Radio News December 2016

WHEAT:NEWS RADIO

DECEMBER 2016
Vol 7, No.12

Got feedback or questions? Click my name below to send us an e-mail. You can also use the links at the top or bottom of the page to follow us on popular social networking sites and the tabs will take you to our most often visited pages.

-- Scott Johnson, Editor

Radio Animal Dom Theodore

EQ

If you could spend 15 minutes with one power player in the business, who would it be? If you thought of Dom Theodore, aka Domino of CBS/iHeartMedia/Glenn Beck fame, you’re in luck. Dom happens to be a fan of Wheatstone audio processors (he has them on his radio stations in Cadillac and Big Rapids, MI) and a friend of our own Mike Erickson since their days at CBS Radio in New York. He agreed to sit down with us to talk about everything from PPM to the future of radio in the connected car. Dom has blazed a long and prodigious trail in radio programming, starting with his scrappy beginnings in small-market radio that earned him his first paycheck of $14 to his rise in the big markets for Beasley and Glenn Beck’s The Blaze. Dom is the GM of the Glenn Beck show, works with Summit Media and specializes in CHR, Hot AC, Urban Hip Hop and talk formats as the President/CEO of Radio Animal consulting firm.

WS: We’ve heard it said that you understand just about all the angles of this industry, from programming for corporate radio (iHeartMedia and CBS) to getting the right sound in competitive battlegrounds like Tampa. Now that you’re an owner operator yourself (WHTP/Portland, ME, and WCDY/Cadillac, MI), and working with the likes of Glenn Beck’s The Blaze and Beasley, what do you think is the single most important thing radio broadcasters should be focused on today?

DT: The greatest focus needs to be on creating amazing and exclusive content. Let's face it, there are hundreds of delivery systems today for entertainment, and tomorrow there will be thousands. In a world of choices, consumers will choose the delivery system that provides the best 'delivery' - the most interesting content. Key to this is talent discovery and development. The single biggest opportunity that we have to distinguish ourselves from other platforms is with interesting and compelling talent. With so many outlets playing the same music, it's really all we have to provide added value and generate passion for our platform. After all, it's not just about use, it's about passion - if we want to thrive, we need to create passion on the user end of the radio.

Read Rest of Interview

WS: There’s been a huge change in this industry from 1996 on, which has resulted in a lot of trial and error. What have we tried, what have we ‘errored,’ and what have we learned as an industry, especially when it comes to the sound of the station?

DT: There have been many errors since 1996, starting with the attempts to commoditize radio. The creation of over-leveraged large radio groups is the first problem... companies have over-paid for stations and taken on way too much debt to subsidize this mistake. The result is we now we have huge delivery systems and weak deliveries. At a time when the world is more connected than ever, we have many radio stations that are less connected with their communities than ever because the host is tracked in and has never set foot in the community... plus the studio lines are busied out and there's nobody there to interact. Ironically, we are seeing the most innovation, talent development, and local emphasis happening in smaller and mid-size markets by companies who have longer-term operating strategies. They've seen the mistakes by the larger companies, and don't care to duplicate them. The great irony is before 1996, you would see the automation systems in smaller and mid-markets, and the big markets had all of the toys and resources. Now, because of over-leveraging, the big markets are emaciated and the small and mid-markets have the resources.

WS: Let’s talk about sound for a moment. Certainly, source material has changed, but there are other changes too, right? What might broadcasters be trying to achieve with audio processing now compared to a few years ago?

DT: There is no doubt that the source material for most contemporary formats tends to be over-processed, especially compared to a few years ago. I've always been known for aggressively loud but acoustically dramatic audio on my stations. Engineers that have worked with me either love me or hate me - because I can be quite demanding on audio processing. But at the same time I also understand how buried and un-appreciated most engineers are, and that's a shame because a great engineer is a major asset. A few years back, it was really about being the loudest thing on the dial - now quality matters too, which is why many modern processors actually measure dynamic range and adjust in the face of overly processed source material. Also, in the last few years there has been a focus on PPM signal enhancement... and unfortunately the side-effects of this have really damaged the quality of many stations’ audio chains. We need to balance the benefits of PPM audio enhancement with the cost of potentially losing audience with bad audio.

