CAMBRIDGE, ON 02-24 In early 2016, Rogers Radio contacted Bannister Lake, starting a project for a custom solution, streamlining a specific process with their existing radio workstation software – mainly the complex area for recording and distributing voice tracks.
“In many cases, a single announcer will host all stations in a network at once, inserting voice content at regular breaks. Voice content is not quite live, but “virtually live”, i.e. recorded and then distributed for playback a few minutes later.” – Jan Huus, Senior Consultant
Jan Huus, Bannister Lake’s Senior Consultant, completed an analysis phase in June 2016. Software development started in September, and the system went live in January 2017.
Rogers Radio owns over 50 radio stations across Canada, using Wide Orbit Automation for Radio to manage detailed scheduling and delivery of content. Most stations are grouped into networks, the more significant is the Ontario market.
Networks are extensive. To create efficient workflow, a single announcer will host all stations in a network at once, inserting specific station voice content at regular breaks. Voice content is not quite live, but “virtually live” – recorded and, within minutes, sent across a Rogers Radio network.
The New Custom Widget and Server Solution
The complex steps involved were problematic with Rogers Radio’s initial setup so to streamline the transfer and retrieval of audio packs. Bannister Lake designed a solution that targets the communication between an announcer’s workstation and the Central Server.
“Written in Java, the software Rogers Radio uses consists of three main parts; a UI workstation for announcers, a Central Server and Friendship Server. Rogers uses one Central Server per city, to handle all the workstations in that city.” – Jan Huus, Senior Consultant
The workstation is mainly a collection of specialized “widgets”, such as a Library Widget for searching content, and an Audio Editor for recording and editing content. Custom widgets can be made using a native Java API. There is no native Java API for the Central Server but there is an XML-based REST API that the newly created Bannister Lake server uses to search and update audio tracks.
Bannister Lake developed a custom “Virtual Live” widget that “talks” with the custom server. It interacts with the Central Server on behalf of the custom widget, an application designed to streamline recordings and voice track distribution .
The custom widget improved an announcer’s time interacting with the UI, getting their audio tracks placed in the right categories in a fraction of the time, partly due to the Quick Record feature, reducing the number of steps to record a new track. Radio announcers don’t need to manually set the start and end dates to ensure the cart is played only on the selected day and the search function is a secondary option for any user that needs to look up a cryptic audio file name or category code.
With the new option, announcers just pick a break time and one or more stations to update from a list containing only the relevant station names – hours and audio break times are simply mapped to the relevant cart. Bannister Lake also implemented a dual time-stamp feature, informing announcers when a voice track was last updated and when it was received at the target station.
Photo/Courtesy Jan Huus: Quick Record feature allows radio announcers to record audio tracks within minutes.
Successful implementation of application services is the company’s hallmark. The roll out of the custom “Virtual Live” widget received positive reviews from the Rogers Radio team, extending the partnership. Jan’s created further system builds that he continues to roll out for the telecommunications company, customizing their work flow and making life a little easier in the announcer’s booth.
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