Following the initial impact of the COVID 19 pandemic in 2020, people looked to 2021 as the year when things would start getting back to normal. Instead, 2021 brought a new set of challenges and a ‘new normal’ that radio stations couldn’t ignore.
One of the main effects of the pandemic for all businesses, radio included, has been the move to remote or home working. The technology has always been there for radio stations to operate remotely in the form of platforms such as Zetta2GO, but there wasn’t always the need (or the acceptance) for people to work from home. However, with lockdowns restricting travel and suspending office working around the world, companies soon realized how powerful tools such as these are.
In many ways, now that the metaphorical genie is out of the bottle when it comes to remote or home working, many people don’t want to go back to how things were previously. In fact, one survey conducted in the UK stated that following the pandemic and the lockdowns “over 88% of people stated their desire to work from home for at least part of the working week.”
As home working transitions to flexible working, tools such as Zetta2GO mean that users can access everything that they need to do their jobs using any internet-enabled device, even a smartphone or tablet. This means that, even with a broadcast team spread out remotely or working flexibly, you know that your radio station’s content won’t be adversely affected.
2021 has also highlighted another trend that radio stations can’t ignore and that’s the way people are now listening to their favorite stations. Back in March 2020, in the early days of the pandemic, Forbes reported a 12% increase in global internet traffic caused by higher consumption of online streaming – including online radio.
In a survey of core radio listeners in July 2021 in the United States and Canada, 50% of respondents stated that they consumed digital audio on a daily basis. In addition, another 18% said that they listened to audio digitally on a weekly basis.
By implementing a technology solution such as the RCS2GO suite, radio stations can learn from recent experiences, embrace remote working, and take the opportunity to provide closer support systems for teams. At the same time, remote teams can cut down on unnecessary office space and heighten environmental awareness.
While working from home is still the norm for many businesses, radio stations can still focus on improving their efficiencies and working operations, investing in communications and cloud storage to boost productivity among distributed teams.
As we move towards the end of 2021, there are a lot of things that radio station owners should take on board. With clever use of technology, broadcasters will have more time to streamline the quality of their programs and deliver the content that their listeners need the most. Meanwhile, listeners can expect more engagement and creativity through an offering of higher-quality broadcasts, as radio continues to bring even more engagement, comfort, and reassurance to their audiences.
As you know, RCS continues to enhance our products with multiple releases every year. This week, we were joined by RCS Traffic Sales Engineer Dawn Newberry, who helped review some of the new Aquira features that are available right now for all Aquira users. Traffic Directors can utilize the new Google Ad Manager, XDS Interface, Signature Tool, and AquiraSync. Needless to say, we’re really excited to demonstrate these new features!
Starting with the Google Ad Management Interface, with Aquira, Traffic Directors can start to incorporate their web impressions into their everyday radio work. Define a web format, placement, run dates, unit rates and units booked – all while continuing to schedule radio ads. There are even options to pay commission. If you’re looking for next level control with your web impressions, include Aquira’s Google Ad Manager into your daily workflow!
Next, we introduced the brand new XDS Interface. This is going to be a game changer for national and syndicated programming. To review, syndicated network head ends are the source of content, utilizing hardware, like an XDS receiver, to duplicate and distribute their content to local affiliates. But what about induvial commercial traffic? RCS and Aquira designed a system to bypass the need for a middleman and instead, users can now send their traffic logs directly from Aquira to a local XDS receiver. If you’re a network, you can have a single Traffic Manager curate and distribute traffic files from a single location and as long as you have a working network connection, export your traffic logs directly to your affiliates.
As we continue to navigate through COVID remote workflows, our clients should start to see the introduction of some of these remote enhancements, like the Aquira Signature Tool. We had a growing need from on the road sales representatives who required signatures from their advertisers, however, there were situations where they couldn’t get in person signatures. Now, sales reps can log onto Aquira2GO and allow their clients to digitally sign contracts, speeding up the process of contract to air. This is especially helpful for Traffic Directors who are sitting and waiting on a signature. Simply send the client the digital signature tool and either with a mouse or a finger, sign the contract.
Finally, we demonstrated how the new AquiraSync tool can automatically send your Aquira changes directly into Zetta. Just to name a few examples, Traffic Directors can receive audio updates from Zetta, as well as send live copy script, log changes and more. It’s a daily occurrence: there’s a change in the traffic log and the Traffic Director needs to adjust the live log by adding, removing, or adjusting a spot. With Aquira Sync, users can make a change in the Aquira log and then its instantly sent over to the Zetta log. No need to remerge or reach out to talent to review adjustments. Just make the change in Aquira and its automatically in Zetta.
