Shane Toven Talks Radio Towers
Posted by Kirk Harnack [TWiRT] on Oct 25, 2013 9:33:00 AM
A week in the life of a Wyoming radio engineer, and happenings at the recent DASH Conference.
Climbing broadcast towers and strategizing future audio delivery methods - it's all in a week's work for Shane Toven, Director of Engineering at Wyoming Public Media. Shane joins Chris Tobin and Kirk Harnack to discuss keeping the Public Radio RF transmitting across Wyoming's landscape. We also discuss the DASH conference recently held in Detroit - bringing autos and radio together in the connected car.
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Announcer: This Week In Radio Tech, Episode 188 is brought to you by the Telos VX multi-studio talk show system. Telos VX is the first and only multi-studio talk show system designed for radio and TV broadcast production. Improved audio quality and cost savings from day one. On the web at telos-systems.com/vx. And now, our feature presentation. From towers in Wyoming to dashboards in Detroit, Shane Toven is keeping Wyoming Public Media at the forefront of content delivery. Calm down, he says that to everyone. From his palatial office of important business. This is Kirk Harnack. Shane Toven of Wyoming Public Media is in Detroit and joins Chris Tobin and me from the Radio Inc. DASH conference. You're dialed in to This Week In Radio Tech.
Kirk: Hey, hey. Welcome in. I'm Kirk Harnack. This is This Week In Radio Tech. It's our weekly broadcast about broadcast engineering, focusing on audio, radio. But with radio technology, there's so much more besides just the audio. There's the RF world, there's towers, there's guy-wires, there's tensioning, there's emergency activation EAS systems. Oh my gosh. We've got to do a show about the stylus of the turntable. Because I always say, "We do everything from the stylus of the turntable to the top of the tower." We've got a great show for you this time. A guy that I've wanted to have on the show for a long time. I've thought about him. I never got around to asking him. Shane Toven is our guest. He's coming up in just a minute. First, I want to bring in our usual, reliable cohost. That's the best dressed engineer in radio. It's Chris Tobin, live in studio. Hey Chris.
Chris: Hello there. Yes, I'm playing it safe. I'm here in GFQ network control center and having a good time. We're throwing out some new things. As you can see, there's a new microphone in front of me. It's not the Samsung, it's a Sure SM7. But there were some people that have opinions that this microphone is pathetic and shouldn't be used for this type of application. Those of you know who you are out there. I'm not going to say your names. But maybe I'll give your GFQ viewer number out instead. No, I'm only kidding.
Kirk: Let's go ahead and introduce Shane Toven. He's our guest on the show. Shane. Coming into us from a hotel room in Detroit, Michigan. Hey Shane, how are you?
Shane: Greetings. I've just finished attending the first ever DASH- connected car audio-tainment conference. We'll tell you a little bit more about that later in the show. We'll also be talking about all the usual engineering related stuff. This is a topic that is kind of coming down the pipeline. Even as engineers, we should be paying attention because, let's face it, we all like gadgets. We all like looking at the latest and greatest. There's certainly a lot of that coming down the pipe in our cars these days.
Kirk: Folks who are regular viewers or listeners to This Week In Radio Tech, know that I work for the guys at the Telos alliance. I'm the VP at the Telos Systems division. Also, I'm part owner of some radio stations. As I say, I own the part that doesn't make any money. That's why I work for Telos. I do get to keep my hands dirty with engineering. In fact, just a week and a half ago, I was climbing towers. I was climbing two towers and moving a whole radio station. Chris Tobin on the other hand, he stays very clean.
Chris: Well, I do work with folks on a contractual basis in radio transmitter rooms and studios. I keep dabbling. I don't own any radio stations or anything like that. That make no money.
Kirk: Thank goodness for you that you don't.
Chris: I don't know. I've been able to make money with things that are supposedly no good, so who knows.
Kirk: Well, good for you. Shane Toven, tell us about yourself. I met you it seems like in Minnesota. Was that where I met you?
Shane: We did in fact meet in Minnesota. I've been in broadcasting now for going on 20 years now. It seems like just yesterday, but I started . . .
Kirk: No way. You seem like you're 30 years old.
Shane: I'm turning 35 this year. I started at the tender young age of 15 at KAXCFM in Grand Rapids.
Kirk: Child abuse. Child abuse.
Shane: I went into this willingly. I don't know what possessed me to do that. I should probably have my head examined.
Kirk: Shane, I follow you on Facebook. I see you supplying pictures of the most interesting places, from snow plows and four-wheel-drive trucks and tower sites. You're climbing stuff and you're building studios. You're living the manly engineers dream. What do you do every day with Wyoming radio? That's who you're with, right?
Shane: I'm in public media, yeah. We operate three different services, classical jazz, our main channel we've got 30-some signals around the state of Wyoming. It's myself and two other engineers. We maintain the entire network for the University. On a daily basis, it could be anything, from microphone all the way out to the antenna. Last week, I finished building a construction permit up near KC, Wyoming. It was the very first one where we had actually climbed a tower this large. It's a cell site, a big free-standing tower. It was an adventure for all of us, myself and my two guys. We got certified to climb. It was an interesting experience.
Kirk: Actually climbing is something I want to ask you about. When I was doing contract engineering on a full-time basis, I was climbing a lot of towers. I don't know if I should have been or not. I always felt very comfortable climbing towers. I don't know that I had the best safety equipment, but I always had equipment that I was comfortable with. I would often free climb. But when I felt the least bit tired, or if I felt like "that wasn't quite a good step, let me rest for a second." I would lash around the tower and tie off and relax for a while. I never really felt uncomfortable climbing a tower. I may not have been the best judge of did I know what I was doing or not.
Why don't you spend a couple minutes and take us through what's your motivation to climb and not leave this to the professionals, the tower crews that do this on a full-time basis. What makes you think you can do this, and how is it that your employer and your wife are okay with this?
Shane: The biggest motivation for us was a couple of things. First of all, it was time. Oftentimes, we just don't have the time to get a tower crew into a site. When we need to get something back up and running, this is Wyoming. You're not just going to call up a tower crew and have them there the next day. It just doesn't happen.
We took the opportunity as an engineering staff to get certified. There are a number of companies out there. A couple of companies come to mind. ComTrain is one of them and the one I went through was a company out in Colorado by the name of Safety One. They trained me to actually train my guys to climb towers.
That's one of the key things, is being able to do it, being able to do it safely, know what the rules are, know what the appropriate safety equipment is. Like I said, I think you hit on a good point. You can be comfortable about it, but you never want to get so comfortable that you're operating in an unsafe manner. You always have to have a very healthy awareness of the situations that you are getting yourself into. I guess that's a big part of it right there.
Kirk: Like so many things in life, we learn by doing. And we learn what is normal and not normal by doing it repetitively. If we don't die in learning what to do, then we can get better and better at our craft. But you did go through this professional training. Can you tell us a little about what's that course like? A day or two, or ten? You're climbing towers? Is this some ground work? Studying? What's it like?
