While RCS sells software to customers worldwide, our commitment to the communities that we serve runs much deeper than that. We spoke with Max Davies, Managing Director, RCS(NZ) Ltd. about some of the awards that are sponsored by RCS to recognize those who toil in neglected segments of New Zealand’s broadcast community.
The New Zealand Radio Awards began in 1978, and were created with the aim of supporting and recognizing excellence in radio broadcasting in New Zealand. The Awards celebrate the very best of New Zealand radio, honoring personalities, programming, news and sports reporting, production and creativity within the industry. This year, the event was held at the SkyCity Theater in Auckland, with about 800 in attendance.
RCS is proud to sponsor the annual “Associated Craft Award” which recognizes those working behind the microphones. As Davis explains,”This award is made to individuals or teams who show the highest standards of overall professionalism in providing support services to radio broadcasting. e.g. schedules, administrative, accounts, public relations, office management, technical, training or research.”
This year, the award was presented to Alison Watt, the Content and Marketing Manager for The Radio Bureau (TRB). TRB is an industry-owned sales organization that provides a platform for national buying agencies to buy radio nationally without having to deal separately with multiple radio organizations. They also market radio as a national medium. Davies adds that TRB uses Aquira’s predecessor, Airwaves (and Airmail) to electronically broker bookings to radio stations across the country, and to provide reconciled post campaign reports to their advertiser clients.
“From our perspective, these awards are a key event in the calendar for our customers and give us a chance to catch up socially with many of our customers,” says Davies. “It also allows us to raise the profile of those who support the “Rock Stars” of radio.”
The other awards that RCS supports are the Maori Radio Awards, held once every two years. The Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand, and they consist of many separate “Iwi” – or tribes. The majority of them are a part of the 20-plus station “Iwi Radio Network.” They are partially funded by the government, and part self-funded through advertising. They have to meet fairly stringent compliance rules in order to retain government funding. This event is a highlight of the Iwi network calendar.
here were 18 categories at the most recent awards ceremony held in October 2018. One of these categories looks at developing youth in the industry. Riria Dalton-Reedy, winner of the youth award representing Radio Ngāti Porou, says, “This is a surprise. I’m up with the best of Māori broadcasters and I’m still young so I am very lucky to win this award for best youth show.”
Tumeke FM was a finalist in nine categories. The station won the awards for Best Station Imaging, Best Current Affairs or Talk Show, Best Program Director, Best outside Broadcast and the supreme award of the night.
Davies and tech support manager Simon Tims were also asked to present two of the awards, which sounded like fun until they were told (after arriving) that they were also expected to make a small speech. Sounds like no big deal, except they were expected to deliver it in the indigenous language. Needless to say, Davies and Tims both hope to have mastered the fundamentals of Te Reo Maori before the next event in 2020!
Country has always been a popular radio format, and there seem to be an almost unlimited number of stations and syndicated services playing variations of country, country and western and Americana. It begs the question, does the world need another country music service? Gimme Radio answers emphatically – yes! The two-year old startup has a completely different take on how to do country radio, and they’re using RCS Zetta and Zetta2GO to make it all happen.
Gimme Radio launched in 2017 with an eclectic heavy metal format. Its success led to the launch in May of a second channel, Gimme Country. This streaming service is what might have happened if 1970s free-form radio reinvented itself with 21st century technology. Rather than having a core library based on music research and programming driven by a scheduled rotation for songs, Gimme Country puts the DJ in the spotlight. The format revolves around the interaction between him or her, and the audience. Most of Gimme Country’s announcers are well-known country artists, such as LeeAnn Womack, Brandy Clark, Dillon Carmichael, Jesse Dayton and Joshua Hedley.
Most express enthusiasm for this open-ended programming philosophy. As Womak explains, “Growing up, my dad was a radio DJ, so I was surrounded by all kinds of music – everything from traditional country to blues to rock & roll. Gimme country is the perfect place for me to showcase my range of musical tastes and play my favorite classics and new favorites all in the same show.”
While Gimme Country is headquartered in San Francisco, where they have seven Zetta workstations and all production takes place, their DJs and contributors are scattered around the world.
Zetta2GO is the perfect tool for such global voice tracking requirements, As Jon Maples, Chief Product Officer for Gimme Radio explains. “Some of our DJs are used to the studio environment, and others are musicians who have never been in a radio station. We needed something sophisticated enough to satisfy the studio people, but also simple enough for novices to use. Zetta2GO keeps everyone happy.”
Because Gimme Country’s style puts the DJ in the spotlight, it totally changes the way they create and use a music library. Zetta is flexible enough to handle a novel approach. “We start with a different ethos,” says Maples. “The first step to building playlists is asking the DJs what they are playing and want to play. There are a lot of Americana artists, women and fringe groups. Creating a music library is really driven by the interaction between the DJs and their listeners”.
Much of Gimme Country’s success is based on a clever leveraging of new technology, as Maples elaborates. ”Operating a terrestrial radio station, with large studios, towers and and FCC license is expensive. That means they need to attract a large audience to generate enough capital to meet expenses and generate a profit. This, in turn, makes them averse to taking risks with unusual formats. As a streaming media service, we have a much lower overhead. We don’t need to attract a huge audience in order to be profitable. We can define micro genres, serve them well, and make money.”
