Radio

Reliability and Redundancy

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Reliability definition

The two words, “reliability” and “redundancy” are the key principals behind assuring that your radio station is broadcasting twenty-four hours per day.  Ideally, our radio stations would be on the air every second of every day but that is never physically possible.  However, there are many steps that can be taken and systems that can be built to reduce the amount of time off the air.

Reliability is measured by the amount of time “on the air” at your radio station.  For our radio stations, we want that number to be somewhere between 99.9% and 99.99% on the air.  That corresponds to between four and forty-four minutes of downtime on average per month.  99.9% is very good but 99.99% would be considered about the highest echelon of reliability that we can achieve.

We achieve redundancy through two different methods: having good quality equipment/systems that we can trust and building redundant backup systems to our main operations.

High quality equipment and systems is paramount to providing a high level of reliability.  To do so, we must invest in equipment that is robust and not prone to failures.  Equipment and systems that are prone to failure should be replaced with improved systems or redundant backup systems.  High quality equipment in the main air chain of the radio station should be business class quality and not consumer grade.

Redundancy is the next step to providing a high level of reliability for your radio station.  Redundancy systems at the radio station will increase your reliability by providing an alternate system to your normal operations, to compensate for a failure.  One common example is an emergency standby generator at your studio or transmitter site.  A generator system will monitor your power provided by the power company and in the event of a failure, it will start the generator.  The generator will provide an alternate source of electrical power to your location until the power company can restore service.

In addition to backup generators, there are many other systems that can be built to increase reliability through redundancy to your radio station:

a)      Backup studios in which to broadcast in the event of a major failure in your main studio

b)      Backup programming on CD or computer that can be played in the event of an automation computer failure

c)       An auxiliary broadcast antenna and/or transmitter site in the event of a major failure at your main transmitter site

d)      Backup transmitter at your main transmitter site in the event of a failure on your broadcast transmitter

e)      Alternate signal delivery methods from the studio to your transmitter site such as an Internet backup to your microwave audio delivery, satellite or telephone line

f)       Audio switchers in your studios that can bypass a console or piece of equipment in the event of a broadcast console failure

All of these systems have the same purpose — to keep you on the air.  These systems can seamlessly and automatically switch to backup systems in the event of a failure which will greatly reduce the amount of time off the air and improve your reliability.

David Hodges, Director of Engineering
Positive Alternative Radio

Why We Choose to Grow Organically

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When first starting out in social media it’s easy to look at the “pros” and wonder how they do it.  Then, after staring at the mountain of media, we take our first steps;

  • We create a profile
  • We start to “Like” other pages in our industry
  • We begin adding content
  • We comment on other posts

After the initial excitement wanes, we begin to wonder why it’s taking so long for our likes to grow.

Certainly, this is not a Facebook only problem, it reaches across just about every social media platform from Twitter to Instagram, but for the sake of this article we’ll stick with Facebook.

So…

There’s gotta be a better way!

We’ve all seen ads that read something like this: “Guaranteed Facebook Likes” or “Get More Likes Fast”.

Buy-Facebook-Likes

Despite the advertisers “best intentions” for your company, or small business there’s always the nagging thought of “is this legit”?

When hiring an outside source to help build up “Likes” on your Facebook page or any other social media platform, here are some things to consider;

  • Many of these “Likes” come from fake user accounts
  • Some programs deceive users into liking pages through false actions, such as clicking on a video or article.
  • Some intermediary companies literally pay people to “Like” pages on Facebook
  • Facebook is now deleting fake “Likes”

Now think about this, you’ve spent hundreds, if not thousands of dollars learning your demographic and target audience.  For example the target demo for Positive Hits PER is a 30-35 year old mother of 2 who lives in northern or central Virginia.  When you purchase “likes” or systems that promise to deliver a huge audience you have to consider who they are, and where their coming from.

If I purchased a 1,000 or 10,000 “Likes” on Facebook and they’re not within PER’s listening audience, and they’re mostly older or younger men, then I have wasted my money.

