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User Report: NeoScreener Dials in WHYY

NeoGroupe provides caller software and services for Philadelphia public station

PHILADELPHIA — WHYY(FM) Radio was in the market for database software for our talk-shows. The system needed to work with our new Telos VX call-in/call-out digital telephone system. We needed a database product that producers and reporters could easily use for screening calls and entering caller information for our call-in talk-shows. The system needed to assist with call-outs as well.

NeoScreener, a product from NeoGroupe, was recommended by our tech integrator, Daniel Braverman of Radio Systems. We had tried another product that didn’t seem to have the depth of features that NeoScreener had.

At WHYY, our needs included three positions to see computer views for various elements of the application. These are the three positions in our workflow.

First is the call-screener, “producer view.” A producer answers the telephone when folks call in and enters their information into the database. This producer also places call-outs to guests and manages the priority of the calls, telling the talent and engineer which calls to take first, next, etc. Additionally, the producer is able to send messages to the talent (separate from the caller information).

The second position is the “talent view.” The talent needs to see who and where a person is calling in from, but he or she does not operate controls. The talent needs to see which call-ins are first, next, etc. Our talent is busy interviewing guests who may be in the studio, on a call and/or on a high-quality ISDN or T1 circuit. And, of course, the talent talks to the people who call in to the program. Our talent needs to have a system that provides information easily and quickly.

And then there’s the “engineer view.” The engineer actually puts the calls on the air from the Telos VX VSet (telephone handset with a detailed screen) and therefore needs to see the NeoScreener screen, which gives more technical information, such as the hybrids and telephone lines. The engineer needs to follow what decisions the call-screener producer is making, as to which telephone line is assigned to which hybrid.

NeoScreener operates on a server for the call-screener producer and engineer interface combined. There are video outputs that distribute separate screen views to those positions. There is another computer that is used for the talent position. The NeoScreener server interfaces with the Telos VX system and the NeoScreener talent computer. NeoScreener may be set up differently than our system depending on a user’s needs.

NeoScreener’s database has the option to include the following information for people who call in: Telephone number, first and last names, topic, age, city, postal code, emoticons that are selected by the call-screener producer, priority — which calls to take and in what order, as selected by the call-screener producer — and a few more helpful items.

When a call comes in, the database shows if the caller has called previously and how many times the person has called. There is a way to indicate to callers that the call-screener producer would like to be blocked from going on-the-air, or simply give information about the caller. It is possible to set up the database for several different programs.

After a testing phase on less-than-optimal computers, we decided that NeoScreener would meet our needs. We then purchased computers that were dedicated to the task.

Philippe Halin, the owner of NeoGroupe, was generous with his time to help us with the installation of the application on our computers by remote connection. He also trained our producers and engineers over the Internet.

Though NeoGroupe is based in France, the time difference didn’t impede progress on making the system work. Additionally, he visited our station and worked on some more aspects of the system during a trip to the states.

Philippe made sure that every aspect was working optimally and that the system would work as we wanted it, and that my questions were answered quickly. We’ve been using NeoScreener for about a year and the engineers, producers and our talent are pleased with it.

For information, contact Philippe Halin at NeoGroupe at (210) 757-4700 or