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iHeart, NPR Have Their Prints All Over Podtrac Rankings

Wed, 10/06/2021 - 07:30
The latest rankings from Podtrac demonstrate the continued strong role in the U.S. podcasting space that is played by companies with radio roots.In the chart for September 2021, seen below, iHeartMedia and NPR have by far the most US unique monthly audience, global streams and downloads among publishers that use Podtrac’s free measurement system for their shows.

Of course, iHeart and NPR would insist that they are not radio companies now but multimedia, multi-platform organizations. But it’s still interesting to see how entities that grew first out of radio show up so strongly in the sector. A radio heritage, it turns out, gives you good genes for podcasting. (But we knew that.)

Other familiar radio industry names like Cumulus, PRX, WNYC, Fox News Radio and American Public Media also make the list.

(For comparison here is a link to the August rankings.)

Meanwhile as seen below, NPR has six of the top 20 podcasts that measure with Podtrac, as ranked by U.S. unique monthly audience, though “The Daily” from the New York Times continues to dominate the rankings from the top slot.

(Here’s a link to the August version of the above.)

Rankings are based on the company’s proprietary measurement methodology.

For the monthly Top Publishers Ranking, Unique US Monthly Audience is the number of audience members who listen to any shows from a given publisher that month. Individuals may listen to multiple shows or multiple episodes of shows from a publisher in a month, but they are only counted once in the metric.

For the monthly Top Podcasts Ranking, UMA is the number of audience members who listened to the show in the given month. Individuals may listen to multiple episodes of a podcast in a month but are only counted once.

 

The post iHeart, NPR Have Their Prints All Over Podtrac Rankings appeared first on Radio World.

Categories: Industry News

User Report: Woodward Radio Is Locked in With AudioVault

Wed, 10/06/2021 - 06:06
Air talent Kaytie at Woodward Radio Group’s WZOR in Green Bay, Wis., using AudioVault Air and the voice tracking widget.

The author is director of broadcast engineering for Woodward Radio Group.

Our organization has been using Broadcast Electronics’ AudioVault products since 1995 with great results. In 2009 we installed Version 10.10 of AudioVault FLeX, and it has run reliably and economically for over 11 years.  In 2021 we have started an installation of new computer workstations based on the current AV FLeX version 10.5.

We looked at offerings from many vendors of content delivery systems, but chose to stay with AV FLeX for a number of compelling reasons.

Top of the list is reliability. The software as installed here is fault tolerant and makes it easy to service without spending a lot of “midnight hours.”

Then there is flexibility. One of the strengths of the AudioVault systems has been the ability to customize the applications to handle just about any task you can imagine.

Cost is also important. AudioVault is not the least expensive system you can buy, but to us it appears to be the best value — you get a lot of functionality for the money you spend.

Furthermore, we have received wonderful customer support during installation and during the normal working life of the system.

[Learn about factors to consider when buying an automation system.]

Not to be forgotten is the learning curve — or lack of it. All current new and improved versions are based on earlier AudioVault virtual “machines” and the improvements are usually incremental, not radical. This makes upgrading to a new version more manageable for a large staff.

The AV system is designed with separate audio engines, dedicated machines and user interfaces like most current systems. It is easy to install and configure extra machines as backup engines and backup user interfaces.

One thing that impresses me is that an engine PC can freeze or fail, but usually audio will continue to play out until the fault is bypassed or corrected. This has prevented a lot of dead air emergencies for us.

The FLeX system has virtual machines for satellite automation, music automation, live radio shows, network recording and time shifting, and other necessary applications. The servers have a suite of background applications that keep all the files transferred and synchronized properly. And there is a powerful suite of maintenance tools that the system administrators use to correct problems that occur.

Some of the support people I work with regularly at BE have been in their roles for decades. The service manager Hector and installation tech Owen have worked with us on all of our systems dating back to 1995. Charlie, the “newcomer,” only goes back 20 years or so. All three have seen our system and understand it, so they are very helpful on the rare occasions we need to call for help or support.

The AV FLeX system is a powerful and scalable content delivery product that has really “delivered” for us at the Woodward Radio Group.

For information contact Ben Marth at Broadcast Electronics at 1-217-592-4228 or visit http://www.bdcast.com.

Radio World User Reports are testimonial articles intended to help readers understand why a colleague chose a particular product to solve a technical situation.

 

The post User Report: Woodward Radio Is Locked in With AudioVault appeared first on Radio World.

Categories: Industry News

Cumulus Promotes Conrad Trautmann

Tue, 10/05/2021 - 17:45

Conrad Trautmann has been promoted to chief technology officer at Cumulus Media.

“A member of Cumulus’ executive leadership team, Trautmann reports directly to Mary Berner, president and chief executive officer,” the company stated. “He previously served as SVP, technology & operations for the company.”

 Trautmann holds one of the U.S. radio industry’s top engineering jobs, given that the company owns 413 stations in 86 markets, not to mention the Westwood One audio network and Cumulus Podcast Network.

In its announcement, Cumulus noted that Trautmann joined Westwood One in 2000 as EVP, technology, and was promoted in 2016 to SVP, technology & operations, for Cumulus Media.

“Trautmann is responsible for the oversight of companywide broadcast engineering and information technology, as well as purchasing, real estate and facilities management across the company. He also serves on the Radio Technology Committee of the National Association of Broadcasters.”

[Related: New York Cumulus AM to Go All-Digital]

Berner commended Trautmann for doing “a particularly commendable job successfully leading the company through the technical challenges presented by COVID-19” as well as recent severe weather events.

“He has also been critical to broadening and advancing the technology that drives our growth platforms in digital and podcasting. This promotion recognizes the vital role that he continues to play in our success.”

Trautmann studied electrical, electronic and communications engineering technology at Farmingdale State University of New York, and was for six years also a machinist’s mate in the U.S. Coast Guard.

He began his work in broadcasting in the early 1980s as chief engineer at WEBE(FM) in Westport, Conn. He later worked as market director of engineering for Cox Radio’s Long Island, N.Y., and Syracuse, N.Y., clusters.

His earlier work at Westwood One included overseeing technical aspects of coverage for the Olympics, Grammy Awards and NCAA basketball.

