EGAN, Minn. — Genesis Communications Network is a rapidly growing, 24/7 talk radio network based in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area that provides programming to 350 AM/FM stations, XM Satellite Radio, shortwave and Internet audiences.
GCN delivers some 395 hours per week of programming via affiliates and directly to listeners using four satellite uplinks and multiple Internet streams to accommodate a range of browsers, apps, podcasts, along with streamed and on-demand telephone listen lines. There is an enormous responsibility on our part to provide profanity-free programming.
Profanity needs to be dealt with at the point of production before distribution.
Our foremost concern is the immediate fines that could be imposed on affiliate stations. Next would be the degradation of affiliate trust that we have painstakingly earned over a great deal of time. Simply pulling the caller off-air, or pushing mute after the fact, and saying “Oops” when the FCC knocks on your door, won’t cut it. In today’s economy, profanity fines can put you out of business or at least, set you back on years of hard work and achievement.
When presented with the idea of protecting our programming, I was not looking forward to scheduling every event seven to eight seconds early in our automation, to cue affiliate stations and adjust for satellite and T-1 delay. When we got our first 25-Seven Systems PDM in 2008 to “drive it around the block,” the real ticket for GCN was the ability to enter and exit delay before and after commercial breaks to keep our automation programming simple. Next was the ability for a show host, hundreds of miles away from our facility, and right smack in the conversation on air, to “dump” objectionable content using PDM’s built-in Web interface.
PDM’s PD Alert feature is beyond incredible in the event of a profanity incident. Peace of mind for the board op, the host and management is the result. We are usually put at ease within seconds due to this one feature.
PD Alert sends out emails to multiple recipients with details and attached audio of each profanity event, thus answering the questions that flood our minds and disrupt our workflow when a dump event occurs.
It provides an immediate means for key personnel beyond the board op and host to monitor frequency of dump events, and, if needed, make better decisions as to the risk of certain programs. In short, it’s the “tattletale” you will never have to add to the payroll.
The PDM’s noise specs, headroom figures and sound quality are within our needs and specifications for the quality media product we’ve set out to accomplish.The support on the PDMs for GCN has been wonderful. 25-Seven has listened to our needs and requests, and I believe we have been a part of developing the PDM into what it is.
On several occasions I’ve opened up an Internet path into our PDMs to allow the engineers at 25-Seven to SSH in to review our system log files, check settings and update software.
We run four PDMs 24/7 on the main feed out of each of our four mixers before the board distribution amp which delivers to one of our four main channels and our two recording computers for our archives, podcasts, on-demand players and emergency replay.
Just the other night, I was with a colleague who was running a show. He put a call on air and almost immediately the caller went “blue” on our host. The dump button was hit; the call hung up and the host got onto the next call while the buffer was rebuilding. But the next caller dropped three “f”-bombs consecutively. The dump was pressed again, the “bypass” was pressed and seamlessly we were rebuilding from 0.
This all happened in just under a minute.
Within seconds, we were listening to audio in the PD Alert e-mail to verify what got dumped. Result: the last half of the “k” on the last “f”-bomb got out. A close call, no doubt. PDM kept us clean and in good graces with our affiliates, once again.
George Prondzinski is the chief engineer for Genesis Communications Network.
For information, contact Geoff Steadman at 25-Seven Systems in Massachusetts at (888) 257-2578 or visit www.25-seven.com.