This is one in a series of interviews with companies planning to exhibit at the 2021 NAB Show in October.
Joe Schifano is senior director of business development at NPR Distribution.
Radio World: What do you anticipate will be the most significant technology trends that radio professionals should be watching for at the show?
Joe Schifano: The convergence of broadcast radio and IP delivery of audio. Automobile dashboards are becoming an entertainment center, and broadcast radio will need to remain a player in the automobile.
RW: What will be your most important news or message for attendees?
Schifano: The move of our Hub product from a standalone service to sharing the same platform as our flagship public radio product ContentDepot. The move to the ContentDepot platform will greatly improve the user interface. It will also enable us to share features of ContentDepot such as MetaPub, permissioning of programming, receiver monitoring as well as spot insertion.
RW: What specifically will be new? And how is it different from what’s on the market?
Schifano: We are in the final stage of upgrading our Hub product. What we are finding are that networks that have been supporting their own content distribution — satellite and/or terrestrial — do not want to be in the uplink business anymore. They want someone else to manage their distribution system so that they can concentrate on other parts of their business — like creating revenue.
The great thing about the Hub is that the content creator maintains control of the content, and who it’s delivered to, without the headache of managing an uplink operation.
No more cap-ex discussions or maintenance of an aging infrastructure. No more calls in the middle of the night because of an uplink problem that needs to be taken care of immediately. No more paying for never-ending support contracts on the system you purchased or worrying about software upgrades.
The only piece of equipment needed at the content provider’s location is an audio codec. Everything else is located at our facilities in Washington, D.C. Additionally, we are fully redundant with a manned location in St. Paul, Minn. Our new interface simplifies the process of scheduling programs, spots, cues and more. Localization of programming and spots becomes much easier, which in turn enables more revenue opportunities.
RW: Affiliates of the public radio satellite system have been in the process of completing a major receiver switchover. What’s the status of that?
Schifano: The project is complete. Our headend was completely replaced, as well as all the receivers at nearly 400 public radio stations. We are now fully redundant at our primary location and backup location.
RW: Will your booth or customer interactions change because of the pandemic?
Schifano: Although we will have a team on the floor in the Central Hall, it probably will not be our complete team. At least for the October show, we will be making use of remote meeting technology to answer any questions that may come up.
After a long 18 months of the pandemic, our team is anxious to see both our existing customers as well as prospects in person. Although we have survived in the virtual world, we really are looking forward to things getting back to normal.
Readers looking for more information on NPR Distribution’s Hub service can visit https://www.nprds.org/hub.