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

Now connect to Backbone Co-Host using LUCI Global for Android

Luci Global for AndroidOur partners at Technica del Arte have just unveiled a version of LUCI Global for Android, lending incredible mobility to your broadcasts. It is now available for download from the Google Play store.

[Read more…]

Internet radio at TCEA 2016 in Austin Texas!

TCEA Radio

TCEA Radio Booth

Last week I traveled to Texas for the TCEA 2016 Conference where I was asked to present on running an Internet radio station. I spoke on the history of radio and how it has transitioned over the years from monaural, terrestrial AM radio broadcast to full digital internet broadcasting.

While touching a bit on the Backbone technology the main meat of the presentation was more about the production aspects of running an Internet radio station. Running a radio station requires a lot of content and a lot of people working together to produce compelling programming for your listeners.

It was very interesting the number of schools interested in broadcasting! About half of those in my session were there as part of their writing and journalism programs. Being Texas, there was quite a bit of interest in broadcasting the football games and using the broadcasts to teach sports journalism.

This is a trend that we are seeing where a number of our schools are running their radio stations as part of their journalism programs. We are also seeing this with commercial customers too where many journalism outlets are broadcasting and podcasting quite a bit.

It is quite a bit of work to run a station, a full week of programming is 168 hours! Often the most interesting and compelling programming is something that resonates well with the community of the station. A high school is one of the centers of the community and it is a great place for students to learn about story telling and connecting with their audience.

I’d also like to thank Scott Floyd and our friends at White Oak Independent School District for setting up and running the TCEA Radio Station. They broadcast new educational technology product reviews, expert interviews, conference updates and wrap-ups, as well as opportunities to win the latest SWAG!

Overall, it was a great experience and a good reason to leave New England in the winter!

For those of you that want the slides from the session here they are:

 


APME names Boston Herald Radio Innovator of the Year!

Michael Harrison - Talkers Magazine

Michael Harrison – Publisher and Editor, Talkers Magazine

“They put a radio station on a newspaper platform*”—and they just won the newspaper industry’s “Innovator of the Year” Award

Congratulations to Joe Sciacca, Tom Shattuck and the whole team at Boston Herald Radio on being named Innovator of the Year by the Associated Press Media Editors! The award points the way for newspapers around the world to transition with digital “media stations*”. Kudos to Michael Harrison, Talkers Magazine president, for coining *these phrases to predict and inspire the very success that the Boston Herald has proven to be possible. We at Backbone are proud to have helped and thankful for our relationships with such visionaries as Joe, Tom and Michael.

The coveted APME innovation award recognized the Herald for “its innovative platform called Boston Herald Radio that is fully integrated with its print, online and video divisions.”

“Innovator of the Year is a prestigious national award that speaks to a news organization’s innovative and creative approaches to reach their audience,” said Joe Hight, a member of APME’s executive committee and awards program chair. “The Boston Herald shows it is a leader in the country by winning this award. Boston Herald Radio is not only innovative but practical. The Boston Herald should be congratulated for winning this tough competition against other innovative news organizations that are investing and building for the future. They show us that journalism is as strong as ever,”

“The Boston Herald isn’t just a newspaper, it’s a newsroom, and with Herald Radio it has become a leading example of journalists aggressively mastering and using each medium to its full potential to get the news out,” Desaulniers said. “It is, quite simply, pioneering and innovative.”

Pat Purcell and Joe Sciacca

Pat Purcell and Joe Sciacca

Herald publisher and president Patrick J. Purcell said, “This distinguished national award is a tribute to the finest multimedia newsroom in the city led by our cutting-edge Boston Herald Radio platform. I couldn’t be prouder of the incredible work our staff does every day. It is absolutely innovative — and it is incredibly rewarding to see that recognized by our peers in journalism.”

“Herald Radio has enhanced our journalism, expanded our reach and empowered us to cover and present news in a true multimedia way in real time,” Sciacca said. “But it wouldn’t work without the energy and commitment of our entire newsroom. I couldn’t be prouder of our staff. This award demonstrates that they are setting a new standard for our industry.”

For a sense of what happens when you embed a radio station in the newsroom watch the video that the Boston Herald submitted.

 

 

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.

 

 

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.