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“IPAWS Loves Broadcast Resilience”

Sat, 09/11/2021 - 04:00

The NAB Show is set for October in Las Vegas.

Wade Witmer is deputy director of the Integrated Public Alert & Warning System, or IPAWS, Program Management Office in FEMA National Continuity Programs. This is one in a series of interviews with exhibitors ahead of the show.

Radio World: What is your news or message for NAB Show attendees?

Wade Witmer: Our message is “IPAWS Loves Broadcast Resilience.”

With the modernization of the National Public Warning System — NPWS Primary Entry Point or “PEP” stations — the opening of our new 24/7 Technical Support Services Facility and our advocacy to the Federal Communications Commission for the recent changes to EAS, FEMA wishes to show the continued viability of EAS and our support for broadcasters.

We invite NAB Show attendees to the FEMA exhibit, where they can talk with our experts on EAS usage and all things alerting.

The 2021 IPAWS National Test, conducted Aug. 11, delivered the EAS portion of the test via the broadcast “daisy chain.” We want to hear attendees’ experiences receiving and forwarding the test to their audiences.

RW: What are the most important trends or changes in alerting?

Witmer: First, we’re watching the development of advanced alerting capabilities in ATSC 3.0.

Also, IPAWS-OPEN, FEMA’s central alert message aggregator, has been moved from brick-and-mortar servers to a cloud provider. This gives us the flexibility and resilience to survive connectivity issues and localized data-center issues.

The IPAWS PMO has updated the training materials and documentation it offers Alerting Authorities, which are agencies of state, local, tribal and territorial governments authorized to send public alerts through IPAWS.

Further, the FCC has affirmed the important role of State Emergency Communications Committees in planning for public alerting. The IPAWS PMO looks forward to coordinating with SECCs to fine-tune and improve their plans.

Finally, FEMA is coordinating with the FCC about Persistent EAS Alerts as called for in the National Defense Authorization Act. FEMA notes that these types of emergency alerts “should persist on EAS until the alert time has expired or is cancelled by the alert originator.”

RW: How has the pandemic affected the organization’s work?

Witmer: Our staff has maintained contact with Alerting Authorities, Alert Origination Software Providers and regulatory agencies by email, teleconferencing and telephone. If anything, because of the critical demands of emergency events at this time, our communications have improved.

FEMA teams continue to travel to NPWS stations to supervise facilities construction, testing and maintenance.

RW: Anything else we should know?

Witmer: The National Weather Service is not posting their weather alerts and warnings to the IPAWS EAS Feed. Broadcasters need to know that the only source for NWS alerts for EAS participants is via NOAA Weather Radio or another custom source.

For more information on IPAWS, check out our website at or email

The post “IPAWS Loves Broadcast Resilience” appeared first on Radio World.

Categories: Industry News

Several TV Exhibitors Withdraw From NAB Show

Fri, 09/10/2021 - 16:31

Several big-name TV exhibitors announced in the past several days that they won’t exhibit at the NAB Show in October. The pandemic continues to play havoc with major industry trade shows 18 months after it swept across the United States.

Canon issued a statement Friday afternoon: “Due to the ongoing health and safety concerns presented by the COVID-19 Delta variant, Canon has made a carefully considered decision to withdraw from this year’s NAB and InfoComm Shows. The communities that NAB and InfoComm represent are something that we will greatly miss this year, but the health and safety of our team members, customers, and potential show guests is our number one priority.”

Ross Video on Friday morning issued an announcement, “As time has passed since the revised dates for 2021 were announced, it has become increasingly apparent that the challenges posed by the fluctuating public health situation in Nevada (and elsewhere around the world), travel restrictions into the USA, logistics and general uncertainty among exhibitors and potential attendees are, regrettably, too great to enable Ross to participate.” Ross is based in Canada.

Also on Friday, the website of Sports Video Group reported that Panasonic had withdrawn from the NAB Show.

And earlier in the week, Sony Electronics said it would not exhibit at either the NAB Show or InfoComm, though it planned a press conference at the NAB Show prior to its opening. Sony quoted Theresa Alesso, president of the Pro Division of Sony Electronics, saying, “While these events are an important forum to reach our customers and introduce new products, this is a choice we made to ensure we’re putting our employees’ and our partners’ health and well-being first.”

Responding to the Sony news, NAB Senior VP of Communications Ann Marie Cumming told AV Network on Tuesday that Sony is a valued partner and NAB respected its decision. “Recognizing that NAB Show is an economic engine for our industry, we are committed to delivering a productive in-person experience and have taken important steps to prioritize the safety of our community, including requiring proof of vaccination,” Cumming said Tuesday, estimating that there were some 600 exhibiting companies planning to show.

There was no immediate comment from NAB on the subsequent departures.

The post Several TV Exhibitors Withdraw From NAB Show appeared first on Radio World.

Categories: Industry News

Memories of 9/11 Haunt Me Still

Fri, 09/10/2021 - 13:54
An American flag is shown unfurled at the Pentagon in 2018 to mark the anniversary of 9/11. Nearly 3,000 people died in the terror attacks. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

It’s remarkable and unsettling to think that 20 years have passed since that day.

Like most of us over the age of 35 or so, I know exactly where I was on 9/11. Shortly before 9 a.m., I was settling in for a day’s work in my Radio World office overlooking Columbia Pike in northern Virginia.

My colleague Terry Scutt called in from her desk near my office door, telling me that a plane had hit the World Trade Center.

I immediately pictured a small single-engine aircraft, though my mind also turned to the B-25 bomber that had struck the Empire State Building in 1945. In that tragedy, which took 14 lives, the ESB itself, though seriously damaged, withstood the crash. I knew that story because I was born in Manhattan and have always held a special feeling for the city.

Vaguely uneasy, I tried to envision what the World Trade Center would look like after a plane had struck it.

Of course I went online to see if I could learn more about what had happened, but the internet was locked up.

Now people were talking in the hallway, saying unbelievable things. That this maybe wasn’t an accident but an attack. Though my memory is fuzzy about the sequence, at some point someone turned on a television, and I no longer had to try to imagine what a skyscraper looked like after being hit by an aircraft.

Unbelievably, within 17 minutes, a second plane struck, and then we knew for sure that these were no accidents. Like the rest of the country, I and my co-workers felt a rising sense of fear along with our horror.

[Related: A Timeline of 9/11]

What we didn’t know in the office was that, even as we tried to absorb these two stomach-wrenching developments, Flight 77, coming from the west, was making a looping maneuver almost directly above our own heads — not once but twice. More murderers were pointing another plane at another target.

Radio World’s office sat 4.7 miles from the home of the American military. The road outside my window pointed directly at the Pentagon, and the jet was now flying directly parallel to that road.

Shortly after it passed over our heads a second time, it struck.

What follows in my memory is even more blurred. Sirens began to scream on Columbia Pike as emergency vehicles rushed to the northeast. Some of us went to the roof and could see smoke rising from the crash site. Office mates were crying and trying to call their spouses and children. Rumors flew in our hallways of yet more planes taken, more terrorists in the air, a threat to the White House. Someone said a bomb had gone off at the State Department.

