Congratulations to the Boston Herald, finalist as national media ‘Innovator’

Boston Herald Radio - Backbone RadioWe love it when our customers are recognized for their achievements. The Boston Herald was just named one of three national finalists for the prestigious Innovator of the Year award by the Associated Press Media Editors for creating Boston Herald Radio and integrating the new platform with their multimedia newsroom.

The Boston Herald was one of our first integrated media customers, and they have spurred us to add new functions and features to our Talk Radio products. We are proud to have a part in their continuing success.

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.

 

 

Broadcast Beat Review of Backbone Talk

Broadcast Beat MagazineWe’d like to thank Jeff Adams for taking the time to review Backbone Talk, our Voice over IP (VoIP) Talk Radio Phone System for Broadcast Beat Magazine. In the review he walks through the product showing how you screen calls, make notes, place certain callers on a blacklist and put them on the air.

 

There is quite a bit there to see in the video review. What you might not get from watching the review is the quality of the calls. The connections between the caller and the talent determines the overall quality of sound you would hear. For example, if some one calls in from a mobile phone with little signal you will hear the degraded quality. The connection from the cell-phone to the tower would most likely be weakest link.

Old wireline phones use a narrowband speech codecs like G.711 which in general are optimized 300–3400 Hz audio. For standard phone calls Backbone Talk uses the G722 Codec. G722 provides improved speech quality due to a wider speech bandwidth of 50–7000 Hz. G.722 samples audio data at a rate of 16 kHz (using 14 bits), double that of traditional telephony interfaces like G.711. The result is superior audio quality and clarity. A difference you can certainly hear.

We will be writing more on this topic and ways that we are delivering high quality audio for our customers. Please leave your comments below on what you would like to hear from us on this topic.

 

 

Nieman Lab on the Future of Local Journalism

Nieman Lab LogoThe Nieman Lab, part of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, just ran a lead article by Joseph Lichterman on the how local newspapers are hoping online radio can be a growth area. Nice mentions of a number of our customers, the Omaha World-Herald, Hersam Acorn Newspapers and the Boston Herald.

The article confirms what we have seen over the last few years, a blurring of the lines between traditional media outlets, television, newspapers and radio. More and more outlets are becoming what Michael Harrison from Talkers Magazine calls a media station. From the article:

As Internet radio and podcasting have become more prominent in recent years, a number of local newspapers — from small community chains like Hersam Acorn, which owns 18 local papers, to metro dailies like The Boston Herald — have launched online radio stations.

It’s easy to understand why else Internet radio might be appealing to local newspapers. Radio has traditionally a local business — bound by the strength of a transmitter’s signal the same way a newspaper was defined by how far delivery trucks could drive in the morning. Local news and talk radio has been reduced to just NPR stations — if that — in many markets, leaving a potential market open. And the same force that worries terrestrial broadcasters — the coming of the connected car, where tuning into a podcast or streaming radio station is just as easy as finding something on your FM dial — is a potential opportunity for newcomers.

Most large metropolitan newspapers have a significant presence in the community. Radio is another way to get the news out.

With the release of Backbone Talk we have made it easier for stations to get on the air, get out of the studio and connect with the community.  We anticipate helping more local newspapers find their voice through radio. How do you see the industry evolving? Leave you comments below.

 

 

Backbone provides support for The Bottom Line

The Bottom LineFundamentally we believe that the best radio is when the station gets close to the community. That is often done by getting out of the studio to broadcast events.

Shortly we will be releasing our Backbone Talk product that provides a cloud based phone system for screening calls and placing them on the air. We will also include a couple of add-on options, a high-fidelity guest line and a digital off-air call recording feature that is integrated into Backbone Radio’s automation service.

The Omaha World-Herald and their primary internet radio show The Bottom Line with Mike’l Severe have been using the pre-release version of Backbone Talk. Like our Backbone Radio product, Backbone Talk is a phone system in the cloud. Placing certain broadcast components enables you, the broadcaster, to get closer to the action.

Radio World logoRecently Jeff Bundy, who oversees the internet radio effort at the Omaha World-Herald, wrote an article for RadioWorld about what it was like to use Backbone Radio and Backbone Talk to start up their radio station and get it on the air. Jeff said:

In the eight months we’ve been using Backbone, we have broadcast live remotes from locations in the baseball village outside the college world series and just outside Memorial Stadium for home Nebraska Cornhusker football games. We paid to have an Internet connection dropped at the locations and we were able to go live easily.