WS: We all read the studies about mic flight – that listeners tune out between songs. Now, it appears that that time between songs is actually what makes us stand out from the Pandoras of the world. As a result, jocks are cramming more entertainment into less time, right? Can you elaborate on some of the ways they’re doing that?

DT: Yes, and it's a shame, because I don't believe that 'talk' creates tune-out. Irrelevant talk does. If a jock is truly interesting, compelling, and entertaining, I don't believe listeners will leave them. But over the last few years, the commoditization of radio has caused talent to be less personal and more generic, and sadly, listeners are being trained to tune out when a jock starts talking simply because the content hasn't been great. On my blog at DomTheodore.com, I exposed an internal memo from one of the big companies that instructed talent to be as generic as possible when voice tracking so the company can re-purpose their tracks across many markets.

If we truly want to compete with other platforms like Pandora, the answer isn't to duplicate the experience of Pandora. The answer is to offer really good, local, entertaining, and compelling content that Pandora can't provide. If we do this, we will see the end of "mic flight" and instead create MORE listening through great talent.

WS: The record label/radio relationship has gone through a major change as well. What’s your perspective on this?

DT: It has changed, and in many ways not for the better. With more centralized programming decisions happening on the radio side, the record side is now dealing with the top of the organization instead of working as closely with local programmers, and many local PDs at centralized companies have expressed their concern to me that they are being compelled from above to play songs that they don't believe in because some corporate executive “thinks” it may be a hit. Also, the need for artists to perform at these big seasonal radio shows to bolster station's NTR has created an environment of bad deals for spins on weak records. The best radio-record relationships are ones where the station gives honest feedback to the label, and when they do have a hit, the label backs up the station's legitimate support with artist access and promotions for listeners that "money can't buy.” Get rid of these other dirty games.

WS: What do you think the industry needs to do in order to ensure its future against all the digital and personalized options available to consumers these days?

DT: Instead of focusing on what those other platforms deliver, we need to focus on what WE can deliver that they cannot. And, again, that starts with talent and local content. We also need to make sure that our products are available on these new platforms. The one with the best content will win - regardless of the delivery system. This is why you're seeing companies like CBS divest of their delivery systems - so they can focus on direct-to-consumer content. Radio needs to develop more exclusive content as a matter of survival. If we do our job in this area, we will not only get more use from the audience, we will generate more passion from the audience.

WS: Talk to us about the role of radio in the connected car? How is that going to change things for broadcasters?

DT: The consumer will have access to thousands upon thousands of audio entertainment options in the car, and large commercial stations will find themselves in competition with a kid who created a streaming station in their basement. This is where innovation truly matters - because that kid - who is not subject to the same self-imposed rules that we have in commercial radio - might just create content that is MORE interesting and MORE compelling than commercial options. This is why content innovation is so important. If radio continues to be risk-adverse, we will be eaten alive in the new "wild west" of the connected car. But if we rise to the occasion, we will simply move our existing audience from platform to platform because they WANT TO hear the content we offer, and are passionate about it.

WS: Finally, talk to us about the state of talent these days.

DT: In order to achieve many of these objectives, we need to make radio a more attractive career choice for creative types who are now going into new media. They aren't attracted to radio because it doesn't seem like a creative outlet that's on the cutting edge. Instead, we act like "old media" - young creative types would rather work at Apple or Google. We have an opportunity to reinvent the industry, and if we do it right, we can be in the same category as Apple, Google, etc., instead of being lumped in with other dying old media - like newspapers. But it's going to require investment and intelligent risk taking - two things that the big companies and accountants don't like. I'm confident that we will continue to see the smaller and mid-companies innovate in 2017, and hope that this sets the tone for a revitalization of radio.

WS: Thanks, Dom.

A Sweet, Swheat Story

EQ

There are so many interesting aspects to WRAY AM/FM, we’re not sure where to start.