Also, when it come to these quick “Like” programs there is no relationship built, no connection made, and no telling if the audience you picked up even knows if they’ve ‘Liked” you.

Finally, purchasing “likes” may end up costing you money in the long run.  Prime example, if you try and engage with your audience through a “boosted post” or Facebook ad you are essentially paying Facebook money to promote to a fake audience.

Try explaining that to cooperate!

Organic Growth 

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Organic growth is growth that comes from a company’s existing businesses, as opposed to growth that comes from buying new businesses.”

Growing your brand organically is a much slower process, but it brings a massive advantage when it comes to audience engagement.

Such as;

  • Audience rapport with the brand.
  • The audience’s expectations of the kind of content you’ll be posting
  • Your audience is more likely to comment, share, or like your post

Think tortoise not hare!

Grow your audience through posts that connect, conversations that inspire and inform, and show that you are more than just simply another brand.  Become a friend!

In closing, organic takes time, and your numbers may look low, but ultimately, the relationships you build and the content you share will give you the win!

Be Blessed!

Nathan Gist

PAR Director of Social Media Engagement
PER Production/Imaging Director
PER Afternoon Drive Host

Pictures Tell a Story

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pictures worth a 1000 words

“A picture’s worth a thousand words…”

When you get home tonight, look around your house at the many pictures you have hung up.  If you are at your desk right now, look around at the pictures of your friends and family.

Those pictures tell a story.

They tell of family vacations, graduations, a loving union, a birth of a child, etc. Whatever the picture is, it says something to you. A picture conveys much more than you could ever say in words.

As humans, we are visual creatures. We like to look on the beauty of what God has created, and we want to somehow capture it.  In a picture, something right in front of us, we’re able to keep seeing it.

So human beings love to take pictures and look at them… what does that have to do with our websites? EVERYTHING!

When someone visits your website, your home online, you have the opportunity to grab their attention. But you have a short period of time to do that and limited space too. So what is the most effective way to get them to buy into your web presence?

Pictures and graphics!

What kind of pictures should I post?

The message in the picture should match the message you are trying to get across. Recently, our Spirit FM team hosted diaper drives for several local pregnancy centers. Instead of using a banner with simple text on it, we used a picture of a mom and a baby. This picture set the tone for our drives, related to the lives of our listeners and told a story that spoke volumes.

What did the picture of the mom and the baby say?

  1. Your donation is helping moms care for their babies.
  2. Remember what it was like to have little ones?
  3. Remember how much diapers cost?
  4. You could be a blessing to this young mom.
  5. There is no greater love you can give a mom than to help her take care of her baby.
  6. You’re helping a mom say yes to life.

To each person that picture said something different, something we could have never conveyed in words alone.

When choosing a picture for your website or social media:

  1. Make sure it tells a story.
  2. Make sure it fits the tone of your printed words.
  3. Make sure you have a high quality picture.  It should be clear, not grainy, and it should fit correctly physically, etc.
  4. Make sure they fit your stations demographic.  Just like we analyze on-air breaks and how they could relate to “her” better, do the same thing before posting a graphic.  Make sure it’s something that would connect with her.
  5. Make sure it fits your stations story.  Every word spoken on-air, every status on Facebook, every graphic on the website is a continuation of your stations story.  Make sure the graphics continue that story!

As radio stations, we are always thinking about the on-air product but sometimes forget about the other media we produce.  Remember your website is a part of your station, it’s a representation of it.  Graphics play a huge role in the success of your website, so pick wisely!!!

~Colleen Larkins

Assistant Manager Spirit FM, PAR website coordinator

Being FCC Friendly

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Every station is required to serve the public they are licensed to.  This requires special programming that is beneficial to and serves our community’s interests.  At the end of every quarter, we are required to fill out a report that shows we have effectively fulfilled our public issues requirements. Here are some things you can do to fulfill those requirements and things that you may be doing, that really don’t count:

The easiest way to show you are meeting the needs of your community:

  • By doing a half-hour issues oriented program every weekend.  It’s as simple as interviewing your mayor, economic development director, Chamber director or any non-profit organization that is having a positive impact on your community.
  • You can also use any remotes where you are interviewing non-profit organizations that are benefiting the community.  If you were at a Red Cross event to raise funds for families whose homes have been burned down, that would count.

