At NAB 2016—Backbone Targets Talk Radio Producers

Amid the dizzying confusion and litigation surrounding music services and the direction of commercial music-radio, Backbone Networks has established itself as the technology partner for emerging online sports, news and talk radio stations. For NAB 2016, the Company is announcing Backbone Production Suite™, an integrated set of cloud-based talk radio tools now used by online and AM/FM stations, promising “Your Station Anywhere”.

Backbone’s objective at NAB 2016 (Booth #N6732) is to connect with radio producers and Backbone Radio at NAB 2016engineers who understand the opportunity unleashed by cloud-based radio broadcasting. The Company will illustrate how cloud-based production is turning radio “inside out” and how this nexus can turn terrestrial and online radio organizations into allies rather than adversaries.

While we all use the cloud for one purpose or another, independent radio producers are actively developing businesses by creating online radio stations for veteran radio personalities in different cities, without having to leave town themselves. Using Backbone Production Suite, producers are able to tweak the audio, execute stop sets, screen callers, tie in remote hosts and guests, record shows and publish podcasts, program automation in the cloud, stream archives, and deliver shows to AM/FM stations anywhere on Earth.

Creating unique, live radio today requires capturing content where and when the action is taking place. With mobile devices, virtually everyone can be on the scene and broadcast in studio quality. To turn that into a professional broadcast, however, still requires a professional producer. With Backbone Production Suite, that producer can stay home and work in the cloud.

“The idea that I can very easily program, schedule and tweak a radio station from wherever I am with my MacBook® is cool and amazing enough, but the idea that we can go live from anywhere with broadband is just awesome.” — John McDermott, Vice President, Programming at DGital Media, Founder of Alternative Sports Talk Radio, and Former VP, Comedy & Entertainment at Sirius/XM

For existing AM/FM stations, this presents an array of new opportunities in distributed production.

Talk Radio Production in the Cloud

Integrated Talk Radio Production in “the Cloud” for Your Station Anywhere offering new programs by tapping into an even larger world of independent talent and outsourced production. Taken individually, the elements of the Production Suite — Backbone Radio™, Backbone Talk™ and Backbone Co-Host™ — are similarly relevant for production in terrestrial stations, providing radio production and streaming, phones and reportage, respectively.

Backbone Networks Corporation is a technology company that provides software as a service for radio production, automation, hosting, and streaming. At NAB 2016, Backbone will also be offering a sneak preview of its cloud-based syndication capability, which operates on a central switching software fabric called the Backbone Bridge™.

Backbone will also demonstrate how Production Suite integrates with an innovative, new service called LUCI Global® by Technica del Arte, that gives stations access to remote reporters, guests and co-hosts, in studio quality, using the free iPhone app.

Backbone commercial clients are primarily in the sports, news and talk radio space. Among them are major league sports teams, leagues, including MLL Radio and FNTSY Radio, and independent sportscasters; news organizations, including The Boston Herald Radio (the Associated Press’ Innovator of Year for 2015) and Omaha World-Herald Radio; and numerous talks show programs, including MotorWeek’s Goss’ Garage.

In the non-commercial/educational (NCE) broadcast sector, which is significantly more music-based, Backbone provides the high fidelity production and broadcast technology powering our nation’s largest online network of college and high school student-run radio stations, the IBS-SRN, on behalf of the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System. Intercollegiate Broadcasting System (IBS) is your trusted experienced resource for over 75 years for information, action, and help with college radio, TV, webcasting, podcasting, streaming, and high school radio.

Note: An adaptation of this post will appear in Broadcasters’ Show Daily at NAB 2016 in Las Vegas, as will the following full page ad for Backbone Production Suite.Backbone Talk Radio Production Suite Ad NAB 2016

LUCI in the Cloud with Backbone

We have a big announcement to make, and we’re going to the IBC2015 conference in Amsterdam to tell about it. The news is that Backbone has teamed up with Amsterdam-based Technica Del Arte BV, the creator of LUCI® Live, to introduce two new intertwined products that we think represent a major advance in radio broadcast technology—one that captures, delivers and manages studio-quality live feeds from a station’s remote co-hosts, guests and field reporters, who require nothing more than an iOS smartphone or tablet. (Android coming soon.)

Iphone, Mobile Phone, Smart Phone.

