of FM appeared first on Radio World.

Agenda Set for Multilingual Emergency Alert Workshop

Mon, 06/24/2019 - 18:09

In an effort to inform state and local emergency management authorities on how they can implement multilingual alerts for the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) system, the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau is hosting a public workshop on June 28 at the FCC headquarters in Washington.

The agenda for the workshop has officially been announced, including the panelists that will participate in the sessions.

The day will begin with a welcome from Zenji Nakazawa, public safety and consumer protection advisor to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, before heading into its first panel. The initial panel, which will begin at 9:15 a.m., is titled “Regulatory Framework for Multilingual Alert Distributions Over the EAS and WEA Systems.” David Munson, attorney advisor with PSHSB, will moderate a panel made up of Orlando Bermudez from the Multimedia Assistance in Spanish Program, Austin/San Antonio Weather Office, NOAA; Justin Cain, deputy chief, Operations and Emergency Management division at PSHSB; Gregory Cooke, the chief for the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs at CGB; Matthew Grest, vice president, regulatory affairs, CTIA; Al Kenyon, IPAWS Customer Support Branch chief, IPAWS Program Office, Continuity Communications Division DHS–FEMA; NCTA Vice President of Engineering Andy Scott; and Larry Walke, associate general counsel for the NAB.

At 10:15 a.m., the second panel, “Examples of How Various State and Local Journalists Provide Multilingual Alerting,” is scheduled. Cooke and Munson will co-moderate this panel, which is set to feature John Dooley, Minnesota Department of Public Safety; Fred Engel, chief technology officer at UNC-TV; Andy Huckaba, councilmember for Lenexa, Kan.; Jesus Salas, executive vice president of programming for Spanish Broadcasting System Inc. in Miami; Francisco Sanchez, deputy emergency management coordinator for Harris County, Texas; Aaron Wilborn, the marketing manager for Dick Broadcasting Co. in Savannah, Beaufort, Ga., Bluffton and Hilton Head, S.C.; and Adam Woodlief, chief technology officer for Georgia Public Broadcasting.

The final session of the day, slated to start at 1 p.m., is “Current Capabilities in EAS and WEA Equipment, and Complementary Technologies for Sending Multilingual Alerts.” Munson and Cooke again will moderate. Panelists for the final session include Dr. Edward Czarnecki, senior director–Strategy and Government Affairs for Digital Alert Systems Inc.; Brian J. Toolan, the director of government strategy with Everbridge; Xperi Corp.’s Vice President of Radio Technology Solutions Ashruf El-Dinary; Pat Feldhausen, offering manager with the Weather Company; and Harold Prince, president of Sage Alerting Systems.

The workshop, which runs from 9 a.m.–2:30 p.m., is open to the public, but admittance is limited to available seating. The workshop will take place in the Commission Meeting Room (TW-C305). It will also be broadcast live, with captioning in both English and Spanish, through fcc.gov/live.

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The post Agenda Set for Multilingual Emergency Alert Workshop appeared first on Radio World.

Aguilar Tapped for Maynard 200 Fellowship

Mon, 06/24/2019 - 14:06
Ernesto Aguilar

National Federation of Community Broadcasters Program Director and Radio World contributor Ernesto Aguilar will participate in the 2019 edition of the Maynard 200 media diversity program.

According to a release from the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, the Maynard 200 program aims to make U.S. “newsrooms look more like America” by training 200 journalists of color over the course of five years.

[Read Ernesto Aguilar’s Community Broadcaster Columns]

This year’s cohort consists of 23 fellows, who Maynard 200 Director Odette Alcazaren-Keeley said “represent the inclusive voices and expertise of media professionals from ethnic, community-based and mainstream media organizations.”

The curriculum is divided into three tracks: Storytelling, Advanced Leadership and Media Entrepreneurship, taught during sessions in June and October at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism in Los Angeles.