Many in the The Bottom Line audience live for these events. We’re just happy that we can enable them to do this in a very simple fashion. If you are looking at starting an internet radio station let us know how can help you with your efforts.

 

Radio Entrepreneurs Interview

I recently had a great time visiting with Jeffrey Davis as a guest on the daily Radio Entrepreneurs show that runs from 6:00PM to 7:00PM.

Radio Entrepreneurs shares the stories of entrepreneurship in the interest of giving more exposure to innovative and fast moving New England companies– and creating a knowledge pool for the enrichment of the entrepreneurs’ community around the world.

Jeffrey and I spoke about what it takes to work in radio today and how Backbone’s technology enables station owners and content providers  to have lots of flexibility in their operations.

Visit their web-site to listen live! Or, listen to their audiocasts for a great source of business and entrepreneurial knowledge targeted to the radio industry.

Alt Weeklies to Launch Online Radio Station

Association of Alternative Weeklies logoNetNewsCheck logoA nice article about how local newsweeklies are responding to the changing media landscape.

The Association of Alternative Newsmedia (AAN)  represents 115 alternative newsmedia organizations throughout North America. AAN member publications reach more than 38 million active, educated and influential adults in print, on the web and on mobile devices.

AAN’s mission is two-fold: to provide services and leadership that ensure the success of its members; and to strengthen alternative journalism through advocacy and education.

There are a wide range of publications in AAN, but all share these attributes: an intense focus on local news, culture and the arts; an emphasis on point-of-view reporting and narrative journalism; a tolerance for individual freedoms and social differences; and an eagerness to report on issues and communities that many mainstream media outlets ignore.

Fundamentally journalism is about reporting news whether in written, visual or audio form. AAN members are great reporters and journalists. They often provide a perspective not provided elsewhere. Online radio has a worldwide reach and putting a station together with the support of the broader association will provide a platform that will help get the word out.

Tiffany Shackleford - AAN Executive Director

Tiffany Shackleford

One way they hope to help the alternative newsweeklies is to extend their reach to other media.  TiffanyShackelford says sponsors — particularly groups who want to reach the “young independents” in small and medium markets, that alternative media attracts — “are already showing interest,” she added, “I think there is an opportunity for a lot of these advocacy groups who either won’t or can’t buy public radio because they have more stringent rules on sponsorships,” she says.

The article in NetNewsCheck is a great read on the current state of the industry and its future potential. If you are a newspaper and would like to expand your reach via radio we’d love to talk to you.

Mayor Menino, Internet Radio Pioneer

Being in the broadcast business I cross paths with a lot of media makers. Mayor Menino was the very first in studio guest on Boston Herald Radio on their launch day, August 5th, 2013. It was my pleasure to be there when he came into the studio with Joe Sciacca.

Hillary Chabot and Jaclyn Cashman interviewed him as part of their show Morning Meeting. The Herald had recently moved to the Boston Innovation District — the Mayor was the greatest proponent of the growth of that area of Boston, and I think he was really very interested in a new media project getting launched there, and wanted to give it his blessing.

That was Mayor Menino, always looking to connect with the community and push things forward.

 