Studio Quality Remotes, Guests, Co-Hosts

The two new products that make this possible are LUCI® Global and Backbone Co-Host™, complementary cloud-based radio “backhaul” services. When married together, they allow talk radio stations to produce live programming from anywhere in the world with the simplest of equipment and no physical infrastructure.

The LUCI product series has been bringing high quality “reportage” from the field for about ten years now, and their licensed LUCI Live app is accepted as the gold standard for turning mobile phones into remote broadcast platforms. Their new LUCI Global iOS app takes this concept a big step forward—the easy-to-use app is free on the iTunes store for anyone who wants to contribute professional audio content to any broadcast station around the world. That is, any station that subscribes to be listed in the LUCI Global directory. Imagine the incredible network of live correspondents who will become available to stations around the world, and the number of news outlets available to freelance reporters everywhere!

Backbone Co-Host is the software used by the radio station to receive, answer, conference and manage these incoming feeds, in full studio quality. The software, like all Backbone software, runs on a Mac. Like our phone system in the cloud, Backbone Talk™, it uses the intuitive call screener/producer and host/talent screens. Those stations that use both Backbone Talk and Co-Host are able to conference together remote guests, co-hosts, reporters, as well as listeners on the telephone network. All of this takes place in the cloud, managed by the host and screener, wherever they happen to be at the time. Remember, Your Station Anywhere.

See more about LUCI Global and Backbone Co-Host.

Visit LUCI at IBC 2015, Stand 7.C09, Hall 7, where representatives of both companies will be on hand for business and technical discussions. RAI Center, Amsterdam, Sept. 11-15, 2015.

Indiana Junior High Club Sets Example in College Radio Network

Lincoln Junior High School Radio Station Storm RadioIn the largest network of online college and high school radio stations, you would expect the biggest, most senior or most affluent of the student radio clubs to maintain the leadership role for its sister affiliate stations. However, a new affiliate station in Plymouth, Indiana has stepped up to become one of the nation’s most active and successful online stations, even though the station comprises the youngest group of broadcasters in the IBS Student Radio Network—and said to be the only 24/7 junior high radio station in the United States.

In little more than six months from launching Digital Storm Radio, the students of Lincoln Jr. High School, under the direction of Ms. Paula Neidlinger, have established their station as living example of what student-run radio can achieve. Not only have they brought home three first place awards from this year’s premier college IBS College Radio Awardbroadcasters’ conference in New York City and tackled the task of creating their own staff training videos, but they have found the elusive formula for funding their radio station through local sponsorships.

Winners in News, Sports, Talk
Last month at the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System’s 75th annual International Conference, the LJH Digital Storm team Lincoln Junior High School Radio Award Winnerswere finalists in five categories in the high school division, walking away with three wins: Best Spot News:  Trenton Arveson, Nikki Laucis, and Brittney Klotz;  Best Sports Update:  Soren Houin and Shaun Frantz; and Best Sports Program:  Adam Hunter and Korey Kopetski.

Storm Radio is one of the few “high school” stations to schedule live call-in talk shows, and has been a beta partner in testing our recently announced Backbone Talk™ broadcast phone system in the cloud. The LJH radio team saw this as an opportunity to put their own spin on documenting a new technology, so they applied their media expertise and made their own training video showing how to configure a mixing board for “mix-minus” and how to screen phone calls through their Mac® computers. We are proud to feature this video on the Backbone YouTube page.

How are they funding the station?
Tackling one of the most important, and difficult, subjects in broadcast media, the team have secured six sponsors from their community, including a funeral home, a pizza parlor, a Ford dealership and Coca Cola. Junior High Radio club finds community sponsorsIn addition to performing live reads, the students have produced commercials for each sponsor. These spots run throughout the day and night, using the Backbone Radio automation system.

More about Storm Radio
Storm Radio, is one part of the Interactive Media program at Lincoln Junior High (Plymouth, IN), which is a new program this year.  The radio station is a 24/7 Internet Radio with the call tag – STORM RADIO – “Ride the Waves.”  The radio station is Internet based, so it’s available through the TuneIn App on iOS and Android devices, the LJH DigitalStorm website-http://www.ljhdigitalstorm.com/ , and the Internet at: http://tunein.com/radio/Storm-Radio-s231710/    Students research, write, create, and broadcast daily and provide 100 percent of the programming.

