This week’s acquisition of Audion Labs by Wheatstone puts a fresh spotlight on voice editing software product VoxPro. Audion Laboratories Inc. was founded by Seattle radio morning guy Charlie Brown in the early 1990s and sold its first VoxPro system on a Mac computer to KHJ(AM) in Los Angeles. In 2001 Audion ported the software program over to the PC platform.
Radio World asked Wheatstone founder and CEO Gary Snow about the business move.
RW: How did this acquisition first come about, who approached whom?
Gary Snow: You know, it was more of an evolution than an actual “Hey, let’s buy Audion Labs today.” We’ve had a close working relationship with Charlie for some time. In fact, if I recall, VoxPro was one of the first products that we integrated into our WheatNet-IP system under a technical partnership. I’ve always admired the company and the product. So it was just one of those great ideas that materialized.
RW: Why did Charlie Brown decide to sell?
Snow: My impression is that he had taken this great little product along to the point that it truly is the de facto standard in radio studios, and he saw how nicely it fit into the Wheatstone family of products. Well, okay, that’s why I wanted to buy it!
RW: How will the transition affect customers; and how will they get future support and service?
Snow: I’m not sure they’ll notice, except that now they have 24/7 support and service and a huge global distribution network — not to mention our field engineers behind the product. As part of the Wheat family, the VoxPro has all those resources, not to mention our R&D. It’s no secret that we invest a great deal in DSP technology specifically for broadcasting. We have this huge foundation of technology that can only benefit VoxPro.
RW: Audio editing software is not the category one thinks of when it comes to Wheatstone. How do you see this editing product fitting in Wheatstone’s product line?
Snow: It’s actually a very nice fit. After all, the VoxPro sits right next to the audio console; it interfaces to the digital world. And we’re all about audio consoles and digital, as you know. These days, audio networking includes just about all product categories. It’s made up of all these pieces — consoles, mixing, processing — and there’s no piece that is more important than editing.
RW: Hasn’t the market for digital audio editing software become commoditized? How can a broadcast-specific product line stay relevant with so many affordable choices now available?
Snow: VoxPro is one of those smart little products that does its job really, really well. Sure there are general editing systems out that, and yes, you could call the audio editor a commodity these days. But you can’t commoditize what broadcasters do. An on-air editor is a very specialized tool. It has to do what all the commodity editors do, but it has to do it faster and it has to be easy to use. Other software editors just haven’t been able to do it as well. It’s like bringing a machine gun to a stick fight.
RW: What are your plans for VoxPro specifically, how might it be improved?
Snow: Well, for starters, we’re going to transition VoxPro to Windows 10. Oh, and starting immediately, we plan to provide comprehensive dealer support and training so it’s on the same scale as other Wheatstone products.
RW: How many users does VoxPro have?
Snow: A lot! More than 4,000 units have been sold, so that’s a large broadcast community that we’re looking forward to supporting.
RW: What else would a broadcast equipment user want to know about the acquisition or the transition?
Snow: Just that we understand that the VoxPro is the industry’s beloved audio editor and we have every intention of supporting it and keeping it that way.