Shane: It's a mixture actually. The basic course is eight hours for just to certify a person in climbing. The training course, the train the trainer course, was several days' worth of training. It did involve a lot of work on the ground. While we were being trained, we never actually went very high on a tower structure. We did it all indoors and they had some tower structure set up in a large warehouse. We were supervised by qualified climbers and always tied off 100% with passive restraint that would capture us on a safety rope if we were to slip and fall or something like that, while we were in the process of training. It can be a pretty intensive process. Under certain circumstances, it's definitely worth it.
That's something that, you're right, a lot of employers probably would not train their guys to do it unless it was something that they felt was justified. In our particular situation, when we have a big enough network, and it's the kind of environment where it was worthwhile to take this training and to do this. Quite frankly, I find it a lot of fun.
Kirk: I know. I still do too. I climbed about a week ago with my radio station in Mississippi. The highest I was up was 60 feet. I've climbed 600 feet before. Not that that's a marker of anything in particular. Once you're over 40 or 50 feet up, things would be bad if you fall off anyway. It doesn't matter if it's 60 or 600 feet. How high are you typically climbing in your job?
Shane: Most of our towers are under 200 feet. I have yet to climb to the very top of one of the 200 foot towers. The one we were just working on was about 100 feet tall. Our antenna was centered at 70 feet. I had a work platform at 40 feet. 40 feet doesn't sound like a whole lot, but once you get up there and you look out over the edge of that work platform, you realize 40 feet is still pretty high in the air.
Kirk: That's four stories, yeah. People die jumping off balconies trying to hit the swimming pool from the resort.
Chris: The most disconcerting part of tower climbing is when you're on a tower and it's windy. And the wind is whipping through the structure. The howling or that sound. I don't even know what to call it. I was up 220 feet on a tower, putting in a Yagi, an RPU. I'll never forget. I was up there working and was like "What is that sound?" I realized it's the wind going between the trellis, the lattice of the tower. It was a three-foot wide tower.
I was like "Oh my goodness." It was the strangest sound I've ever heard in my life. You're just like working on one thing. You have to get over the fact that you let your hands go so you're secured by your belt or harness. You hope that everything goes right. You've got to get past that. Then you hear this sound. You're looking around going "What the devil is that? Oh yeah, it's the wind."
Shane: It can really psych you out when you first get up there. The tower, depending on how it's constructed, may be wiggling a little bit. And how windy it is.
Chris: That wiggle. I've been up the tower with folks who have done it for the first time. It's like "What's going on? What's the matter? Something's moving. Yes, it's the tower. What? It has to give a little bit. It can't be that rigid."
Kirk: I've got to tell you guys. Maybe we can compare a couple stories here. I didn't mean this to be the tower climbing episode. It won't be, because we're going to get to this DASH conference. I'm terribly interested in learning what they're saying about the DASH. Not necessarily because it's the future of radio, but it's a very important factor in radio. We can keep broadcast radio on the dashboard and interesting and convenient and low friction for people to listen to.
When I first started climbing, the first time I ever had to climb a tower, I was in a little town in Kentucky. I'll think of the name of it in just a minute. It was a little auxiliary tower that the station had. It must've been a 40-foot Rone 25 with one set of guy-wires on it. All this tower did was hold a big television Yagi antenna that pointed at some other town to pick up the EBS station. Whatever they were supposed to listen to. I think there was probably an RPU antenna, a WIP antenna, on top of it. But they weren't picking up the EBS station that they were assigned to listen to, the LP1 or something.
With the naked eye, I could look up there and see, the problem was there's 75 ohm RG59 or RG6 coax going up the tower. It went into that little balun from twin lead to 75 ohm. I could see one side of the twin lead was broken off. I could see it from the ground. I thought if I just get up there and fix that, or put a new balun up there, it'll solve the problem. To call a tower crew, first of all, I was really new in engineering. I didn't know who to call. I knew a tower guy some distance away. I thought that's going to cost a lot of money. If I can just climb up there and fix that, the problem will be solved. I don't even know that I had a belt of any kind. I don't think I did.
I climbed about halfway up the tower and I got scared. I thought "I got to come down." I came down and I looked up at the tower and thought it wasn't very tall. Somebody put the antenna and coax up there. This is doable. I got up my nerve again, and I climbed back up, and I got about three-fourths the way up the tower. I thought "I can't do this." I scampered back down.
I'm walking around, pacing on the ground. I was probably saying some bad words. Come on Kirk, you've got to be able to do this. This is ridiculous that you can't do this. Somebody else did this. You can do it too. I've got this attitude like I don't care if it hair lips the governor, I'm going to climb this tower. I finally made it all the way up this tower, and got up there with my tools. I don't know if I wrapped an arm around the thing or what. But somehow, without a belt, I stripped the wire, I reconnected to the little thumb screw, and scampered back down. I came back down and the LP1 receiver worked fine. It was all, "Aha, I can climb 40 feet up."
That was my first experience. After that it got better. I climbed a couple of other towers here and there. Short jobs. All of a sudden I got involved with a really tall job, like 600 feet. I climbed it with some tower guys. After that it was no problem. I was changing light bulbs in the top of 400 foot towers, tossing the old bulb down. That's always the fun thing to do.
That was how I got started with climbing towers. Shane, did you have any kind of first experiences that were stop and go, like I did?
Shane: You know, it's never really freaked me out. From the moment I got on a tower after I'd been trained, and had the harness on and was clipping off. It really didn't scare me all that much. I admit the first time I stepped off onto that platform of this really big tower, it did kind of freak me out just a little bit. You have to gather your wits about you. I'm going to trust my safety gear. I've been trained to do this. Just get over it. It can be easier said than done. In fact, one of the scenarios they mentioned in our training class was how to rescue on a tower. One of the rescue scenarios is if somebody freezes on a tower. You might have to send somebody else up to go and rescue them.
Kirk: How do you deal with that? What do you say to somebody? How do you help them down?
Shane: In some cases, you literally have to go up there on a rescue line that's been pre-rigged, clip the man on your harness, and bring them down. Sometimes you can talk them out of it. Sometimes they're just frozen. It might as well be a medical emergency.
Kirk: Chris, did you ever have any harrowing experiences that you thought, "I don't know if I should climb anymore."
Chris: Yes. I'm trying to remember. This was a three tower AM directional. We were on top of a hill. We started late afternoon. We were fixing the obstruction beacon. As we were looking, I'm looking out onto the horizon, noticing the bright blue sky and sunlight we had was suddenly diminishing. I look at my watch and say "Wait, it's summertime. Sunset isn't until about 8:00 PM. It's only 3 in the afternoon and the level of light is dropping quickly. Oh no, it's a summer storm rolling in.