Trautmann was promoted to senior VP of technology and operations in 2016 when predecessor Gary Kline left the company; read our interview with Trautmann at the time.

 

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Categories: Industry News

FCC Disaster NPRM Discusses Backup Power Requirements

Tue, 10/05/2021 - 17:05

The latest NPRM from the FCC could ultimately lead to a new expense for U.S. radio and TV broadcasters that don’t already have backup power at their transmission sites.

The commission has launched a notice of proposed rulemaking to improve the reliability and resiliency of communications networks during disasters. It also wants better situational awareness in their aftermath.

The proposal considers changes to the Disaster Information Reporting System, or DIRS, which is a web-based system used by broadcasters and other communication providers to report service outages to the FCC. Participation currently is voluntary, but the proposal asks if it should be mandatory for participants following a disaster.

The NPRM, which specifically mentions Hurricane Ida and the damage it did to the Gulf Coast region in late August, also seeks ways to mitigate the effects of power outages on communications networks in the aftermath of such events.

The FCC in the proposal asks detailed questions about how backup power can be deployed to reduce the frequency of power-related service disruptions.

The commission raised the possibility of requiring backup power for participants in DIRS and NORS, the Network Outage Reporting System, and that list includes broadcasters.

“To the extent that the commission were to adopt backup power requirements, providers subject to them, potentially including cable providers, Direct Broadcast Satellite providers, Satellite Digital Audio Radio Service, TV and radio broadcasters, Commercial Mobile Radio Service and other wireless service providers, could potentially be required to take steps to make their networks more resilient to power outages,” according to the notice.

The loss of power during Ida is addressed at length in the NPRM. The FCC says cell tower sites that lacked backup power infrastructure were particularly hard hit.

“Hurricane Ida, as well as recent hurricane and wildfire seasons, earthquakes in Puerto Rico and severe winter storms in Texas demonstrate that America’s communications infrastructure remains susceptible to disruption during disasters,” the FCC wrote.

The commission says it will consider the scope of obligations for broadcasters and that it is mindful that providers subject to any new rules would incur costs if the proposals are adopted.

It’s not the first time the commission has considered backup power requirements for communications providers, according to footnotes in the NPRM.

Following Hurricane Katrina, the FCC in 2007 required Commercial Mobile Radio Service (CMRS) providers and local exchange carriers to maintain emergency backup power — for a minimum of 24 hours for assets inside central offices and for eight hours at cell sites.

The wireless industry appealed the requirements on several grounds and the commission ultimately deleted its backup power requirements four years later.

The FCC also seeks fresh comment on any alternatives to on-site backup power that have proven successful or have the potential to reduce the frequency, duration or severity of disruptions to communications services caused by power outages. The NPRM also includes a call for improved coordination between communications service providers and power companies.

In conclusion, the NPRM asks about the possible benefits of fostering mutual aid during disasters in segments of the communications industry, such as cable, wireline and broadcast, through sharing of physical assets.

The FCC’s Oct. 26 open meeting will feature a virtual field hearing about Hurricane Ida and further discussion of ways to improve the resilience of this country’s communications networks.

A comment period on the NPRM (PS Docket 21-346) will commence following publication in the Federal Register.

Read the NPRM.

The post FCC Disaster NPRM Discusses Backup Power Requirements appeared first on Radio World.

Categories: Industry News

DW Has Shortwave Service to Afghanistan

Tue, 10/05/2021 - 11:22

 

Getty Images – Devgnor

Deutsche Welle recently launched shortwave radio service for Afghanistan.

It broadcasts daily radio programs in the Dari and Pashto languages.

“In Afghanistan, media diversity and free access to independent information are under acute threat,” said Director General of DW Peter Limbourg in an announcement on the DW website.

[Read: Using Media to Make Afghan Children Smile]

“DW has an experienced and skilled editorial team for the region which will contribute to providing better information to the people of Afghanistan with a shortwave radio service in Dari and Pashto, in addition to our online and social media offerings.”

The programs are broadcast daily for 30 minutes on 15230 kHZ and 15390 kHZ frequencies at 14:00 UTC in Dari and at 14:30 UTC in Pashto.

A spokeswoman declined to confirm where the transmissions originate, for security reasons. But the organization quoted Director of Programs for Asia Debarati Guha saying the focus of the programs will be on peace, civil society and gender and human rights issues, and that shortwave will serve the purpose well in case the internet is shut down or restricted in the country.

DW is Germany’s international broadcaster; it provides content in 30 languages and estimates that it reaches 249 million weekly user contacts in total with its services.

 

The post DW Has Shortwave Service to Afghanistan appeared first on Radio World.

Categories: Industry News

Transmission Talk Tuesday Airs 50th Episode

Tue, 10/05/2021 - 10:31

Nautel announced its latest schedule of weekly online talks about transmission topics, and noted that the series has hit the 50-episode mark.

Jeff Welton hosts “Transmission Talk Tuesday,” which uses a roundtable format and includes giveaways.

These interactive discussion sessions cover a broad range of engineering-oriented topics, providing an opportunity for engineers to learn and discuss ideas with their peers,” the company stated.

Topics for October 2021 include a “gizmos and gadgets” chat on Oct. 12, with Welton and Tom Lawler; an Episode 50 special; and a look at power supplies with Welton and John Wilton.

“When we started doing these sessions over a year ago, it gave us a way to keep Jeff amused and not causing trouble at the office, the company wrote in a statement, adding that the series has been popular with its clients.

Sessions are on Tuesdays at noon Eastern time and qualify for SBE recertification credit.

 

The post Transmission Talk Tuesday Airs 50th Episode appeared first on Radio World.

Categories: Industry News

WideOrbit Offers “Total Radio Solution” Suite

Tue, 10/05/2021 - 09:00

WideOrbit is offering a family of software products under the umbrella of the Total Radio Solution.

“A suite of end-to-end radio solutions that can both stand alone and work together, WideOrbit’s Total Radio Solution helps station groups of all sizes improve efficiency, reduce costs, and increase revenue across the entire radio ecosystem, from the studio to the C-suite,” the company stated.

WideOrbit makes inventory and revenue workflow management products. It said the components of this new suite allow stations to streamline their workflows, increase opportunities for revenue in streaming and podcasting; simplify cross-channel transactions; and make it easier to access performance data.

