Remembering Fritz Kass, A Monumental Figure

This past weekend we attended the memorial service for Frederick “Fritz” Kass who passed away last month in upstate New York. Anyone who met Fritz Frederick "Fritz" Kass, IBS CEOunderstands what a powerful, yet kind individual he was and how deeply he will be missed by his family, friends, and everyone associated with the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System (IBS), the all-volunteer college radio association he built and ran over the past 58 years.

Fritz was truly a one-of-a-kind man with an illustrious career spanning many fields, from his military combat experiences as Navy Captain, to his success as an entrepreneur, to his active participation in community organizations and civil aviation. Please take a moment and reflect on a very brief summary of a very big man’s life here.

We at Backbone were fortunate to meet Fritz and IBS a dozen years ago and help fulfill Fritz’s vision of an online network of IBS affiliated college and high school radio stations. He envisioned helping students and faculty advisors implement the professional practices they learned at the many IBS conferences around the country. We are grateful for the opportunity to operate that network on behalf of IBS, and we’re proud to have been associated with Fritz in creating it. IBS and the IBS Student Radio Network will continue to go forward continuing Fritz’s mission, ever remembering his keen vision and love for college and high school radio and the students who make it.

Backbone Focusing on the Hot Topics at NAB 2019

Total Podcast and Radio Production & Streaming in the Cloud

The annual NAB Show in Las Vegas is invigorating, allowing us to reconnect with old friends and recalibrate our technological focus. Among this years top ten hot topics are Content in the Cloud, Streaming, and Podcasting, all of which you’ll see in operation at Booth N6319, Backbone Networks. No other company on the show floor will bring together such a completely virtualized radio production environment, all operating in the cloud to guarantee Your Station Anywhere.

Look closely so you can find our diminutive stand, where a student crew from Robert Morris University Radio will be broadcasting live — demonstrating how they produce live and automated shows in the cloud, stream them, and automatically generate and publish podcasts — with just a Mac, a mixer, and a couple of mics.

What to check out at Backbone Networks, Booth 6319:

  • Backbone Production Suite™—The whole turnkey bundle for a complete radio station, or any of its component modules, including:
    • Backbone Radio™ — Professional streaming radio station in the cloud, live and automated, always-on 24/7
    • Backbone Talk™ — Broadcast multi-line call-in phone system, PBX in the cloud, take/make calls from anywhere, streamlined for online and AM/FM stations, as well as talk-show podcasters
    • Backbone Co-Host™, with LUCI® Global — Unlimited SIP/OPUS remotes and multi-location shows with no boxes or hardware; just laptops and smartphones; conference directly with Talk callers
    • Backbone Hub — Cloud assistant for automated production, Podcast publication, Alexa® briefings, and scheduling live audio and FTP show syndication to AM/FM stations; included with Backbone Radio™
  • New 3rd Party Hardware — including an exciting new mix-minus portable mixer for sports and talk radio remotes, and new hardware concepts for creating your own robust cloud.

See you in Las Vegas!

Backbone Networks Releases Backbone Talk 2.0

Backbone Talk Application Icon

After quite a bit of effort and a great beta test period we are releasing Backbone Talk 2.0 with many new features. [Read more…]

Junior Radio to Major Leagues—To Alexa and Beyond—with new Backbone Hub

Q: How does a Midwestern junior high classroom radio station manage to produce and deliver dynamic on-demand audio the same way as a champion NBA team or 24/7 nationwide sports network?
A: By harnessing the hottest cloud technology to reach an exploding “smart speaker” audience, including Backbone Hub, cloud based on-demand audio production and distribution software for Alexa flash briefings and Google Home, podcasts and radio automation FTP feedsAmazon’s Echo “Flash Briefings”, as well as other outlets—using Backbone, of course.   (more about Lincoln Jr. High, below)

Automatic Alexa publishing for radio stations and moreBackbone Hub™, the incredible, new product set in our “cloud-based” ecosystem, is both a multi-destination distribution engine for your recorded content and a hands-free production tool that adds music and pre-rolls to your dry voice recordings. The result is an automated workflow allowing one person to remotely—via iOS® or Android®— record a spoken segment, and have it dynamically gift-wrapped with music and simultaneously delivered to Alexa, Google Home, AM/FM automation systems, and even as a podcast, with no further effort. (We’re announcing Backbone Hub at NAB 2018 in Las Vegas—Booth 5721— and previewing at IBS NYC).