RCS Live continue to showcase the latest and greatest RCS enhancements and if you’re looking to get your hands on some of these features before anyone else, become a Beta user! We’re currently looking for Zetta 5.21.2 and GSelector 5.0 Beta users. Both versions include some groundbreaking technology! Don’t forget that RCS is still looking for an Install Engineer. You can apply for the position here: https://www.rcsworks.com/company/careers-at-rcs/ . And we’ll see you next week on Facebook, YouTube, Twitch or Twitter Live for another RCS Live!
For this week’s RCS Live, we decided to take a step back and review RCS as a whole. Who are we? Where does each of our products fit in the radio workflow? What do we have planned in 2022? We answered those questions and more, while continuing to be available for any user driven questions.
RCS is the world’s largest broadcast software company, featuring products that can deliver your station from the beginning of the radio process to the transmitter and on-air. Aside from a full product breakdown on our website: www.rcsworks.com, let’s begin with GSelector, our music scheduling software. GSelector will curate a music log based on goals and rules as defined by your music scheduling philosophy. On the billing side, Aquira is a sophisticated traffic software, allowing Traffic Directors the ability to schedule, reconcile and bill your station’s inventory. If GSelector is the brain and Aquira is the wallet, then Zetta is the brawn of the radio workflow. Zetta has live integration with GSelector and Aquira, receiving both logs and allowing users to broadcast with the latest groundbreaking radio features. Plus, with the introduction of Zetta Cloud Based Disaster Recovery, administrators now have next level cloud redundancy by backing up all their audio, metadata, schedule, backups and more to their Zetta Cloud instance, written for and on AWS, following best practices and securities.
If you’re looking for remote capabilities, each of these products include a corresponding RCS2GO. Not an app, but a true URL, if you can access the Internet with proper security, like a VPN, users can control the on-air product with Zetta2GO, schedule music with Selector2GO, and monitor their sales budgets with Aquira2GO. Then there’s Revma, our content delivery network software, in which programmers can turn their Zetta terrestrial signal into a digital URL for online streams. Of course, we can’t forget about RCS News, serving as a centralized location for your reporters and news department to write, build, record and export your daily stories and newscasts.
Since RCS has a dedicated development team to each product, we strive to release two to three releases per year, full of evolving radio enhancements. Currently, Zetta just released 5.21.1 with 5.21.2 Beta being released in just a few weeks. Zetta 5.21.1 includes the new Light mode, joining the Dark and Metal themes, a completely redesigned Zetta2GO Voice Tracker module to include audio markers, like Trim In, Trim Out and Volume Points, and further remote COVID friendly workflows with Zetta Cloud Based Disaster Recovery.
On the GSelector side, we released GSelector 4.9.0 that features the new Flex Clocks, where programmers can schedule a clock down to the minute or up to 24 hours over a single day. A perfect enhancement for stations with syndicated programming! We also introduced 99 Custom User Defined Fields and expanded GSelector Jobs. On the Aquira front, we expanded our Aquira Sync in which users can integrate their Aquira system with Zetta. Traffic Directors can edit live copy, make commercial log changes and more, instantly appearing in Zetta!
If you’re looking for additional resources to learn more about our products or advanced tips and tricks, we are saving all our RCS Live videos on our archive at www.rcsworks.com/rcs-live. We also do a weekly blog write up, which you’re reading now, to help save you and your team time to see if the corresponding video properly answers your questions. If you’re new to Zetta or GSelector, then enroll in the RCS Academy and get either Zetta or GSelector Certified here: https://www.rcsworks.com/rcs-academy/
RCS is hiring! Media Monitors is looking for an Install Engineer and you can apply on our website: https://www.rcsworks.com/company/careers-at-rcs/ . GSelector 5.0.0 and Zetta 5.21.2 are just about ready for Beta users and if you want to play with the latest and greatest RCS features, reach out to your local RCS contact to become a Beta user. We’re live every week, streaming live on Facebook, Twitch, YouTube and Twitter Live.
As we continue to expand our RCS Live Archive, we decided to start exploring unique user examples for specific Zetta modules. This week, we showcased the Zetta Stacks module, a user driven module that has multiple chameleon-like workflows. Focusing on real life user examples, we discussed how to create a “Coming Up Next Hour” talent promo, how morning shows like to interpret Stacks, contesting, News/Talk formats, sports and daily features, like a “Top 8 @ 8.”
The Stacks module allows users to drag and drop a collection of elements and either play them in order or individually. Similar to Hot Keys, programmers can cycle through unlimited Stacks banks and these banks are part of the user rights and restrictions. To add audio, simple drag and drop an asset from anywhere within Zetta.
