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Broadcast Tech Newsletter – December 2018

The Broadcast Tech newsletter landed in inboxes again today. If you missed out, you should totally sign up. If not, here’s some of the highlights:

  • Google is directly encouraging object-based radio production, with their new Google Assistant Audio News feature. This new feature creates on-demand news bulletins based on ‘AI’, essentially splicing stories together from multiple news outlets. If you’re a news outlet wishing to participate, they have released content guidelines and technical specifications. Is your newsroom setup to produce news this way?
  • AWS have just released ‘Ground Station‘ – a new product that allows you to lease time on their network of satellite ground stations. They support low and medium-earth satellite, in frequency bands such as S, X and UHF. I don’t know enough about satellite technology to know if this is useful to broadcasters at all, but it sure looks interesting!
  • Some researchers in the Netherlands have developed a wideband web-based SDR, which allows you to listen to shortwave radio from your web browser. Do you know of anything similar for FM?
  • Axia has released a new console that doesn’t have any outboard ‘Studio Engine’ box (or any local I/O). Just plug a LAN cable direct into the console and suck down all your existing AES67 and/or Livewire audio – brilliant!
  • Have you seen Node-RED lately? This is an open-source visual programming tool, with modules to connect to hundreds of different devices and protocols. They market it as ‘flow-based programming for the Internet of Things’, but you could quite easily think of it along the same lines as broadcast macro/event-driven programming systems.
  • I totally missed this news back in July – Telstra (Australia’s biggest telco) launched a trial of LTE-B (essentially multicast over 4G LTE networks). They said unicast streaming on their AFL football app peaked at 143Gbps prior to this trial, but their LTE-B trial is only for Samsung S8 & S9 devices – it’d be interesting to see how much bandwidth they’ve saved and what sort of real-world issues they encountered.
  • Radio stations are steadily getting on board with MetaRadio – my new product that makes now-playing song data ridiculously easy. It now supports 13 different automation systems, and about 16 different outputs (RDS Encoders, Streaming Encoders, WordPress, etc.).
  • WordPress 5.0 has just been released. The key change is the new Gutenberg block-based editor – a highly controversial change in the WP community, but a concept I think is long overdue. Back in 2013, I wrote an article about CMS architecture. Much to my surprise, WordPress seems to be delivering on this more than any other major CMS (combine Gutenberg with the WP JSON API, Custom Post Types, and Meta Fields, and you have quite a powerful CMS – ignoring all the legacy cruft kicking around under-the-hood). I’ve used Gutenberg on a couple of sites now, and my major concern is that the implementation is not quite ready for prime-time.
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Broadcast Tech Newsletter – September 2018

The latest instalment of the Broadcast Technology Newsletter landed in inboxes yesterday. If you’re not on this list, please consider signing up. If not, here’s what you missed:

  • Nova Entertainment has selected Lawo to design and build their ‘Future Studios’ project. This is a really cool, forward-thinking system. Talent can walk into any studio in the country, tap their RFID card, and recall the console preset and audio routing for their show (which could go to air in another state). This is essentially an audio-only implementation of the NEP Andrews Hubs (which I mentioned in my last newsletter). Lawo’s router software allows cross-points to be created across facilities, automatically selecting from the available IP audio links (operators will no longer need to know which Tieline to dial – WAN audio linking is handled automatically whenever you set an audio routing crosspoint). Until now, I hadn’t personally viewed Lawo as a big player in the Radio Console market in Australia, but ambitious projects like this are a real game changer – how will other vendors respond?
  • Conversations around ‘Smart Speakers’ continue. Stations want to get their radio stream on each platform as a ‘skill’, but I wonder if that’s severely underestimating the power of these devices? Radio is linear by design, but Smart Speakers give us a real opportunity to break the mould and deliver contextual content based on listener preferences. The BBC has been prototyping Object-Based Media for many years now, which looks like a natural fit for these new delivery methods. Do you think broadcasters will actually be able to break out of their traditional production methods, and re-design around non-linear production? In my mind, if we create for objects, then the AM/FM/Digital ‘feed’ becomes just one linear assembly of these ‘objects’ – with many more possible ways to assemble the ‘feed’ based on listener preferences. I’m keen to know what you think about all this.
  • IBC has just wrapped up. Telos Alliance announced ‘HyperStudio‘ – a way to run some of their Linux-based appliances on your existing hypervisor. Notably, their Studio Engines (realtime audio mix engine) were omitted from the list of example products – is CPU scheduling too big a problem to make this work well in a hypervisor? Has anyone else solved this problem yet?
  • Have you heard of the On-Hertz LUMO virtualised radio studio’? It won a ‘Best of Show’ award at IBC. Looks like a web-based all-in-one radio solution (automation, mixer, DSP, phone system, and codec).
  • Russia has selected DRM as their Digital Radio standard, instead of DAB+ (used in much of Europe). This comes after an announcement of DAB+ frequency assignment for Russia in April. Could this mean more dual-format receivers become available? There seems to be some renewed discussion lately of on-band Digital Radio solutions (at least in the online circles I’m a part of – probably rising out of frustration with Australia’s DAB+ implementation, and how so far it’s leaving out narrowcasters, most regional areas, and sub-metro community stations).
  • Back in the year 2000, Joel Spolsky wrote 12 questions to determine the effectiveness and health of your software engineering team. I’ve had a crack at adapting this to radio engineering teams – The ‘Joel Test’ for Radio Technology Teams.
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