What doesn’t count?

  • Church programs.  This was something that stations used to do all the time on Sunday mornings to fulfill their requirements.  However, it was later ruled that church programs are too limited in terms of fulfilling the needs of the entire community.
  • If you’re airing a one minute “health tip” or “family minute”, that doesn’t count either.  The feeling is that you can’t adequately cover/discuss a topic of local interest in just a minute.  The program needs to be at least ten minutes in length for consideration.

How much time should you devote to public issues every quarter?  You should do at a minimum, 10 hours of issues programming.  If you air a half hour program on Saturday and repeat that program on Sunday morning that would be one hour per week.  Over the course of three months, you will have at least 12 hours of issues-oriented programming. It’s that simple.

Programmers have a hard time breaking format to provide this programming but remember this isn’t a choice you get to make.  It’s a requirement of the FCC.  An hour interruption each week in your typical programming is far less painful than an FCC fine.

One final note on your public issues report: make sure it’s filed no later than the 10th day after the quarter is completed.  This means your report should be in your public file no later than April 10th, July 10th, October 10th and January 10th (for 4th quarter of the prior year).

 

Dan Franks

Joy FM General Manager

JUST GET IT DONE!

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clocking in

A passion for what you do is critical to achieving excellence consistently.  It is the difference between one who is all “In” and another who is just “Clockin In.”

If audio production is not your “passion” and youre charged with that responsibility at your radio station, it can be an overwhelmingly heavy weight.  In small market radio and many medium market stations, you may wear multiple hats.  Someone must be in charge of production.  Tag, youre it!

Okay, so audio production is not your passion.  Perhaps you are proficient with the administrative side of this vital area of operations, but you lack some of the skills to really do masterful audio work.  A few pointers of how to approach this creative and subjective craft could help develop the “must do” part of your work into a real “passion” for it.

Isaiah “Izzy” Knight, Afternoon Host and Media Director at Spirit FM in Roanoke/Lynchburg, Virginia, has some tips that just may be what the doctor ordered.

Knight says, “Creating efficiencies and working smarter will provide you time to create a more effective and compelling product.”  Heres what he recommends:

TEMPLATES

“Audition CC and CS6 have a feature called ‘Templates.’  It is an easy way to have your toolbox of SFX and Beds automatically loaded with your rack presets ready to go.  Just set up your session and export it as a template.  If you have an older version, just set up a blank session and save it to your desktop.  Just remember to hit ‘Save As.’

PRESETS

Set up a rack for each voice-over person you have.  Unless theyre voicing a spot in another studio, you should never have to tweak their audio again after it is set (unless youre going for a new effect, of course).

BATCH PROCESSING

Have a voice tracker or other outside dry voice audio?  Batch process their files using your settings to give them a bit more punch and match your station.

ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES

There are several ways to approach this workflow.  It needs to be simple, provide accountability and include enforceable deadlines for each person in the process.  Knight prefers paperless.  If budget is an issue for you, going digital can be done FREE by using Google Docs.  Create a form with the fields you need and it will automatically populate the spreadsheet.  This operation is working very well at Spirit FM.  If you have a budget for third party vendor software, Vcreative is a good tool at www.vcreativeinc.com.

POLICY

Make these deadlines, presets and templates standard operating procedure. Standardizing your work flow will save you time in the long run and the continuity will make your station(s) sound significantly better.”

You never know…what is a “just get it done” drudgery to you now, may grow into a passion you never dreamed of, bringing all your hidden creative talents into full bloom.  And thats excellence!

 

Marc Tischart

General Manager

Spirit FM

The Future of Radio

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music streaming services

If you ask anyone where the future of the radio industry is going, they will answer with a resounding response of “On the Internet of course”.  I don’t think we have to convince anyone of the Internet redefining the way our world interacts.  However, the radio industry is not always the quickest to adopt new technology.