The company positions the suite as useful to stations and groups of all sizes.

“Starting from the solid foundation of WideOrbit’s core radio solutions, WO Automation for Radio and WO Traffic for Radio, stations can build out a complete solution as their business grows. WideOrbit’s Total Radio Solution incorporates digital management and monetization, business intelligence and A/R automation and payment tools, in addition to seamless integration with a wide variety of third-party systems.”

The company recently held a webinar on this product.

The post WideOrbit Offers “Total Radio Solution” Suite appeared first on Radio World.

Categories: Industry News

MusicFirst, FMC See “Inequities” in AM/FM Policy

Tue, 10/05/2021 - 08:00

The MusicFirst Coalition and the Future of Music Coalition want the Federal Communications Commission to retain its local radio station ownership caps and subcaps, at least for FM stations.

“These rules remain necessary to promote diversity, competition and localism in communities throughout the country,” they told the commission.

They noted that a proposal from the National Association of Broadcasters would allow common ownership of up to eight commercial FM stations in the 75 largest U.S. markets.

Commenting in the FCC’s long-drawn-out 2018 quadrennial review process, the two groups, which advocate for music creators, wrote: “What we have observed at commercial FM radio in recent years confirms our long-held conviction that prior to rulemaking, the FCC should commission its own analysis — beyond just macroeconomics — incorporating cultural, artistic, labor and other public interest concerns. Such analysis must authentically center on core policy principles of diversity, competition and localism.”

The groups say that the proposal from the NAB to ease some local caps and eliminate others “raises the frightening possibility that a single company might be allowed to own every commercial radio station in many geographic markets, accelerating many of the harms already described by civil rights groups, unions and media reformers.

“Having failed to establish consensus for their proposal even among struggling commercial FM station owners,” the coalitions continued, “they now desperately point solely to marketplace challenges facing the radio industry as justification for further drastic ownership deregulation while dodging accountability for their own anti-competitive actions and the impacts of their preferred deregulatory policies.”

Further ownership consolidation, they said, “is not the answer to terrestrial radio’s competition woes.” They dismissed NAB’s argument that caps are limiting ownership unduly. “In fact, the few AM/FM owners who are currently hitting the LRSO Caps appear to be bouncing back nicely. Permanent ownership deregulation is not the right remedy.”

[Related: “NAB Lays Out Precarious Financial Position of Radio”]

They want to FCC to “chart a different course … rather than assenting to calls to further weaken important public interest protections on the flimsiest of justifications.” It wants the commission to define markets differently, study the impact of past policy decisions on racial equity, and collect better data about what is happening in the marketplace “with respect to listeners, broadcast owners and content creators.”

So they asked the FCC to retain current maximums on the number of FM stations that an entity can own in a market, as well as the AM/FM subcap. They didn’t take a position on whether it should ease the number of AM stations that one entity can own in a market.

“We also call upon the commission to conduct its own meaningful studies about the effects of deregulation of commercial FM ownership on diversity, localism and both intramodal and intermodal competition for use in its upcoming 2022 Quadrennial Review. Such studies should include analysis of effects on the public interest of the elimination of the Main Studio Rule, with an eye toward determining whether the Main Studio Rule should be reinstated in the public interest.”

Founding members of MusicFirst include the Recording Industry Association of America and SoundExchange, among other advocacy groups. FMC is a nonprofit that advocates for artist compensation.

Read the filing (PDF).

The post MusicFirst, FMC See “Inequities” in AM/FM Policy appeared first on Radio World.

Categories: Industry News

Cummis Set to Take the Lead at SBE

Tue, 10/05/2021 - 07:00
This month Andrea Cummis will be sworn in as president of the Society of Broadcast Engineers. She will be the first woman to hold that office.

Cummis, CBT, CTO, has been chief technical officer of PBS39 WLVT(TV), in Bethlehem, Pa., since 2017, and she is a member of SBE Chapter 15 in New York City. Her responsibilities include technical oversight at NPR affiliate WLVR(FM).

She was unopposed in the SBE election and will take office on Oct. 18, succeeding Wayne Pecena, who served two terms and remains on the board as immediate past president.

Cummis has a breadth of expertise, holding degrees in electrical engineering and in law and technology, as well as an MBA. She has worked for more than two decades in engineering, operations and new technology in television, radio and new media.

She and her husband Renard Fiscus also own AC Video Solutions, a systems design and integration firm. Its customers include Christian Faith Network, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, All Mobile Video, M&T Bank, and Raritan Valley Community College.

Cummis spoke with Radio World Editor in Chief Paul McLane.

Radio World: You’ve done quite a bit of systems integration and design, as I understand it.

Andrea Cummis: Lots and lots. Many, many years.

RW: How did you get into broadcast engineering in the first place?

Cummis: Oh, it’s a funny story. I was in my eighth-grade history class and we were doing projects; you got up and showed your project.

Someone dropped off a cart of equipment — a camera and an old black-and-white reel-to-reel deck — but none of it was put together, it was all just on a cart in a box. I thought it was really interesting. I went over and put it together and started recording the projects.

I went over to the librarian and said, “Do you need help with this?” And I became the AV person for the junior high.

I would record all the school plays and do the audio recordings for concerts.

When I was ready to go to high school, the librarian called them and said, “Don’t mess around, just let her do video stuff when she gets there, don’t make her wait.” So I started running a four-camera video studio as soon as I got to high school. I was TD’ing and directing four-camera shoots for the school plays and running monitors backstage. I just figured it all out.

RW: A lot of people in our business would know what that high school AV closet looks like! Yet in 2021 there are still very few women in the field. Why do you think that is?

Cummis: It’s really hard, and pretty physical, and you don’t get paid that much.

If you’re studying engineering in college, why wouldn’t you do chemical engineering or IT, where you don’t have to be on your feet all day and work crazy hours and be on call weekends and nights and probably get paid a lot more?

I think we as engineers are very undervalued in how hard we work and how much knowledge we need, how we have to work under pressure and respond really quickly.

It’s a very unusual job. I wish I knew why more women didn’t do it. I don’t think they have the opportunity. Maybe a lot of people don’t know that this job exists, they were never exposed to it.

RW: As you come in as SBE president, what are your priorities?