As sure as I'm thinking, and the thought process is spinning. You're trying to get everything going. You're turning the glass lands. You're tightening everything in. You look out at the horizon and you see these little flashes of light. You go "Look, how nice, lightening." I'm on a Ben Franklin rod. I'm on a 410 foot tower, about a quarter or just under half the way up. I'm going to be part of a metal structure that's going to get some kind of coronal discharge. Oh that's right, I'm on an AM tower. It's insulated from the ground. I've got to get down off this thing real fast.
It was even more fun. This particular tower had a folded unipole. Part of the tower was grounded. The other part had the wire for the unipole. If I was between the tower and the wire, there's a good chance I probably would've felt some real interesting static, or my hair would've probably gone up. We got down real quick. I called on the radio to the guys on the ground "Hey, the storm is rolling in. You may not see or hear anything, but we're coming down fast." I just dropped down the bucket of tools and that was it.
Kirk: It seems like nowadays, most employed broadcast engineers and contract engineers are in a position where the corporate policy is you hire a tower crew.
Chris: That's for liability.
Kirk: Isn't that the norm nowadays?
Chris: That actually has always been the norm. In the early days, I think people were more forgiving or realized you're being responsible. I did the training and the whole bit. We made sure I always had two people. We did everything you were supposed to do. In later years, a lot of corporate folks I worked with, they just mandated and that was it. Just the same thing when we used to do transmitter work. A corporate mandate was two people at the transmitter building, regardless of whether the person knew how to work a transmitter or not. Their job was to pull you off the high voltage, make the phone call, and all that kind of stuff.
It makes total sense. Over the years, you've read articles in various trades about general managers who've decided to fix their own transmitters at their radio stations. Well, it didn't go well.
Kirk: Or even qualified engineers. A person who I know, I didn't know him well, but I met him a couple times in Mississippi, died at the hands of an FM transmitter in Greenville, Mississippi.
Chris: It's true. I have known people too, that get injured. I haven't met anyone who was killed working at a transmitter site. But I have met folks who were injured because of that. I know for years I've always practiced two-person teams. If I was forced not to have a second person, then in my procedures I had at the radio station where the studio would call the transmitter site every 20 minutes. It worked pretty well. That was in the days before webcams and everything else. It's a good procedure.
Kirk: So Shane, at Wyoming Public Media, you guys have three engineers covering a lot of ground. What do you do about a buddy system there?
Shane: We do, and there are a lot of cases where engineers . . . It's usually me that goes out in the field. My other two guys have their hands full at the studios. When it's a larger project, I do bring one or sometimes, in the case of this tower project, we were all three out in the field, which left the studio . . . It was pretty much remote access only if we needed to do something back at the studio at that point. It's a challenge. It's a real challenge. We have similar practices in terms of, if there is a single guy like myself just out at a site by myself, we check in on a regular basis. If they don't hear from me, they send help to the last known location where I was.
Kirk: Shane, we've been talking about your job in Wyoming. Big place. By the way, I almost ended up owning a radio station, or buying a construction permit in Laramie, Wyoming. Do you guys have any facilities in Laramie?
Shane: Oh yeah. That's where we're based. That's where the studios are. It's the University of Wyoming. We actually have three signals on the air in Laramie. KWER, our 100 kilowatt flagship blowtorch, KUWL, and KUWY, that's our jazz and classical stations in Laramie, the flagships for those. They're a little bit lower in power.
Kirk: What a big state. We talked about what you do at the transmitter sites. You said that the guys who are with you are mostly doing the studio stuff. What do you guys do at Wyoming Public Media that's interesting or off the wall or a bit out of the norm, in terms of what the activities of the studio or the facilities?
Shane: Like I said, we have three program streams going out which, I know for a lot of commercial broadcasters, that's nothing. They've got sometimes four or five stations or more in a cluster. The difference is, we feed those three program streams across 30 some odd signals across the state of Wyoming. Our distribution is all via satellite. You can imagine with all the satellite feeds coming in to our studios, and going out of our studios, and the microwave and 950 STL and various other things, the routing and everything gets kind of unwieldy in a hurry. We rely a lot on audio over IP at our plant. In fact, we're an Axia shop. We just migrated to that probably three years ago.
Kirk: I didn't know that.
Shane: Yup. Prior to that, it was all analog. We had a 32 by 32 Leach crosspoint audio router. Once that started failing, we pulled the trigger and decided to migrate everything over to audio over IP after we had been playing with it for a little bit. We started out with just the one, actually it was an Element service. Just to get our feet wet in the technology. A couple of nodes. We were just playing around and evaluating the system. I had worked with it in Minnesota public radio prior to coming out here. It looked like it could be a really good fit. Then when they announced the Radius consoles, I said I'll take four. That filled out the rest of our studio. We've been Axia ever since. They've been good.
Kirk: You mentioned satellite distribution. That's kind of interesting. A couple shows back we had Mitch Glider from Westwood One on the show. Obviously they do a lot of satellite uplinking there in New York. On a statewide basis, tell me a couple details about your satellite distribution. Is it C or Ku band? What kind of problems do you have with snow? What kind of coding and bit rate are you guys using to get the best quality you can afford of audio to all your transmitter sites?
Shane: Sure. We actually use Ku band, the distribution. It's a 500 KHz RF channel on the transponder. We're transmitting all three audio channels on that. We use IP encapsulated over DDB. It's a system from International Data Casting. I'm sure you guys are familiar with from Westwood One. They use the same technology NPR uses. It made sense for us as well. We're running AAC audio on our three channels. We run those at 96 kilobits per channel, which actually sounds surprisingly good.
We do some codec preconditioning with some hardware. It's legacy hardware now. It's the Harris New Stars. I don't know if you guys remember those or not? They actually work really well for this application. We just put them in place and have left them there ever since. They sound really good on our uplink chain, 96k. Even after going through the HD codec, it seems to play really nicely with the HD codec too.
Kirk: That's interesting that you say that. I'm curious what happens. You receive the audio at the transmitter sites. By the way, at your transmitter sites or wherever you are receiving this, I'm curious, are your Ku band dishes flipped over such that the feed is up high and the dish is sitting near vertical? Or are they tilted back and collect snow?
Shane: No. These are actually offset feed dishes. The angle on the dishes is a little bit shallower than one that's got a prime focus center feed. But the snow actually tends to blow clear from most of our dishes. We do have covers on some of them. I've found that as the covers start to deteriorate, have been more of an issue than anything. A couple of our dishes have heaters on them. I'm ultimately planning to roll out more heaters to dishes. One of the primary defenses against satellite audio outage is having IP audio backups at the sites.
Kirk: Oh yeah. You can send the same stream that way.
Shane: In fact, the Wyoming PBS network, which is a separate organization from us, but we share a lot of transmitter sites with them. They have an OC3 microwave going across the state, 155 megabits, all the way from our studios in Laramie, clear to the middle of the state. We send live wire Axia audio over that network. We have Omnia ONE processors at some of our sites.
What they'll do is they'll automatically fail over from the primary audio feed coming from the satellite receiver to the live wire feed coming up a 950 STL shot to our transmitter site in Laramie, where it meets up with that microwave network. There are a couple live wire nodes up there, which we use as an audio router at that site. Those Omnia ONE processors out at the far sites pick off the live wire traffic from our site out at Laramie.