All this while, images on the TV showed the two towers burning, with people visible in the upper floors, waving, pleading for help. We knew there had to be hundreds if not thousands of people in there. The news anchors were talking in hushed, frightened voices.

Without mercy, the hammer blows continued.

A tower, astonishingly, collapsed in front of our eyes.

A fourth plane crashed in Pennsylvania.

A second tower crumbled.

And all under that bright-blue, cloudless sky. Forever, the blue sky of late summer in Virginia will remind me of that day.

The attacks involved the broadcasting industry not just because it was news but because WTC was home to significant television and radio infrastructure.

That infrastructure was lost and stations were knocked off the air. But human beings tended those transmission plants. Bob Pattison, Don DiFranco, Steve Jacobson, Bill Steckman, Rod Coppola and Isaias Rivera were among the almost 3,000 people who died on Sept. 11, 2001.

Shock. Fury. Numbness.

How does one speak about the unspeakable? I feel nausea coming back even as I dig up these memories.

What lesson is to be learned?

To never forget? Certainly. To honor those who died, and to revere those who rush toward such disasters, rather than away from them, to help? Yes. To cherish our lives every day, to try to remember in these divisive times that some values bind Americans together, and that we should be kinder to one another? To work against hate and fanaticism and those who would attack our home and our values?

Of course.

But the feeling is so empty. The loss was so pointless. Americans seem angrier with one another than ever.

And the years move on.

Wherever you find yourself tomorrow morning, please join me and Radio World in remembering those who died; those who lived and saw their lives shattered; and those who answered the call for help.

Paul McLane is editor in chief of Radio World.


The post Memories of 9/11 Haunt Me Still appeared first on Radio World.

Categories: Industry News

Shortwave Radios Keep Up With Tech

Fri, 09/10/2021 - 07:00
Screenshot of an SDR receiver on shortwave with the signals of broadcasts and amateur radio signals.

Surprise! Shortwave radio as a broadcast medium is holding its own, despite the intrusion of the internet, transmission cutbacks by major broadcasters such as the BBC World Service and Voice of America and abandonment of the SW bands by other state-owned broadcasters.

Meanwhile, the ways in which people listen to SW radio transmissions are evolving, because SW receiver manufacturers are keeping up with the technological times.

Stayin’ alive

There is no doubt that the variety of stations on the SW bands has declined, due to the end of the Cold War — the propaganda war of which drove the medium in the 1950s and 1960s — and the emergence of the internet.

Nevertheless, “Even with many stations that are long gone, there is still quite a lot to listen to on the SW radio bands,” said Gilles Letourneau, host of the OfficialSWLchannel on YouTube (25,600 subscribers) and editor of the CIDX Messenger magazine column “World of Utilities.”

“You have stations like Radio Romania, Voice of Turkey, Radio Prague, Radio Slovakia and  Radio Tirana, Albania, while WRMI in Miami has popular listener-created programs like Voice of the Report of the Week,” he said.

“The big broadcasters are there as well but they don’t target North America anymore. Still, I get my share of BBC World Service, Radio France International, Voice of America and Vatican Radio mostly targeting Africa, Middle East and Asia but still listenable here at certain times of day.”

“There’s still a lot to listen to,” said Jeff White, WRMI’s general manager and chairman of the High Frequency Coordination Conference.

Most of the stations that have left shortwave, he said, are government-owned or -operated services like Radio Canada International, Channel Africa, Radio Portugal, the Voice of Russia and Radio Australia. But others remain on the air with reduced services, languages or target areas including the VOA, Radio Deutsche Welle (Voice of Germany), Radio France International, Radio Exterior de España and All India Radio.

“Others are operating at near-normal levels, such as Radio Japan, Radio Korea, Radio Romania International, Radio Havana Cuba, the Voice of Turkey, Radio Taiwan International and many more,” White continued.

“Some stations don’t use shortwave transmitters in their own country, but they use overseas relays, including Radio Prague International, Radio Slovakia International, RAE Argentina to the World and Radio Tirana.”

Further, many former government-owned shortwave transmitter sites — such as Radio Netherlands in Madagascar and sites formerly operated by the BBC, Radio France International and Deutsche Welle sites —have been privatized and are selling airtime to private religious, commercial and cultural broadcasters.

The SW bands are still alive with content.

Software-defined radios

Technologically speaking, the big trend in SW radio receivers is the ongoing move to software defined radios.

SDRs harness the processing power of personal computers to perform the majority of their tuning, visual display and audio reproduction features. All that is added is a piece of plug-in hardware that contains the specific radio receiver hardware, and a connection to an outboard antenna of the user’s choice.

Because SDRs leverage the power of users’ computers, they can do much more than conventional standalone SW radio receivers, and at a much lower price.

“Software-defined receivers have had a really big impact on the shortwave listening hobby,” said Letourneau.

“A $200 SDR can rival a much more expensive tabletop receiver in performance. Add the flexibility of viewing a large bandwidth of frequencies in real time on your computer screen, and it all adds to the experience of listening. You can see where a signal has popped up and just click to listen in.”

White agrees. “I think SW SDRs are a major trend that seems to be growing every year. Since most people have personal computers nowadays, it’s a more practical option, and at a quite reasonable cost. As well, SDRs have made dozens of remote-control online SDRs possible worldwide, enabling listeners to tune shortwave receivers halfway around the world on their PCs or telephones and hear shortwave stations that they can’t normally hear in their own area.”

Like standalone shortwave receivers, the shortwave SDR market offers a range of models to choose from at various price points.

“These can be something as compact as a USB-based ‘radio on a dongle’ to a more self-sufficient ‘Kiwi WebSDR’ that is not only a wideband receiver, but also has a Linux-based backbone processor called the ‘Beagle Bone,’ which is very similar to the Raspberry Pi,” said Colin Newell, editor/creator of the website.

“Not only is the Kiwi a 10 kHz to 30 MHz radio, but it is also remotely accessible and controllable on the internet. There can be as many as eight listeners tuning it remotely, so it is virtually eight radios in one.”

Meanwhile, the Perseus line of SDRs can actually capture and record large swathes of the SW radio spectrum at a time.

“Much like the VCRs of old, ‘spectrum capture’ now affords the ‘recording’ of the entire radio spectrum over time for later listening and uncovering of exotic targets,” Newell said.

SDRs can also provide active noise cancelling to eliminate problems with local noise sources from electronics, and support co-channel cancelling to receive a weaker station completely overlapped and buried under another stronger station.

The price of entry-level SDRs can be ridiculously low. For instance, the RTL-SDR Blog 3 “radio on a dongle” is a credible SDR SW receiver and costs $25.

Carl Laufer, owner of the company, says, “The RTL-SDR Blog V3 is one of the cheapest, yet most versatile SDRs on the market. At its core it’s an RTL-SDR that has been heavily modified for better performance and to have additional features. One feature is the ability to easily activate in software the ‘direct sampling mode,’ which allows users to receive SW radio frequencies without the need for an upconverter that would be required by other RTL-SDRs. Granted, the receive performance of direct sampling mode is nowhere near comparable to the high-end, higher-priced SDRs, but it can be a very cheap way to receive SW.”