Cummis: Well, for me as the first woman president of SBE, I would like to figure out how to diversify and get more women, more minorities, different ages, and people who aren’t necessarily “straight engineering” but have other technical jobs in broadcasting. I think it’s been our goal as a society for a long time, but it feels really important right now.

Andrea Cummis at work for “The Today Show” in China in 1987.

RW: Certainly there’s been no lack of good intentions on the part of the society over the years, but these also are issues in our broader culture. Those are not small obstacles.

Cummis: No, absolutely.

One of our goals is to have a strategic planning process that will open things. In the past, we’ve flown people into one place, trapped them in a room and talked all day. But with all the virtual meetings we have nowadays, it’s a great opportunity to be able to invite more people and do sessions in different jobs and locations — really open it up so that we can get a better understanding of what people need, what they think we could do to be better and attract other kinds of people.

RW: You certainly are coming into this position at an interesting time nationally, given the pandemic and the effect it’s had on events, meetings and working remotely.

Cummis: We’ve done really well at SBE with having virtual meetings, it’s been very successful for us.

For me, the interesting thing being in charge of a facility is having to deal with all the COVID stuff and keeping your facility safe and your people safe. A lot of chief engineers and other members have been thrown into being COVID experts and having to figure this out.

Are your people working remotely successfully? Are you increasing your cleaning?

For example I found these really cool wraps that you put around handles that are supposed to keep everything clean magically. I don’t know how they work but it’s amazing technology. I even had to take COVID certifications including a session with a doctor, a nurse and a lawyer; you had to pass a test.

There’s so much to know and it changes so fast. It really has changed what our job is in ways you never could have predicted.

RW: We often hear of the traditional divide between IT and broadcast engineering. Many of those skillsets and interest areas now overlap. Is the divide getting any closer?

Cummis: In some cases it’s totally merged and there is really no divide; and in other places that are union shops, they can’t get together because they’re not allowed to. That’s where it gets messy, because the broadcast engineers have a specific domain, the IT guys are on the other side, and there are times they have to work together. But then there’s times where you get finger-pointing: Who’s in charge of this or that, and who’s assigning IP addresses or anything else that crosses over.

I think you’re always going to have two paths.

RW: As you look across media technology, are there particular areas where you think SBE members ought to be paying closer attention for their careers?

Cummis: Well, the ATSC 3.0 stuff is coming up really fast. A lot of places are already starting to implement it. There’s so much to know and it’s so complicated, so many ways to use it. Each organization is going to have to figure out why they’re doing it and what they’re hoping to get out of it.

Then having to keep the ATSC 1 going while you’re doing ATSC 3. It’s years and years that you have to overlap, and nobody’s helping you pay for it. How do you do it? How do you “lighthouse”? Are you doing it with somebody else or can you do it with just what you own?

Just taking a webinar is not going to be enough for anyone. There’s an awful lot to know, and it’s going to keep changing. It will be probably be a few years of people watching to see how’s somebody else rolling it out, and was it successful? How long did it take? What did it cost?

We’re looking at it here at WLVT, but we’re part of a big channel share. It’s going to be hard to do that with nine channels on our one piece of bandwidth now; how would you ever lighthouse that?

RW: You mentioned webinars. SBE has done a great job of putting together comprehensive training materials on many radio and TV technical topics. Are there other issues that you want to mention?

Cummis: I think overall we’ve made some really good decisions in the past few years. Our new membership enhancement, SBE MemberPlus, which includes all the webinars, has been really successful. All our education certification, all our big initiatives like the Technical Professional Training Program have been terrific and are continuing — we just started ATSC 3.0 certification, something I should probably take at some point!

There are a lot of things we do really well. I hope to continue those and grow in other places.

[Related: Read our 2014 interview with Wayne Pecena on the occasion of his receiving the Radio World Excellence in Engineering Award.]

SBE Presidents List

Andrea Cummis 2021–

Wayne Pecena 2019–2021

Jim Leifer 2017–2019

Jerry Massey 2015–2017

Joe Snelson 2013–2015

Ralph Hogan 2011–2013

Vincent Lopez 2009–2011

Barry Thomas 2007–2009

Christopher H. Scherer 2005–2007

Raymond C. Benedict 2003–2005

Troy D. Pennington 2001–2003

James “Andy” Butler 1999–2001

Edward J. Miller 1997–1999

Terrence M. Baun 1995–1997

Charles W. Kelly Jr. 1993–1995

Richard Farquhar 1991–1993

Bradley Dick 1989–1991

Jack McKain 1987–1989

Richard Rudman 1985–1987

Roger Johnson 1984–1985

Doyle Thompson, Sr. 1983–1984

Ron Arendall 1981–1983

Robert Jones 1979–1981

James Hurley 1978–1979

Robert Wehrman   1977–1978

Glen Lahman   1975–1977

James Wulliman 1973–1975

Robert Flanders 1971–1973

Lewis Wetzel 1970–1971

Al Chismark   1968–1970

Charles Hallinan 1966–1968

John Battison, P.E. 1965–1966

The post Cummis Set to Take the Lead at SBE appeared first on Radio World.

Categories: Industry News

Radio TechCon Scheduled for End of November

Mon, 10/04/2021 - 22:50

Radio TechCon, which bills itself as the “UK radio and audio industry’s technical and engineering conference” has announced Nov. 29 as its date for a virtual gathering.

[For News on This and Other Shows See Our Show News Page]

Organizers are still putting together details. There will be speeches, interactive sessions and presentations along with breakout rooms and special events from sponsors.

Committed sponsors of the show include Broadcast Bionics, RCS, Lawo, Arqiva, The Institution of Engineering and Technology, Broadcast Radio and Vortex Communications.

The post Radio TechCon Scheduled for End of November appeared first on Radio World.

Categories: Industry News

WBZ to Cut the Ribbon on Upgraded PEP Facility

Mon, 10/04/2021 - 20:41

FEMA and iHeartMedia will cut the ribbon later this month on an upgraded “Primary Entry Point” facility at WBZ NewsRadio 1030 Boston.

WBZ is the 13th U.S. station to work with FEMA to complete an “all-hazards upgrade,” which includes increased sheltering capabilities, expanded broadcast capacity and sustainable power generation for hazardous events.

