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Stu Buck: Trends in RDS

'Now that RDS text is available on so many devices, there is more interest in the content; network satellite programming is high on the list'

“Supply Side” is a series of Q&As with industry manufacturers and suppliers about their businesses and trends that affect equipment users. This is with Stu Buck, director of product development for broadcast software company Arctic Palm Technology.

RW: What trends in RDS consumption are you seeing?
Buck: Over the last 18 to 24 months, we have seen two significant trends in RDS. The first is the number of devices that now show the RDS text and the second is the increased usage of content external to the automation system.

When we think of RDS, we think of the artist and song title showing on a car radio. While this is the most common practice, RDS FM receivers are now showing up on everything from MP3 players like the RT+ enabled iPod and Zune to a wide variety of cell phones. There has also been an increased demand to put this same Radio Text on Web pages and streaming players. We are now getting as many requests for streaming and commercial substitution applications as we are for RDS encoders.

Today when we talk about our RDS application, we are really talking about delivering text to a wide variety of devices and applications.

Now that RDS text is available on so many devices, there is more interest in the content; network satellite programming is high on the list. Several networks are now including the artist and title information along with the audio feed. In most cases, the metadata is delivered on the satellite receiver’s serial port while others provide a Web link or a playlist with the “now playing” information.

In addition to music, we are seeing other content used in non-music segments. Weather, traffic and sports are common, but more and more we are asked about the potential for revenue through sponsor messages.

As expected, there are a number of opinions on if, and how, sponsorship messages should be used. Some stations use our “sponsored by” option as a value-added feature showing all advertisers as their commercials are played. Others will sell “triggered” messages that are used to send the message based on an event in the automation system or at a specified time. Others will simply schedule sponsor messages to rotate into non-music periods.

Our Center Stage Live started life as a copy scheduling package and is a natural for this kind of processing. The ability to switch between satellite and local programming, and capture content from a variety of sources along with our advanced scheduling processes have contributed to our success. …

Our relationship with great companies — like Inovonics, who will soon be including the Center Stage Live Trial CD along with their encoders’ OMT’s iMediaTouch developers’ streaming companies like Stream The World; and more recently Audemat and Axel Technologies — allow us to create products for today and the future. What an exciting time to be in radio.