The Internet gives us an ability to connect with listeners in ways that the inventors of radio or television could never imagine.  Where the radio industry has always been the “talkers”, the Internet has given us the ability to listen.  Our industry has to evolve to survive in an interactive world.

Many terrestrial broadcasters have dabbled in the Internet because that’s what others in the industry have told them to do.  They want an online web stream because the other radio stations in their market are doing the same and they believe they will be left behind.  The same goes for their website, Facebook, Twitter and mobile applications.  Those terrestrial broadcasters don’t really understand why they are on the Internet.

We have the ability to utilize the Internet to connect with our listeners in a profound way.  How do we do this? — here are some practical ways that we can create experiences and connect with listeners with existing technologies.

Websites - Change our websites to provide the information that our listeners need in their communities.  Provide the information that they need to grow in their love of Christ, serve others and help them in their daily lives.  We need less information that serves the interest of the radio station and more information that serves the interest of the people who listen to our radio stations.

Social Media - Let’s create a social media site to promote the radio station — wrong!  Social media is a convenient medium with a large base.  We can provide uplifting messages in large-scale fashion.  However, we must interact with others on social medium.  We can’t just talk — we have to interact and listen as well.

Online Web Streaming & Mobile Apps - We must excel in the manner in which we provide online web streaming and mobile apps.  We can’t expect to gain and keep the interest of our listeners by providing a static product.  We have to provide additional content besides the audio from our radio stations.  We must provide information on our radio personalities to form a connection for our listeners, on the artists who provide music that encourages, and anything that helps our listeners in their walk with Christ.

To succeed in the radio industry of the 21st century, we have to interact with our listeners.  These technologies allow us many new avenues to reach more people for Christ.

 

-David Hodges, Director of Engineering, Positive Alternative Radio

The Power of Insight…

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I’ve heard a lot of talk about the ‘core listener’…listener’s age, predominantly female, soccer mom, stay-at-home mom, etc.  Honestly, I admit that hadn’t fully sunk into my brain as deep as it should…until this one call from a donor…

I received a voicemail from a lady who wanted to update her declined credit card.  She asked that I please return her call that day, or she’d try and fit in a time to call me back later in the week.  I happily called but got her answering machine.  In the middle of me leaving a message, an out of breath lady answered the phone, “Hi! I’m so glad you called but can you hang on a minute, please?”  I told her, “of course, no problem.”  Then I overheard her talking to her child; giving instructions on how long to walk the dog, how far to go, to hold the leash tightly, etc.  She apologetically returned to our call and began explaining what had happened with her credit card.  We were partway through updating her card info when another child entered the conversation, “I’m hungry!  Can I have a snack?”  …Mom responded with a list of reasons which included, “No, it’s close to dinner time; go comb your hair we have to leave for rehearsal soon.”  After giving further instructions on what she meant by “comb your hair”, she once again returned to our call and apologized profusely for all the interruptions.

In that momentI realized this mom was taking precious time out of an insanely busy (perhaps normal?) day to update her card information with us so that her gift could resume.  I realized what a huge inconvenience this call was for her and yet she was determined to get this done, even while juggling many tasks and people that yearned for her attention.

I have always been deeply grateful for our donors.  After speaking with this dear lady, I feel as if I got to climb inside her world a bit and it makes me that much more thankful!  I won’t pretend that I always get it right with every call but I’m so glad that I didn’t sound impatient or annoyed with this lady.  I even took a moment to thank her for making time for my call.  Each time I answer the phone now I am reminded of this sweet mom and how precious time is for our listeners and donors; how awesome it is that they carve in time to speak with us!

 

Kayla Sanders

Director of Partner Services

Working for God

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Work for Jesus Sign

You were created by God.

He fashioned you. You are the result of His skill and care.

But the wonder and the drama of our existence doesn’t stop there.

There’s an often skipped verse in Genesis.

These overlooked words can help bring purpose and joy to your daily life…your daily work life. No matter if you’re a stay at home mom who home-schools the kids, a factory worker who clocks in 8 hours a day exactly, a doctor who works limitless hours or the leader of a major company these words grant you amazing perspective.