[Related: “WLW PEP Station to Test New Studio Shelter”

“The modernization to the emergency studio increases iHeartMedia’s WBZ NewsRadio 1030 Boston’s resiliency to continue broadcasting under all conditions, including natural disasters and acts of terrorism,” they announced.

“This facility is one of 77 across the country that serve as a National Public Warning System Primary Entry Point (PEP) station, participating with FEMA to provide emergency alert and warning information to the public before, during and after incidents and disasters.”

The ribbon cutting will be open to news media but not the general public.

 

The post WBZ to Cut the Ribbon on Upgraded PEP Facility appeared first on Radio World.

Categories: Industry News

FCC Could Recommence Race and Gender Reporting for Broadcasters

Mon, 10/04/2021 - 16:31
GettyImages/wildpixel

FCC Form 395-B is intended to gather workforce composition data from broadcasters, including race and gender, but hasn’t been collected since 2001. It might be coming back.

The FCC has been contemplating its return since releasing a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) in July to refresh the existing record regarding collection of the EEO data. The collection of the form, which gathers workforce composition from broadcasters with five or more full-time employees, was suspended two decades ago because of a legal ruling and other unresolved issues.

[Read: EEO Supporters Lay Out Their Wish List]

While none of the major radio broadcast groups filed initial comments on the FNPRM, the NAB says it “does not object to the commission reinstating the FCC Form 395-B,” so long as station data is kept confidential while any related information made publicly available “is provided on an anonymous, aggregated basis.”

The group says the revitalized form is “likely to merely increase paperwork burdens without offering much corresponding value” that is duplicative of EEOC requirements. “The left hand of the government should be talking to the right one, instead of putting unnecessary additional burdens on broadcasters,” NAB wrote in comments to the FCC.

In addition, NAB says the FCC’s FNPRM provides “no evidentiary support for why such a data collection is necessary or how it will help further the goal of increased diversity in the broadcasting industry.”

“No one contests whether the industry should continue to strive to hire, retain and promote more women and people of color,” NAB wrote. It adds “broadcasting is replete with opportunities for talented individuals of every race, ethnicity or gender.”

In fact, the group suggests a better option for how the FCC can help increase diversity within the broadcast industry.

NAB states: “Rather than focus efforts on reporting data that is already largely apparent, a far better use of the commission’s time would be to reach out to broadcasters and ask exactly how the commission can be helpful to our efforts to increase diversity.”

It also renewed the group’s concern that making publicly available the required employment data on a station-attributable basis “will unlawfully pressure broadcasters to adopt race- or gender-based hiring practices” and that “publishing the racial composition of each broadcaster’s workforce would clearly exceed the FCC’s authority.”

NAB punctuated its argument by highlighting the EEO efforts of some of its members. For instance, Audacy provides yearlong fellowships that provide “diverse candidates early in their career access to resources, support and professional networks” they might not otherwise experience in a typical internship or entry level position. “Currently, 10 fellows started work on September 13, 2021, in [Audacy’s] news, sports content, digital, and ad sales departments,” NAB stated in its comments.

In addition, NAB says iHeartMedia invests resources to further the broadcaster’s commitment to inclusion, and credible, sustainable efforts to foster a diverse workforce culture. “(iHeartMedia) recently launched a DE&I Plan that includes measures committing to more diversity on their company’s board of directors to requiring that diversity be a part of recruiting, hiring and promotion decisions,” NAB wrote the FCC.

In conclusion, NAB says Form 395 is unnecessary since FCC already randomly selects approximately 5% of radio and television stations annually for a thorough EEO audit. “NAB estimates that the FCC has conducted EEO audits of at least 15,000 broadcast stations since this process was launched in 2003. To our knowledge, all of these investigations have resulted in fewer than 20 Notices of Apparent Liability or admonishments to broadcasters for EEO rules violations (0.1%), none of which involved a charge of discrimination.”

Meanwhile, the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC) other EEO supporters continue to push the FCC to do more to improve broadcaster diversity. MMTC in a group filing said they “enthusiastically endorse EEO data collection,” in their most recent comments last week to the FCC.

MMTC previously submitted to the FCC a list of nine proposals it says the commission should adopt to improve EEO compliance and enforcement.

Acting FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel supports Form 395-B’s return. “This data is a vitally important to assess the industry’s workforce diversity. Moreover, its collection is required under the law,” Rosenworcel said at the time the FNPRM was released this summer.

Reply comments to the FCC on this topic must be submitted by Nov. 1, MB Docket No. 98-204.

 

The post FCC Could Recommence Race and Gender Reporting for Broadcasters appeared first on Radio World.

Categories: Industry News

Surge in FM Translators Continues

Mon, 10/04/2021 - 13:59

The number of FM translators and boosters in the United States continues to surge.

The latest quarterly raw numbers of the various types of broadcast licenses have been released by the Federal Communications Commission. There are now 8,771 translators and boosters, 5% more than just a year ago and 43% up from 10 years ago.

[Related: “NAB Lays Out Precarious Financial Position of Radio”]

Translators rebroadcast an FM or AM station signal on a different FM frequency. Boosters operate on the same FM frequency as the main station. The commission does not report the two individually, but the ongoing growth is certainly almost entirely in translators, not boosters, as various FCC policies over that period have tended to promote the expanded use of that type of signal.

The list below is as of Sept. 30, 2021, and compares the number of stations to the same time last year.

AM Stations — 4,519 (down 41 stations from a year ago)
FM Commercial — 6,682 (down 22)
FM Educational — 4,211 (up 15)
Total — 15,412 (down 48)

Other:
FM Translators and Boosters — 8,771 (up 432 from a year ago)
Low-Power FM Stations — 2,081 (down 62)

 

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Categories: Industry News

DRM Shortwave Will Serve Amazon Region

Mon, 10/04/2021 - 12:25

National Radio of the Amazon plans to use DRM shortwave transmissions to serve indigenous populations in the northern Amazon region, according to the Digital Radio Mondiale Consortium.

Public broadcaster Empresa Brasil de Comunicação (EBC) ordered a 100 kW BT transmitter to broadcast in DRM at 11,780 kHz in the 25-meter band, a shortwave channel used by Rádio Nacional da Amazônia.