Do we tell you about GM Stephen Lankford, a third generation owner who followed his father and his grandfather before him as the operator of this AM/FM in Princeton, Indiana? Or, do we tell you about how this smaller-than-small-market combo has been serving the Princeton community for 66 years, from the original building and original broadcast towers?

Or, do you want to know how this little mom and pop has not only survived, but thrived in an ever-competitive world of new media?

At some point, we want to tell you about the stations’ recent upgrade from our Audioarts consoles to a full WheatNet-IP audio networking system complete with new IP consoles and all. And that we’re awfully damn proud they chose Wheatstone yet again, having been in our family for a couple of decades, as well.

But in light of all that this combo and its operators have accomplished over the years, we can’t seem to get to the point, if there is one. Besides, there’s a book on WRAY AM/FM featuring WheatNet-IP (put together by morning show co-host, news director and IT manager Cliff Ingram) and we have pictures.

To download a PDF copy of the book, CLICK HERE!

See Additional Photos

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When The Airport Bans Your Phone

LXE

By Dee McVicker

Did you know that along with knives and guns and bombs, you are no longer allowed to carry a Galaxy Note 7 phone on the airplane? The Note 7 is blacklisted by U.S. carriers. If you happen to make it past the TSA checkpoint and onto the plane with one in your pocket, you’ll be asked to hand it over to a flight attendant...

Something has gone terribly wrong with a product when it’s on the no-fly list.

The explanation is that lithium-polymer batteries burst into flames when the anode-to-cathode come into contact, as they occasionally do in the Note 7 as a result of a manufacturing error. That’s right. A manufacturing error. I know this because I Googled it as I sat on the tarmac of the Charlotte airport waiting for my plane to take off for New Bern, North Carolina. (Using my trusty iPhone).

Read More


EQ
I return to New Bern every so often to see everyone at Wheatstone and to get my manufacturing fix. I don’t know of anywhere else where steel, wood, electronics and other raw materials come in one door, and out another door come audio consoles, IP units, and audio processors.

EQSo earlier this month, while fresh off two flights with the Note 7 ban burned into my psyche, I arrived at the Wheatstone factory more keenly interested in manufacturing than I’ve ever been before. That’s a significant understatement considering I’ve always had an appreciation for manufacturing.

I grew up in the Midwest where manufacturing was at one time as deeply rooted in the culture there as corn. My dad worked in the Ford plant, and at the glass factory before that. I worked in the plastics plant in high school, and later, I worked for CRL where those of us in the office would spend our lunch hours in the back putting together circuit boards for the fun of it.

EQI like the smells, the sounds and the busy-ness of the factory, and I especially like seeing the elves at Wheatstone make things and the pride they take in their work. Just about every screw that goes into those Wheatstone consoles is traced back to the individual assembler who put it there.

These are highly skilled craftsmen and women -- more so than those in the factories I remember when growing up. When my father worked in the Ford plant, everyone on the assembly line had a very specific job. They did the same job, day in and day out. Back then, that was the beauty of mass production; Ford could turn out cars by the droves. But there was a drawback. In the early days, if you wanted a Model T, your color choices were black, black or black.

EQWhat struck me most as I made the sweep through the Wheatstone plant last month is just how much things have changed in manufacturing – and what an investment in quality, talent, and resources it is. Wheatstone has some fairly impressive surface mount technology that can transform a computer file and spools of components into a fully assembled, working circuit card. There’s no guesswork to quality control anymore. We now know those boards are fully functional because we have specialized cameras that take pictures of the finished board and can detect misplaced or improperly soldered components. And because it’s all done in-house, Wheatstone can customize, experiment, and perfect product development. Take the module strips in the LX series consoles. Rather than use the traditional silkscreen method of labeling, we’ve been able to make those strips more readable and durable by powder coating them and then laser etching control legends directly through the coating. That kind of thing is difficult, if not impossible, to outsource.

EQIf there was one takeaway from my trip back to the factory it is this: Being able to manufacture everything in one 52,000 square-foot plant is about controlling quality and cost, yes. But it’s as much about customization, too. Wheatstone steel cutters cut custom patterns for consoles and chassis that are too intricate for a traditional punch machine. Operators at a multi-axis CNC milling machine can drill just about any pattern into aluminum panels. Same with the miller at the milling machine and the resulting customized wood trim used in Wheatstone consoles.

