Paul Shulins points at the 25-Seven Systems Program Delay Manager in the rack at WTKK (FM).
BOSTON Over the past four months I have been using a demonstration model of the 25-Seven Systems Program Delay Manager (PDM).
This is a fancy name for a digital audio profanity delay. But this unit is different than any delay I have used in the past. It brings additional capabilities that have not been seen in traditional delays, the most significant one being the ability to capture and e-mail actual audio files containing the audio that was dumped and did not make it to the air, as well as the “finished” product that did make it out to the listeners.
One of our five stations in Boston, WTKK, runs a talk format on FM. We are now live and local all day, and rely on a delay to give us time to “correct” or delete audio that in our judgment is inappropriate for the airwaves.
The PDM has functioned well as a standard delay for us but has also allowed us peace of mind because the PD Alert feature gives us proof that our producers are doing their job.
The audio cuts generated by the PDM are time stamped (and the internal clock in the PDM can be synched to a time server over the Internet so it is always accurate). There is no doubt that we have the knowledge of what actually transpired on the air by reviewing the WAV files that are automatically and instantly e-mailed to the program director, and are stored in the unit and available through a Web page interface.
Speaking of Web pages, we found the unit easy to control and configure entirely by a Web interface. Because it also offers GPIO logic on the back panel to hook up indicators and buttons, we found no problem making an adapter cable to allow the PDM to use our existing buttons and enunciators already installed once we programmed the logic functions from the GPIO appropriately via the Web page interface.
If you happen to be one of those stations that use audio over IP transport, the PDM is compatible with systems like the Axia Livewire, and likely other Ethernet audio transport methods that may be defined in the future.
I like the fact that it is a single rack unit, with a simple physical layout. Honestly I found most of the other features in the unit to be somewhat standard and are what you would expect for today’s state-of-the-art digital delay, like how to build or exit delay and the garden variety cough, dump and bypass controls.
The LED audio level meter only has four segments but gets the job done. The unit is compatible with analog or AES digital audio input and output as well as the aforementioned Livewire interface.
Having used it for several months, I can say that it has performed for us in Boston as advertised. We get a daily dose of e-mails documenting the “dumped audio” and the device has not failed or locked up to date.
Manufacturer 25-Seven Systems will be coming out with regular firmware updates and they have built in a way to allow the unit to “phone home” to get an update from the factory, eliminating most firewall issues for support. The disadvantage is having to take the device off-line during an upgrade. I have found it mandatory to have a backup delay on the shelf ready to go anyway, so that helps get around the “taking it off line for an upgrade” problem.
Having only flash memory and lack of a hard drive also makes the unit startup quicker and the overall reliability better than the traditional spinning disk.
The unit does have a finite and limited capacity for storing audio clips, but so far we have not found this to be an issue. (Editor’s note: 25-Seven says internal audio file storage capacity is about 750 MB.)
After demoing the product, we became convinced that going back to the old way with a traditional delay would be like taking a step backwards. We purchased the unit and so far we have not had any second thoughts.
In this age of tighter FCC regulations for program decency and content, the PDM has provided my station with an extra level of proof that we are on top of that issue, and gives us confidence our producers are trained properly and on top of their game.
Paul Shulins is director of technical operations with Greater Media Boston.
For information, contact 25-Seven Systems in Massachusetts at (888) 257-2578 or visitwww.25-seven.com.