The purchase, valued at about $650,000 USD, was the result of an auction held a year ago for purchase of equipment for EBC public radio broadcasts.

This is believed to be the first domestic DRM installation on a locally produced transmitter in Latin America.

“At the end of last year, Nacional da Amazônia carried out tests with the DRM technology using a transmitter of 2.5 kW with the digital power of just 1 kW,” the consortium stated in a press brief.

“EBC demonstrated then, for the first time in the country, the use of multi-programming and the transmission of interactive multimedia applications. Despite this low power of the transmitter supplied by BT Transmitters, recordings were reported from different regions of the country and even from North America and Europe.”

 

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Categories: Industry News

Cox Will Use Visual Quus

Mon, 10/04/2021 - 11:29

Quu Inc. announced that Cox Media Group will use its web-based software to publish messages on vehicle dashboards from its 54 radio stations in 10 cities.

“These messages, called Visual Quus, are paired with station and client on-air content like artist information, local promotions and ads,” the software company said in its announcement.

[See Our Who’s Buying What Page]

“Radio stations with Visual Quus offer a better user experience in the car and generate immediate incremental revenue by adding text, logos, and images to on-air advertisements.”

[Related: “Bonneville Signs on With Quu]

The announcement was made by Quu CEO Steve Newberry and Cox Media Group Digital Audience Development Manager Zac Morgan. Newberry noted that 80% of the cars on the road now can display text on the dash.

Quu says CMG signed a multiyear agreement.

Beasley Media Group is among Quu’s investors. Watch a Quu promo video.

Send news for Who’s Buying What to radioworld@futurenet.com.

 

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Categories: Industry News

Audi Encourages Support for Hybrid Radio

Mon, 10/04/2021 - 08:49

Carmaker Audi, a subsidiary of Volkswagen Group, has been active in the realms of digital radio, hybrid radio and metadata.

Late last year, Christian Winter of Volkswagen Group software development subsidiary CARIAD wrote in Radio World that, after the successful launch of hybrid radio in Europe, Audi was offering the feature in most of its 2021 vehicles, including models available in North America.

He also noted that iHeartMedia had started providing RadioDNS support for hybrid radio in Audi cars, and that Radioplayer Canada was supporting Audi with data from more than 350 Canadian radio stations.

In a recent ebook about trends in digital radio, Radio World checked in for an update with Anupam “Pom” Malhotra, senior director, Connected Services, at Audi of America.

Pom Malhotra

Radio World: What’s the most important digital radio trend right now?

Pom Malhotra: Hybrid radio is the newest trend, as more and more cars have a broadband internet connection. Broadcast-only digital radio, like HD Radio for North America or DAB in Europe and some other countries, is standard in every Audi.

RW: Audi has been one of the carmakers most engaged with digital radio and hybrid radio. Broadly speaking, how would you characterize the state of digital radio around the world?

Malhotra: The standards are very mature, and all new cars come equipped with digital radio in Europe using the DAB standard. Digital radio enables new radio programs because the distribution is cheaper and there is a larger spectrum for new stations. Additionally, digital radio enables nationwide broadcast stations like Deutschlandfunk in Germany or NRK in Norway. More recently, Audi has launched hybrid radio in many of our models both in Europe and in the U.S., which extends FM broadcasts beyond their geographical limitations.

RW: What can radio entities around the world do to keep broadcast radio prominent in the car?

Malhotra: The challenge for broadcast radio is how to compete with the user experience of streaming audio through an online connection. Using standards like RadioDNS, broadcast radio providers can include metadata like station name, streaming URLs and station logos via the online connection to enrich the listening experience for the customer in the vehicle. In today’s vehicles, radio must be visually on par with streaming services and online radio apps in the connected car.

RW: Which countries do you feel have advanced the most in deploying digital radio, for each of the major platforms?

Malhotra: In Europe, DAB is widely used in Norway, Switzerland, the U.K. and Germany. In all European countries, DAB created a new market for new programs and helped channels get better coverage, for example in the Swiss Alps.

Although North America has a rich history in broadcast radio and has innovated significantly with satellite radio and HD Radio, the growth of online streaming through internet radio threatens to make AM and FM radio obsolete over time. This is where hybrid radio can reinvigorate the broadcast industry to appeal to new and younger listeners.

RW: WorldDAB states that “DAB+ is firmly established as the core future platform for radio in Europe.” Please comment.

Malhotra: From a manufacturer point of view, DAB delivers everything a broadcast radio station needs. With the addition of RadioDNS as the online standard, broadcast radio is ready for the future.

RW: Which major countries or markets are you watching to see will adopt digital standard(s) next?

Malhotra: From Audi’s perspective, we have seen all major markets already adopt or are in the process of adopting either HD Radio or DAB as their digital radio standard.

RW: What impact do you expect on the digital radio marketplace from Google’s aspirations for Android Automotive?

Malhotra: Android gives listeners the ability to download their preferred internet radio apps via an online store in their vehicle. However, customers will choose their infotainment options based on the attractiveness of content, which means there will always be room for broadcast radio as long as it delivers a competitive listening experience.

RW: Hybrid radio is part of Audi’s MIB 3 infotainment system. What is the status of that rollout, and which media companies are supporting it?

Malhotra: Hybrid radio is available now in all MIB 3 vehicles with the high-speed data package for the 2021+ model year — A4, A5, A6, A7, A8, Q3, Q5, Q7, Q8, and e-tron Sportback/SUV. For 2022, that will expand to more models including the all-electric e-tron GT and Q4 e-tron.

Within the North American market, we already have nearly 1,500 FM stations supporting hybrid radio from broadcasters like iHeartRadio, Cumulus, Entercom, Educational Media Foundation, Boise State Radio in Idaho and Radioplayer Canada. More media companies are continuing to grow support for hybrid radio using the RadioDNS standard.

RW: What else should we know about Audi’s current or pending activities in digital radio?

Malhotra: Audi continues to play a leadership role in helping to shape the future of broadcast radio. In fact, the chair of the WorldDAB Automotive Group is a senior Audi executive from our CARIAD subsidiary, Martin Koch. Aand Christian Winter, also from CARIAD, represents Audi on the RadioDNS steering board.