Now that we understand Stacks basics, let’s breakdown user examples. For the “Coming Up Next Hour” promo, when your talent is having a slow news day, a fantastic easy relatable content break is to tease the next hour’s music. But to sound like a true pro, why not create a promo on the fly? Talent can see what’s upcoming in the following hour and for their longer “Jock Talk” break before the last spot block of the hour, drag power or new music into the Stacks module, right click to enable “Hook Enabled” and then layer sound effects in between the hooks for a final product: “WRCS-FM, it’s Nate. We have another hour of great music on the way –“ trigger the Stacks module to play a SFX, music hook, SFX, hook, SFX, hook and use the stop chain for the final element, like a quickie or outro sweeper, to stop the Stacks, finally manually firing the Log / On-Air sequencer.
What if you have a feature rich morning show? Some morning show talent like to include multiple production elements, like news, traffic, and weather beds, in their Stacks bank and either fire them from the Stacks module or drag and drop them into the Log or On-Air module for playback. Or if they’re running a daily contest, Program Directors can queue up that day’s “Contest Intro,” “Contest Solicit” and “Contest Outro,” right from the Stacks module.
News / Talk formats can create multiple Stacks banks, either for every hour, like 6am or 7am, or content block, 6:00am, 6:20am, 6:40am, etc…. Producers can continue to work from the production studio, add news clips to the Stacks: 7am bank and then talent can trigger them from the Stacks module in the air studio. Some clients even use a Hot Key or GPO physical board trigger to fire the “Stacks: Play Next” command so that the talent has a simple workflow to play news clips from their studio. Sports programmers can populate Stacks banks for board-ops who need filler content during pitching changes, overtime or perhaps additional sponsored ads for quick reference.
If you have a daily feature, like a “Top 8 @ 8,” then Program Directors can drag and drop that day’s countdown into a Stacks bank. If you have listener driven countdowns, then the talent can accept calls and adjust the order of the Stacks. When the feature is ready to play, either fire all the elements within the Stacks module or highlight all the elements and drag them into the log. If you want to reconcile the appropriate elements, don’t forget to switch to the Stacks’ On-Air mode.
Did you know that RCS is hiring? Media Monitors is looking for an Install Engineer and you can apply on our website here . Zetta 5.21.2 is just about ready for Beta users and if you want to play with the latest and greatest RCS features, reach out to your local RCS contact to become a Beta user. And we’ll see you again next Thursday at 11am ET for another installment of RCS Live!
After another cyberattack, we thought it was important to host another disaster recovery session to review your station’s backup workflows and emergency game plan for when disaster strikes. Although we never like to assume bad things will happen, the reality is that in today’s climate, we need to be prepared for anything and with RCS products, we have multiple tools in place to keep your station on the air, playing your commercial inventory and giving your IT / engineering team a chance to properly assess and resolve the situation. During this video, we discussed how your operations can be backed up via Zetta Cloud Based Disaster Recovery, Revma, GSelector Data Exchanges and more.
We’ve covered Zetta Cloud Based Disaster Recovery extensively in the past, so please reference our older video for Zetta Cloud features here. Meanwhile, let’s refresh ourselves with the Zetta Cloud Disaster Recovery workflow: Utilizing Zetta Site Replication, a Zetta service within the Zetta environment, we upload all audio, metadata, schedules, and backups to your Zetta Cloud instance that is housed within an Amazon Web Service S3 bucket. As in, Zetta Cloud is a piece of software, written for an on AWS, following best practices and securities. It’s not a VM, which is still valuable to cyberattacks.
With all your station’s operations in the cloud, when disaster strikes, enable your Zetta Cloud sequencer, broadcast live from your pre-configured Zetta Cloud encoder URL, usually to your transmitter site, and then continue to operate from Zetta Cloud. When your local machines are back up and running, restore your SQL backups, which will trigger an audio restore based on your current schedule and when you’re ready, make the switch back to your local Zetta system.
In regard to GSelector, don’t forget about Data Exchanges! Treated as an email, send yourself a backup of your GSelector database once a week for a current backup. RCS also maintains an emergency backup copy of your most recent Data Exchange as part of our Data Exchange Recovery. It’s free and included in your GSelector contract. You can always grab an active Data Exchange from rcsworks.com or reach out to RCS Support to help recover an older Data Exchange.
Speaking of RCS Support, we take a lot of pride in making sure you and your station are always up and running, even when disaster strikes, like a cyberattack. If anything does happen, don’t hesitate to reach out to RCS Support and we’ll do our best to get you up and running as soon as we can. Of course, if you have redundant copies of your database in multiple locations, it makes restoring your operations that much quicker and efficient. So, help us to help you by making sure your backups and paths are working correctly.
Remember, you purchase health insurance before you break your leg, not after.
Did you know that RCS is hiring? Media Monitors is looking for an Install Engineer and you can apply on our website: https://www.rcsworks.com/company/careers-at-rcs/ . Plus, we’re always looking for Beta users to test out the new Zetta 5.21.2 features. Feel free to reach out to your local RCS contact to find out more and we’ll see you next week on Facebook Live, Twitch, YouTube, or Twitter Live for another RCS Live!