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

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.

 

 

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.

Your Community Radio – What About LPFM?

It’s a beautiful thing when a technology like ours can simultaneously give a worldwide reach to a community and still be the most affordable, effective way to communicate with local residents. That’s the message we will be bringing to two conferences in May in both Boston and San Francisco.

MassAccess WGBH composite logosFirst on May 3rd at WGBH in Boston, at the MassAccess Spring Mini Conference, we will meet with local TV stations and community media centers from across Massachusetts.  Then, at the end of the month in San Francisco at the Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference, we will meet with media centers from around the United States to discuss how to employ radio to promote civic engagement.

Alliance for Community Media LogoOf course, you would expect us to be promoting Internet Radio for communities – we’ve been serving city-wide school districts and community youth centers for a few years now.  What we hope to achieve at these conferences is to help communities find an effective way to integrate their “hyperlocal” (LPFM) terrestrial radio with their Internet radio operations, and save money in the bargain.

Some of the topics we hope to discuss include:

  • Reaching out with both smart phones and FM radios
  • Engaging communities better through live, remote broadcasts
  • Operating a station with a staff of one…or fewer
  • Creating professional presence with minimal capital equipment
  • How to share audio content with/from other communities, self-syndication

This appears to be a pivotal year for community radio, and we want to be a part of it.  We hope to see you at one of these events.  Please let us know if you’ll be attending.

Tools for DJs – Spinitron, playlist management for Internet radio

Spinitron LogoWe are always looking for ways to help our radio stations operate more effectively and efficiently. We have recently come across a great tool to help DJs with a lot of their day to day efforts, Spinitron. Eva and Tom have put together a great solution. Let me tell you a bit more about what it does.

Spinitron is an online playlist management solution for non-commercial educational and community radio stations. It is all web based; there is no software to install. It provides sophisticated features for playlist data entry (manual & automated) and dynamic online publishing. It solves your data storage, archiving and security issues. You can integrate station schedule, current and historical playlists, as well as other custom elements, into your web site. You can put “Now Playing” on your home page, webcast stream, mobile apps, RDS and others.

With an advanced database design, Spinitron offers powerful data manipulation and analysis features. Compile Top-30 charts (or however many you like) with filtering by genre, time period, etc. Generate unlimited reports for CMJ, ASCAP, BMI, SESAC and SoundExchange. Track the popularity of artists, disks and songs. Query how often certain disks get played. Produce reports of what DJs at the station are playing to give to record companies and promotional agencies. Stay connected with your listeners.

Watch for other interesting developments as we start working together with them on a few projects.  Discover Spinitron with a 30-day no-obligation free trial. Contact: Eva Papp at eva@spinitron.com or 617-233-3115 to learn more.

Kickstart The American Radio Revolution!

I want to tell you a little bit about a project we are supporting as they near the end of their fund-raising effort.  It is “The American Revolution”, how a radio station, politics and rock and roll changed everything.  It is about the start of WBCN and free form radio in the greater Boston area in the late 1960s.

Bill Lichtenstein - Boston HeraldFor the past five years, as hundreds of supporters have shared their personal collections of rare tapes, photos, and memorabilia, Lichtenstein Creative Media has been producing a feature-length documentary film, The American Revolution.  This innovative Kickstarter fund raising campaign will provide the support needed to complete the documentary, which is being produced for theatrical and PBS release in 2012 by the Peabody Award-winning Lichtenstein Creative Media, in conjunction with the non-profit Filmmakers Collaborative.

The effort has mobilized the public and press in an extraordinary way.  See the WCVB Chronicle story at www.KickstartWBCN.com and the amazing story in the Herald. Support on-line has also been unbelievable.  You can get a flavor if you look at the comments on the Kickstarter site. I hope you can help and we look forward to helping to delivering streaming audio for this project shortly!!

Zumix wins National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award

We here at Backbone would like to congratulate one of our customers, Zumix, on their National Arts and Humanities Youth Program award.

Zumix LogoZUMIX is an East Boston-based nonprofit organization dedicated to building community through music and the arts. Their core belief is that music is the most powerful means of developing adolescent self-identity. Their award-winning music and creative technology programming is designed to equip youth with the tools necessary to reach their full potential, while creating a safe space for youth to explore who they are and who they want to be. Through community events, ZUMIX provides access to top-quality arts experiences for a low-income, under-served neighborhood.

Please listen in to their award winning radio station.  Better yet, send them a contribution to help them with their mission.