 

 

High school students share lessons from series on Boston Herald Radio

Brian Foster, a junior at Excel High School, speaks on air in the Herald Radio studio with Joe Battenfeld and Erica Moura during a visit the Boston Herald.

Brian Foster, a junior at Excel High School, speaks on air in the Herald Radio studio with Joe Battenfeld and Erica Moura during a visit to the Boston Herald.

The biggest sport in Boston might really be politics, and Boston Herald Radio is giving the youth of New England a voice in the events. The city’s “watchdog newspaper” tells how students from area high schools were honored guests on a half hour special show to discuss their view of the political landscape.  Read the article here.

Boston Herald Radio is produced digitally online using Backbone Networks technology and service, and is carried worldwide online and terrestrially in the greater Boston area.  Backbone Networks also operates the largest network of student-run college and high school radio stations.

 

Why I’m a Happy S.O.B.

Richard CernyEven though I’ve lived in central Massachusetts for decades, in my heart I’m still a South Omaha Boy. When I was a kid, I delivered the weekly shopper called The South Omaha Sun. Warren Buffett bought that, although we didn’t know who he was back then.  More recently he bought the big paper in town, the Omaha World-Herald, the prestigious daily that my family read.  If you wanted to know anything, you got news print on your fingers.

Times have changed, and so has the Omaha World-Herald.  Not the part about prestigious, but about the inky fingers.  This month the OWH launches one of the country’s first online radio stations run by a major newspaper.  What pleases me even more is that the flagship newspaper of Berkshire Hathaway Media chose Backbone Networks to create the station for them. The

Omaha World-Herald logo

Why Internet radio? Mike Reilly, executive editor of the World-Herald, said in a post by Tom Shatel on Omaha.com that the traditional newspaper audience continues to evolve as a tablet or Internet audience. This move is about following — or perhaps leading — that audience.station will use Backbone’s late beta-stage talk radio phone system to take calls from listeners during broadcasts, as well as a few new features we’ve developed specifically for talk, sports and news radio.

We’re in an age where our audience is growing, but it’s growing into digital space,” Reilly said. “It’s growing online. All the industry trends tell us that people want options online other than reading words. They want to listen.

Reilly said he and World-Herald Publisher Terry Kroeger and Larry King, vice president of news and content, have discussed this move for two years. Only a handful of newspapers in the U.S. have their own online radio show, but that number figures to increase in the future.

One of my favorite quotes is from Wayne Gretzky,” Reilly said. “You skate to where the puck is going, not to where it’s been. I think about that quote as I think about this project for us. We see the future of radio, so we’re going there.

The Bottom Line on World-Herald Live

“We’re not very far from ‘Star Trek.’ ” — Mike’l Severe

Mike'l Severe headshot

Mike’l Severe
The Bottom Line

The World-Herald’s first program is a sports talk show, “The Bottom Line”, which runs Monday through Friday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. CDT, and features World-Herald sportswriters, entertainment writers and news writers.

Mike’l Severe, a well known local sports/talk personality will host the show, which he says will cover a combination of sports, entertainment, movies and dining out. Severe makes the move after nearly 10 years as co-host of “Unsportsmanlike Conduct” on radio station KOZN.

This is a new age for newspapers,” Severe claimed. ” The responsibility now is to get to the next level. I still want to have that tangible product in my hand. The question is, how do you supplement it, hour by hour, minute by minute?

For years, it was always ‘read it tomorrow.’ Now, if you want to talk about it right this minute, pick up a phone and we’ll talk about it right now.

Internet Redistributing Power and Opportunities in Talk Radio

This week we are proud to present a guest post from Michael Harrison, Editor and Publisher of Talkers Magazine.

Michael Harrison - Talkers Magazine

Michael Harrison – Publisher and Editor, Talkers Magazine

The inevitable course of radio and associated media toward the converged digital “media station” is now becoming a reality.  The radio station has transformed from a capital and debt-intensive, bricks-mortar-steel (and license) based facility to a laptop-cloud-backpack anywhere entity.  The barriers to entry have been stripped away, leaving traditional AM/FM station owners holding an ever-depreciating bag.

At the same time, radio talent abounds.  Today, there is a greater abundance of engaging radio hosts than at any time in recent memory, many unable to find an AM/FM radio gig.  Fortunately, online radio is a welcome, if amorphous, vehicle to showcase these individuals.  The pervasive question then becomes “How does the listener find me?”  The answer lies in the concept of the content “platform” replacing the station “infrastructure.”   In other words, it pays to put an online broadcast entity on a prestigious platform.