Aguilar will take part in its Advanced Leadership track, during which he and other fellows will learn from a curriculum centered on strategy, financial capital and human capital, according to Robert C. Maynard Institute Co-executive Director Evelyn Hsu. The track’s executive-in-residence is Smith Edwards Group Principal Consultant Virgil Smith.

The 2019 program is funded by the News Integrity Initiative, Google News Initiative, Craig Newmark Philanthropies and the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

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The post Aguilar Tapped for Maynard 200 Fellowship appeared first on Radio World.

Best of Show Up Close: Wheatstone AirAura X5

Mon, 06/24/2019 - 13:43

“Best of Show Up Close” is a series about participants in Radio World’s annual Best of Show at NAB Awards program.

Wheatstone nominated the AirAura X5 processor. It is a processor aimed at stations with FM analog and HD Radio signals. Optimized for handling the unique mission of making sure that analog and HD Radio “blend,” it also offers the usual complement of processor tools such as EQs and limiters.

We asked Mike Erickson for more info.

Radio World: Wheatstone has said that the AirAura X5 takes into consideration the FM and the HD as “one experience.” What do you mean and how does it do that?

Mike Erickson: The HD section of the processor includes the tools needed to maintain alignment and the FM section gives you tools to maximize the experience when blend occurs. These include the built in FM/HD tuner to measure and maintain alignment in the processor without third-party boxes. It also includes our LimitLess technology that manages pre-emphasis in a way processing has never before dealt with it. Broadcasters are realizing HD is no longer in the sidecar. HD radio as standard equipment in cars is now above 50% market saturation. This means that for a large audience segment the listening experience now has to consider both modes. If the HD is out of step with the analog because of sonic or alignment issues, it can and will lead to tune-out. The X5 prevents this like no other processor on the market.

RW: This is a competitive market segment. What sets the X5 apart from other FM/HD processors?

Erickson: Our LimitLess technology, FM/HD tuner and alignment, how we designed our insert point technology (PPMport), and the LiveLogger function. As we enter the third decade of the 21st century, these exclusive functions come together to form a processor that deals with audio as well as engineering needs. When shopping for a processor, broadcasters need to look for designs that meet sonic as well as practical needs of their stations. X5 offers automatic time alignment, a built in full-featured RDS, our specialized insert point, and a logger to track preset takes and other activities. You won’t find another processor on the market that comes even close to fulfilling all those functions.

[Read: Best of Show Up Close: The LookingGlass FM Monitoring Appliance]

RW: You put a lot of emphasis on its LimitLess clipper technology. Why?

Erickson: Jeff Keith, Steve Dove and I were all talking about how we could achieve the kind of transient audio you’d get from the HD side of our audio processors into the FM side. This, of course, plays into our goal of making the FM/HD radio listening experience on compatible receivers the best it can be. The X3 was cutting edge because of its 31-band limiter and how that interacted as a separate entity to the clipper. Now these two functions are combined …plus our addition of a new and exciting pre-emphasis embedding algorithm in the clipper, one that makes the highs jump out at you with astonishing detail; something we have not been able to replicate with any other processor in our lab.

RW: Is the processor shipping? What does it cost?

Erickson: It ships July 2019. We already have some beta units on the air and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. List price is $14,500, but our Wheatstone dealers can offer our customers the best pricing as well as set up demos for X5.

RW: What else should we know about the box?

Erickson: I touched on it before, but the PPMport is very cool. It’s not just an insert point; it’s the end result of over a decade working with PPM technology, both in the field at CBS Radio when PPM was rolled out and Dom Theodore and I did a lot of testing of the gear. Add that to my work with customers since joining Wheatstone in 2010. Needless to say, the data and good practices I’ve cultivated in the field have gone into PPMport, at what point the watermark is inserted, and how it interacts with LimitLess to put the mark “closer” to the meter than ever before.

The Future Best of Show Awards program honors and helps promote outstanding new products exhibited at industry conventions like the spring NAB Show. Exhibitors pay a fee to enter; not all entries win. Watch for more coverage of participating products soon. To learn about all of the nominees and winners, read the 2019 Best of Show Program Guide.

 

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