With Tarmac, RTBF is targeting 18- to 25-year-olds. RTBF launched the station last summer as a cross-media platform, including eight radio channels.
“The project went beyond radio,” said Laurent Finet, RTBF's director for radio production and digital innovation. “The Tarmac-crew had to be located in a bubble: young people, active on social media, hip-hop connoisseurs.”
A former radio drama studio was rebuilt into a Hollywood film set-style working area serving radio, video, streaming and gaming.
“Tarmac is indeed ‘a new playground’ and the studio includes a New York street decor, a subway train, a bar and lofts, all equipped to make radio or produce video,” Finet continued.
“The entire project had to be low-cost. The heart of Tarmac is a Yamaha QL1 console and a full IP network for audio [Dante] and video [NDI]. The station uses the Yamaha as the main mix engine for radio, concerts, DJ sets, and other audio signals.
Tarmac’s subway on-air studio is an eyecatcher: a budget-friendly solution with a DJ set, Novation Launchpad MK2 controllers and Shure SM7 microphones.
“We wanted to add a retro-effect to Tarmac. The train-studio is equipped with six Blackmagic Design cameras for image streaming. A second on-air studio is equipped with a refurbished Studer OnAir 2500 desk, a Pioneer DJ set and an RCS playout system,” he said.
Tarmac’s radio complement consists of seven streamed channels and one DAB+ channel. “The streaming formats include different styles of hip-hop from classic to French language. Today, Tarmac does not produce live radio. We wanted to organically launch the station and, even with a government decision on DAB+ pending, we decided to go ahead anyway. Tarmac is using one of RTBF’s DAB+ test channels.”
Like with La Première, Finet took on the challenge of combining radio with video images, which influenced his choice of furniture and equipment in order to attract a young active audience. “It’s all about finding the right compromises — if we feel it won’t work, we won’t go with it,” he said.