Conventional radios remain popular

The SDR trend is definitely changing the way that many people listen to SW radio. Still, the complexity of these units for non-technical people, and the fact that they need to be connected to computers, have kept many SW fans tuned to standalone radios.

In this area, portable SW radios are enjoying the most popularity, because the computer technology that has made SDRs possible also supports the manufacture of sensitive, precise portable radios at very affordable prices.

“It has never been so inexpensive to get a decent radio that will get most of what you want on the bands,” said Letourneau.“The trend is towards DSP-based receivers because they are cheap to build and perform quite well. Hundred-dollar radios today perform better than expensive radios of the past.”

The power of DSP and other digital technologies underpins Sangean’s new ATS-909X2 portable SW receiver. At $449.99, the ATS-909X2 is priced below a top-flight tabletop receiver. Yet it does everything a tabletop receiver can do, and more.

Sangean’s ATS-909X2 portable shortwave receiver retails for $449.99 and is heavily featured.

“The ATS-909X2 is the next generation from its predecessor, the ATS-909X, which has been Sangean’s flagship model for the past 10 years,” said Vince Marsiglia, Sangean America’s sales and marketing manager. “Quite a few upgrades were implemented into this new model.”

They includes a bigger LCD screen, better reception, air band for certain regions and 1674 station presets with three individual memory banks.

For long-distance listeners, many excellent DXing digital receivers can be purchased below this price, putting the reception of distant SW stations within the reach of most listeners.

“Meanwhile, many of the cheaper Chinese radios, often with analog dials, are available at popular markets in Africa and other parts of the world for as little as three dollars,” said White. “Built-in telescopic whip antennas on portable shortwave receivers are often very good now, making external antennas less essential.”

Shortwave portables in the collection of Gilles Letourneau include, from left, Tecsun PL-990x, Eton Grundig Edition Traveller III (front), Radiowow R-108, Tecsun PL-680 and PL-330, XHDATA D808, C. Crane CC Skywave SSB, Eton Grundig Executive SSB and Tecsun PL-380.

Some top-performing tabletop SW receivers are still being made, “but only for the radio geek that can afford them,” said Letourneau. “They do offer a slight edge in their options and flexibility, but for most people, shortwave works just fine on an inexpensive portable that is very surprisingly good in sensitivity.”

And for those who yearn for the elegant SW tabletops of old?

Thanks to the durability of this technology, many older models are still available for purchase.

“The retro market in radio is very big, from used tabletop models like Yaesu, Kenwood, Icom, Drake and used portables from Sony, Panasonic and Grundig,” Letourneau told RW. “Old tube receivers are also very in right now, like old Hallicrafters, for example.”

“Radio sales in general, including SW radios, have seen an uptick in sales since COVID-19,” said Marsiglia. “Individuals working and staying at home crave some form of connection more than ever. Turning on a radio is the easiest way to connect with your favorite music, sports, news and so much more.”

The post Shortwave Radios Keep Up With Tech appeared first on Radio World.

Categories: Industry News

Scarbrough Takes VP/GM Post at Marketplace

Thu, 09/09/2021 - 15:58

Marketplace named Neal Scarbrough as its new vice president and general manager. He succeeds Deborah Clark.

“Scarbrough will oversee a team of broadcast and digital journalists, editors and producers across radio and on demand in Los Angeles, New York, Washington, London and Shanghai,” the organization said in an announcement by Dave Kansas, president of American Public Media.

He cited Scarbrough’s background in media, broadcast journalism and audience and program development.

[Visit Radio World’s People News Page]

Scarbrough most recently was VP and executive editor at Fox Sports, where he also co-founded and co-chaired the Fox Sports Inclusion Council, focusing on diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives at the organization.

Earlier he directed broadcast operations for the New England Sports Network and was senior executive producer at Al Jazeera America. He also was VP of digital media for Comcast’s Versus Sports Network, worked at the Denver Post and was editor-in-chief at

Send news of engineering and executive personnel changes to


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Categories: Industry News

BMI Reports Record Distributions

Thu, 09/09/2021 - 14:18

BMI said it distributed a record amount of money to its songwriters, composers and publishers in its recently concluded fiscal year: $1.335 billion, up or 8% over the year before.

“In addition, BMI’s total domestic licensing revenue exceeded $1 billion for the first time, driven by phenomenal growth in the digital sector,” it said. “The company also continued to set revenue records, bringing in $1.409 billion, a 7% increase over last year.” (It will report a slightly different number based on new accounting guidelines for how to recognize revenue earned in one year but collected in another.)

President/CEO Mike O’Neill called it “a year marked by incredible challenges” but said “the power of music is stronger than ever.”

It said total domestic revenue was driven by a 47% increase in digital licensing revenue.

“Digital audiovisual services contributed greatly to the increase, thanks to new agreements with several FAST (free ad-supported TV) services, strong growth from subscription video-on-demand services including Disney+, Hulu and Netflix, and the proliferation of direct-to-streaming film premieres on services such as Apple, Amazon, YouTube and Fandango NOW, among others. The company also forged new licensing agreements including Fortnite, and renewed agreements with Spotify and Pandora, among others.”

But BMI reported declines in its media licensing and general licensing categories due to the pandemic.

“Total domestic media licensing revenue, comprised of cable and satellite, broadcast radio and television, posted an 11% decline from last year to $469 million.”

It said radio posted a $50 million decline year to year, “due to a combination of the ongoing impact of the pandemic on advertising and the one-time retroactive payment included in last year’s radio total that resulted from BMI’s rate court settlement with the industry.”


The post BMI Reports Record Distributions appeared first on Radio World.

Categories: Industry News

SMPTE Honors David Sarnoff

Thu, 09/09/2021 - 10:15
RCA President David Sarnoff at the dedication ceremony for the RCA Building at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York, the debut of television broadcasting. Photo: Getty Images/Bettman

SMPTE has named radio and television innovator David Sarnoff to posthumous honorary membership, the society’s highest accolade.

Honorary membership recognizes individuals who have “performed distinguished service in the advancement of engineering in motion pictures, television or in the allied arts and sciences.”

NBC was incorporated by RCA on this date (Sept. 9) in 1926.

The long list of notable names on SMPTE’s Honor Roll includes Walt Disney, Ray Dolby, Thomas Edison, Lee de Forest and Vladimir Zworykin.

“David Sarnoff is added to the Honor Roll for his visionary leadership in the advancement and implementation of color television and other communication technologies,” the organization sated.

[Read a bio of David Sarnoff.]

“Throughout his career as both a business and technology leader, David Sarnoff had material impact on advancing television and the allied arts and sciences. His understanding that radio signals could be ‘broadcast’ to many, and not be limited to a point-to-point communications channel revolutionized communication to the masses, starting with radio and later through the development and advancement of television.”

