ATLANTA — As the radio operations manager for Georgia Public Broadcasting, my responsibilities center on managing programming, traffic and scheduling across a statewide network. It encompasses a hybrid news and music format for 15 stations, and a separate all-news feed for our Atlanta and Carrollton, Ga., stations. An 18th station out of Milledgeville, Ga., carries select programming from the main feed.
The need to manage two completely different program streams, fire up to 18 different IDs per hour and handle local content insertion for unmanned stations demands an automation system that is reliable, feature-rich and easy to use. ENCO and its DAD platform fill the role across these requirements.
GPB-Atlanta afternoon host Rickey Bevington uses ENCO DAD 15 in the control room. We had been running an older-generation version of DAD since my arrival nine years ago, and decided to upgrade to version 15 upon receiving some state funding earlier this year. This coincided with a hardware and Windows operating system upgrade, all programmed with DAD gateway software to ensure seamless content management between our Atlanta headquarters; our Savannah, Macon and Augusta bureaus, all of which originate additional content; and our remaining network locations for local playout.
The upgrade comes at an interesting time for our division. Georgia Public Broadcasting is in the midst of a comprehensive workflow transition that, in addition to automation, includes a traffic system upgrade and a new newsroom system. The transition to ENCO DAD version 15 has been seamless through the disruption and is already bearing fruits.
Network-wide content management has always been fairly easy with DAD, but the integration of ENCO’s new Dropbox utility has been an enormous time-saver. Prior to upgrading, we needed to convert audio manually on a file-by-file basis to import news reports, promos and more into the automation system. That has been reduced to a simple one-step import process that automatically ingests audio files into the system.
For example, much of our programming is delivered via satellite to our headquarters and bureaus. However, we still receive a fair amount of content on other sources not connected to satellite. We can simply download these programs and convert them through simple drag-and-drop functionality. On average, we shave off five hours of labor a week through this program alone.
Version 15 of DAD also adds some intriguing mobile capability. Our reporters in Atlanta, Savannah and Macon will no longer need to return to the studio, edit files and upload reports to FTP or email for delivery. Instead, using the iDAD remote app, reporters can file stories in the field, which production staff can access immediately. The takeaway is that we can bring timely news to air quickly, and eliminate the more traditionally labor-intensive processes for news production and playout.
The reliability and user-friendliness of DAD are important everyday benefits. DAD is rock-solid from an operational standpoint. We have external silence detectors to make us aware of outages. There have been very few over the years, none since upgrading to version 15. When I do need to troubleshoot, I can connect via VPN to any machine on the network, eliminating the need to visit locations physically.
The DAD platform also ensures that our operators can work anywhere on the network with ease. Occasionally, we will bring in a local host from Savannah or Macon to host a statewide show from our Atlanta headquarters. There is no learning curve; that host can easily play news cuts and promos, and have everything at their fingertips to put together a program.
I worked in commercial radio for 30-some years before coming here and have used several automation systems. I have been very happy with the capabilities that DAD provides over the years, from general playlist creation to the more advanced capabilities of version 15. They offer quality software and excellent customer support. Most important, they have accommodated everything we have needed in an automation system to make our lives easier across the network.
For information, contact Ken Frommert at ENCO Systems in Michigan at (248) 827-4440 or visit www.enco.com.