The scripture reads, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden to work it and keep it.” (Gen. 2:15)

God created the man.

God gave the man work to do.

That verse screams we are to work. We are not to waste our lives in idleness chasing after the cheap thrills from the edges of life. We were made to make an impact.

Work is from God. Folding the laundry, selling advertising, building cars, feeding the cattle on a dairy farm – this work comes from the loving hand of our God.

God “put him in the garden…” God gave the man a vocation. God gave the man a talent and a task. The task God gave the man matched his talent.

Whatever you’re good at…whatever you’re passionate about…God gave that to you.

Then there are the words “work” and “keep”.

The man was to work. He was to labor.

Your job isn’t a burden. It isn’t to be seen as a necessity to pay the bills. Our work is a gift from Him. I can write that with 100% confidence because the talents we have to perform our work come from our Lord…and talents are not to be wasted.

That changes my perspective. I now can now say that I get to work where I get to exercise the gifts Jesus gave me. I’m not there just to earn a paycheck…I’m there to honor Him with the skills He gave me.

You’re not there just to wipe noses and change diapers…you’re there to honor Him with the talents He gave you.

Finally, there’s the ‘who’.

  • God put the man in the garden.
  • God gave the man the task to work the garden.
  • God gave the man the talents to do the tasks.

God.

What we do reflects His glory.

I can delight in what I do because I delight in the One who gave me the talent to do it. I have joy in what I do because my joy comes from the One who put me in this “garden”.

The mandate also becomes bolder and clearer.

I’m not here just to build great companies. You’re not here just to do data entry, prescribe medicine, adjust spines, sell cars, or build houses.

You’re here to honor Him…to give Him glory…and to give Him glory and honor THROUGH what you do.

Whatever garden you are laboring in – you’re there because God put you there.

Tend it well.

For the garden belongs to Him.

Brian Sanders
Executive Vice-President
Positive Alternative Radio

Planting the Gospel

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GARDENING 101

Well, it’s that time of year. It’s time to get out in the sun and get in the garden. I have never had much of a “green thumb”. I’ve never tended a garden personally, but I do know that it takes a lot of work. As a matter of fact, as I researched the topic for this post, I was shocked at all the info and tips that were available. I read tips on picking the best soil. I read instructions on how to know if plants were “shade-tolerant” or “sun-loving”. I even brushed up on how to deal with “immature root systems”. I have come to the conclusion that, like anything, once you have a basic understanding, the proper tools, and practice…growing plants still takes work. What? You thought I was going to say “it’s easy”?

Now you may be wondering what this has to do with radio. You may be asking how this applies to you, your work, Christian radio, and the Gospel. I’d like to compare a few steps it takes to have a successful garden with some steps we can take to have a successful experience in our work.

Readers BEWARE… Many metaphors ahead!!!

Prepare your Soil

Soil is the most important element in a garden and probably one of the most overlooked by “first-time” gardeners. Soil supports plants physically and provides them with water and nutrients. Now I will ask you, “In what kind of soil are you rooted?” I have found sixty one verses in Scripture that have to do with being rooted. They speak of being deeply rooted in the Word, in love, and in truth.

You see it matters what type of soil we are standing in. We preach the Gospel! We talk about Jesus and His love for us, but where does that knowledge come from? Are we simply relaying messages that we hear in church? Are we just passing on information we gather in small groups, or are we taking time to root ourselves in scripture? If I’m being honest, I really struggle with this. I overuse the excuse of being too busy, and at the same time running the risk of spreading a false gospel on our radio station.

That’s something to really think about. Are we rooting ourselves in the Truth? Soil matters. Actually it matters most.

Care for Your Garden

Even if you are without a “green thumb” you still understand that gardens take work. You have to care for the seeds you sew. I found it interesting how watering your plant actually helps it grow. It is not the water itself that is beneficial but the fact that the water flow dissolves the nutrients in the soil and helps transport those nutrients to and throughout the plant. I’ve also read that plants don’t necessarily need sunlight to grow but of course they grow stronger and are better produce having had it. But there’s something else that your garden needs that’s just as important. Yes, this is the part where I tell you that you need to weed your garden. You knew it was coming, right? You have to work. You have to care for your garden!