It noted that Sarnoff established “a highly productive and successful research and development lab to fuel innovation of new communications technologies. His support of innovation at the RCA Laboratories in Princeton, N.J., led to the establishment of the U.S. color TV standard in 1953 that served as the fundamental approach of monochrome-compatible color TV systems around the world.”

SMPTE also announced a number of other awards and scholarships.

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Categories: Industry News

Cherry Creek Media Will Use Visual Quus

Thu, 09/09/2021 - 08:53

From our Who’s Buying What page: Cherry Creek Media will use in-dash Visual Quus from Quu Inc. in its radio markets.

Quu adds dynamic visuals to radio broadcasts. “Visual Quus are synced on-screen messages like text, logos, and images on vehicle dashboards related to radio station and client on-air content,” the company explained.

The announcement was made by Jonathan Brewster, CEO of Cherry Creek Media, and Steve Newberry, CEO of Quu.

Newberry said Quu’s web-based software allows stations to publish synced artist, programming and sales messages on vehicle dashboards as often as they want.

Send announcements for Who’s Buying What to

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Categories: Industry News

“Radio Face-2-Face” Features Latest Products

Thu, 09/09/2021 - 08:10

A new webcast from Radio World will highlight the latest products from broadcast infrastructure suppliers and the major radio technology themes of the NAB Show.

The webcast, streaming on Sept. 30 and available on-demand afterwards, features a series of five-minute interviews with technology sponsors, creating a fast-paced look at their newest offerings.

“These next few months are a time of transition for our industry, with some major trade shows resuming while others have been pushed back again into next year,” said Editor in Chief Paul McLane.

“But whether you can attend these events or not, it’s important to stay on top of new products and technology. That’s what this webcast is all about: bringing you face to face with manufacturers to learn what they’ve been working on. And we’ll get a look too at themes of the Broadcast Engineering & IT Conference of the NAB Show including hybrid radio, the performance of all-digital AM in electric vehicles and other topics.”

Participating suppliers include Comrex, RCS, Telos Alliance, Wheatstone and WorldCast Systems.

Registration is free.

The post “Radio Face-2-Face” Features Latest Products appeared first on Radio World.

Categories: Industry News

User Report: Wheatstone Furniture Fills Bill for Worship 24/7

Thu, 09/09/2021 - 06:06

The author is program director of Worship 24/7.

With a new studio comes a new console, and with a new console comes new furniture. Usually in that order.

After years of streaming Worship 24/7 and with a broadcast license finally in hand, we started construction in mid-2019 on our new broadcast studio in Wilsonville, Ore.

A generous donor had given us funding for one studio. We have a 24/7 Christian music station that we stream online and broadcast on KURT 93.7 MHz near Portland, KTDD 104.9 MHz near Seattle and more recently, KJOQ 100.9 MHz in Duluth, Minn.

We ordered a new Wheatstone Lightning analog/digital hybrid console and started mapping out where to put the automation PC, the monitors for automation and production software, and where we’d seat the occasional guests. We quickly realized that furniture from Staples wasn’t going to cut it. We needed a workspace that could hide the PC and various auxiliary boxes below the console, one that would have enough space on the surface for monitors and a console, not to mention a seating area for our guests.

Luckily, we found what we were looking for from the same place we ordered our console.

QuickLine furniture made by Wheatstone has five modular components that I’m told can be made into 32 different configurations. That’s important when you have one studio and there’s a good chance you’ll be moving things around over time.

The QuickLine desk was delivered to us as knock-down modules for shipping purposes. Modules are made of high-pressure laminate on all sides. It came with all the hardware and decent assembly instructions, which made it a simple matter to install the five modules the way we wanted them. We set it up so that the board op could easily see all our monitors to the side and center and with a large wing to the other side where we mounted a microphone for our guests.

Unlike furniture we might have picked up at an office store, we have standard equipment racks made specifically for broadcast and punch block holes where we needed them, which made it fairly easy to route the PC cabling for the monitors and the console cabling.

We are pleased with the rounded countertop corners and the flow of having a central workspace with the guest position off to the side. Concealed hinges were a bonus, and the fact that it was cost-effective was certainly a consideration.

We plan to add another studio at some future point but, for now, we are getting the most out of the studio we have and feel confident that as we grow into this studio, this desk will change with us.

Info: Contact Jay Tyler at Wheatstone at 1-252-638-7000 or visit

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

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Categories: Industry News

iHeart Says Lifting FM Subcaps Could Devastate AM Band

Wed, 09/08/2021 - 17:31

iHeartMedia is asking for “a targeted, moderate approach” to changing local radio ownership rules in the United States.

It says the Federal Communications Commission should eliminate the limits on how many AM stations one entity can own in a market, but that it should retain current limits on FMs.

This position, which iHeart had laid out before and is reiterating now, puts the largest U.S. radio company in opposition to the National Association of Broadcasters on this issue.

NAB too would lift the AM subcap, but it wants the FCC to allow an entity to own up to eight commercial FM stations in Nielsen markets 1 through 75, and up to 10 if the licensee participates in the FCC’s incubator program. NAB also wants no cap on FM ownership in markets 76 and smaller.

A licensee currently can own up to eight stations in the largest Nielsen markets but no more than five in one service (AM or FM).

iHeart is worried that “potentially catastrophic harm” could befall AM stations were the FCC to adopt NAB’s proposal to substantially deregulate the FM band.

“The paramount importance of AM radio stations to localism, the trustworthiness of our nation’s communications and information infrastructure, and the continuing financial disparity between AM and FM stations in the relevant broadcast radio market warrant that the existing local radio common ownership limits be eliminated for AM stations but retained for FM stations,” it wrote.

It also says that by maintaining the FM subcap limits, the commission will ensure that financial incentives essential to the success of its Incubator Program remain in place. “The commission should be guided by the overarching principle of doing no harm.”

iHeartMedia has previously expressed concern about relaxing limits on FM ownership, saying it would lead to further devaluation of AM stations and hurt AM owners, including women and minorities, by destroying the financial value of those assets.

In this regard IHM is in agreement with the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters (NABOB), which has told the FCC that any move to relax the limits on local ownership would increase consolidation and hurt African Americans and other minority station owners and entrepreneurs.

[“NABOB Opposes Lifting Subcaps”]

iHeart also noted that it recently launched the Black Information Network as a national audio news service with a Black perspective and voice, and that it “already has repurposed more than 30 local stations serving large Black populations, the majority of which are AM stations …”

The FCC requested comments to refresh the record in its quadrennial review of media ownership limits. Reply comments are due Oct. 1 (Docket No. 18-349).

The post iHeart Says Lifting FM Subcaps Could Devastate AM Band appeared first on Radio World.

Categories: Industry News

Audacy Highlights Volunteerism With “1Day1Thing”

Wed, 09/08/2021 - 14:00

Audacy plans 47 volunteer events nationally to support sustainability.

The coordinated campaign is part of the company’s “1Day1Thing” initiative.

“Projects including tree planting, park and waterway cleanups, recycling projects and habitat restoration, among others,” it said.