Kirk: Someday, bandwidth is going to be so cheap and ubiquitous, that codecs will barely be necessary. Not a lot yet, but we see some application where people are sending uncoded linear audio over IP typically, from one place to another. We did an experiment in Cleveland, Ohio a few months back, where some international piano competition was going on. They used fairly new but existing infrastructure to send Livewire linear.
It wouldn't have to be Livewire. Anybody's linear IP audio would go across this. We know that there are a bunch of channels between New York and DC that are linear IP audio. As bandwidth just gets cheaper and cheaper, there's less and less of audio to be coded. Just as we found in the world of automation systems. Back in the mid '90s when I worked for Scott studios, coding technology was cheaper than hard drive technology.
Now, of course, it's the other way around. Hard drive technology is cheaper than coding technology. You might as well store your audio linear on hard drives. Anyway, I digress from all that. That's really interesting. I'm fascinated that you guys find that 96 kilobits AAC provides you with the audio quality that you and your listeners would be looking for.
Shane: Sure. Satellite bandwidth is fairly expensive. I think we pay something, I can't remember what it is. But it's in the four figures per month that we pay for our Ku satellite bandwidth to our sites. We have to make as efficient use of that as possible. 96 kilobits seemed to be the tradeoff. That still leaves us a little bit of bandwidth for transferring files to the site for playback. These same satellite receivers will insert a local station ID for us at the top of every hour.
Kirk: Can you do regionalized weather forecasts?
Shane: We can. That's one thing we're talking about rolling out right now, actually. That'll be the next logical step for us.
Kirk: What's Wyoming Public Media doing with HD radio? What are you sending? What's your setup there for HD?
Shane: Right now, as I mentioned we have three networks. We have our main channel, we have the classical and the jazz. We have the classical and the jazz on HD two and HD three at a number of our sites. That, for us, has been the best way to expand that service across the state, since analog channels are in short supply these days on the FM band.
Kirk: Fascinating. I always wonder how well coded audio plays with the HD coding. They say that coding of different types tends to be better than coding of the same type over and over cascading. A lot of broadcasters choose to use Apptec's coding for their infrastructure, because they know it's going to be coded something else, some MPEG codec, for the consumer level. That's interesting that you are finding that it's acceptable the way you are doing it.
Shane: The cascading chain for us would be primarily layer 2, as it comes into us or as it's stored on our automation system. We ultimately plan to upgrade the automation to linear as well. But that's a little ways down the road here. Layer 2 to AAC to HDC. I would've thought that it would be absolutely mangled by that point, but it's actually been pretty decent.
Chris: What's your data rate for the MPEG Layer 2?
Shane: MPEG Layer 2 is typically 256.
Chris: Yeah, that's good. That helps a lot.
Shane: Yeah it does.
Kirk: Hey folks, you are watching or listening to This Week In Radio Tech episode number 188. I'm Kirk Harnack along with Chris Tobin in New York and our guest is Shane Toven. Shane, I'm sorry. I'm not looking at the return video. What's your title there at Wyoming Public Media?
Shane: It depends on who you ask. The title that I was unofficially given was Director of Engineering, by my previous boss. That's probably the closest thing that describes what I do. There's an engineering staff of three. I oversee the other two guys, and pretty much all other things related to engineering at the station.
Kirk: Engineering Grand Poobah at Wyoming Public Media, Shane Toven. We're going to chat for just a second about our sponsor of the show. Then, after that, we're going to talk about the conference that you're at. This DASH conference that Radio Inc. magazine is putting on. At least, they're the primary sponsor of it. I want to find out what you're finding out about the future of the automobile dashboard. This has worried me a lot for several years.
We'll get to that in a minute. Right now, I want to chat with you about the Telos VX phone system. This is where IP meets the studio, where telephony meets IP or IP meets telephony. It all mixes together to provide a fantastic experience, putting callers on the air. Putting select callers or users of cell phone apps on the air.
And we have a future bridge to future codecs, such as AMR wide band, that the cell phone companies are going to be rolling out. In fact, T Mobile has rolled out. The Telos VX phone system is a two rack unit box. It's based on the Telos fan-less engine. It's very solid. There's no fan in it. Big heat sinks. Dual redundant power supplies. Dual Ethernet ports. It's running a real-time version of Linux, that is able to process multiple SIP calls, process the audio, in other words do Omnia processing on those multiple phone lines, they're virtual phone lines if you will, voice over IP SIP calls, and do many channels of Livewire audio in and out.
Then we can group hybrids into shows. We can have in the VX engine a bunch of virtual hybrids if you will. In fact, each SIP line gets its own hybrid in the VX world. We can group these into shows. You might have a show with eight listener caller lines and three hotlines or VIP lines, and then a hotline. You can arrange this any way you like to.
You can also have lines ring in multiple studios. So a hotline or a warm line or a pizza guy at the front door line, all ring in multiple studios. Or a general manager line if you will. One of the great things about the Telos VX, is because it's using the SIP, session initiation protocol, that's the most popular protocol for voice over IP. Because we're doing that and because we're handling this audio in the VX engine, we can do Omnia audio processing on every single phone call. The call to call consistency is amazing. The level of coarse is just spot on call after call. We also can do automatic EQ on the low end and the high end, to get the calls sounding as much as possible similar, from call to call.
There's something else about the VX. If you're using it in a television environment, or any environment where you have open speakers and open microphones, we're using Fraunhofer acoustic echo cancelation in the VX engine. This is optional. You can turn it on or leave it off if you don't need it. This makes it possible to have open mike and open speakers in the same studio, television studio, radio studio, and carrying on perfectly natural conversation with the caller. You don't have any echo. You don't have any feedback buildup. None of that stuff. Of course the hybrids, the VX does all the cool things Telos hybrids do, including the automatic pitch shift that we send to the caller. Not noticeable at all, but man it stops the feedback.
Then there's another thing about the VX. That's the VSET phone that you use to control it. There's actually several ways to control the VX. One is with a call controller module, that can be part of an Axia Element audio console. There are also telephone modules built into the Axia IQ console, in the expansion module. It can also be controlled by software. Not only the VX producer software from Telos, but also third party software from Neo and from Broadcast Bionics. Also from Arctic Palm. Maybe you like their software, the guys from Canada.
There's different ways to control and take and screen the calls. It all works in to an ecosystem that is really homogenous and works very well. Also, the possibility of setting up your own Asterix server. That means you can take a phone app on an iOS device or an Android device and use a G.722 telephone app to make a 7 KHz phone call right into one of the phone lines. It'll ring right in on a line on a VSET. You take that phone call and you're communicating with 7 KHz of audio, from the caller to you, and from you to the caller. This makes it possible to have good sounding remotes just pop up instantly anywhere. Breaking news stories, traffic, weather, maybe your weather guy is offsite and he can call in with an app like that. It's really interesting. There's a future there for future codecs, as various phone carriers bring new codecs online, like AMR wide band coming out.