So how do we care for our work? Well we “weed out” distractions! (No pun intended)…It’s easy for me to get distracted. I come in each and every morning fired up and ready to do the best I can and by 9am I have already lost focus. Maybe it’s my phone or perhaps it’s social networking. The internet can be a big “weed” for me. But going a little deeper than that I would say work becomes a distraction to my work. If I am focused on too many things then I am not focused on just one thing; therefore, that one thing suffers. Also, piling on too many tasks can lead to feeling overwhelmed which then drains your passion and leaves you just “working”. We do so much more than just clock in and out each day.

Let’s be sure and care for our work. Let’s be sure to weed out those distractions. Learn to say “No”. Remember that the details make up the bigger picture. Stay focused on what we do, and that is to inspire people to live passionately for Jesus!

It All Takes Time

Proper timing makes all the difference when it comes to planting your garden. If you’re like me you want results today! If you’re like me you want to be finished with a project before the sun goes down. Radio is such a “right now / moment to moment” environment, but let’s be sure to remember that goals take time. Getting yourself rooted in the right soil takes time. Getting in the habit of caring for your work takes time, but it’s all worth the investment. I’ll leave it at this:

-Get rooted in the Word

-Grow what you love

-Don’t let it stress you out

-Enjoy the fruits of your labors

 

Happy Gardening!

 

Jeremy Wolfe / Walk-FM

Facebook’s 20% Text Rule

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Most of the time I try to stay positive…. when dealing with Facebook’s 20% text rule I have to admit I went the other direction for a temper tantrum or 5!

So, what is Facebook’s 20% rule?

Via Facebook:

“Ads that have more than 20% of text in their image won’t be approved to run in News Feed.”

Seems simple enough right?  Yeah, not so much…

The rule itself is understandable, last thing we want to do is to clog up people’s News Feeds with endless post that look like spam or want ads in your local newspaper.

Here’s why the rule makes me crazy:  It’s not consistent and you never know if it’s actually going to be enforced.

This week I began a Facebook ad campaign for Positive Hits PER.  We are a listener supported station, and the purpose of the ads were to drive listeners to click on the image and be directed to our “giving” webpage.  Here’s one images we used as a boosted post.

Don-&-Happy

I micro-targeted the ad to specific listening areas, specific interests for our demographic, set the budget, and VOILA!  

As far as I could tell the boosted post was up and running, and just about the time I was about pat myself on the back… I noticed that the ad after 3 hours had only received 701 views… did you hear the tire screeching sound?

After reviewing the ad here’s the message I received:

Not boosted because

First of all, there is the annoyance of thinking that for the past 3 hours my ad was running and changing the world (you can always hope)!   When in reality, it was simply sitting there taunting me…

Second, this same image worked perfectly fine for other Facebook ads, why not for this boosted post?

The Grid

Facebook created a grid that you can upload your photos to and find out if you are using too much text or not.  You can find the grid tool Here.

The problem with the grid is that it measures whether or not the text is more than 20% of the grid, and not whether the text is really more than 20% of the photo.

So, even if you don’t actually have more than 20% text… text size, and even text placement can kill your photo’s chances of making through the gauntlet of Facebook’s approval.   Oddly enough, sometimes (depending on how long you run the ad) it makes it through and does the job.

With a little bit of editing, and a lot more hope, we submitting the following post.

Don-&-Happy-Ad

Approved and running! Whew!

Recommendations:

  1. Use the Grid!
  2. Keep most of your text in the status of the post rather than the picture.
  3. Whisper a prayer or two!

We may not like the tools we have to use, but adaption comes with the territory in social media.  Our craft, and the art of what we do shows itself in the work we create, and even recreate!

Be Blessed!

Nathan Gist

PAR Director of Social Media Engagement
PER Production/Imaging Director
PER Afternoon Drive Host