[Read: Audacy Recaps Q2 Earnings]

Jaimie Field, the company’s director of sustainability, said in a press release: “We’re proud to use our voice to move people to make simple changes in their daily habits to protect our planet.”

The company is working with organizations like Blue Water Baltimore, Chattahoochee River Keepers, Central Park Conservatory, Fairmount Park in Philadelphia, Wildlands Trust in Boston, Farmers Assisting Returning Military in Dallas and Grow Good in Los Angeles.

It posted a full list on the corporate website.

The post Audacy Highlights Volunteerism With “1Day1Thing” appeared first on Radio World.

Categories: Industry News

Radio Brings Audiences Together

Wed, 09/08/2021 - 11:20

The author is head of Music for the European Broadcasting Union. Radio World invites industry-oriented commentaries and responses. Email

The many challenges faced by artistic programming and performances during the past 18 months are well documented but cannot be overstated. It has quite simply been a devastating time for the creative sector and the subsidiary industries that work within or closely with it.

Performing arts, live music, festivals and cultural programming have all been hit hard by the acceleration of the pandemic and the necessary measures to suppress it, from social distancing to national lockdowns. It was tempting to speculate whether we — and our sector — would ever regain lost ground. But, after multiple cancellations during 2020, I’m glad to see the green shoots of recovery, with welcome returns for some of the world’s greatest concerts and festivals. It is essential that this recovery continues and be supported.

[Read:EBU Finds That Radio Is in the Air]

Live and recorded music is central to radio programming. Every year, our Music Exchange delivers 3,000 concerts, which means 20,000 broadcasts from approximately 770 venues across a range of genres and sounds, from folk, jazz, rock and pop to classical and dance.

During the summer months of 2021, we’ve been able to offer our audiences 240 concerts, from 77 festivals through 28 public service media organizations. As well as the big beasts such as BBC Proms, the well-known festivals at Salzburg, Lucerne and Bayreuth, EBU members have contributed a range of unique concerts including a juxtaposition between Eastern and Western music from Granada in celebration of Jordi Savall’s 80th birthday; Philippe Jordan’s farewell concert from the Paris Opera; and a rare performance of music history’s first opera, Cavalieri’s “Rappresentatione di Anima et di Corpo,” from Utrecht, Netherlands.

Through our networks members, these national events are shared internationally for the benefit of audiences everywhere. Not everyone can get to the major cities for these big moments so radio broadcasting really does open up music to all, it is a public space in itself.

Theatre Antique Orange, one of the venues of the Euroradio summer festivals.

David Pickard, director of the BBC Proms, told us recently, “Our close collaboration with the EBU brings audiences and territories we can reach further and further afield. So many countries right across the world can hear this amazing concert series in their own homes due to the power of public service broadcasting.

This year, the Proms will be more important than ever at a time when musicians have suffered so much during the pandemic, to have the opportunity to perform again and to reach those huge audiences is going to be incredibly important both for them and for the future of music in our post-pandemic world.”

Case studies show that the range of music played on public service media is wider than on commercial channels. PSM outlets offer opportunities for new artists to get their material heard and enable audiences to experience – and discover — a diverse range of content.

These are just some examples from our members:

  • Thanks to Belgian public broadcaster, VRT, 25,755 songs were played on Belgium’s national radio in 2020. That’s 72% of all songs. Again, VRT were responsible for showcasing 10,790 artists on national radio in the same year, accounting for 68% of different artists.
  • According to the Centre National de la Musique’s report about diversity in radio in 2020, at least 38% of unique tracks played by French radio stations are only played by Radio France.
  • And, in the U.K., analysis of RadioMonitor data found the four BBC ‘pop’ stations — R1, R2, 1X and 6 Music — played an average of 14,216 different tracks across 2020, compared to 2,279 on average for 10 key commercial comparators (all hours).

This commitment to an enriched listener experience is enhanced by expert curation, tailoring content to local audiences and the local music scene. Music journalism helping artists promote their music and concerts to build audiences. Multiple platforms — on-air, online, on stage, podcasts and video — providing listeners with convenient, engaging listening experiences. Educational and cultural programming providing context and analysis of music, songwriters, composers and performers.

It is right that PSM, funded in their unique way, should take risks and showcase content capable of stimulating creativity, and support national musical life. And, for us at the EBU, it is critical that cultural events produced and/or recorded by EBU Members can be shared on an international basis.

Because culture is vital for promoting well-being and increasing social inclusion and equity. After the recent debilitating months, we need that connection more than ever. We’re hopeful that the creative industries will be back to full strength and we look forward to sharing with you, our audiences, the very best of their work that ultimately brings us all closer together.


The post Radio Brings Audiences Together appeared first on Radio World.

Categories: Industry News

Wooten Manages IHM’s Florida Panhandle Engineering

Wed, 09/08/2021 - 08:56
Charlie Wooten

Hurricane season across the Gulf Coast of the United States puts Charlie Wooten on high alert.

Wooten, director of engineering and IT for iHeartMedia in Panama City and Tallahassee, Fla., is also a member of the iHeartMedia Emergency Response Team. He has seen the damage a Category 5 hurricane can do. He stood on the front lines as Hurricane Michael hammered the Florida panhandle in 2018.

That hurricane destroyed the three-tower AM array of WDIZ(AM) and knocked down the STL tower at the iHeart studios in Panama City. Only backup underground fiber circuits kept WPAP(FM) and WFSY(FM) on the air, Wooten said. Two other FMs in the cluster returned to the air within days utilizing a satellite feed to replace the lost STL.

“The iHeart stations were the only commercial stations on the air for over two weeks,” he said.

In 2019 the Society of Broadcast Engineers honored Wooten as the recipient of its Robert W. Flanders Engineer of the Year Award, citing his actions around the storm. “Because of Charlie’s experience, planning and system redundancy, the citizens of Bay County tuned in their radios the morning after the storm and found iHeartMedia signals live. Locals had access to critical information regarding, food, water and emergency health care.”

[Read: Jack DeWitt: An Engineer’s Engineer]

Wooten has had a wide-ranging and award-winning career. He has served as chief engineer for a radio station in Aruba, worked as general manager of a public radio station in Florida, and had a hand in building more than 120 broadcast facilities (RF and studio plants), including 30 in Eastern Europe while working as a broadcast engineering consultant early in his career.

The battle-tested technologist is 72 and has no plans to retire. Our interview with him is part of our series of profiles of leading industry engineers.

Radio World: Describe the scope of your job with iHeartMedia.
Charlie Wooten: I am responsible for all engineering, audio, RF and IT for the iHeart stations in Tallahassee and Panama City, Fla., which totals nine full-power FMs, four FM translators and one AM. We have HD on one station in each market.

RW: What is the biggest day-to-day challenge?
Wooten: Balancing my work priorities between two clusters 100 miles apart.

RW: What technology projects are you working on, and what’s next on the docket?
Wooten: iHeart is currently installing a software-defined WAN system to interconnect all transmitter sites and studios. This system uses two different paths, conventional wired internet and wireless internet, so that if one path fails, the system will seamlessly switch over to the other connection.