Watch this space, and if you're looking to get a multiple line phone system for one, two, or five studios at your broadcast center, you ought to check out the Telos VX phone system. If you have Axia consoles, it just slips right in. It's easy. If you don't have Axia consoles, then you use our Axia nodes to convert the Livewire audio from the VX engine into analog or AES for use by your console. Either way, it's a good value. Check it out online at telos-systems.com/vx. Join the over 250 broadcasters that now have a VX system online.
All right. Hey, you're watching This Week In Radio Tech. I'm Kirk Harnack, your host, along with Chris Tobin in studio at our broadcast center at the GFQ network in Queens, New York. Our guest, coming to us from Detroit, is Shane Toven, director of engineering for Wyoming Public Media. All right Shane, you're at this DASH conference. I got plenty of emails from Eric and Ed at Radio Inc. about this conference. I really wanted to go but my wife says "No, we're going to Florida, and we're going to Disney, and we're going to Universal with the kids." Okay, fine, no problem. I'm glad you're there. Tell us about the DASH conference. Set it up for us.
Shane: This is really a unique conference. The whole idea of this really started at the NAB radio show with a presentation that talked about this topic. Where dashboards in cars are becoming more and more advanced. You used to have a volume knob, a tuning knob, power, and a readout of the frequency you were tuned to, maybe some presets. Now you've got these giant LCDs in there that are controlling everything from the radio to your climate controls, just your entire environment in the car.
The question then becomes, as listeners have more and more options in their car, everything from Pandora to iHeartRadio to MP3s, where is radio's place on that dashboard, and how do we integrate? How do we maintain that place on the dashboard? The idea was floated to form this DASH conference, to bring together not only broadcasters, but auto manufacturers and app developers and a number of other parties who bring something to the table in this discussion. It's really been an interesting couple days of discussion. At some point, it almost brought up more questions than it answered. But it was a really good discussion for the last couple days.
Kirk: What do you feel is the mood among broadcasters? Are broadcasters still optimistic? Are they whistling past the graveyard? Do terrestrial broadcasters have a real chance at having a solid position on the modern dashboard? I know it's a ton of questions. Here in Florida on our vacation, I'm renting a Buick LaCrosse. It's like a granddads car. It's pretty nice. It's got leather interior and all that. It does have a big honking LCD display.
It does not have navigation. I guess it's a rental car. I guess they want you to buy the Hertz Never Lost. The radio readout is, I wouldn't say beautiful. But it's more than adequate. It looks good. It certainly reads out title and artist on stations that are doing that. I don't think it's HD. It's not an HD radio, just an AM/FM. Anyway, it looks good. It's not competing with any apps. It's AM/FM. What are broadcasters thinking about their future? Are they whistling past the graveyard on this issue?
Shane: I think your example there must be one of the basic systems. There are about three tiers of systems that they have. The one you described starts at the bottom where you've got an AUX in her you can plug in your MP3 player. But not a lot of other connectivity at that point. Then you start getting into the systems in newer cars that integrate apps, Bluetooth, and a number of other things.
Most of those systems now are actually coming standard with HD, which kind of surprised me. A lot of that has to do with the NAV system and providing data for that and various other things. As far as broadcasters go, it really depends. Some of them are oblivious to this it seems. Maybe they're just burying their heads in the sand. But this is important. We really don't want to get passed by with this. The good news is that in spite of all the choices that are available in the car, the consumers are still turning to radio for the vast majority of content in their car.
Kirk: By the way, this radio did have Bluetooth as well. I did hook my phone up to it. I think I'm running the Google navigation voice through it, so I can find my way to Disney every day. Any talk about when will we actually see cars coming with 4G connectivity in maybe six months or a year? Then you re-up with whoever the provider is.
Shane: That was another thing that was discussed at this conference. The term they were using is the connected car. That could take one of a couple forms. Either that connectivity comes with a built in modem in the car, or it comes through your smart phone. But we're going to see that. GM has already said it's going to be in every single car via an embedded modem.
As for the data plans, that was another good question that was brought up. I'm not sure there was really a good answer in terms of how that's handled. Whether it be included with the price of the car for so many months. Consumers are sensitive to that. They're sensitive to price and data usage. I guess that particular question is still up in the air. The one thing remains. The car will be connected. It will be sending all sorts of data back to the manufacturer, back to a variety of other parties.
Chris: Is there any discussion about telematics and driver distraction?
Shane: Yes, absolutely. That was another big thing that came up. The technologies in the car have to be simple to use. They have to minimize driver distractions. One of the comments that was made, was that radio set the bar for ease of use. In other words, just turn it on and it's just there. These technologies really need to focus on maintaining that level of simplicity, as they're rolled out in cars. Driver distraction was another big thing that was brought up.
Again, no real concrete answers there. You've got the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and other groups who aren't legislating anything at this point, but certainly a very real possibility. Distracted driving is something that people are really sensitive to. They showed a video at this conference where one woman who was in her connected car, while she was driving, was firing up the app to connect to the radio and doing all these things. The poor person in the car next to her who was conducting the interview was saying "Pull over if you need to" and was just terrified to death. It's a real issue.
Chris: If you want to see distracted driving, take a commuter bus along the New Jersey turnpike toward New York City, and look down into the windshield of the motor vehicles on the turnpike. The interesting things you will see. People reading the newspaper. Women doing their hair or makeup. Yeah, it's fun. That alone is a video that should go on the Internet. It's a great thing. It's a reality show. It's the next show.
Shane: One other thing that was brought up as a tangent to this were cars that are autonomous. The fact that as autonomous vehicles become more common, or vehicles with features that allow the driver to focus less on driving, I'm not sure that's a good thing. They mentioned that that might be one solution to the distracted driving issue. The vehicle has more features built in that will sense its own surroundings and sense what kind of environment it's in, in relation to other vehicles and even in relation to transportation infrastructure like stop lights and various other road signals.
Chris: So basically a self-aware vehicle. Instead of it being the Skylark 2000, it'll be the SkyNet 2000 from Buick.
Shane: Isn't this how SkyNet started?
Kirk: How are the experiments with the Google cars? Any word as to where that's going? We do have autonomous driving vehicles. That's going to happen. You know it is. When we have that, that opens up all kinds of opportunities for entertainment in the car. Now radio will be competing with television in the car. And video games and everything else. Emails and who knows what all else. That day is going to come.
Kirk: Did they talk about that at the DASH conference?
Shane: It's going to get there. But that's something that is still a ways off. For now, we're in this mode where we have to deal with technologies in the car that the user has to interact with while they're driving. Again, simplicity becomes the key.
They talked about things like voice interface versus touch screen. Voice interface is one of those things . . . I don't know if you've ever tried to use the voice interface in some of these cars like Ford Sync and so on. I found them really frustrating. Even Siri on my iPhone I find difficult to have her understand what I'm trying to talk about sometimes.
