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

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

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.

 


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.

Boston Herald Radio Announced, Marks “Tipping Point”

Boston Herald Radio LogoMonday, July 29th, was an important day for both Boston and Backbone as one of the great “watchdog” newspapers announced the launch of its Internet news/talk/sports radio station, Boston Herald Radio. The new station is built on the technology of—or as the Herald says, managed by—Backbone Networks Corp.

We view this as a watershed moment for both newspapers and Internet radio. It’s one of the very first implementations of Internet radio designed to actually expand the brand of a major U.S. newspaper, providing new reach to its audience while maximizing the productivity of its writers and news staff.  It also is one step further in legitimizing Internet radio as a medium for real time news, talk and sports content.  It’s not just for hobbyists and DJs anymore.

Boston Herald Front Page 072913We note that this moment is also what Talkers Magazine publisher Michael Harrison has been predicting for years, the convergence of print, radio and video (yes, the Herald has that, as well) into the Media Station. It was Talkers Magazine that broke this story yesterday.

Of course, we are thrilled that the Boston Herald selected Backbone as its technology partner in this venture. Backbone is the only full service Internet radio platform that provides virtually every operational element of a professional radio station, making it incredibly easy and fast to set up and broadcast, including live remotes from anywhere. Backbone services include integrated talk-radio multi-caller phone-in system, live assist, powerful automation, podcast generation and listener stats and maps. We’re also very happy that our friend, ex-WEEI personality and voice of Boston College football and basketball, Jon Meterparel, will host the afternoon drive slot alongside Jen Royle.

Stay tuned for further news, and please see more coverage at the following links: