The author is teacher, coach, CEO and founder of Jacket Radio.
KEMP, Texas — Jacket Radio is Kemp Independent School District’s official radio station. Kemp is a small rural town about 45 minutes southeast of Dallas.
I’ve been a history teacher and coach at the school for many years. About three years ago, I came up with the idea to start a radio program for our students. When I proposed the plan to the school’s principal, he loved it and we got the project off the ground in no time. We named it Jacket Radio and began streaming through business management courses. From day one our students ran the station and led the classes.
The goal through this initiative was to provide the kids with a real-life business setting where they would work in the station’s different departments (marketing, programming, engineering, etc.) and learn how to collaborate with each other.
The station was almost immediately successful, but with a tight budget and little experience in this domain, it was a challenge for us to meet audience expectation. All the attention meant we had to keep growing in order to maintain relevancy. That’s not an easy task when you’re learning as you go. But we managed to add to our program offerings and began covering some of the sporting events for our high school and junior high teams.
As luck would have it, that year our teams started to do really well and made it to the football semifinals and the basketball regional finals — a big deal for rural Texas. That’s when others, not only students, began tuning in. I mean we were pulling in some 40,000 listeners per game. That’s huge for a tiny town like us.
We also started the Jacket Radio Podcast Network and introduced the Jacket Radio app so listeners can tune in through the app or directly online. As we grew it became clear that we needed to invest in dependable transport technology, and that’s where Barix came into play.
Since we weren’t well versed in the world of radio and audio, when shopping for a solution we were adamant about doing our research well. The more we studied how to move audio efficiently and reliably, the more the signs pointed us to Barix.
Today we have a live 24/7 broadcast with a mix of music, prerecorded segments and school sports, in addition to our podcasts. We use the Barix Instreamer encoder to help us ensure we deliver quality content in (AAC format) to our app and online.
Simple and Effective
Before transitioning to the Instreamer, we used a laptop computer with an Icecast or Shoutcast program to send the audio to http://radio.co from the remote sports events. When covering away games, we never knew what the opponent’s facility would offer, for example whether it had internet or a room to set up equipment. There have even been times we’ve had to broadcast from the bleachers — a real hassle with more complicated equipment.
The Barix Instreamer has changed that for us. Getting our remote sports broadcasts and events to air is now very simple. All we have to do is plug it in and power it up, and it connects to http://radio.co without further technical requirements. What’s more, it frees up the laptop for other projects.
Barix was responsive from our first contact. They configured the box for us, and with the help of their partner radio.co, we were provided a video tutorial and the Instreamer worked seamlessly from the start.
Jacket Radio’s audio quality has improved enormously. There is no choppy signal to worry about with drop-ins and dropouts. Instead we now have this flexible yet dependable and simple setup where we plug the Instreamer into the laptop, and use a mixer and mics. We usually have three people in a booth, and recently experimented using a sideline reporter with the remote mic and monitor.
The Instreamer gives us more freedom. Now that we’re up to speed using it for sports, and because we are so community-involved, we’d like to also start broadcasting from street fairs and festivals.
Our in-depth research paid off from an investment perspective. There are other units out there with various price tags, but when we factored in quality vs. cost, Barix won hands down. The Barix Instreamer is not only affordable but it’s dependable, which ultimately is key for the long-term success of Jacket Radio.
Radio World User Reports are testimonial articles intended to help readers understand why a colleague chose a particular product to solve a technical situation.
For information, contact Will Schmidt at Barix at 1-866-815-0866. For international information, contact Reto Brader in Germany at 41-43-433-22-11 or visit www.barix.com.