Kirk: We engineers are often talking over other's heads or around the side anyway. I don't know if Siri can be expected to understand everything that have to talk about.
Shane: Does she know the resistor color code?
Kirk: It sounds like we're going to continue to be . . . Two decades from now, we're going to look back on these as the bad old days of driver distraction. In the future at some point when we all have Jetsons cars, it won't matter. Driver distraction will be we'd rather have you distracted. Don't worry about us taking you there. A car is going to get you there.
For now, we've got to design systems that are low friction. Let's say you punch the Pandora app and you haven't logged in to it yet, or you want to change your login. It can't ask you to login while you're going 58 miles an hour down the highway. It's got to hold that off, "Nope sorry. Can't play anything for you until you pull over." and stop.
Shane: That was another thing that came up. The initial setup and pairing of some of these systems was where the really difficult part came in. It seemed like a lot of them, once that part was done, they were fairly seamless. You poke the button and it just went. We're getting close to that point with ease of use.
Kirk: Now thinking about broadcasters. How's the conversation going about let's say I want to listen to KIX 106 in West Undershirt, Arkansas. When I tune into KIX 106 in West Undershirt, is it going to be possible for the radio to know whether it's in range or not of the broadcast signal, and maybe choose that. If it's not in the range of the broadcast signal, maybe somehow to know there's s a stream for KIX 106. Here's the URI for that stream, and go stream it.
Wouldn't that be interesting, to be able to switch between streamed audio and broadcast audio? At some point, when or if LTE 4G coverage is really good, I don't know that we'll ever have enough bandwidth to cover all the cars that want to listen to different streams. Wouldn't it be interesting if we could switch automatically between the broadcast version and a stream version. Are we anywhere near that?
Shane: We're getting there as well. That's another thing that was discussed, was the seamless transition between various mediums. You want to listen to something, you tell your radio this is what I want to listen to. The delivery platform at that point becomes irrelevant. It just pulls it from whatever source is available, whether that be terrestrial broadcast radio, internet, or any number of possible sources now or in the future. It's coming. As broadcasters, we're not really . . . RF is RF. We know that, whether it be broadcast radio or whether it be cellular. But, the days of the broadcast transmitter being the exclusive mechanism for broadcast audio content are kind of numbered, I think.
Chris: Yeah, they've been numbered for a long time actually.
Shane: They have.
Chris: The Blaupunkt system back in the '80s. You could travel across the countryside in Europe and it'll change from radio station to radio station if you're all on the same network. The early days.
Shane: Was that the RBDS, the alternate frequency tagging?
Chris: Yeah. In the early days.
Kirk: I got to experience that in France in the early '90s with a French broadcaster called vibraccion in Orleans, France. They had 13 transmitter sites, all reasonably low power. 500 to 1,000 watts on various water towers across the central part of France in the Loire valley. We'd drive around and the thing would automatically move to the strongest signal and never lost it. We could drive around for hours and keep the signal. It was usually pretty good.
Of course, the US broadcasting model is quite different. We tend not to have a whole bunch of low power transmitters transmitting the same thing. We tend to be the cowboys with the big 100 kilowatt signals somewhere. Although, Wyoming Public Media, like other statewide type services, do follow a bit more of the European model, don't they?
Shane: We do. We have a lot of smaller transmitters around the state. The other challenge you start getting though, with something like that, is now you have to deal with delays. Whether that be HD delay, streaming delay. That could be kind of a nightmare, if you're talking about a radio that's got to switch between those various audio sources. I'm not quite sure how to get around that problem. They're also talking about the possibility of radios that will sit there and constantly cache content. It becomes like a radio TiVo. You're listening to anything you want, whenever you want to listen to it.
Kirk: On the one hand, the radio TiVo idea sounds pretty good. You make your own clock. I want to hear the songs they have to play, but I want to hear the news at the top of the hour, and traffic twice an hour between 6:40 and 7:30 PM or AM. Then, you start to become your own program director. Does my mom want to do that? No. She wants to turn the radio on and hear what's on.
Shane: That's true. A lot of these things are generational. You've got the young generation where . . . one of the stories that was related at this conference was a guy who had his kids in the back seat. He turned on the car and the car goes back to the last radio station it was turned into. The kids hear the last 20 seconds of a song. They say "Dad, dad, go back." They want to hear the rest. They want to hear the song.
Right now you can't do that. But a day is coming where you could do that. I could actually envision a radio that's constantly slurping up the entire RF band in a particular area. It just gives you what you want within the last 30 minutes or whatever, on the FM band from that particular area. That might be one approach.
Kirk: If it was, as you put it, slurping up all the RF, it would almost have to do all of its own encoding. What if it was actually slurping up all the audio streams from stations in your area, plus additional stations that you may ask for? Let me ask this. We have these apps right now like iHeartRadio. You can listen to any clear channel station across the country. I spent a part of my life listening to WLW in Cincinnati and WHAS in Louisville. When Gary Burbank worked at each one of them, I liked to listen to them.
I've pulled up the iHeartRadio app and I've checked it out. I've listened to a couple of local clear channel stations. Okay, it's what's on my local dial. And then I tune into WLW and I listen to the trucker's show for ten minutes. Okay, that's cool. I don't think I've been back. I haven't been back to any of the stations there. I guess what I'm getting at is, are we finding anything out about what people find compelling? Do people from Wyoming tune in to WLW in Cincinnati via the iHeartRadio app?
We work hard to make our streams available everywhere on lots of platforms from tuneIn to Stitcher to iHeartRadio, if you have an agreement with clear channel like Cumulus has had. But is all that effort worth it? Do you end up getting 14 people listening on iHeartRadio who are outside the Cincinnati market to WLW. What value are we finding in all this work?
Shane: It's making it available to the consumers. Our listeners are going to listen to what they want to listen to, when they want to listen to it. That's the kind of environment that we're in now. We're not in a media environment now where people are doing appointment listening, where they're tuning in to catch a particular show any more. I think what's really important though is producing that compelling local content.
I mean listeners form connections with those local DJs that they're familiar with. If somebody is in Wyoming listening to WLW on the iHeartRadio app, it's probably because they have some kind of connection back to WLW and the personalities at that station. I think that's really what is going to become important here. Content, content, content. Like I said, the delivery mechanism really doesn't matter. We need to make it as easy and accessible for the listeners as possible.
Kirk: Well you said it. Content is king. Chris, I'm sorry. I think I cut you off a couple of times. Do you have a comment?
Chris: No. You didn't cut me off. I would agree with Shane that content is the driving force behind it. I think the broadcast industry needs to wake up and realize if it doesn't change its modus operandi, it's going to fail miserably. iHeartRadio and all the others, radio.com and the other stuff, someday, somebody will realize and wake up as Shane pointed out, that it's just a delivery mechanism. It shouldn't matter where you get it from. Someday, the broadcasters will tell the investment bankers to step aside. Don't worry, we've got everything under control. You will get your money back. Let's just pay attention to the business model.
