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Community Broadcaster: Coronavirus Education

Radio World - Fri, 02/28/2020 - 17:49

The author is membership program director of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters. NFCB commentaries are featured regularly at www.radioworld.com.

The last 10 days have seen fears escalate dramatically as news of the spread of coronavirus took center stage. The U.S. stock market tumbled. Japanese schools and industries came to a standstill. International diplomacy was tested in countries with travel to and from Asia. Coronavirus fears even entered the Democratic debates and the impending U.S. national election. To get a sense of the tensions worldwide, the New York Times set up a page of rolling updates.

While coronavirus has yet to strike the United States, many officials have said the illness’ arrival is only a matter of time. Such fears should only prompt federal, state and county leaders nationwide to ensure their area noncommercial media, including community radio, is at the table.

[Read: Community Broadcaster: Looking Up]

As I have written in past columns, community radio plays a crucial role in emergency preparedness. In rural areas, we are at times the only live, local media available. When there is misinformation and uncertainty, trusted local voices can make a huge difference and avert further tragedy.

With more attention squarely on emergency preparedness, now is the time to clearly state the necessity of noncommercial media.

America’s Public Television Stations President Pat Butler made the case for noncommercial media as an important partner in federal efforts to protect the public. His remarks came amid news that the Corporation for Public Broadcasting would be seeking support from the Department of Homeland Security for the first time.

“After 10 years of making do or doing without, that situation needs to change,” Butler said, according to Current. Given the rise in potential health emergencies, along with the earthquakes, fires and other calamities nonprofit media outlets inform the public about, funding for radio appears overdue.

The Federal Communications Commission has done regular check-ups on the nationwide Emergency Alert System. While the latest FCC analysis indicates compliance improvements, the General Accounting Office says more must be done. Moreover we can’t pretend everyone’s mobile phones will do the trick. Radio remains central to people globally, and America must fast-track community media in its emergency preparedness planning.

By the way, the 10 years Butler is referring to is the Public Telecommunications Facilities Program, which Congress eliminated in 2010. PTFP helped many stations make tremendous infrastructure strides. Many stations need federal investment to make sure their communities are safe.

Some states are already on the move related to this matter. California Gov. Gavin Newsom stated radio is a big part of preparedness in his state as those travelling overseas return. New York State is also including radio as part of its response and education endeavors.

However, station leaders should not wait to be called. Touch base with county and state leaders. Reach out to members of Congress in your region. There is no greater service you can provide than stepping up in a time of need.

 

The post Community Broadcaster: Coronavirus Education appeared first on Radio World.

iHeartMedia Gives Few Details on Modernization Plan

Radio World - Fri, 02/28/2020 - 15:26

There was a lot of talk about “deleveraging balance sheets” and “improving capital structure,” but iHeartMedia’s fourth quarter 2019 earnings call on Thursday gave little new insight into the transformative shift in business operations the broadcaster announced in January.

iHeartMedia, which emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May 2019, said its modernization initiatives will take advantage of new technologies in order to create operating efficiencies, according to the company’s earnings statement. iHeartMedia let go over 1,000 employees last month and said it will create what company executives call “AI-enabled Centers of Excellence” located in select cities. According to the company’s 10-K filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, it still has 11,400 employees.

[Read: iHeart Defends Painful Change]

Those modernization initiatives at iHeartMedia, which operates 856 radio stations in approximately 160 markets, are expected to deliver $100 million in cost savings for the company by the middle of 2021, according to Thursday’s financial release.

Analysts during Thursday’s earnings call raised the issue of localism and whether iHeartMedia’s ratings could be hurt following all the staff cuts.

“We don’t think the quality will go down, but rather it will go up. We want the best programming in each market. Distance is no longer an issue in our business and our ability to project the best talent we have to any location any time is a substantial advantage for us,” said Bob Pittman, chairman and CEO of iHeartMedia.

iHeartMedia did disclose it anticipates seeing its real estate expenses jumping this year as it consolidates some broadcast facilities and downsizes others.

