“Best of Show Up Close” is a series about participants in Radio World’s annual Best of Show at NAB Awards program.
Broadcast Partners nominated Smart Processing, a module of the company’s Smart Radio. SmartRadio is a cloud-based radio automation platform. We asked Rene van de Kolk, manager, R&D, Broadcast Partners, to explain.
Radio World: Smart Processing was a feature of your booth at NAB. For those who couldn’t attend, what is the product and what are its targeted uses?
Rene van de Kolk: Smart Processing provides three different cloud-based modulation-processing solutions: Basic, Medium and High-End. Smart Processing uses Orban back-end software solutions for this.
Smart Processing is a part of Broadcast Partners’ SmartRadio platform, and can be used in this full cloud- and web-based platform by integrating with the Smart Playout possibilities by using AoIP protocols. Smart Processing is hybrid, and thus also standalone, available outside the SmartRadio platform and can easily be connected with other existing playout services.
Smart Processing delivers excellent Orban modulation presets and a unique sound, with all of the presets that Orban has been offering the market or years.
Smart Processing is for the increasing online and digital radio market. Media companies all over the world are launching multiple subchannels as additions to their main brand. These can be for shorter periods or select certain seasonal theme such as summer, Christmas or Valentine’s Day or used for longer periods. Branded radio channels can be launched easily without investing in hardware units or upgrading server farms. So targeted users are media companies, radio stations and publishers who launch multiple online or digital (DAB+) radio stations.
RW: You describe SmartRadio as “radio as a service.” How does it differ from other offerings in this product class?
Van de Kolk: SmartRadio is 100% cloud- and web-based. All functionality can be used in a Chrome browser. Creating and producing content can be done easily, anywhere, anytime or any place. The only requirement is connectivity. SmartRadio is a beginning-to-end solution: using Smart Database with multiple metadata options that can be used for playout, cloud-based voice tracking, cloud-based multitrack editing without delay and pushed through Smart Processing to be published on multiple platforms online or digital radio, for example.
For online, the best CDN network from the Netherlands is fully integrated. In addition, the specially developed headend for DAB+ services, aXemble, is as-a-service available in SmartRadio. With these services our goal is to help existing and new media-organisations to innovate without the need of heavy investment. All services are available as-a-service with specific pricing per module. For the past two years, we developed this platform with eight developers at Broadcast Partners.
At NAB, IBC, Salon de Radio and Radiodays Europe we retrieved feedback from the market to develop customized solutions. This is possible because all services (also a full Smart Scheduler, or Smart Commercial Scheduler) are developed by thinking in micro-services terms. This means hybrid and flexible development in the most modern program code-language. Connections with other innovative parties is possible by using our API. In SmartRadio, connections with VMix, Beats Newsportal and Radio Manager are already made.
RW: What does SmartRadio cost? Is it available now?
Van de Kolk: SmartRadio is fully hybrid and can be used in all preferred setups. Licenses can be used as-a-service per month/radio channel and are customizable for one channel for one month in an existing cloud environment. This includes the Smart Database (including cloud-and web-based metadata-editor), Smart-Format Scheduler and Smart Non Stop Player (including four-channel cloud- and web-based editor). SmartRadio is available in public cloud-based environments but can also be installed in private cloud-based environments. All preferred connections and add-ons for services will increase the monthly fee.
Smart Processing, is also available. Licensing/pricing is based on an as-a-service model. For one radio station you pay the required service fee per month based on your preferences.
RW: More generally, what do you see as the most important trends or changes happening these days in how broadcasters are using the cloud?
Van de Kolk: Using AoIP solutions from companies such as Lawo, Ravenna, Telos Alliance and Dante [Audinate] but also virtualized complete productions environments. That’s also why our software-defined solutions are integrated in the different mixing console platforms, to provide a full screen-based user-experience in the future. By publishing multichannel, on different platforms, hybrid software solutions are important and are more flexible in terms of updates than ever before in the past. Relevant data from listeners is key if you want to stay relevant in the future, so collecting data and receiving clear insights is also a main trend, in my opinion.
RW: What else should we know about this product or your company’s recent offerings?
Van de Kolk: Different modules are available. Innovation can therefore be done in different projects or trajectories. Our Smart Scheduler, is a full option format planner and can be connected to all big existing solutions when they are able to connect on API. A very impressive web-based user-experience in defining your format is possible.
The Future Best of Show Awards program honors and helps promote outstanding new products exhibited at industry conventions like the spring NAB Show. Exhibitors pay a fee to enter; not all entries win. Watch for more coverage of participating products soon. To learn about all of the nominees and winners, read the 2019 Best of Show Program Guide.