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FRESNO, Calif. — Peak Broadcasting LLC operates 11 commercial radio stations in the western United States: a six-station cluster serving the Boise, Idaho, market (four FMs and two AMs) and a five-station cluster serving the Fresno, Calif., region (four FMs and one AM).
The group also broadcasts a variety of online programming, including a live stream for each terrestrial station and an assortment of on-demand audio streams (archived broadcasts, specialty shows).
With a primary online presence established, Peak Broadcasting began seeking ways to expand its streaming services. This included the development of an iPhone app and video advertising pre-rolls for live and on-demand streams, as well as online video for special remote broadcasts.
The restrictions of the previous content delivery network prevented Peak Broadcasting from growing into such areas due to technical limitations or unreasonable new service expenses.
Upon recommendation from Media Tuners, which provides streaming audio tuning services for both clusters, Peak Broadcasting sought out StreamGuys and soon signed on for its services.
StreamGuys configured a dedicated Flash Media Interactive server to accommodate current Internet radio streams and provide the appropriate architecture and technical support to launch iPhone and online video initiatives.
Peak Broadcasting engaged the services of Modulation Index and Tuner2 to develop the iPhone app. The custom configurations from both companies allowed access to real-time streams and provided directory-based access to on-demand programming.
For suitable audience consumption, Peak Broadcasting required ultra-efficient audio encoding that would consume as little bandwidth as possible and still provide a high-fidelity audio source. The minimal bandwidth requirement would address mobile streaming and performance at the Edge or 3G networks to provide the audience with a reliable listening experience.
Peak Broadcasting also was interested in supporting its desktop and mobile streams on a single server. StreamGuys moved the entire streaming operation to the Adobe Flash Media Interactive server. This accomplished everything from a central platform, while employing the HE-AAC v2 codec at 32 kbps. This allows transmissions equivalent to 128 kbps AAC streams, providing exceptional audio quality at very low bandwidth.
The Flash Media server also allows Peak Broadcasting to encode its on-demand audio in HE-AAC v2 as m4a (MPEG 4) files for iPhone streaming, maintaining the efficient bandwidth mantra that is key to the company’s Internet streaming product.
As impressive as the increased diversity of Peak Broadcasting’s streaming output is, the efficient plan put in place through StreamGuys has reduced the company’s streaming costs from our previous CDN by more than $100,000 a year.
Online streaming is critical to a radio station’s performance and growth in the modern broadcasting universe. The streaming side of Peak Broadcasting’s business is growing constantly. The company has reported online audience increases of as much as 10 percent over the previous month.
Still, this is the radio broadcasting industry, and audio quality is king. Peak Broadcasting utilizes high-quality equipment throughout its audio chain to maintain pristine audio quality.
The signal generated at the studio console eventually splits, with one signal destined for the FM or AM transmitter and the other routed to the StreamGuys streaming platform. The streaming signal passes through Orban audio processing and an Opticodec unit to encode the audio to HE-AAC v2.
Video pre-rolls have been added to the online streams using the same Flash Media Interactive server. Peak Broadcasting integrated its content management functions for preroll video and graphics, along with the handles from Tuner2’s Media Tuner platforms within the StreamGuys platform. The integrated service enables the video pre-rolls and banner ads for both desktop and iPhone streams, with Ando Media automation systems triggering the playout.
StreamGuys also has enabled the launch of online video services. Cross-promoted on our radio broadcasts, listeners can access live and archived video streams on our website from various remote broadcasts and special events. This includes a two-hour pregame show prior to each Fresno State University football game. KMJ(FM) in Fresno, in cooperation with the Central California Latino Water Coalition, has streamed live video of “water rallies” on its site.
StreamGuys has been instrumental in providing a flexible streaming platform with the necessary bandwidth at a reasonable cost. They have proven their ability to customize our platform by establishing data interchanges between the Modulation Index Flash players, the iPhone app, the Ando Media ad insertion system, and the Tuner2 album art and directory service. The streaming platform also establishes future expansion possibilities, including unique live streams, more on-demand specialty programming (such as agricultural program content) and redundant streaming servers.
Joe Mauk is director of engineering for Peak Broadcasting LLC.
For information, contact Jonathan Speaker at StreamGuys in California at (707) 667-9479 or visit www.streamguys.com.