“Our investments in these modernization initiatives are expected to result in an increase in incremental capital expenditures related to real estate optimization of approximately $40 to $50 million in 2020. While we expect some additional capital expenditures impact from our modernization in 2021, the majority of this investment in capital expenditures is expected to impact 2020 and to be weighted to the second-half of the year.”

He added, “Additionally, we anticipate approximately $45 to $55 million of restructuring costs related to achieving our cost savings,” the company said in its financial statement.”

Overall revenue for the company came in flat for the fourth quarter of 2019 at $1.0261 billion compared to $1.0263 billion in Q4 2018. Broadcast revenue declined 2.7% in the last quarter to $611.79 million compared to Q4 2018, according to financial statements. Part of that drop is attributable to less political ad revenue in 2019, company executives said. Broadcast remains the company’s largest source of revenue.

For the year in 2019 overall revenue for iHeartMedia was $3.6 billion, up 2.0% from the previous year. Broadcast revenue for the year dipped overall by 1.4% to $2.2 billion.

“As the number one audio company in the U.S. based on reach, we look forward to expanding our unequaled multiplatform leadership position and leveraging the investments that we have made to modernize our infrastructure and become more efficient, effective and competitive,” Pittman said.

Premiere Networks and Total Traffic & Weather, both owned by iHeartMedia, generated revenue of $614.7 million in 2019 compare to $582.3 million in 2018, according to the company’s financials.

The broadcaster, which also owns online music service iHeartRadio, has seen its stock price drop this week right along with most of the market. Thursday’s price closed at $14.96, a slide of 6.1% for the day. It’s carrying $5.3 billion in debt even after emerging from bankruptcy protection just last year.

Pittman said the “audio environment has never been more exciting,” and at least part of his excitement can be traced to podcasting. The company did see gains in digital revenue, which were driven mainly by podcasting. iHeartMedia is the largest commercial podcast publisher, according to Podtrac, a third-party download service. Digital topped $376 million in revenue for the year, which is an increase of 32.2% over 2018.

 

The post iHeartMedia Gives Few Details on Modernization Plan appeared first on Radio World.

User Report: Tieline ViA Is a “Magical Box”

Radio World - Fri, 02/28/2020 - 12:20
Play-by-play announcer Greg Wrubell, pregame and postgame show host Ben Bagley and color analyst Riley Nelson team up with the Tieline ViA.

The author is senior broadcast radio engineer for BYU Broadcasting.

PROVO, Utah — In the fall of 2016, as a senior broadcast engineer, I was given the engineering responsibility for studio and transmission functions for the radio stations at BYU Broadcasting, which is located on the Brigham Young University campus in Provo, Utah. The radio stations consist of KBYU(FM) 89.1 MHz HD, BYU Radio HD2, and KUMT(FM) 107.9 KHz. 

At the broadcast center, BYU Radio, in concert with the BYU Athletics department, produce and provide play-by-play and game analysis, for football, basketball, soccer and baseball games live over air, including webstreams. In 2018, we also assumed responsibility for the distribution of our live sporting events to our radio affiliates. 

With this new responsibility added to the mix of our radio sports operation, there was a separate request to increase the number of live sporting events. This means we can air two, occasionally three, different sporting events simultaneously. However, we can’t hire four or five remote engineers and send them jet setting across the USA — that cost was not an option for us. But there was another way. 

With the exception of football, our sports announcers are required to travel with the remote mixing gear, and then mix/engineer their own shows.

Of course, that is a double-edged sword! Doing this reduces the amount of engineers needed to travel, but then you are relying on your talent to have at least some basic audio mixing skills.

SOLUTION

To perform this miracle, I needed to find a magical box. A remote unit that would be ridiculously easy to use, insanely versatile and, last of all, be intrinsically redundant like never before. 