We’ll tell you more about our sports clients later, but first here is what Indiana’s Storm Radio is doing, from Literacy Shop Talk


“Alexa, Give Me LJH Storm Radio Flash Briefing For Today”

BY: PAULA NEIDLINGER – FEB• 20•2018 Twitter: @PNeidPrepare self-directed learners to think critically about the messages received and created by media

Are you completely confused by the title? If I captured your attention- please continue reading to find out how you can use the Amazon Echo in the classroom for student podcasts and Internet radio stations.

Yes, your students’ podcasts and radio shows can now be heard through the Flash Briefing setting within your Echo/Alexa device. What an exciting opportunity for all students. Their voices can now be heard beyond the classroom walls. Aren’t we all searching for global audiences? What an exciting opportunity for all students and teachers.

Within my mass media classroom structure, students have the opportunity each day to have their voices heard through our Storm Radio program. We are now finishing our fourth year with Backbone Networks, the provider of our classroom Internet radio station. Backbone has enabled our classroom station to operate 24/7 using an integrated radio automation system, which streams to a worldwide audience and automatically creates listener logs and reports for me on a regular basis. With no more than a Mac, mic, and audio board, we operate Storm Radio from the classroom 24/7. Students write and produce their shows daily, utilizing school, community, and world news. Additionally, our Lincoln Jr. High student DJ’s entertain calls from their listeners using our Backbone Talk broadcast phone system. This system provides engagement with our audience in Plymouth, Indiana, and beyond.

Now, let’s continue with the “BIG” news! Using backbone’s new product ‘backbone hub’, we are now able to deliver media from our
radio database automatically as an Amazon Alexa flash briefing — as well as stream that same content on air and deliver to a podcast RSS feed. If you own an Echo Device, check out our podcast through the Flash Briefing content on your Echo/Alexa device.

Directions:

  • Open your Alexa app
  • Go to settings
  • Scroll down to Flash Briefings
  • Search Content for LJH Storm Radio
  • Enable Content
  • Ask Alexa for your Flash Briefings Update each day

Yes, it’s that simple. Providing students with the opportunity to have their voices heard, both within the walls of Lincoln Jr. High and beyond, is possible through an Internet radio program. Not only can you listen to Storm Radio through our LJH Digital Storm website and TuneIn app, you now can hear the latest news each day through Flash Briefings on your Echo device; just say, “Alexa, give me my LJH Storm Radio Flash Briefings today.”

Are you excited now? Think of all the possibilities for student podcasting. I’d love to hear from you. My students are always eager to connect through the “Radio Waves.”

Alt Newspaper Teams with Community Radio to Serve New England’s Second City

New England’s second largest city has its first community “media station”, a term coined by Talkers Magazine. Worcester Magazine, the city’s alternative newsweekly, has teamed with Unity Radio, a community-focused online andBackbone powers newspaper radio station low-power FM (LPFM) radio station, to create “ a joint venture unlike anything else in the Worcester media landscape”. The station’s technology, unlike traditional stations resides in “the cloud”, virtualized — without physical hardware, bricks or mortar.

The new media enterprise, which is based on all the elements of Backbone’s Production Suite™, was “soft-launched” during the city’s municipal elections November 7. The station intends to draw upon the resources of both WoMag and Unity’s non-profit parent, Pride Productions, as well as popular, local talk radio talents, like veteran morning host and news director Hank Stolz.

Backbone powers community radio

Worcester Magazine at local elections on Unity Radio, powered by Backbone

During election night, Unity Radio set up operations in Worcester City Hall awaiting ballot counts, where they interviewed candidates (using Backbone Producer™), took listener phone calls (Backbone Talk™), and aired studio-quality remotes from reporters with smartphones around the city (Backbone Co-Host™ with LUCI™ Global). The live production was streamed online (Backbone Radio™) and fed through a low-latency IP connection (Backbone Syndicate™) from the cloud to Unity’s new LPFM transmitter located several miles away.

Read more here: “Worcester Magazine, Unity Radio announce online station

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.

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.

 

 

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.