After this is installed, we will be moving to a playout system called Sound+, which will have playout equipment installed locally to retain redundancy and reliability. It is an ambitious project and requires many different programming elements be incorporated into the Sound+ platform.

RW: Are you moving more operations into the cloud, or planning to?
Wooten: Yes, we are leveraging cloud architecture, like most industries, but we are also leveraging local playout systems to improve redundancy and reliability.

RW: What are the primary challenges facing local radio engineering?
Wooten: Radio has dramatically changed in the past few years, so it’s important to continue to evolve and reach your audiences everywhere they are and how they want it.

RW: What types of hurricane preparation and planning have your Florida radio stations put in place?
Wooten: We have always had a hurricane plan locally since I came to work with the cluster in Panama City in 1997. We have continued to fine-tune that plan over the years. The plan worked out very well for us for all of the storms, although Hurricane Michael was a completely different animal and we had some new challenges we had to work through. Even with these challenges, iHeartMedia stations were able to continue delivering emergency information shortly after the storm.

RW: What critical infrastructure was most fragile when Hurricane Michael hit?
Wooten: Of all things, we had a battery problem with the generator, which had been tested with no problems on the Sunday before the hurricane hit on Wednesday. We were able to jump off the generator and get power back to the studio building.

All of the transmitter sites stayed on the air during the storm. They just didn’t have any audio. As soon as we were able to crank the generator and get power back on at the studio, WPAP and WFSY had audio, only because we have AT&T underground fiber that ran 100% underground from the studio to the local central office and from the central office, to the tower site 25 miles north of Panama City.

We lost part of the roof and building fascia to the offices, but the area where the studios and rack room were located did not suffer any damage. Luckily the STL tower fell away from our building. We were without commercial power at our studios for over a week and we are located 200 yards from a major substation. Our four FM transmitter sites stayed on generator power for over two weeks.

Wooten visits Slovak Radio in Bratislava, Slovakia, in 1993.

We had diesel fuel delivered to each site each morning and we actually took stations off for short periods at midnight to do oil and filter changes, which are required to insure reliable service.

Our Onan diesel generators operated flawlessly. One piece of flying debris put a small hole in the radiator of the WEBZ generator, but we were able to patch it until a replacement radiator could be located and installed.

RW: What aspects of your job have changed the most through the years?
Wooten: I have been a broadcast engineer since 1970, and the biggest change is the addition of IT to the engineer’s duties. This required me to learn about something I had not really kept up with in the ’80s as it became more prevalent in the ’90s and today.

IT is another aspect of broadcast engineering that is just as important as knowing how to change a tube in a transmitter or build a studio.

RW: What is your perspective on trends relevant to technical radio management?
Wooten: I think the more important question is, how will broadcasters find good people who want to be on their engineering staffs — making sure to have competitive benefits and salaries.

RW: How can the industry identify and develop new engineering talent?
Wooten: Frankly, I have been disappointed in some broadcasters who are not looking ahead and seem to think that engineering is becoming less and less important. While keeping the total station on the air, which today not only includes the transmitter, it also includes the internet stream and other digital means of delivery.

Finding and being able to retain the next generation of engineers should be one of the top priorities of broadcasters. Again, competitive benefits are a key part of attracting and retaining new engineers.

RW: Can you describe the regional structure? Do you have local help?
Wooten: I am part of what is called Region 16, which includes stations in the Florida Panhandle; Mobile, Ala.; Biloxi, Jackson and Hattiesburg, Miss.; and New Orleans and Baton Rouge, La.

I report to a regional lead engineer and we all roll up to a regional senior VP of engineering. As far as the structure of the local engineering department, that would be only me, but I can also leverage other engineers in the region if needed.

RW: What impact has the elimination of the main studio rule had on your technical approach?
Wooten: That has had no change in our local operation. We continue to operate as we had before the rule change.

RW: Are you using HD Radio?
Wooten: In both Panama City and Tallahassee, we have one HD station with HD2 signals that feed translators.

RW: How can radio manage to maintain and grow its presence in the evolving car dashboard?
Wooten: Radio continues to dominate consumer listening in the U.S. with nine out 10 Americans listening. Even though there’s an increasing amount of apps available in the dash, including iHeartRadio, research shows that drivers overwhelmingly still want the ease of AM/FM radio and the simplicity that comes with just pushing a button on their dial.

iHeart is a key player in both AM/FM broadcast radio and in digital, and while we continue to work with all major OEMs and aftermarket head units to make sure the iHeartRadio app is available in dash, that needs to be in addition to AM/FM radio in the dash, not instead of.

Wooten with his ham radio gear, age 12.

RW: How much longer do you plan to work?
Wooten: Honestly I have not set a date for retirement. I am still physically able to work, although I am not as agile as I used to be. My wife will not retire for several more years, and I plan to continue to work at least until she retires.

RW: What has been the highlight of your career so far? And what other interests do you have?
Wooten: My international work in Eastern Europe as a contractor for the State Department from 1991 to 1997 after the fall of the Iron Curtain. I built a bunch of small community stations in the former Czechoslovakia and a station in Zagreb, Croatia. A lot of my friends don’t even know about this part of my career.

I have two hobbies, ham radio — call sign NF4A. I have been a ham since 1962 when I was 12. I also love to deer hunt. I am president of the Bear Creek Hunting Club, which has 15,000 acres leased in the Florida Panhandle.


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Categories: Industry News

NAB Supports Most Proposed Tech Rule Changes

Tue, 09/07/2021 - 17:48

The NAB is giving its support to several proposed changes to U.S. radio technical rules. But it opposes one change that it thinks would undermine interference protections.

The Federal Communications Commission in July adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that identifies seven technical rules it wants to eliminate or revise. As we’ve reported, various engineering observers who commented to Radio World have said they see these changes as beneficial.

Now the National Association of Broadcasters has weighed in.

It asked the FCC to stipulate that rule changes will not cause existing stations to be in violation and that any stations adversely affected should be grandfathered to avoid being forced to modify operation.

With that caveat, NAB supports most of the proposed changes: It said the FCC should eliminate the maximum rated power limit for AM transmitters; clarify and harmonize the definition of NCE-FM community of license coverage; harmonize the second-adjacent channel protection requirement for Class D FM stations; eliminate protection of mid-band common carrier operations in Alaska; and modify the definition of “AM fill-in area.”

But it also identified a few areas of potential concern.

It wants the FCC to grandfather the operation of any stations near the Canadian or Mexican borders that may become short-spaced or otherwise non-compliant as a result of the changes. Also it said the commission should clarify how distance figures in the rules regarding cross-border stations are to be calculated.

Last, NAB laid out an argument for why the FCC should not eliminate the regulatory requirement to consider “proximate” transmitting facilities.

In that proposal, the commission wants to eliminate a rule that says applications proposing the use of FM transmitting antennas in the immediate vicinity (60 meters or less) of other FM or TV broadcast antennas must include “a showing as to the expected effect, if any, of such approximate operation.” The FCC thinks this is unnecessary because broadcast radio antennas in this situation are unlikely to create interference problems if otherwise compliant. It calls the rule seldom-used and says it rarely prevents interference.