When I attended the NAB Show last year, I visited the Tieline booth. I had previously purchased a Tieline product called Merlin. What a great name for a product that comes from a company that I consider to be the wizards of remote connectivity.

I was so impressed with this unit, I wanted to give Tieline the first crack at this unknown magic box I had conjured up, a Swiss Army Knife of radio remote codec units. I was not expecting to get all of the requirements on my list checked off. Well, to my amazement Tieline did have one such unit in its arsenal of remote weaponry: the ViA

I have no idea why it’s called the ViA, but after my demo, ViA stands for Very Intelligent Apparatus. My magic box was a reality. 

ViA is a compact unit that can handle a three-headset mix, plus one aux bus that can have analog, digital, or USB sources routed to it. It features a beautiful touchscreen display that makes navigating menus a breeze and is equipped with a good size rechargeable battery, which will keep you on the air and running when the power goes out. (Trust me I know.) It includes AGC, compression, gating, filters, EQ on each channel. Also, there’s a built-in SD card stereo/mono recorder and playback device with full library recall, custom playlist option, mixing ability and a full blown matrix and cue routing control. 

There are more features on this box that I could write about, but consider this: A person can take this little unit, add the new dual LTE module and three headsets on the road, set up in the middle of nowhere with no power, connect up with dual bonded LTE SIM cards and broadcast for two hours without a hitch. You’ll quickly become a believer in Tieline. ViA is the real deal. 

CCC 

Let me finish by commenting on a Tieline product that works with their remote gear line, which of course includes the ViA. This product is the Cloud Codec Controller. 

No matter where the ViA is located in the U.S., as long as it is turned on with an internet connection (LAN, LTE or wireless) and assigned an IP address, I will be able to connect to the unit via the CCC software and have complete control of it. And I really mean complete control, just as if I were standing right in front of the unit itself. 

That was the feature that won my full allegiance to the Tieline company. It gave me the peace of mind and confidence that sending the ViA on the road with no engineer, is not only doable, but is now the active protocol. In reality, there really is an engineer with the unit; he just happens to be sitting at his desk computer back at the station, making any necessary adjustments. 

The Tieline ViA was a golden find. As for Tieline, they are the Swiss Army Knife of remote radio broadcasting.

For information, contact Dawn Shewmaker at Tieline U.S. in Indiana at 1-888-211-6989 or visit www.tieline.com.

The post User Report: Tieline ViA Is a “Magical Box” appeared first on Radio World.

Trends in Automation for Radio: 2020

Radio World - Fri, 02/28/2020 - 09:25

The term “automation” has come to mean so much more in 2020.

Radio World asked the sponsors of our new automation trends ebook to share their views on the state of their sector. We invited them to comment on what they are thinking about now and for systems in the future.

How far along is our industry in moving automation to the cloud, and what are next emerging steps?  What are the new most relevant features and capabilities that these systems are bringing to radio operations? How can you reduce your risk from ransomware? How are systems from various ecosystems working together? Will “the cloud” replace brick and mortar studios?

Read how they answered inside.

The post Trends in Automation for Radio: 2020 appeared first on Radio World.

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FCC Media Bureau News Items - Thu, 02/27/2020 - 20:00
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Coals And OPIF Updated For Carriage Election Information Posting

FCC Media Bureau News Items - Thu, 02/27/2020 - 20:00
MB has unveiled the COALS and OPIF changes that will allow broadcasters, cable and OVS operators, and DBS providers to provide and update their carriage election contact information

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NAB Sneak Peek: Heil Sound Debuts PR 37 Vocal Mic

Radio World - Thu, 02/27/2020 - 17:24

Heil Sound has launched its new PR 37 vocal microphone.

Aimed towards professional vocalists, the new microphone is said to have an upper mid-range response designed to cut through a mix. It features a 1.5-inch diameter dynamic element and has a frequency response from 50 Hz to 18 kHz and output level of -51 dB @ 1000 Hz.