Someday, broadcasters will realize the content they produce that is compelling, as Shane pointed out, is where the money will be found. Right now, the only broadcasters that are benefiting from content that is compelling, are the ones doing live news, sports, and compelling live talk. Everything else, from music included, is going nowhere fast. As you point out Kirk, you could do TiVo radio. TiVo in the car, you do your music favorites. That's what happens now. What's the point?
That's why those that did not grow up with traditional radio as we know it, don't get the fact of what's the point of this. I can do this with my iPod. That's where people are missing the boat. I've been to so many NAB conferences and sponsored events with the knucklehead researchers and the same thing comes out every time. You've got to do this, that, and that. Nothing works.
People continue to believe the future is this. As Shane pointed out, you sit there going "Okay. This is all well and good but, if it's not something people want to hear, all the technology in the world is not going to bring it to them. And you're not going to benefit." Everything is a viscous cycle again where nobody makes money and they all walk away.
Shane: The other place where these connections happen is in the event of emergencies. You're not going to get emergency information from something like Pandora or Rdio. That generally is only going to come from a local broadcaster who is there, who has feet on the ground, and knows what's going on. Those are the kind of connections that get formed with the listeners. There was another story told at the conference about a radio station that after 9/11, basically their morning show spent the whole morning talking with and connecting with their listeners and letting them talk about what was on their minds and how they were feeling.
Chris: The problem is, today's environment, broadcasters in certain markets, certain size broadcast companies can't see the value in local programming. Therefore, they find it's not going to work. We have the infamous "Hey we had an ES alert go out over the air and there was nobody there to correctly do it."
Certain things have happened in our local community. We have no idea why the radio station didn't say anything about it. They come to find out the radio station is automated from some other place. Everybody just accepts it in industry. I'm not saying listeners accept it. Industry just accepts that as the norm. That's the way it has to be. You can't have it both ways. If you're willing to do local, you will make money with local. But you have to be willing to do it right.
Shane: You really have to commit to it.
Kirk: If you treat your programming like a jukebox, and you program it like a jukebox, you can expect that your competitors will be jukeboxes. A jukebox will be your competitor. When I say jukebox, I mean the services like Pandora and Rdio, and now iTunes radio. By the way, when iTunes radio came out, I paid for iTunes match every year. It's gotten me a whole bunch of music cleaner than what I had myself.
I thought "You know, I like classic cello pieces." I made a cello channel on iTunes radio, or maybe I found one that was already there. I spent about two days listening to it. I started to realize I was listening to about the same 27 cello pieces over and over again. Maybe there's just not that many. I don't know.
But after about two days of listening to it, I thought I had enough. I may move on to something else. I've done the same thing with some Pandora channels. I and my daughter, Madeline, will make up a Pandora channel. We'll listen to it and it'll be fresh and good for a few hours, maybe even a couple of days. After that, this Frank Sinatra channel is really getting old, because I think I heard that song three times today.
Chris: That's how radio was in the early days. That's why radio stayed live. That's why radio constantly reinvented itself. Because for human nature, that's what happens. Things become repetitive. The brain suddenly says, "Okay, we've cached enough. We're going to move on to something else."
Shane: That was another one of the comments from the conference is that we have to get back into the mode where we're really not afraid to take chances with innovative programming on the air. Unfortunately, it's going to have to come down from the top.
Chris: That top is real old. It's 65 plus. Not happening. Not happening until they retire and are out of the business. I gave an example once. I was talking recently at a university with some students in a broadcast program.
I gave them an example. You have a radio station that has HD radio channels, HD sub channels we'll call them. For some odd reason, the broadcaster insists on putting some kind of alternate music on those channels. One of them was country music they claimed was unique enough that it was worth it. Really? Okay, you never saw something called the iPhone? The other channel was classic rock. All the old recordings of something. Really, you never saw this thing? I said, 'Why don't we try something else?' Since we need to pay the electric bill and we need to really find a way to introduce the community to the radio stations or extend our brand. I'll use the phrase that's used by marketers.
What if we went out and sublet the HD channel to the local college sporting programs, so that at one certain time of the day, one particular college sports team is doing their finals? Another time of the day, because it's a different league, there are different times. What happens is, you have these colleges, students, and families buying into the HD component, and they're finding out their favorite college sport team that they support, because their kids are in it, is on a radio station that just so happens to be a popular station for the particular music they like. All of a sudden, now you've cross pollinated between the two technologies and you've grown and extended.
I sat there with several executives, with two programming people that totally bought into it with like "That's a great idea." I had to present the technology side of how do we make money off of it. I did an ROI and it worked. I got the look of like I just poked their eyes out, or I sacrificed their first born. "No, you don't understand, that's not how it works." Your model right now doesn't make any money. The one I have brings in a couple of months. It pays the electric bill plus. Which one is the preferred? I had it all wrong. Apparently I didn't understand business. They went back to literally doing this stuff, and they changed it to an automated system, sort of like what Kirk was pointing out with Pandora and making a playlist. It was just a nightmare. As I travel around the country, I hear the same thing. What the devil?
As Shane points out, you've got to make changes. You've got to be willing to do something, otherwise it's just going to get stuck. Then you're going to wind up forcing people to buy cellular phones with FM chips in it, expecting to save the radio business. That's just my opinion. Just want to make sure we're all clear. This is my opinion. Every time I read articles about the business and why things are dying. Really, it's not the technology doing it.
Kirk: As broadcast engineers, I think for the most part, the best thing we can do is provide the best ways for broadcasters to get their signal out in a friction freeway, and a mass media kind of way. Make sure we're there where everybody else . . .
Shane: Did we lose Kirk?
Chris: Apparently my opinion must've annoyed somebody. I've been known to do that too many times. No, I'm only kidding. Did we lose Kirk? I'm just checking. We're at the network operations center here. We'll look over to the big board. It's blank. Do you think the future with DASH . . .
Voice: The person whom you're trying to reach is currently unavailable.
Chris: So we've discovered. Thank you for letting us know that. Such a nice British sound.
Shane: Speaking of voice interfaces.
Chris: Moving forward with DASH. Say in a perfect world, like Wyoming Public Media, you do all the right things. You say we're creative. We go out and experiment. We're going to do crazy stuff. Do you think the DASH approach would definitely be something you could benefit from? You could see it in the stations, the markets you're serving, the audiences you're connecting with. Do you see taking advantage of that technology.
Shane: Yeah I do, actually. One of the things that was brought up were the apps. Right now the two big ones that are out there on these platforms are Pandora and iHeartRadio. Both Ford and GM have announced they're going to have APIs available for stations to add their apps to this platform. I could definitely see investigating that a little further, as well as providing all kinds of data to put into this platform, to offer listeners the best experience possible.