The post Audi Encourages Support for Hybrid Radio appeared first on Radio World.

Categories: Industry News

NAB Lays Out “Parlous Financial Position” of Radio

Mon, 10/04/2021 - 08:18

The National Association of Broadcasters paints an increasingly grim picture of the financial state of the U.S. commercial radio industry, and said that includes FM stations as well as AMs.

In a 75-page filing to the FCC about ownership rule reform, the NAB listed evidence that it says shows the impact of increased audio and advertising competition on radio.

“Aside from losing nearly 200 radio stations in the past two years, growing numbers of stations are unprofitable and experiencing negative advertising growth, while at the same time are constrained by outdated ownership restrictions from responding to these competitive conditions,” NAB wrote.

“The managing director of a nationally-known media brokerage firm stated in a declaration that there are increasingly no buyers for struggling AM and FM stations, especially in mid-sized and small markets, other than a same-market competitor who often may not be allowed to purchase the troubled stations due to the local radio caps.”

As a result, it said, more stations, both AM and FM, are “unable to maintain a significant local presence and offer a high level of local services, and their owners are both financially unable to improve their stations or sell them to a competitively viable local broadcaster capable of upgrading the underperforming outlets by leveraging scale economies.”

NAB said it had “submitted unrefuted evidence demonstrating the increasing parlous financial position of the radio industry, which directly and negatively impacts stations’ ability to hire additional or even retain existing staff; upgrade their facilities; and maintain, let alone improve, their programming, including locally oriented content.”

It said local radio stations’ OTA ad revenues fell almost 45 percent in nominal terms ($17.6 billion to $9.7 billion) from 2005 to 2020, “and even when taking stations’ 2020 digital ad revenues into account, their total ad revenues still dropped 39.8 percent in nominal terms ($17.6 to $10.6 billion) over that time period.” Further, it said, analysts expect only a very modest recovery from the pandemic recession.

“The advertising revenues of FM stations mirror the radio industry as a whole, with FM stations’ revenues over the same 2005–2020 period showing a similarly stark decline.”

It cited BIA data showing that the OTA ad revenues of FM stations in the 253 continuously surveyed Arbitron/Nielsen Audio markets fell from $10.5 billion in 2005 to $6 billion in 2020, a decline of 42.9 percent in nominal terms.

These data, it said, show a clear and present threat to FM stations’ “ability to serve the public interest in the spirit of the Communications Act.”

Further, FM stations as well as AMs have experienced declines in listenership. “According to Nielsen Audio, the Average Quarter Hour (AQH) Listening of FM stations dropped 23.5 percent in just the past five years. Falling AQH audiences directly impact the competitive and financial viability of FM (and AM) stations because advertising is sold based on stations’ AQH listening, rather than stations’ audience reach or weekly cume.”

These findings, it said, are proof of its argument that commercial U.S. radio stations compete in a broader market and should be regulated accordingly.

The NAB believes current caps on how many stations a given company can own in one market need to be eased or eliminated in the face of audio and advertising market competition and recent marketplace developments. (Not all major broadcasters agree.)

And it says those who support the existing rules ignore the fact that commercial stations, upended by digital technologies, “cannot function in the public interest as Congress intended unless they remain economically viable.”

Read the filing (PDF).

More comments

The NAB’s filing also touched on a number of other issues.

It said some critics are misinterpreting the Supreme Court’s recent decision in FCC v. Prometheus Radio Project to mean that the court affirmed the FCC’s “full discretion to implement its conception of the public interest as to diversity.”

In fact, NAB said, the high court did not “affirm” any such thing, rather that it left open questions about the FCC’s authority to consider minority and female ownership in its quadrennial reviews.  NAB says structural ownership rules will do nothing to promote future ownership diversity.

In addition to dealing with several TV-specific issues, the association also told the FCC it needs to act quickly to finish this 2018 quadrennial review, which should have been done by now. It said the FCC has no flexibility to defer the process.

“In particular, the commission has no authority to skip the 2018 review and roll that quadrennial into the upcoming 2022 review, despite the urging of certain commenters.”

The post NAB Lays Out “Parlous Financial Position” of Radio appeared first on Radio World.

Categories: Industry News

User Report: Apex Serves Buenas Nuevas Network

Sat, 10/02/2021 - 07:25

The author is general manager of GMF-Christian Media, Buenas Nuevas Network.

I have been a client of Arrakis Systems and automating stations using their software and hardware since 2005. Four years ago, when I learned of the new Apex automation system, my first impression was that this was the automation we’d been waiting for.

When we started our Buenas Nuevas Network in 2018, our CEO Dr. Richard Hamlet conveyed a message of quality and excellence in all we do. So I started by adding Apex automation. Its versatility, live functions and programming tools have placed this software at the top of its class. Apex is sophisticated yet remains the most user-friendly and intuitive automation program on the market.

In-person staff interaction is a thing of the past, which makes communication of time-sensitive and complex tasks more difficult. Apex has minimized this gap between producers, programmers and DJs.

[Related: “With Automation, You’re Buying More Than a Product”]

We have a diverse team in multiple markets including San Juan, Monterrey, Boston, Albuquerque, Jacksonville, Memphis, and several markets in North Carolina. Apex allows my staff to navigate the system remotely as if they are in our studio headquarters. Having staff simultaneously working on production and programming remotely is truly a blessing.

The Apex On Air module is flexible and easy to navigate. My DJs set up their own user profiles, allowing them to quickly bring up their own customized windows layout, which may be as simple or complex as they wish. Using multiple sound cards, they may manually crossfade events or allow Apex to automatically do so.

Features include drag and drop, preview audio, and File Info to share interesting facts about an upcoming song. You can run a game manually or let the system do it.

Apex On Air works with Apex Tools, the management software. Using Tools, we manage audio, create clocks, edit the play schedule, import, voice track, record and edit new audio and pull reports. Apex Tools is the fastest and easiest to learn programming tool out of many programming platforms we have used.

There is a lot to consider when purchasing automation: features, installation, staff training, efficiency of daily operation and the ability to support technological growth. Apex has the bells and whistles. There’s no need to purchase additional software as our stations evolve.