The company worked with several FOH mix engineers, both with the initial design and subsequent field testing of the new microphone. John Hopkins, FOH for the bands Sleep, Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, stated, “The PR 37 immediately moved to the top of the list for my go-to vocal mic. It’s a super transparent mic and the rejection of stage noise is incredible.”

Adam Pike, working with Red Fang noted, “The Heil PR 37 is a beast. Very rich and smooth low-mids along with the pristine high-mids that Heil is known for. The extremely sturdy casing is also a great added bonus.”

The PR 37 is expected to begin shipping in July, retailing at $269.

NAB Show Booth: C2956

Info: www.heilsound.com

 

The post NAB Sneak Peek: Heil Sound Debuts PR 37 Vocal Mic appeared first on Radio World.

2020 Crystal Radio Awards: Finalists Announced

Radio World - Thu, 02/27/2020 - 11:51

The National Association of Broadcasters has narrowed down the entries in this year’s NAB Crystal Radio Awards program to 50 finalists.

The finalists are:

  • KBFB(FM) Dallas
  • KCLY(FM) Clay Center, Kan.
  • KKZY(FM) Bemidji, Minn.
  • KMVP(FM) Phoenix
  • KPWJ(FM) College Station, Texas
  • KRMG(FM) Tulsa, Okla.
  • KRSP(FM) Salt Lake City
  • KRWM(FM) Bellevue, Wash.
  • KSFI(FM) Salt Lake City
  • KSL(FM) Salt Lake City
  • KSTP(FM) St. Paul
  • KTAR(FM) Phoenix
  • KTMY(FM) St. Paul, Minn.
  • KUBL(FM) Salt Lake City
  • KUPD(FM) Phoenix
  • KVTY(FM) Lewiston, Idaho
  • KWHL(FM) Anchorage, Alaska
  • KWLM(AM) Willmar, Minn.
  • KXKT(FM) Omaha
  • KZFN(FM) Moscow, Idaho
  • KZKX(FM) Lincoln, Nebraska
  • WBUL(FM) Lexington, Ky.
  • WBYT(FM) South Bend, Ind.
  • WBZZ(FM) Pittsburgh
  • WCCO(AM) Minneapolis
  • WDNS(FM) Bowling Green, Ky.
  • WDRM(FM) Huntsville, Ala.
  • WDSY(FM) Pittsburgh
  • WFEZ(FM) Hollywood, Fla.
  • WHPT(FM) St. Petersburg, Fla.
  • WHUB(FM) Cookeville, Tenn.
  • WHUR(FM) Washington, D.C.
  • WIL(FM) St. Louis, Mo.
  • WJJY(FM) Baxter, Minn.
  • WKQI(FM) Detroit, Mich.
  • WKRQ(FM) Cincinnati
  • WLBC(FM) Muncie, Ind.
  • WMCI(FM) Mattoon, Ill.
  • WQNZ(FM) Natchez, Miss.
  • WRBR(FM) South Bend, Ind.
  • WREW(FM) Cincinnati, Ohio
  • WSGW(AM) Saginaw, Mich.
  • WSUN(FM) St. Petersburg, Fla.
  • WTAW(AM) College Station, Texas
  • WTFX(FM) Louisville, Ky.
  • WTMJ(AM) Milwaukee
  • WUBE(FM) Cincinnati
  • WUSL(FM) Philadelphia
  • WUSQ(FM) Winchester, Va.
  • WWJ(AM) Detroit

Finalists and winners will be recognized Tuesday, April 21, at the We Are Broadcasters Celebration on the main stage at the 2020 NAB Show.

[Learn about the 2019 Crystal Radio Award winners]

Last month, NAB announced that Cedar Falls, Iowa’s KCVM(FM) will be honored with the Crystal Heritage Award.

The NAB Crystal Radio Awards were introduced in 1987 to highlight radio stations’ community service efforts.

The post 2020 Crystal Radio Awards: Finalists Announced appeared first on Radio World.

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