NAB disagreed and says the requirement provides an important legal tool for defining interference protection rights.

It said the rule helps to ensure that intermodulation distortion products are not generated and radiated as a result of a newcomer station collocating, or nearly collocating, with existing stations. It said IMD is a common outcome of collocation, particularly when an FM collocates with other FMs or Channel 6 stations, and that it can cause interference to other stations as well as aviation and land-mobile, including public safety.

“It is critical that such interference is anticipated, considered and corrected prior to the commencement of regular broadcasting,” it told the commission. “NAB believes that eliminating the rule is tantamount to instructing applicants not to worry about the potential effects of their operation on existing stations.”

Eliminating the rule could also muddy whether a newcomer station is responsible for correction. “A policy does not carry the same weight as a rule, and NAB believes that Section 73.316(d) provides important legal ‘teeth’ to its longstanding, but uncodified, policy with regard to the responsibility of newcomer stations to correct any problems they create.”

NAB believes the commission needs an enforceable rule codifying its “last in time, first in responsibility” policy.

[Read a PDF of the NAB filing.]

The post NAB Supports Most Proposed Tech Rule Changes appeared first on Radio World.

Categories: Industry News

Latest Data Confirms Underrepresentation, Rosenworcel Says

Tue, 09/07/2021 - 17:02

The acting chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission says the latest data about broadcast ownership in the United States “makes clear that women and people of color are underrepresented in license ownership.”

Jessica Rosenworcel commented on a new FCC report (PDF) summarizing data collected in 2019.

The lack of diversity, she said, “requires attention because what we see and hear over the public airwaves says so much about who we are as individuals, as communities and as a nation. However, changes in the law, technology and court decisions like FCC v. Prometheus Radio Project make addressing this complex. But we have a charge to promote diversity under the Communications Act and we need to honor it.”

She called for an effort to identify ways to encourage more diversity, including reinstatement of the Minority Tax Certificate Program.

The report covers about 4,600 AM stations, 10,900 FM stations and full-power, low-power and Class A television as of 2019.

The FCC released this chart summarizing the majority ownership interest of commercial broadcast stations in gender, race and ethnicity:

As shown above, women held a majority ownership interest in 8% of commercial broadcast stations, while men held a majority ownership interest in 65%, the FCC noted. White persons held a majority ownership interest in 76% of commercial stations while persons belonging to racial minority groups held a majority ownership interest in 4%. Hispanic/Latino persons held a majority ownership interest in 6% of commercial stations while not Hispanic/Latino persons held a majority ownership interest in 73%.

The second image assesses the same categories but for noncommercial broadcast stations:

Women held a majority ownership interest in 12% of noncom broadcast stations while men held a majority ownership interest in 75%. White persons held a majority ownership interest in 89% while persons belonging to racial minority groups held majority ownership interest in 3%. Hispanic/Latino persons held a majority ownership interest in 3% while not Hispanic/Latino persons held a majority ownership interest in 89% of noncommercial stations.

The report also provided charts specifically for various categories. For example, the image below shows majority ownership interest for commercial FM radio stations:

The full set of charts including those for noncom FMs, AM stations and various TV categories is posted on the FCC website.

The post Latest Data Confirms Underrepresentation, Rosenworcel Says appeared first on Radio World.

Categories: Industry News

Former FCC Chairs Give Support to Diversity Certificate

Tue, 09/07/2021 - 16:36
Newton Minow chaired the FCC under President Kennedy. He’s shown receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama. Photo by Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images.

Nine former FCC chairs are expressing support for reinstating a tax certificate program intended to encourage investment in broadcast ownership by women and people of color.

The National Association of Broadcasters distributed a copy of their letter to the media, highlighting the support of these former commission chairs. They include seven Democrats and two Republicans.

The letter supports the Expanding Broadcast Opportunities Act of 2021 introduced in the House and the Broadcast VOICES Act in the Senate.

[Related: “NAB Gives Thumbs Up to Minority Tax Bills”]

Among the former FCC leaders signing the letter was Richard Wiley, who was chair from 1974 to 1977. Photo by Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post via Getty Images.

A Diversity Tax Certificate Program would give a tax incentive to those who sold a majority interest in a radio or TV station to underrepresented broadcasters.

The letter was signed by Newton Minow (1961–1963), Richard Wiley (1974–1977), Reed Hundt (1993–1997), William Kennard (1997–2001), Michael Powell (2001–2005), Michael Copps (2009), Julius Genachowski (2009–2013), Mignon Clyburn (2013) and Tom Wheeler (2013–2017).

“In each of our administrations, one of the most critical goals was advancing diversity and competition in broadcasting,” the former FCC chairs wrote, noting that a similar program was in place from 1978 to 1995.

Among the former FCC leaders signing the letter was Mignon Clyburn, an FCC commissioner from 2009 to 2018.

“The greatest barrier to diversity is access to capital, which is why the Tax Certificate Policy was so important. It provided that a licensee who sold his or her station to a minority entrepreneur could defer payment of capital gains taxes upon reinvestment in comparable property. This relief benefitted buyers, sellers, and consumers.”

They called the former policy “highly successful” because it helped minority ownership in broadcast TV and radio quintuple. “But in the years since the repeal of the policy, the frequency with which broadcast properties have been sold to minorities has fallen dramatically.”


The post Former FCC Chairs Give Support to Diversity Certificate appeared first on Radio World.

Categories: Industry News

NABOB Opposes Lifting Subcaps

Tue, 09/07/2021 - 15:35

Don’t change the local radio ownership rules. That’s the plea from the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters.

Jim Winston, president of NABOB, said, “The reasons given for eliminating or radically relaxing the commission’s local radio ownership rule are not adequate to justify increased consolidation of ownership in local radio markets. The AM radio industry would be greatly injured by the proposals that have been put forth. We are pleased to see iHeartMedia and other companies rejecting these proposals.”

The association is thus at odds on this issue with the National Association of Broadcasters, which has pushed the commission to raise or eliminate the caps.

[Related: “Give Us Subcap Relief, NAB Again Tells FCC”]

NABOB filed comments in the FCC’s 2018 quadrennial review of its broadcast ownership rules.

“Any change in the local radio ownership rule to allow increased consolidation will have a significant negative impact on African Americans and other minority station owners and entrepreneurs,” NABOB wrote.

“Any elimination or relaxation of the subcaps rule would be particularly damaging for the AM radio industry as a whole, in addition to being damaging to African American AM station owners.”

The organization said that ownership of broadcast radio and TV stations has been “in steady decline” since Congress repealed the minority tax certificate policy in 1995, the Supreme Court decided the Adarand case in 1995 and Congress passed the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

“The proponents of elimination or relaxation of the subcaps rule have put forth justifications for these rule changes that are not supported by the facts. Advertisers are unlikely to shift dollars away from Facebook, Google and other internet companies to broadcast media.  Advertisers recognize that the two media deliver audiences in very different ways.  Advertisers seeking to buy radio can buy it now regardless of who owns the stations.”

