The author is general manager and chief engineer of WIHS(FM).
Noncommercial, listener-supported WIHS/104.9 FM is a ministry of the Connecticut Radio Fellowship and broadcasts music plus local and national Christian programming to listeners in Connecticut, Western Massachusetts and parts of Long Island, N.Y.
I had worked at the station from 1985 to 1991, and returned last year as its general manager and chief engineer.
One of my first priorities is refurbishing all three of our station’s studios. The main objective is to update our technology, but also make the studios more aesthetically pleasing.
Phase 1 of the project was the upgrade of our on-air studio, replacing everything from the furniture and flooring to the audio console. At the heart of our technology overhaul was a significant upgrade to our ENCO DAD automation and playout system.
WIHS was a long-time satisfied ENCO customer, but our DAD deployment had not been updated in many years. The software was seven major versions behind the current release, and most of the hardware it was running on was well beyond the viable lifecycle for any computer platform. I felt like we were using the old system on borrowed time.
With our announcers familiar and happy with DAD already, we decided to stay on the ENCO platform for the upgrade. I wanted all of the equipment to come from ENCO so they could fully configure and test it before shipping it to us, making it mostly “plug-and-play” when we received it. We purchased everything turnkey from ENCO, from the mice and monitors to the workstations and network switch.
Rather than simply replacing the systems in our previous configuration, ENCO’s technical team re-architected our deployment to reduce our hardware requirements. Our old installation did not have a true server, and it had two workstations just running supporting utilities. By deploying a DAD server license on a new file server and consolidating those utilities onto it, we went from eight workstations down to five — a significant savings.
The upgrade went smoothly. An ENCO technician helped us migrate our existing DAD libraries to the new system and came to our station for final refinements and training.
Our staff members vary in their technical aptitude, but everybody has adapted nicely to the new system. We went on-air with our new ENCO deployment June 17, and it has made our playout extremely reliable and less prone to the usual issues associated with aging hardware.
Our station is roughly 60% programming and 40% music, and the DAD platform helps us by making program retrieval largely automated. The combination of the DAD DropBox utility (for watch folder monitoring) and enConveyor utility (for automating FTP and web downloads) lets us efficiently get programs into our system in ready-for-air formats with minimal intervention.
We are also in the process of deploying ENCO’s WebDAD for browser-based remote control of the DAD system. My intention is to be able to operate the station remotely, so I can give our on-air staff time off for major holidays or when we can’t find somebody to fill a shift. With WebDAD, I’ll be able to make any changes from home if needed, without requiring staff to be in the studio.
I have been pleased with both the new system and the upgrade process. The support and level of information we received from ENCO have been stellar, and we have peace of mind that we no longer have to worry about legacy equipment failing. If I had to do it all over again, I would do it again with ENCO.
Info: Contact Sam Bortz at ENCO Systems in Michigan at 1-248-827-4440 or visit www.enco.com.
Radio World User Reports are testimonial articles intended to help readers understand why a colleague chose a particular product to solve a technical situation.