Thanks to the Arrakis support staff, installation is smooth and quick; they jump in to train your people and will help with anything that may come up later. I highly recommend that decision-makers take advantage of the time Arrakis gives for testing Apex before making a big automation purchase. It will be worth it.

Contact Arrakis at 1-970-461-0730 x2 or visit www.arrakis-systems.com.

Radio World User Reports are testimonial articles intended to help readers understand why a colleague chose a particular product to solve a technical situation.

The post User Report: Apex Serves Buenas Nuevas Network appeared first on Radio World.

Categories: Industry News

What’s Next for Virtualization?

Fri, 10/01/2021 - 11:44

What are the primary benefits of virtualization to radio broadcasters? Are we farther along now than a year ago in seeing virtualization come to PPM, to EAS? What are common misconceptions or unfamiliar terms in virtualization that readers should be aware of?

Those are some of the questions explored in our new ebook “What’s Next for Virtualization?”

Editor in Chief Paul McLane talked with six manufacturers and software sponsors about their applications of the concept of virtualization, and he checked in with prominent industry engineering executives for an assessment of the relevance and impact of virtualization.

How close are we to a fully virtualized air chain? What else should we know on this topic? Find out in the latest free ebook.

Read it here.

The post What’s Next for Virtualization? appeared first on Radio World.

Categories: Industry News

Rosenworcel Highlights Network Resilience

Fri, 10/01/2021 - 11:39

At Thursday’s FCC meeting, Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel used the occasion of her trip to Louisiana to explain several commission initiatives.

 In a written statement, she described the damage done by Hurricane Ida and summarized steps the FCC had taken before and after that storm.

 “But we have to understand where communications fell short, where recovery took too long, and what changes can be made to make our networks more resilient before the next unthinkable event occurs,” she wrote in comments released by her office.

 She talked about the NPRM that the FCC has adopted to strengthen its DIRS system and possibly to require backup power at communications facilities including broadcast stations.

The text of her statement is below:

This week I had the opportunity to see firsthand the devastation wrought by Hurricane Ida. Commissioner Carr joined me to crisscross a long, flat stretch of Louisiana — from Baton Rouge to New Orleans. The drive itself was telling. Along the way we saw cruel reminders of the storm and the great damage wind and water can do — mangled store signs and piles of refuse still being cleared away. Still, what struck me most was all the blue. Not the grey-blue of Lake Pontchartrain. Instead, it was the bright blue of heavy plastic tarps. They were everywhere. On the pitched rooves of homes. On the flat tops of commercial buildings. They were part of fixing what had blown away.

That image stays with me. But so does the strength and resilience of everyone we met. They love where they live and are deeply committed to restoration in their communities. They are also deeply invested in making sure that when the next storm comes — and it will — they are better prepared. Being better prepared means having more resilient communications. It means making sure our networks work when we need them most. I spoke with Governor John Bel Edwards about this before our trip and I heard it from everyone we met — state public safety leaders in Baton Rouge, 911 call center operators in Livingston, broadband companies in LaPlace, and FirstNet officials in Raceland.

Everyone we spoke with wanted to tell us their stories and give us their ideas. They wanted us to know what worked and what didn’t and how stronger and more resilient communications can save lives. I’m grateful Commissioner Carr was able to join me and thank all my colleagues for supporting the swift actions the agency took to assist before and after the storm.

In anticipation of landfall, the Federal Communications Commission set up an information hub for Hurricane Ida, with emergency communications tips in nine languages, tailored media advisories for broadcasters, downloadable Public Service Announcements, communications status reports, and other content.

We deployed FCC staff to Louisiana and the Federal Emergency Management Agency Regional Response Coordination Center in Dallas, Texas, to support spectrum management, perform damage assessments, and prioritize recovery efforts.

In coordination with FEMA and other federal partners, we activated our Disaster Information Reporting System. As a result, we published the first comprehensive assessment of Hurricane Ida’s impact on communications networks followed by daily updates.

We provided technical assistance to 911 coordinators, State Emergency Operations Centers, 911 call centers, carriers implementing the Wireless Resiliency Cooperative Framework and other communications providers, and the Louisiana Association of Broadcasters.

We engaged in daily coordination with Federal, state, and local partners, as well as with industry, to help coordinate the transport of necessary communications equipment, fuel, and other resources to help fill communications gaps. We also set up a first-of-its kind team to address coordination with utilities to prevent accidental fiber cuts during debris removal and restoration.

Of course, we had help.  Communications companies worked long and hard to restore critical services. All of this made a difference. More than 98 percent of the cell sites in the affected counties have been restored. Other outages trended downward as fast as power was restored.

This is progress. But we have to understand where communications fell short, where recovery took too long, and what changes can be made to make our networks more resilient before the next unthinkable event occurs.

Today’s rulemaking gets that effort going. We start by taking a second look at the voluntary Wireless Resiliency Cooperative Framework and its disaster roaming and asking where can it be strengthened. Are best practices enough? Should coordination happen earlier? Be more automatic? This was something that came up repeatedly in our discussions in Louisiana — a desire for this cooperative roaming to work faster, work better, and help keep more people connected in disaster.

We also revisit our Disaster Information Reporting System and seek targeted comment on where there are gaps that need to be filled. 911 call centers should not be the last ones to find out where there are critical network failures. But we learned that during Hurricane Ida, that is exactly what happened. So we ask about how we can improve data collection and timely notification during disasters.

Finally, we renew our inquiry into backup power for communications facilities. Our review of the data collected in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida reveals that the lack of commercial power at key equipment and facilities is the single biggest reason why communications networks failed. Left unaddressed, this problem will only get worse in coming years as we experience disasters with increasing severity, duration, and impact. So our rulemaking explores resilience strategies for power outages — including better coordination between communications providers and power companies and backup power or other measures that could help keep service running after a disaster.

I am hopeful that this rulemaking is the beginning of a broader discussion of our need for resilient networks. Look around. We have hurricanes in Louisiana, a snowstorm in Texas, and wildfires out West. These issues are not going away. We need to think deeply about what network resiliency means and how our policies can support it. So in addition to this rulemaking, next month the FCC will hold a virtual field hearing on Hurricane Ida and the resilient networks now needed in disaster more generally. To make it simple, we’ll have it as part of our monthly open meeting in October. Stay tuned for details.

 

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Categories: Industry News

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