The post NABOB Opposes Lifting Subcaps appeared first on Radio World.

Categories: Industry News

StreamGuys Building Google Actions

Tue, 09/07/2021 - 14:57

Streaming products developer and services provider StreamGuys has announced that it is available for custom development of Google Actions, that company’s equivalent of Alexa Skills. Therefore, users of Google smart speakers and OS-enabled devices be able to access a station’s live and on-demand content through voice commands.

The company says, “StreamGuys’ Google Actions creation service allows broadcasters who don’t have their own in-house development capabilities to take advantage of the growing ecosystem of Google smart devices for engaging their audience.”

[Check Out More Products at Radio World’s Products Section]

StreamGuys Director of Technology Eduardo Martinez explained, “In today’s media-saturated world, it is important for broadcasters’ brand voice to be presented consistently to their audiences across all listening platforms. … The ability to create tailored experiences also helps them forge deeper relationships with their listeners than the typical ‘cookie cutter’ approach available through third-party aggregators.”

He added, “Our customers have enjoyed using Alexa Skills to better engage their audiences, and our new Google Actions offering lets them extend these benefits onto Google-enabled devices while providing consistent, cross-platform listener experiences.”

For broadcasters using StreamGuys’ CDN and SaaS-based solutions, tight integration between the Google Actions and StreamGuys’ SGmetadata metadata delivery system also allows live stream listeners to ask questions such as “What’s playing?” or “What song is this?”, with the device then speaking out the current song details.

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Categories: Industry News

Developing Radio Partners Makes a Difference in Africa

Tue, 09/07/2021 - 06:00
Mary Jasitini and her father from Mgomba village listen to the “Let’s Talk for Change” program on Nkhotakota Radio.

The U.S.-based NGO Developing Radio Partners is playing a crucial role in socioeconomic development in several African countries by using local radio to address their communities’ greatest needs.

In Malawi, DRP is closing the knowledge and information gap on sexual reproductive health with a project that helps young people know their health rights. The project, supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development, has trained more than 400 young people ages 14 to 19 to produce weekly radio programs on diverse topics related to reproductive health.

The project is aimed at making sure boys and girls understand their health rights and are aware of the reproductive health services that are available to them. DRP’s project includes partnerships with nine community-based radio stations that are focusing their weekly radio programs and public service announcements (PSAs) on topics aimed at ending child marriage and reducing rates of teen pregnancy, HIV infections and COVID-19.

The programs also encourage girls and boys to stay in school and complete their education.

In Burkina Faso, DRP trained community health workers and radio reporters to produce a weekly program that was broadcast by a community-based radio station. They believed that if local health workers delivered messages about COVID-19, the communities would pay attention and take preventive measures.

“Best option”

Charles Rice, DRP president and chief executive officer, says radio is how most people in Malawi and Burkina Faso get their news and information.

Internet is often nonexistent or very limited in rural areas, and television can be expensive and require electricity. Radio, on the other hand, is relatively inexpensive, and a radio set can be powered by batteries or by solar.

Women in Vithenja village listened to the “Nkhotakota Radio Youth Health” program in Malawi.

“We have found radio to be the best option to reach a lot of people all at once. In Malawi, for instance, our potential listening audience among the nine radio stations we work with is about 6.5 million people,” Rice said.

“We work with community radio stations because they are part of the community; they are operated by the community. They are often trusted, and the stations we work with often focus on stories that affect the community – whether it’s related to farming, public health or the environment.”

Chiko Moyo, DRP’s coordinator and trainer in Malawi, works directly with the mentors, the youth reporters and the radio listening clubs at the nine partner radio stations.

“Just as an example, the youth are taught how to hold public officers accountable and they see the fruits that come out of such actions; public funds for SRH (sexual and reproductive health) are put to good use, youth arise to monitor how officers are conducting youth friendly health services, and many other things that help communities to be served better,” Moyo explains.

DRP conducts trainings on a monthly basis and sends weekly tip sheets to help youth reporters focus on specific topics for their weekly programs and PSAs. The Weekly Bulletin is researched, written and fact-checked in Malawi; it provides background on specific issues as well as questions for the reporters to use in their programs and contact details for people to interview.

“Station partners have told us that they rely on these bulletins because they are accurate and timely — and we believe this is why their weekly radio programs are popular. Listeners know that the information they are hearing is accurate” said Mercy Malikwa, who writes the Weekly Bulletin.

DRP has been producing the Weekly Bulletin on sexual reproductive health since May 2017. It started a special weekly bulletin on COVID-19 in March 2020 and it is still being produced.

Changing behavior

The radio programs, both in Malawi and Burkina Faso, have proven to be popular with listeners as well as health officials.

“The project has tremendously improved youth reproductive health awareness and rights in the sense that we have better information dissemination through radio, and that has improved the lives of youth and changed their behavior,” said Jossein Chazala, the Youth Friendly Health Services Coordinator in Malawi’s Nkhotakota District.

In Burkina Faso, the radio program led to the creation of a health association covering 16 villages in the listening area; it comprises community leaders and local health workers who work closely with villagers to ensure everyone gets regular health checks and observes COVID-19 preventive measures.

The Malawi stations often use peer-to-peer storytelling to change behavior, and that was dramatically illustrative for Florence Deusi, who was a child bride at 16 but says the weekly youth program on her local station (Mudzi Wathu Community Radio in Mchinji in central Malawi) helped her escape her illegal marriage to a much older man.

“Whenever I was alone I could tune in to the youth program and that’s where I gathered courage to get out of the mess that I was in.”

Now 19, Florence has told her story on the program, “and I encourage girls who are in situations like me to get out of such marriages and go back to school.”

The Malawi stations have other notable successes, including a yearlong campaign by youth reporters at Chirundu Community Radio in Nkhata Bay to have an abandoned hospital converted into a vocational school teaching such skills as bricklaying, welding, and plumbing.

Also, data tracked by DRP and the stations suggests that programs and PSAs at the Mchinji station from January to March 2021 led to an eight-fold increase in the number of young people seeking HIV testing and counseling services. The station manager launched the programs after noticing a huge drop in visits related to HIV testing between October and December 2020.

After Gaka FM in Nsanje in southern Malawi began partnering with DRP in January 2021, visits to the local youth health clinic climbed 81% between January and March compared to figures from July-December 2020.

Data from the Ministry of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare also suggest that there is correlation between the reduction in child marriages and the radio programs and PSAs produced by DRP-partner stations.

“Based on the data, we believe the radio programs are having a significant impact by reducing child marriages in the districts where we work and increasing the number of COVID-19 vaccinations in those districts where DRP is operating” Rice said.

The author, a public policy analyst, has served as a consultant with the United Nations and the World Bank. He has authored and coauthored numerous books and is a TEDx fellow.

The post Developing Radio Partners Makes a Difference in Africa appeared first on Radio World.

Categories: Industry News