Chris: Okay. That's what I thought. Basically, we all agree. The chat room, they're all going crazy. I probably stirred the pot a little bit and smacked that bee's nest. I've just been known to do that. At the end of the day, it's about making money and enjoying yourself and making things happen and moving on in life. One of the things I wanted to point out with DASH and other technologies that are coming around, and you pointed out succinctly, we as broadcasters have to be willing to take chances, take risks. Find a way to make it work, because that's what we do. Whether you're building cars, tripods for a camera, that's what it goes to.
I just want to use an example. I was reading an article recently and talking to some entrepreneurial inventor about a technology. If you can see this correctly, I hope people can. Those listening, this is a light bulb I'm holding between my thumb and index finger. That light bulb, the technology, the incandescent light bulb, it took the inventor 1,000 tries, and 1,000 failures before it became perfected. That inventor, Thomas Alva Edison. For those of you who don't think it's possible, it can happen. But failure is something that you need to have. That's how you learn from it and make things happen. Shane, you were spot on about talking in that fashion. Oh, is he back? Hello, Kasimi, are you online? Caller from Kasimi?
Kirk: I'm here.
Chris: Sorry. Just reminding people of Larry King in the day, on the Neutral Broadcasting System.
Kirk: Am I on? Am I here?
Chris: You're on. You're live and you're to the network.
Kirk: It sounds like you guys carried on quite well. Thank you very much.
Chris: We're close to wrapping up.
Kirk: I had to put a couple quarters in the hotel Vibra bed to keep the WiFi running. This is the craziest resort internet. You have to re-login every few hours.
Chris: Oh, it's a bandwidth cap, I see.
Kirk: I don't know. They just cut you off after a while.
Chris: You're time capped. It has nothing to do with the data bits. It's your time. Sorry, you've got 20 minutes, that's it. Anything you can do within 20 minutes. You could have 20 gigs if you like, only 20 minutes worth.
Kirk: Shane, we've asked a bunch of questions. Is there anything else at the DASH conference that's been going on that's caught your attention or you'd like to make sure we know about?
Shane: Oh my goodness. It was a full two days. My brain is full. I'm done. I'll tell you this. There was a lot of activity on Twitter throughout the conference. The hash tag, if you want to go back and look at the conversations we were having, was #dashaudio. There's a lot of information there. I think the takeaway from all this is the dashboard is changing. We as broadcasters have to adapt to it. A big part of adapting is realizing we're not just radio any more. This has been the case for quite a while now. We're not just radio. We are content producers. That content has to be something that the consumers, listeners, whatever you want to call them, want to actually listen to. We have to give them a reason to actually want to listen to our content.
Chris: Radio has always been content. It's never been broadcasters. A broadcaster is a farming tool that spreads seeds across the field, if you want to look up the term. The seeds are the content. So we've always been content providers. We've just lost sight of what we've called it.
Shane: Yeah. Sorry, I'm just stirring the bee's nest.
Kirk: I see one tweet that Eric Rhodes made just some hours ago today. "Don't blow out your morning guy for a national feed. Local is what we advertisers want from radio. It's your advantage." True?
Chris: I don't know. Check with Clear Channel. They have one guy across the country, right?
Kirk: I don't know. I was at the Universal Studios today here in Orlando. They have a radio station as we mentioned earlier. They have two studios there. They had two of the local Orlando Clear Channel stations operating from the studios today. One of them was WTKS. I was pretty impressed with their daytime talk shows on TKS. They weren't necessarily political. It was kind of like some adults and the Simpsons sitting around a table over a lunch or dinner chatting about problems of the day.
It was kind of interesting and rather compelling I thought. I didn't know that this kind of programming was going on. I should, but I'm certainly not hearing anything about what's going on in radio. It was certainly different than the Clear Channel stations that we have in Nashville, where they do a very adequate job of talking mostly about politics. I felt this was kind of refreshing what TKS was doing. And that they were doing it live from Universal Studios.
Of course it's part of the promotion there. Hey, the stations that I'm part owner of, some of them have a live local morning show, and some have a national act on the air. I get where Eric is coming from. Don't do that. Almost seems necessary sometimes. I'm sorry, Shane you were telling us about . . . I know a lot happened in two days, just looking at the tweets here on the Twitter feed with the hash tag #dashaudio. Anything else stand out in your mind from the last couple of days? Anybody that we should really watch and listen to, who seemed to speak a lot of wisdom?
Shane: I think it's going to be worth watching what's coming out from these various car manufacturers. Ford, GM, Toyota, they all have their connected solutions out there right now. They want these partnerships with content providers. We have to be there. We have to be sure that we're providing what the customer wants.
Kirk: All right. More to come. Is this conference over now? Was it two days?
Shane: It was a two-day conference, yup. It just wrapped up today.
Kirk: Hey. I'm going to encourage folks to go to twitter.com and search #dashaudio. Read what other people were saying about the DASH conference. Some photos got tweeted and quite a bit of ideas and plenty of good links there too. Shane Toven has been our guest on This Week In Radio Tech. Shane is the director of engineering at Wyoming Public Media. Shane, not only are you doing that, but you're also at this forward thinking DASH conference in Detroit. Thanks for going there and thanks for checking in with us. I appreciate it very much.
Shane: Thanks for having me.
Kirk: All right. Chris Tobin, live in studio in Queens at the GFQ network. Thank you very much for heading out there and being on full HD for us.
Chris: No problem. I had a great time. Great topics.
Kirk: Next week, our show This Week In Radio Tech will be at a special time, although I'm forgetting exactly what that time is. Is it Two o'clock Eastern?
Chris: Two o'clock Eastern, and it's on the 75th anniversary of the War of the Worlds radio broadcast. That's right.
Kirk: It's on Halloween, 2:00 Eastern Time. And our guest from Comrex, Chris Crump. You may know him as the director of sales for Comrex. Smart guy. Has a lot of great ideas and can tell us what's going on in both audio and video, remote connectivity. Chris Crump will be our guest next week on This Week In Radio Tech.
Our show this week has been brought to you by Telos, and the Telos VX multiline VOIP SIP phone system. It's where the world is going with telephony and built-in codecs in your phone system. Check it out at telos-systems.com/vx. All right. Thanks very much to Andrew Zarian at the GFQ network for producing our show. To Chris Tobin and Shane Toven, we'll see you next week on This Week In Radio Tech. Bye-bye.
Announcer: That's all the bandwidth we can pilfer this week. Another torte is propagated. All the transmitters and audio equipment live happily ever after, thanks to the handsome engineer and his kind, benevolent care. We'll be back next week. This Week In Radio Tech. Subscribe to iTunes and you'll never miss a show. Search for This Week In Radio Tech in the iTunes store. Soliciting is strictly encouraged.
If you like today's show, tell a friend. If you didn't like it, we were never here. Kirk Harnack's wardrobe provided by the Salvation Army and the Red Cross Disaster Relief Services. Hair and makeup provided by Penny Lope Garcia Hernandez Weinberg. This ends this transmission. Tango, Whiskey, India, Romeo, Tango, signing off.
Topics: Radio Transmitters
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