Funding your college radio station

Funding your college radio stationWe have been running the IBS Student Radio Network for years now and have over 40 stations as members. One question we often ask our schools is how are you funding your college radio station? As you all know every school is a bit different and that impacts how the stations are funded, organized and how they operate.  Let me provide you with a high level overview of how schools are getting their funding.  I will also provide a preview of things we are investigating to help with the broader funding effort.
Student Government – The school has a number of clubs and provides the student government a budget to operate the clubs.  Depending upon interest, budget and drive of the students they generate the necessary interest to get their share of the student government budget.  The stations at Goucher College, Long Island University and Babson are funded in this manner.
Communications/Journalism Department – The school has one or both of these departments and offer majors in these subjects and other closely associated fields.  What we are starting to see is a move toward consolidated “media” departments that encompass the student newspaper, its radio station and where they have a program “television”.  The trend we are seeing is a move to transition the “Communications” department at some schools to become the “Journalism” department providing more focus on the research and reporting aspect of communications and the associated skill required.  This is reflected in what is happening out in the commercial world.  The stations at Franklin & Marshall, Lehman CollegeTowson, Oklahoma State and Simmons College are organized in this manner.
Underwriting/Commercials – Some schools augment their budgets with underwriting and commercials.  Traditionally if the school ran a terrestrial radio station they were non-commercial.  As such they were required to comply with FCC regulations on what it means to be a non-commercial radio station.  These stations took underwriting spots instead.  While Internet radio does not have the same restrictions most stations are operating as if they were FCC non-commercial regulated because it is good training for the students.  Oklahoma State University takes underwriting spots from the local pizza parlor and a few other sponsors.
Other – One of the schools we had worked with runs a radio station and a record label.  The radio station is used to promote the music of the record label and vice versa.  The school offers programs in both to help the students gain valuable experience in their desired fields.
We are investigating how to help schools with some of the above efforts and other synergies they may have within the school and elsewhere.  Our fundamental view is that the stream belongs to the school, our efforts are intended support the station in how they would like to operate.  Anything we do will be opt-in by the school/station.
Underwriting/Commercials – While many of the schools would like to fund their efforts through underwriting they may not be set up this way.  Some have asked Backbone to provide underwriting spots for them.  At the network level this is easier but it also needs to have significant local flavor and buy in from the school.  For example, a school would like to opt-out of ads that do not align with the mission of the school. 
Other schools would like all fund raising to go through the development department.  Others are looking to align their suppliers with their externally focused efforts.  For example, the cafeteria has all Coca-Cola products, they would like to make sure they run Coca-Cola underwriting spots on their station and not plugs for their competitors.
Local Events – Many schools have a community service requirement for their students.  We are investigating ways to help the radio station work with local events as a means of community service and outreach.  For example, a number of our schools have broadcast the Jamaica Plain Music Fest.  Local stations can broadcast the event and promote the causes of the community.  Additionally, the event sponsors may want to underwrite spots on the local stations.
Departmental Synergies – Some schools have significant athletic department budgets and their teams are a source of great school spirit and pride.  Backbone Radio enables the broadcast of remote events quite easily.  We are looking for schools that want to work with their athletic departments to broadcast their games, i.e. Lacrosse, Field Hockey, Basketball, etc.  This fosters cross department cooperation and additional experience for the students at the radio station.  Like the underwriting listed above we are looking to work with schools on these efforts.  Additionally, schools that do broadcast their sporting events command a premium for spots on that type of programming and may be able to get some of their funding from the athletic department.
Other – There are some Internet oriented crowd sourced funding efforts that are cropping up.  We are looking for ways to help enable these at the network and station level.
We will continue to look beyond our place as a service supplier to help stations address the opportunities available to them in broadcast.  College radio is a great place to learn and experiment with different operational models.  We are looking for ways to partner with our stations in these experiments. Leave your thoughts on what you think of some of these efforts or other opportunities where we can help.  We look forward to making college radio a vibrant, creative place to listen.

Radio Hires the Internet Star

Mark Ramsey

Mark Ramsey

This week we have a guest post from veteran media strategist, researcher, and trend-maker  Mark Ramsey, president of Mark Ramsey Media.

As we are in the middle of the season filled with college radio events, Mark has allowed us to republish Radio Hires the Internet Star from his blog. This short story is a great lesson about how old media can use new media to drive engagement, as well as how a few new media stars understand the power of old media better than some who work in it.

Andrea Russett

Andrea Russett

What’s the best way to develop new talent?

Is it to steal from the switchboard and upgrade to sidekick?

Is it to place a blind ad in an industry trade?

Is it to hire or voice-track a good-enough talent from another market where that talent’s awareness in this market is zero?

You could steal somebody from across the street.

Or you could do what Phil Becker did.

Phil went to the Internet.

But he didn’t recruit just anybody.  He went for the locally-based YouTube talent who already has an audience and a following – over 250,000 YouTube subscribers and more ethan 100,000 Twitter followers to be exact.

And she’s 16 years old.

Phil is GM/Director of Content for Oasis Radio Group and his new talent, Andrea Russett, is the newest star at Oasis’s HOT 107.9 in Fort Wayne, IN.

Watch this chat with Phil about what his team did and just how well it’s working:

Since that post Andrea Russett’s popularity has continued to skyrocket. I expect we will be hearing more from her.

Visit the Hivio site for the upcoming audio festival event where Andrea Russett will be one of the speakers.