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Stu Buck on Arctic Palm’s Move to DTS

"We have worked with digital radio since there has been digital radio"

Software developer Arctic Palm Technology Inc. is in the business spotlight because of its acquisition by DTS Inc., announced last week. Founder Stu Buck will make the transition to DTS in a product development role but relocate to the Columbia, Md., office of DTS. We contacted Buck to ask a few questions that arose in the wake of the announcement; he replied via email.

Radio World: What prompted the creation of Arctic Palm 19 years ago; and what was your background prior?

Stu Buck: At the time I was a senior systems analyst with The Blackburn Group Inc., a multimedia company in London, Ontario. BGI owned The London Free Press, a major daily paper in Southwestern Ontario, CFPL Broadcasting (CFPL-AM/FM/TV) and CKNX Broadcasting (CKNX-FM/AM/TV). I started with the company in 1971 and was on the development team computerizing the newspaper operations. By 1978 we had computerized the newspaper and I was assigned the broadcasting project.

My introduction to broadcasting was the development of a traffic system for both radio and television, and I was hooked. These were all mainframe systems, and PCs were just coming into the workplace. As the “mainframe” developer, we did not have PCs in the office, but I did have one at home and found areas in broadcasting where PC applications were needed. At that point I developed my first PC application, which is now our CS Copy Management package. Today’s version is a lot different than the original but it’s where we started.

In the mid-90s BGI started selling the broadcasting companies and I received all rights to the software along with the right to continue development, sales and marketing. In 1997, I received the Canadian and U.S. copyrights, and Arctic Palm was born.

RW: As I understand it, you pretty much are Arctic Palm, there are no other employees, yes? But Arctic Palm seems to have a lot of products for one person to create, market and support …?

Buck: For the most part yes, I am Arctic Palm. Fran, my wife, is also an employee and handles accounting, and Al Hillman, another ex-BGI programmer, wrote our CS Call Management package. Al and I have worked together for over 30 years and he covers support when I’m traveling.

More than 45 years of experience designing and programming computer software for media has resulted in Arctic Palm products that are very functional and reliable in minimizing the time required for user training and support.

While we are best known for our datacasting products posting metadata to a variety of devices and services, we also have several “paperless” studio products to minimize or eliminate hard copy documents. These include CS Copy Management, used by creative script writers and producers; CS Contest Management for prize/contest scheduling; CS Call Management, our Call Screening package for Telos studio phone systems; CS Interactive for automated FTP/LAN and WAN file transfers; and our most popular product, Center Stage Live (CSRDS) for datacasting and paperless live copy scheduling. We just added the CS Public Radio Metadata (CSPRM), an add-on for Center Stage Live that supports the PRSS MetaPub service.

You’re right, it sounds like a lot when you spell it out, but working in media for that long has given me a detailed understanding of the business of broadcast and the technical skills to meet the needs of broadcasters. The tools, techniques and skills I have learned in that time result in very fast and reliable development; and as our client base has grown we have been examining various expansion options.

RW: DTS cites your work in recent years with digital radio and data products. Can you tell me more about how Arctic Palm’s tech has been used to date in HD Radio, MetaPub and other platforms, that we might not be aware of?

Buck: We have worked with digital radio since there has been digital radio and kept up with all the advancements. This started with basic PAD data and now includes The Artist Experience as well as advanced content for on-air events.

Our CS Scheduler module included in the Center Stage Live package allows stations to schedule any number of informational, promotional or commercial messages to the various devices or services including HD Radio.

We currently capture metadata from about 70 different automation systems, satellite services, web services like MetaPub, metadata logs, local weather forecasts, EAS message, etc., and post that data to RDS/RBDS encoders, HD Radio, DAB/DRM, websites, streaming services, web services such as TagStation/Next Radio and TuneIn, and even post to FTP sites for use on digital billboards.

The Center Stage Live package includes several modules to perform various special functions like time shifting, providing metadata for repeat broadcasting, post metadata when playing from outside an automation system or long-play programming. When used with other Arctic Palm packages we can post contest information or topic and call in information for talk shows. To quote some users, “It’s the Swiss Army Knife for metadata.”

RW: Will Arctic Palm product line branding change; will your product line remain as we see it today on the website…?

Buck: The Arctic Palm product lines will remain the same, as will our great relationships with distributors, partners and our clients.

RW: What else should we know?

Buck: I am very happy to be part of DTS, as their commitment to radio is a perfect match for Arctic Palm. We share the same goals to make our clients the best they can be and provide listeners with the best possible radio experience. The shared resources will benefit not only our companies but the radio industry.