VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA — Jim Pattison Broadcasting operates 47 radio stations in four Canadian provinces. Twenty-two of our stations use WideOrbit Automation for Radio Version 4.0. One of the main benefits of WideOrbit V4 is AFR Mobile, an iPhone and iPad app that allows full control of WideOrbit from anywhere.
AFR Mobile gives our users full control of the on-air product, including the ability to start and stop events, play hotkeys, make changes to the playlist and record new audio files. But for most of our users, the voice-tracking function is the most useful.
Like most broadcasters today, our on-air talent is responsible for recording voice tracks for our stations in our other markets. We have found that AFR Mobile is faster and easier to use than other voice-tracking solutions, including WideOrbit’s Distant City Voice Tracker. We have purchased 14 iPads for use by our staff to record voice tracks, and we have installed iPad holders in our production studios to hold the iPads. The iPads are integrated with Axia Livewire network for the best audio quality, and connect to our Wi-Fi for connectivity to our LAN. The DJ can quickly connect to the remote station and record all of the voice tracks for their shift.
We also have one remote DJ that records voice tracks from their home studio. We supplied this DJ with an iPad that connects to our infrastructure via our VPN over an LTE cellular network connection. Voice-tracking works great even when used with only a cellular connection.
In addition to voice-tracking, we have used AFR Mobile for remote broadcasts. Earlier this year, during the opening of a new children’s hospital, we used AFR Mobile to record drop-ins from the hospital. AFR Mobile uploaded the drop-ins to one of our local stations for broadcast, and WideOrbit’s Friendship Server automatically distributed the drop-ins to our other markets for broadcast. This works well but we found that we had to test our audio levels before the broadcast. This was because AFR Mobile does not normalize audio after recording. A useful improvement to AFR Mobile would be the ability to normalize audio after recording.
Now that our users are comfortable with AFR Mobile, we have also used AFR Mobile for five live remote broadcasts without a board operator. The DJ uses hotkeys on AFR Mobile to turn their microphone on and off. In the next month, we plan to adapt this work methodology for a mobile studio for use in remote broadcasts. Our goal is to give the DJ the same experience in the remote studio as in the main studio, with a Tieline audio link, virtual Axia faders, and AFR Mobile.
Installation of AFR Mobile is easy. The app is available as a free download and it connects to our infrastructure via our own VPN, so we have control of who can connect to our system. If one of our AFR Mobile users leaves their job, we can disable their access to our automation system simply by disabling their VPN connection.
We have shared some feedback with WideOrbit about improvements that could be made to AFR Mobile, In addition to normalization, our users have found that the dark colors of AFR Mobile are difficult to see in bright sunlight, so a “bright” mode would be helpful.
For information, contact WideOrbit in California at 1-415-675-6700, Option 2, or visit www.wideorbit.com.