A good example of this is the Boston Herald Radio station, launched in August 2013, whichBoston Herald Radio Logo combines the immediacy of a 100+ person major newspaper newsroom with well-known on-air talent to become the “other” talk radio station in the city. Working with Backbone Networks Corporation, the Herald was up and running in a matter of weeks, conducting a series of mini-debates in Boston’s preliminary mayoral race.  There was no capital equipment to buy, other than a couple of computers, a mixing board and a few microphones, and listenership continues to grow.  Content, not transmitter wattage, makes the difference.

Talkers Radio logoAnother example, closer to home, is Talkers magazine’s TalkersRadio, an experimental online station we created to provide a platform for self-produced “bridge shows,” hosted by terminated AM/FM talk show hosts that are between gigs or plunging into the new medium, and “orphan” programs that do not conveniently fit into prevailing AM/FM station format categories.  We think of Talkers Radio as an experimental theater – a stage upon which established talk show hosts can try out new ideas and program concepts that might be too risky to test on their far more rigid terrestrial radio platforms. TalkersRadio is emblematic of the Content Platform — forming a nucleus for talent to find a forum and listeners to find the talent.

To create TalkersRadio, we called upon Backbone Networks, our technology partner, to build a network for hosts in any part of the world.  Their cloud-based broadcast production and automation tied in perfectly for our plans for a 24/7 schedule of live and automated programming.

At each host location, we suggest a simple equipment package composed of a MacBook® Pro laptop computer, a basic mixing board such as the portable Mackie® ProFX8, Sennheiser HD203 Pro DJ headsets and couple of Shure® 58 microphones.  This mix of equipment has proven to be ideal for taking the show on the road for remote broadcasts, such as breaking news and sporting events.

The other necessary item is a solid connection to the Internet.  In the studio, that could be DSL or a cable modem with at least 128 kbps upstream bandwidth.  In the field, hosts will use venue wi-fi, wired Ethernet, or rely on 3G/4G or WiMax access.

What distinguishes compelling talk radio is a host’s ability to interact with co-hosts and listeners, and that is where a multi-line call-in telephone system is key.  The Backbone Radio product offers, in addition to interfaces for host and producer, a complete multi-caller phone system, with a Mac interface for the host and, if desired, a call screener.  Since the phone system also resides in the cloud, no phone lines, handsets or extra equipment is necessary.  Consequently, events like the Talkers Conferences or the RAIN events are simple and easy to broadcast.  Our studios are wherever our talent and their laptops are, and signals go direct to the Internet without anyone “back home” having to flip a switch.

The opportunities are just reemerging for talk radio luminaries, all with the help of online technology and the content platform.  This is a big departure from what we once knew as talk radio, and it is only the beginning.

RadioWorld Spotlights Remote Broadcast Technology @ Boston’s JP Music Fest

Backbone remote radio broadcast from JP Music Fest

Ben Maitland-Lewis interviews Boston-area recording studio owner Dan Cardinal at the Jamaica Plain Music Festival. The Backbone Network’s control panel is on the computer screen.

There’s something about a nationwide snowstorm that makes us wax nostalgic about what we did last summer. Sure, we were busy last summer developing sports and talk radio, as well as getting one of the country’s top newspapers broadcasting live online.  But we also took time to smell the roses and listen to the music.

The first week of September we again helped Boston’s Jamaica Plain Music Fest showcase local musical talent to an audience that now spans the globe.  One of the coordinators of the event, Charles McEnerney, wrote up a user report for RadioWorld Magazine, describing how he was able to do this “smoothly and professionally” on a limited budget, and what equipment he used to broadcast the two-stage event.  McEnerney, a respected media consultant at Layers Marketing, also compares the broadcast with what he did for the Future of Music Coalition (futureofmusic.org), at their annual Future of Music Summit.

And while we have the opportunity, we would like to thank the on-air talent who turned a great event into great radio: Boston TV and radio personality Melissa Gaudette and Ben Maitland-Lewis, CEO of Presskit.to.

