The ninth annual International Radio Festival, Oct. Oct. 29 – Nov. 4, offered a unique opportunity for radio industry professionals to discuss business, production and curation of radio content and to celebrate station talent.
Held at the Piazza D’Armi in Valletta, Malta (the European Capital of Culture 2018), the gathering is, according to Festival Director Darryl von Däniken, the “largest public on-air and on-location radio event reaching millions of listeners around the globe.” It serves as center stage for stations to showcase their music show formats to their peers, as well as to local and global audiences around the world.
This year, more than 30 stations, made up of commercial, public, large and small broadcasters, aired live from the IRF on-air studio via the festival’s temporary DAB+ channel to Malta, Gozo and Comino, and online back to their respective home audiences worldwide, reaching more than 100 million listeners globally. Live broadcasts took place from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day with each station airing its program during an assigned slot.
IRF’s broadcasting technology consultants, Jean-Pascal Ruch of Swiss-based Consultec and Simon Binggeli set up a fully equipped IP-only on-air studio for this purpose.
Ruch says it was necessary to provide station talent with a complete and easy to use on-air studio able to fit the needs of both a small or large stations, and to also ensure that the audio made it safely to the stations back home.
“Having to bring the equipment to Malta from Switzerland could have been a challenge, but we were able to put together the system in Switzerland before shipping, so the installation in Malta was done rather quickly,” he said.
“With ISDN being faded out almost everywhere today, the main obstacle could have been sending audio via internet to each participant's radio station, as you never know what’s going to happen with the connections you get locally. Fortunately, however, connecting the studio to those 30 radio stations went very smoothly and they all received their audio accurately."
Fitted with equipment loaned to the IRF by industry manufactures, the studio was built around an Axia Fusion digital radio console and WinMedia playout system and featured four fixed Audio-Technica BP40 hypercardioid large-diaphragm dynamic broadcast mics, Audio-Technica ATH-M50x professional studio monitor headphones and mic arms by Yellowtec.
Tieline provided the codec technology with a rack-mounted Genie audio codec for broadcasts back to each station’s home country, a Merlin codec for local DAB+ transmission and a portable Tieline ViA portable codec.
Additional equipment in place included an Axia 3001-00058 IP-audio driver for Windows with eight stereo ins and outs and a Telos Alliance Z/IPstream 9X2 (streaming software with Omnia.9 audio processing) for streaming the IRF program to the internet.
In addition, a full DJ set-up was available featuring CDJ's, turntables, mixers and monitors.
Also during the event was a one-day audio Conference, held at the Mediterranean Conference Centre on Nov. 1, which featured a host of presentations focused around the business, production and curation of audio and radio content.
Von Däniken explains that the festival aims to “bring together like-minded music radio pioneers to live their passion, knowledge share their formats and ideas, network and make friends, and forge closer ties with the music industry, and so help continue enriching the listening experience for all audiences around the world.”