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.

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.

 


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.

Extending Newspaper Brands through Online Radio


I just got back from the AAN Convention in sunny San Francisco where I was on a panel with Jeff Lawrence the Publisher of DigBoston. Our panel was on using Online Radio as a way for the Alternative Newsmedia to extend their brand.

The session was well attended and Jeff is quite passionate about his paper, DigBoston and the opportunity to extend their brand in the community. With many of the large major metropolitan newspapers cutting their budgets the “Alts” have become the arts and entertainment newspapers in the community. It is only natural for them to run a radio station as a way to broaden the appeal of what they already provide to the community.

The does not mean adding online radio will be easy, it will be a challenge, but one worth taking, particularly in the age of the internet. He gave a number of examples where in just a few months he was able to find sponsors for certain types of programming. The common thread was live and community based.

My part of the panel traced the history of the “media” industry where media was viewed through their specific type of media, newspapers, television and radio. Each media had a certain business model with which they needed to comply. For example, with radio, there was only so much spectrum, you needed to get an FCC license and there were restrictions on the amount of media properties you could own. On the capital side you needed to build a studio with specialized equipment and people to run that equipment.

Today with the Internet you do not need an FCC license to run an online radio station. There are few if any restriction on ownership of media properties and the ability to set up and run an online radio station is quite inexpensive. While there are differences between newspapers and radio there are tremendous synergies. The time is now to get into the market and extend your reach.

Contact me if you would like to see the version with speaker notes!

TalkersTV Records Video Documentary Tour of the New Boston Herald Radio

Boston Herald Radio LogoAt the one-month point following the launch of Boston Herald’s new online radio station, Talkers publisher Michael Harrison stopped by with his video camera and was given a “point of view” guided tour of the newspaper and its newly born multimedia initiative – Boston Herald Radio.  The tour was guided by Boston Herald editor-in-chief Joe Sciacca, Boston Herald Radio executive producer Tom Shattuck and George Capalbo of Backbone Networks.  Here is a short version of Michael Harrison’s visit.

The result is an informative one-hour documentary tour of one of talk media’s leading-edge hot spots. To view Michael’s not-to-be-missed content please go to the TalkersTV box in the upper right column of the Talkers.com home page by clicking here.