EQThis is why each WheatNet-IP system can be customized exactly as needed, whether it’s for a single studio with a console that has a few faders or an enormous multi-station facility with many large control surfaces that are consolidated with talent stations, metering and various button panels. It’s why we can customize systems, change orders and fast-track a project in no time at all.

It’s also why you’ll never see the Wheatstone name on the no-fly list.

Editor’s note: Dee McVicker is located in Arizona and occasionally returns to the “mother ship” in New Bern as part of the Wheatstone marketing team. She recently upgraded to an iPhone 7.

Making Sense of HD/FM Alignment

EQ

We did it because it just made sense. As a proof-of-concept, we added off-air FM/HD time alignment measurement to our AirAura X3 audio processor, making it the first to accomplish off-air monitoring, measurement and real-time correction of HD diversity delay without requiring external gear. "In many stations, the FM processor provides the diversity delay and most FM processors can accept delay corrections from third-party outboard monitors. However, when the off-air monitoring, delay measurement and correction functions are all embedded within the processor itself, outboard gear is no longer required,” explains Jeff Keith, Wheatstone Senior Product Development Engineer.

Maintaining precise diversity delay is critical for minimizing listener tune-outs when the HD signal blends to analog at the fringes of a station's coverage. Embedding the diversity delay, as well as its measurement and correction, within the audio processor just makes sense.


Your IP Question Answered

Q: I understand that AES67 is an interoperability standard, but I’m not sure when I would use it or why?

A: AES67 is a transport standard that is specifically useful for bridging together the differing and growing network environments such as Dante, Livewire, Ravenna, and our own WheatNet-IP audio network. You might have a sports venue that uses one network platform and a studio that uses another. AES67 makes it feasible to transport audio between two devices on separate platforms; it gives us a level of interoperability with high channel counts, flexible routing and splitting, and a consolidated clocking architecture without adding on yet more hardware. But when it comes to designing a system for your studio, for example, operating on one native system is almost always going to be your best option as there are huge advantages to single-network platforms, integrated control being foremost among them. For example, if I connect an M4-IP USB mic preamp into WheatNet-IP, it instantly becomes part of the audio network and therefore, I can control its gain and phantom power from anywhere within the network. AES67 isn’t intended to, and nor can it, give you all those control features that are so critical to the single-network environments you now have in operation.

Interesting Links
Wheatstone 2016 Holiday Video

The Wheatstone singers are here, fulled with holiday joy, lip (and guitar) syncing to this modern holiday classic...

WhosBuyingWheat6682

Wheatstone

  • KPLM-FM (Palm Springs, CA) purchased an IP-12 digital audio console.

  • University of Miami (Florida) purchased an IP-12 digital audio console with I/O BLADEs.

  • iHeartMedia (Charlotte, NC) purchased two IP-12 digital audio consoles, an LX-24 control surface and WheatNet-IP I/O BLADEs.

  • Radio 6PR (Perth, WA) purchased two LXE control surfaces with talent panels.

  • Hubbard Radio (Seattle, WA) purchased two TS-4 talent stations for an existing WheatNet-IP audio network.

  • CBC Radio (Iqaluit, NU) purchased two ScreenBuilder apps with Scheduler through Marketing Marc Vallee.

  • Rogers Communications (Toronto, ON) purchased a MADI I/O BLADE through Ron Paley Broadcast.

  • KEZN-FM (Palm Desert, CA) purchased an IP-12 digital audio console.

  • Larche Communications (Orillia, ON) purchased a TS-4 talent station through Ron Paley Broadcast.

  • Hubbard Radio (Minneapolis, MN) upgraded to NAVIGATOR 3 for an existing WheatNet-IP audio network.

  • Townsquare Media (Lubbock, TX) purchased an I/O BLADE to run programming over a licensed 11 GHz link as an STL for five stations.

  • Audio Design Company (Hong Kong) purchased an LX series control surface for Hangzhou Radio in Hangzhou, China.