See the tech report at User Report: Backbone Brings Music Festival to the Masses 

We’re Part of the 27% and Proud of It

Internet Radio InfographicA recently released infographic from BrandSavant.com indicates that 53% of online Americans listen to “streaming audio” in one form or another. It distinguishes among three large categories: Personalized radio (Pandora and iTunes — music), On-Demand Music (esp. Spotify), and Live Streaming (TuneIn, Backbone and others).  Music, music and everything.

This could alternatively be framed as: Robot DJ, Infinite iPod and Radio.  Certainly, Pandora and Spotify perform their functions with wonderful precision, but neither fills the function of real online radio any more than MTV and VH1 complete the cable television experience.

Twenty-seven percent of the people, and we think that number will soar when in-car dashboards are better connected, listen to the thousands of live streaming stations available on tuners like TuneIn. And, what is the composition of the programming on these stations?  Much of it is music, some of it personally curated by talented program directors, and some of it produced on autopilot.  It takes a lot for a station to stand out among the crowd.

At Backbone, we’re fortunate to work with clients who really know what it takes to make radio great.  We work with faculty advisors who understand traditional radio and teach their students how to apply that experience into online radio which represents their colleges and high schools.  We work with seasoned news organizations and professionals to create compelling talk radio that engages listeners and callers from around the world.  We work with professional and Division 1 NCAA teams and leagues who create an exciting blend of live play-by-play with interactive halftimes and 24/7 team-related sports content.  This is real radio.

Music is wonderful, whether you listen to it passively or actively grab it on-demand.  But there is much more to radio than music, just as there is much more to music than radio.  We love being part of the 27% of the radio you can’t get from Pandora or Spotify.

It’s College Radio Day! Show Your Support

It’s here, today, October 1, —  College Radio Day. This special day was created at William Patterson University in New Jersey by Dr. Rob Quicke to raise a greater, international awareness of the many college and high school radio stations that operate around the world, by encouraging people who would not normally listen to college radio to do so today.

College Radio FundAnd, launching today is the organization’s College Radio Fund, a “common source of funding available to all college radio stations”.  Learn more about what this means to you at the CRD-Fund web site.

College Radio DayStarted in 2011, 37 countries have signed on to College Radio Day. College radio is “the only free live medium brave enough to play unsigned, local, and independent artists on a regular basis,” Quicke said. “Indeed, many famous and successful bands today, owe their initial break to being played on college radio.”

We at Backbone are especially proud to be a sponsor of College Radio Day, as the technology host, of the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System’s IBS Student Radio Network — the largest online network of student-run college and high school radio stations. Dr. Quicke’s creation has not only gained traction, but become a major force in the music and entertainment industries, as well as noncommercial radio. Read more at collegeradioday.com

Please make this the day you rediscover College and High School Radio.  Take this opportunity to scan around for some excellent listening, like what you will find at these stations.

Backbone Welcomes Buffalo Public Schools’ RadioARTS Station

We are proud to announce that the Buffalo Pubic School District has launched its first student run radio station: RadioARTS  The station was started in June, as part of the District’s  summer camp.  RadioARTS  now has an ambassador at each school in the district who will help create content for the station. Created by Jackie Albarella RadioARTS is dedicated to the arts and the community.  In addition to the station, RadioARTS has a blog and Facebook group, where its listeners can continue to keep in contact.  RadioARTS has a blog and Facebook group, where its listeners can continue to keep in contact.

Radio ARTS

The RadioARTS program includes students from the Buffalo Public Schools (grades 6-12) who develop programming for this online school radio station. Each student has the chance to create a program with either original music and musical playlists, theatrical pieces, and/or arts-related interviews. The content created is all recorded, edited, and broadcast by RadioARTS students participating in the program.

Student radio at Buffalo Public Schools

DJ Jordan in the Booth

The station’s stated goal in all RadioARTS programming is to “offer arts information and entertainment that is diverse, educational, enriching and fun. Our interviews will focus on our students interests, which may include programs that revolve around family members, BPS faculty, and a variety of arts supporters. RadioArts students will also create programs that focus on community issues, family heritage, and cultural events that relate to the arts. It is the hope of everyone at RadioARTS that in using this mode of communication, we will be able share the positive things that are going on within the Buffalo Public Schools and with our students to a wide-reaching audience. ”

RadioARTS is a member of the IBS Student Radio Network by Backbone and is supported by the Buffalo Public Schools Art Education Department and the Arts Service Initiative of Western New York.