And that is a big part of Gimme Radio’s plans for the future -seeking out neglected genres and developing channels to serve them. “Look for us to also be doing live broadcasts and having a presence at concerts and events in the future,” adds Maples.
Summertime provides boundless opportunities for radio stations to do live remote broadcasts. What made a recent remote from Nisswa Minnesota’s KBLB -B93.3 a bit different is that they used Zetta2GO to broadcast from a boat in the middle of a lake. As B93.3 morning personality Bill Satre explains, it was a logical choice. “We were doing the music for a 4th of July fireworks display over a lake. Since most of our listeners would be in boats, we figured we should be in a boat too. So we loaded up a pontoon craft with our remote gear, banners, flyers, lots of tee-shirts and other free stuff to give away and headed out.”
Satre’s remote setup included a classic RE-20 mic on a boom, a laptop with Zetta2GO, his Audio 2000 mixer and a Nady wireless mic AC power was supplied by an inverter connected to the boat’s 12-volt battery supply.
Before doing the remote, Satre did a trial run with the remote gear from his own boat offshore from his cabin. The wireless connections worked, and he was ready for the Fourth.
Since Satre was incorporating interviews into the remote, he opted to do voice tracking, rather than broadcasting live, in order to have better control over the situation. He edited the interviews on his laptop using Audacity, and imported the completed audio file into the log on Zetta2GO.
It all came off without a hitch, although he cautions there are a few issues to be aware of when voice tracking a remote. “Be sure to allow sufficient time for files to upload. I tried to stay at least 5 minutes ahead. Files that were a bit too long did have issues with dropouts. When planning these remotes, it’s essential to check that you have solid wi-fi, cellular and internet signals at the location.”
Satre notes that Zetta2GO is a complete game changer for remote broadcasts. “Doing a remote the old way, there would be more bulky gear to lug around, and I’d be coordinating with a board op back at the studio, which doesn’t always go smoothly. Zetta2GO gives me control of everything on site. I am my own board op.”
Zetta2GO is the ultimate remote broadcasting tool. This mobile playout management system enables you to go live from anywhere you have a mobile connection, see the logs, adjust segues and record voice tracks that can be dropped directly into the log. It’s also cross-platform compatible with any smartphone or tablet.
The success of the July 4th broadcast leaves Satre contemplating future remotes. Central Minnesota is a resort area with countless lakes, so there are lots of aquatic possibilities. “There’s the Governor’s Fishing Opener in the spring, and the ice fishing extravaganza during the winter, where we have 20,000 people fishing in a tournament.” He adds that he is also looking forward to doing his first live remote with Zetta2GO.
A number of things go in to making RCS software the great product that it is. An amazing team of software developers working in state-of-the-art facilities, feedback and suggestions from our worldwide customer base, along with a company-wide commitment to never be satisfied with the status quo.
A less-known aspect of software development is the need for good beta testers. An evaluation by someone with a fresh pair of eyes or different expectations about what the software should do can push it closer to perfection. And the best part is that you can be one of those people.
The RCS Beta program is a win-win partnership between us and the user. The Beta program provides a structured, controlled, and formal live environment test of new releases. Participating sites will receive hand-held assistance, including training, dedicated support and an open conduit of communication. Plus there is just the added coolness of being the among the first to try out our new software.
We benefit from the Beta program as well. Participants need to send RCS detailed and timely announcements of any issues, including supporting information from participating sites. This will help RCS to troubleshoot issues as they happen, and gives us the quality check points to know the software will perform as expected once it is released to the our customer base.
All versions of our software undergo extensive internal testing to ensure that the code is field-ready. By accepting the invitation to participate in the Beta program and agreeing to the expectations and program details, participating sites are accepting any risks associated with testing Beta software. Thus, RCS expects that participating sites do not roll back to previous code versions if an issue occurs at the site.
For more information, or to sign your station up for a Beta program, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
BroadcastAsia is the region’s must-attend international convention for media, entertainment and technology professionals. This year, the event was held alongside CommunicAsia and the new NXTAsia under the ConnecTechAsia brand umbrella. BroadcastAsia was held June 18-20 at the also-new Suntec city venue in Singapore. Over 17,000 were in attendance, and it goes without saying that RCS was in the thick of it.
The RCS 40th birthday party, which began in April at NAB, continued at BroadcastAsia. Combined with the traditional RCS ‘Happy Hour’, the celebration included fellowship and conversations, beer on tap, lots of snacks and balloons.
And speaking of balloons, a trial balloon of sorts was launched at BroadcastAsia 2019. A media student with an interest in radio joined the RCS team at the show and acted as an assistant. Think of it as a short-term paid internship.
Competition for the position was intense, and the winner was a second-year communications student at Singapore’s Temasek Polytechnic College, Joey Lim. Joey made a great impression on the RCS team and visitors to our booth during the three days of the conference. That shouldn’t come as a surprise. Joey actually is actually a Zetta user, since she is one of the on-air team at Temasek’s campus radio station, Radio Active.
Based on the success of this experiment, we may make it a regular thing at future trade shows. We’d love to team up with college media departments and seek out bright and talented students interested in a career in radio broadcasting.
The observant among you may have noticed that we added an additional stripe to the design we have long used at the back of our booth at international trade shows. The new stripe is green – and shows Revma (our new streaming service) as a fifth major product category. For the extra observant, the colors run in order of the RCS logo (which features the colors of the rainbow, of course). So there are two colors still available for future ideas: red and indigo!