With an eye on a reopening economy, iHeartMedia rolled out a suite of programmatic offerings for advertisers that it dubs the SmartAudio COVID Recovery Program.
SmartAudio is the company’s programmatic platform. The announcement of offerings targeting a recovering consumer economy was made by President of Revenue and Data Operations Brian Kaminsky.
The suite includes the “SmartAudio COVID Community Recovery Index,” which incorporates location-based marketing. “With different communities recovering at different times and at different paces, it’s important for brands to be able to adjust their messaging based on whether their community is still under a stay-at-home order, beginning to reopen local businesses or have already established their new way of conducting business post COVID-19,” iHeart stated in the announcement.
So the index “dynamically optimizes a brand’s creative to deliver the right message at the right time to the right community by using location-based mobility data to gauge the number of people out of home for recreation, shopping or headed to work.”
The new programmatic offerings also include “SmartAudio Brand Loyalists,” which targets a business’ customers who listen to broadcast radio, and “SmartAudio Unlimited.” The latter lets brands take the audience data used to create SmartAudio broadcast radio campaigns and apply it to marketing efforts on mobile, the internet and smart speakers via iHeartRadio. You can read the announcement here.
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Four of the most prominent radio groups in the United States say more research is necessary before the FCC can seriously consider allowing zoned FM broadcasting.
Their filing comes as something of a reality check after several other organizations have expressed general support for the idea. The four groups are worried about a zoned system causing confusion among FM listeners as well as the risk of “self-interference,” which would harm FM’s standing with consumers. GBS has been vocal about the potential benefits to FM broadcasters.
The companies — iHeartMedia, Cumulus, Entercom and Beasley — wrote, “Technologies that are not yet widely proven which could cause interference to the primary signal, as well as confusion among radio listeners as the primary signal is handed off to a localized signal, should not prematurely be adopted as a default standard without more real-world experience gathered with experimental authorizations.”
They commented on the petition from GeoBroadcast Solutions, which wants the FCC to allow FM boosters to insert programming different from that carried by the booster’s primary station. This would allow GBS to deploy its ZoneCasting product and let FM broadcasters send unique ads and program content to very localized listeners.
“While this, or similar technologies to provide for zoned broadcasting by FM booster facilities, may ultimately prove valuable,” the groups wrote, the FCC first needs to develop a record of the feasibility of the technology based on further experimental authorizations.
“Automatically authorizing such an unproven technology … is particularly premature given the proponent’s acknowledgment that listeners will experience some degree of ‘self-interference,’ as the booster signal is handed off from the primary programming to the zone programming,” they wrote.
They acknowledged that GBS referenced several studies of its ZoneCasting technology but said there has only been one “real-world” experimental test of the current iteration. “That is a slim basis for the commission to proceed with a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to change the booster rule to allow automatic use of a barely-tested technology system with known downsides.”
They said that by moving to an NPRM as GBS has requested, the FCC would essentially endorse ZoneCasting “without the need for implementers to report back to the commission on the benefits, problems and/or weaknesses of the system.”
They said third parties should be able to “formulate legitimate comments based on either direct experience with the technology, or grounded in widespread experimentation in varied locations.”
Among their concerns is that the technology might generate confusion as listeners cross transition zones, particularly when driving through alternate programming zones while listening to FM radio in their vehicles. In that case, “Independent parties will need to study whether the end result could be to drive listeners to leave the medium, which could harm all broadcasters seeking to serve listeners via over-the-air FM transmission.”
They asked the FCC to allow more experimental authorizations and reporting, as it has done for other technologies like Single Sideband Suppressed Carrier Modulation, all-digital on AM, Modulation Dependent Carrier Level controls and HD Radio. “The commission also typically conditions continuance of the experimental authority on the lack of objectionable interference.”
The groups concluded by saying that zoned broadcasting “may ultimately be a promising technology” and that with a real-world record, the commission could consider rule changes.
LONDON — The United Kingdom’s Absolute Radio is adding to its line-up of “decades” stations with Absolute Radio 40s, a pop-up service to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day.Absolute 40s marks the 75th anniversary of VE Day.
The station, which will be entirely dedicated to the 1940s, will broadcast for one day on Friday May 8 and will play an uplifting mix of songs from artists including Billie Holliday, The Andrews Sisters, Judy Garland, Glenn Miller and Bing Crosby.
Absolute Radio 40s will also include special news bulletins charting events as they unfolded on the day in 1945. Presenters from the main Absolute Radio service such as Dave Berry, Jason Manford, Leona Graham and Claire Sturgess will also be featured on the special station.Paul Sylvester is Absolute Radio’s content director.
The pop-up service will take over Absolute Radio’s 1215AM frequency across the U.K. for 24 hours, and also be broadcast on DAB+ in London and online. Some of the station’s programs will be beamed to British armed forces around the world on BFBS Radio 2, and will also be made available to hospital radio stations across the U.K.
Absolute Radio’s Content Director Paul Sylvester explained the idea behind the station: “The 75th anniversary of VE Day is a momentous event in our history, and it’s tragic that celebrations have had to be rightly curtailed because of the Coronavirus. Taking the Absolute Radio decade strategy and creating this unique pop-up station for 24 hours is the simplest way that we can pay our own very small tribute.”
“The incredible music and compelling stories you’ll hear on Absolute Radio 40s will bring comfort and entertainment to those older listeners in self-isolation and remind the rest of us of the importance of this day,” added Sylvester.
The project is a co-production with TBI Media and has been made possible by a grant from the U.K. Government’s Audio Content Fund, which supports public service broadcasting on commercial and community radio.Phil Critchlow is CEO and founding director of TBI Media.
TBI Media’s CEO and Founding Director Phil Critchlow explained the challenge they’ve had to overcome to create content for the station during lockdown: “Like everyone we’ve learnt a huge amount about recording and broadcasting remotely over the last eight weeks — much of that is being applied to this project. Alongside almost 80 pieces of music across the four hours of content, we have four separate presenters, and probably another 25 voices that need to be captured one way or another,” he said.
“In every case it’s about quickly making the best of the equipment available to each contributor,” Critchlow added. “We always briefly ask what resources are available — you’ll be surprised how many people have a mic they use with GarageBand — but not pushing things too far, where the way a voice is captured begins to get in the way of a contributor’s thought process.”
Critchlow explained his current technical set-up: “Where broadcast is concerned, we’re using Comrex devices, with a broadcast quality mic attached for anything that’s going live. For pre-records, the best option is a Zoom or similar call with contributor recording locally to a WAV recorder via a quality broadcast mic and sending the content for syncing afterward.”
He said the best results for microphones come from a tight cardioid polar pattern mic. “These can often be much more forgiving in a reflective domestic setting than a more expensive studio capacitor mic — so a dynamic mic like a Beyer M201 is great, providing you use a pop shield. Where time allows, we’ve actually been posting mics and WAV recorders to contributors, with return-to-sender pre-paid packaging enclosed.”
Critchlow advised that for remote recording, the biggest difference that can be made is talking to the contributor about where they are in their house.
He explained: “The objective is to avoid any reflective surfaces that create a reverberant “roomy” sound — so moving them out of the kitchen into a room with plenty of soft furnishings. Asking for curtains to be closed, and a blanket or duvet to be put on the table they’re sitting at, can make a huge difference. Also suggesting that electrical appliances that may be running close by are switched off — it’s surprise how a washing machine in the next room isn’t heard by a contributor but is heard by their mic!”
“For post-production we’re now using Reaper almost exclusively,” said Critchlow. “We’ve come up with a process of sharing all content and edit project files on Dropbox. This allows, in this case, four people doing the editing at various stages to quickly pick up, make changes to and pass on a Reaper file for others to finalize and add to the master program. The masters can also then be passed around as an edit desk before finalization.”
Critchlow said: “Absolute 40s is a huge team effort across TBI Media and Absolute Radio. While these are uncertain and challenging times, it continues to be a huge privilege to be creating content that can make a real difference to people — particularly in this case where some of the audience is likely to be older and potentially isolated from their friends and family.”
Sinclair Agrees to Pay $48 Million Civil Penalty; FCC Penalty Will Be Largest Ever Paid by a Broadcaster
The Telos Alliance will stream a series of four webinars this month, in lieu of the spring NAB Show.
The first focuses on what’s new with Omnia, including putting processing in the cloud with Omnia.9 PTN, as well as products including Volt and Omnia.11.
Subsequent webinars will cover Telos Infinity IP Intercom; an exploration of the new Axia Quasar flagship console; and tools for Next Gen TV, where the company’s Linear Acoustic and Minnetonka Audio products have application.
The four-day series starts May 18. Find information here.
Kim Guthrie will leave Cox Media Group, the company announced.
Guthrie is president and CEO and has been with Cox for 22 years, but it was only in December that she was named president and CEO of this new iteration of Cox, so her tenure in this role was short.
Late last year Cox Enterprises completed the sale of its radio and TV stations, along with other assets, to the new media company Cox Media Group, majority owned by private equity funds, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle.
The decision to leave was hers, according to today’s announcement.
Executive Chairman Steve Pruett, who came aboard in December, becomes interim CEO until a permanent leader is appointed. The company said “Guthrie will work with Pruett on an orderly transition.”
Cox owns 54 radio stations in 10 markets, among its other media holdings.
The NAB Show may have gone virtual this year, but the flesh-and-blood chairman of the Federal Communications Commission will still participate online.
The National Association of Broadcasters announced that Chairman Ajit Pai will take part in a “keynote conversation” with NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith on Wednesday, May 13 during the NAB Show Express Welcome event.
“The industry’s top regulator and the head of NAB will discuss communications policy issues before the FCC, including spectrum policy and media ownership,” NAB announced.
The opening session will be streamed on nabshowexpress.com at noon Eastern on May 13 and available on-demand following its conclusion.
Smith will also deliver his annual “State of the Broadcast Industry” address and present several awards including the Engineering Achievement Awards and Crystal Radio Awards.