The Producer of Motorweek’s Goss’ Garage weekly radio show is glad he found Backbone to help his client, a nationally renown TV/radio personality, create a 24/7 online radio station. Guest contributor Steve McMillan tells what his production company went through and why he’s happy. [Read more…]
Amid the dizzying confusion and litigation surrounding music services and the direction of commercial music-radio, Backbone Networks has established itself as the technology partner for emerging online sports, news and talk radio stations. For NAB 2016, the Company is announcing Backbone Production Suite™, an integrated set of cloud-based talk radio tools now used by online and AM/FM stations, promising “Your Station Anywhere”.
Backbone’s objective at NAB 2016 (Booth #N6732) is to connect with radio producers and engineers who understand the opportunity unleashed by cloud-based radio broadcasting. The Company will illustrate how cloud-based production is turning radio “inside out” and how this nexus can turn terrestrial and online radio organizations into allies rather than adversaries.
While we all use the cloud for one purpose or another, independent radio producers are actively developing businesses by creating online radio stations for veteran radio personalities in different cities, without having to leave town themselves. Using Backbone Production Suite, producers are able to tweak the audio, execute stop sets, screen callers, tie in remote hosts and guests, record shows and publish podcasts, program automation in the cloud, stream archives, and deliver shows to AM/FM stations anywhere on Earth.
Creating unique, live radio today requires capturing content where and when the action is taking place. With mobile devices, virtually everyone can be on the scene and broadcast in studio quality. To turn that into a professional broadcast, however, still requires a professional producer. With Backbone Production Suite, that producer can stay home and work in the cloud.
“The idea that I can very easily program, schedule and tweak a radio station from wherever I am with my MacBook® is cool and amazing enough, but the idea that we can go live from anywhere with broadband is just awesome.” — John McDermott, Vice President, Programming at DGital Media, Founder of Alternative Sports Talk Radio, and Former VP, Comedy & Entertainment at Sirius/XM
For existing AM/FM stations, this presents an array of new opportunities in distributed production.
Backbone Networks Corporation is a technology company that provides software as a service for radio production, automation, hosting, and streaming. At NAB 2016, Backbone will also be offering a sneak preview of its cloud-based syndication capability, which operates on a central switching software fabric called the Backbone Bridge™.
Backbone will also demonstrate how Production Suite integrates with an innovative, new service called LUCI Global® by Technica del Arte, that gives stations access to remote reporters, guests and co-hosts, in studio quality, using the free iPhone app.
Backbone commercial clients are primarily in the sports, news and talk radio space. Among them are major league sports teams, leagues, including MLL Radio and FNTSY Radio, and independent sportscasters; news organizations, including The Boston Herald Radio (the Associated Press’ Innovator of Year for 2015) and Omaha World-Herald Radio; and numerous talks show programs, including MotorWeek’s Goss’ Garage.
In the non-commercial/educational (NCE) broadcast sector, which is significantly more music-based, Backbone provides the high fidelity production and broadcast technology powering our nation’s largest online network of college and high school student-run radio stations, the IBS-SRN, on behalf of the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System. Intercollegiate Broadcasting System (IBS) is your trusted experienced resource for over 75 years for information, action, and help with college radio, TV, webcasting, podcasting, streaming, and high school radio.
“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.”
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.
We’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.
The 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.
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.
A 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.
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.
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.
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, which 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.
Another 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.