There is something inherently exciting about a new company in radio. It’s also great to meet a new generation of broadcaster who understands programming, technology and business and applies what he’s learned from other industries and quickly solves problems at the station level.
After getting involved with his college radio station at Siena College, Neerav Patel, as they say, got the radio bug. But after changing his major from biology to finance and graduating, he worked in radio for a while, before he shifted to the healthcare business. Working on radiology software services gave him the opportunity to come back into radio as an owner. Oh, yes, and also managed to get his M.B.A and M.S.P.A. along the way.
Empire Broadcasting might only be 3½ years old, but it’s taking on the competition with the right stuff. With four stations – two AMs and two FMs – operating from studios in Malta, NY (a town north of the capital of New York, Albany and south of the second market they serve, Saratoga Springs) this look into how they get things done is compelling.
The first challenge Empire had to face was retooling the infrastructure and updating the technologies. Neerav Patel recalls, “We started out with a lot of old overhead. So, we built a new studio from the ground up. Once we had the simplified layout up and working, we were able to pull out all the old wires, which one IT specialist estimated were more than five miles long.”
The biggest decision was to go with software from RCS. Zetta, advanced automation software, was installed in all the studios; GSelector was chosen for music scheduling and Aquira selected for Traffic. Patel was quick to point out why: “Instantaneous efficiencies. The software is simple to use, one person can operate it. Uploading music is simple and, with Zetta’s access across all stations, it really saves us time. The way we can share assets, such as news and weather from the Empire Radio Network, helps us maximize our content.”
Because GSelector and Zetta talk to each other, Neerav Patel confirmed that this software decision met his #1 priority: Integration. He described his experience with his new infrastructure as, “Hands Off. Once you have it set up properly, you don’t have to touch it.” One of the great things he also added, “If there is a problem or challenge and we need some help, we call one company. When you have to conference in two or three companies to get a problem solved, you waste time listening to people point fingers.”
In terms of installation and training, he said: “They came in, got us up and running and really helped train our people. One of the first attributes of our move to RCS Zetta was stability.” Patel also loves being able to log in from wherever he is, even mentioning checking the next day’s schedule from his phone in bed at night. Neerav loves to show the video of when they kicked off the new station, The Mix 106.1, where Patel actually fired off the first audio to hit the airwaves from his phone with his cheering staff gathered round.
“The notion that the beginner or the advance tech talent can both perform a show was great for us. The basics are simple to use, but the more experienced person, can dive into the RCS Multi-Track Editor or put together a configuration for specific tasks quickly. And in the future, the ability to scale is paramount.” And when we asked Patel about customization of layouts, he said, “Being able to select colors for each Hot Key is great. With banks and colors, this makes it simpler to use and keeps our efficiencies on target.”
On the question of security, the new owner feels very confident, “The platform is very stable and secure. A really good part of the automation setup is that everything, every action, is trackable in Zetta. We know who did what, when; so that we can pinpoint the need for additional training off the bat.”
All this focus on technology on the front end helps a radio group, no matter how big or small, concentrate on the most important thing. When asked to state Empire Broadcasting’s mission statement, Neerav Patel said, without a pause, “Stay Local!”