  • Sinclair’s KOMO-AM (Seattle, WA) purchased a split-frame LXE control surface, thirteen SideBoard control surfaces and TS-4 talent stations along with WheatNet-IP I/O BLADEs.

  • Audio Design Company (Hong Kong) purchased an LX-24 control surface for Shantou Radio in Shantou, China.

  • WUSF-FM (Tampa, FL) purchased an LX-24 control surface.

  • KRFC-FM (Fort Collins, CO) purchased two L-12 control surfaces.

  • Cox Radio (San Antonio, TX) purchased additional I/O BLADEs for an existing WheatNet-IP audio network.

  • WGN-TV (Chicago, IL) purchased an I/O BLADE.

  • Jackson Casino (Jackson, CA) purchased five TS-4 talent stations and an I/O BLADE.

  • The LDS Church (Salt Lake City, UT) purchased a MADI I/O BLADE for an existing WheatNet-IP audio network plus four Aura8-IP multi-mode processors.

  • Rogers Communications (Kitchener, ON) purchased the ScreenBuilder app through Ron Paley Broadcast.

  • CJBQ-AM (Belleville, ON) purchased the ScreenBuilder app through Ron Paley Broadcast.

  • American Forces Network (Riverside, CA) purchased the ScreenBuilder app.


Audioarts Engineering

  • KIRX-AM / KRXL-FM (Kirksville, MO) purchased an R-55e console.

  • Lorain County Community College (Elyria, OH) purchased an R-55e console.

  • KNZA-FM (Hiawatha, KS) purchased an R-55e console.

  • KMAN-AM (Manhattan, KS) purchased an R-55e console.

  • KVOK-FM (Kodiak, AK) purchased an Air-4 console.


Wheatstone Audio Processing

  • Catholic Radio Network (Pueblo, CO) purchased an FM-55 audio processor.

  • Townsquare Media (Missoula, MT) purchased an FM-55 audio processor.

  • Westwood One (Los Angeles, CA) purchased 22 M2 dual channel mic processors.

  • Radikal Elektronik Ltd (Istanbul) purchased an M2 dual channel mic processor.

  • CBS (Detroit, MI) purchased an L-8 control surface and an M4IP-USB four channel mic processor.

  • KJLH-FM (Inglewood, CA) purchased an M4IP-USB four channel mic processor.

  • Corus Entertainment (Toronto, ON) purchased two M4IP-USB four channel mic processors through Ron Paley Broadcast.

  • iHeartMedia (Tucson, AZ) purchased an M1 mic processor.

  • Durham Radio (Belleville, ON) purchased an Aura8-IP multi-mode processor and M4IP-USB four channel mic processor through Ron Paley Broadcast.


VoxPro

  • iHeartMedia (Portland, OR) purchased a VoxPro6 digital audio recorder/editor.

  • KWKW-AM (Los Angeles, CA) purchased a VoxPro6 digital audio recorder/editor.

  • CBS (Minneapolis, MN) purchased a VoxPro6 digital audio recorder/editor.

  • Cumulus (Nashville, TN) purchased a VoxPro6 digital audio recorder/editor.

  • iHeartMedia (Los Angeles, CA) purchased a VoxPro6 digital audio recorder/editor.

  • Redemption Baptist Church (Albertville, AL) purchased a VoxPro6 digital audio recorder/editor.

  • iHeartMedia (Columbus, OH) purchased a VoxPro6 digital audio recorder/editor.

  • KNLB-FM (Lake Havasu City, AZ) purchased a VoxPro6 digital audio recorder/editor.

  • WBZ-AM (Boston, MA) purchased a VoxPro6 digital audio recorder/editor.

  • CBS Radio (Colton, CA) purchased a VoxPro6 digital audio recorder/editor.

  • Jackson Casino (Jackson, CA) purchased a VoxPro6 digital audio recorder/editor.

  • Oakwood Broadcast (Mississauga, ON) purchased five VoxPro6 digital audio recorder/editors.

  • iHeartMedia (San Antonio, TX) purchased a VoxPro6 digital audio recorder/editor.

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