Broadcast Free—from Home or Anywhere

Powerful Remotes with the Gear You Already Own

Backbone CoHost™ with LUCI Global® apps, Free for 45 Days!

We need to stay safe, and we need to stay on the air. Working from home is no longer just a futuristic perk, it’s our current duty. This should be easy and affordable, and it can be. There is no need to outlay capital to survive, thanks to our unique, integrated Virtualization in the Cloud.

Remote radio broadcasting in the cloud with LUCI and Backbone

Versatile Party Line topology means unlimited remotes using free, downloadable apps. Switching amongst remote feeds available in paid accounts.

Backbone CoHost PL is a fast and easy way for stations to create an always-available “Party Line” conference room for one or more hosts, guests, and correspondents to contribute live audio for your broadcasts. These two-way conversations are enabled by using the groundbreaking LUCI Global service from Technica del Arte and their free, downloadable apps for iOS, Mac, Android, and Windows platforms. LUCI enables these phones, pads, and computers to communicate with and using the same standard formats used by commercial hardware. including COMREX® and TIELINE®.

CoHost PL is a simplified, unswitched version of Backbone CoHost, allowing users to instantly join the broadcast with the touch of a finger. There are no IT settings to configure, no port selections to worry about, and no equipment to purchase or forget in the car. It all works with whatever you’re carrying and over any decent Internet access you can find. (watch video)

Free 45-Day Demo
Backbone is offering a fully functional demo of CoHost PL and LUCI Global to our existing Phone (Talk) and Radio Customers, as well as U.S.-based call-letter radio and TV stations, for 45 days, starting March 30th. Customers who wish to continue with paid service will also get the premium switched version of Backbone CoHost and a full, unlimited version of LUCI Global, for a bundled monthly price of only $275.
To start your free 45-day trial, please email your contact information and a brief note about your organization to: info@backbone.com

“Backbone is Changing The Way Audio Programming Is Delivered”, in The Broadcast Bridge

Our thanks to The Broadcast Bridge for reporting on the role Backbone is playing in today’s “broadcast from anywhere” world. At Backbone, we have quietly focused on building the fully virtualized radio station in our highly reliable cloud, from automation and production Backbone makes collaborative, distributed audio broadcasts easy in The Broadcast Bridgecommunications, to streaming and syndication. Recent events are now spotlighting the importance of agility and geographically distributed, collaborative broadcasts, Backbone’s core strength.

In olden times, you would need a lot of expensive hardware, plus an IT guru, to pull together a highly distributed audio broadcast. When you wanted to include multiple cohosts and roving reporters in studio quality, the IT issues could get tricky, involving port assignments and routing, not to mention the hardware management issues and equipment cost. Add phones to that, with PBXs and hybrids, and the problems compound exponentially with the complexity of the broadcast.

With Backbone in the cloud, all you need is a Mac laptop, a portable USB mixer, a couple of mics and headsets, all situated wherever you call your main studio(s). Your call screener and/or producer can be local or in another city, with a separate Mac. Then, you only need a smartphone (or tablet or laptop) for each of your remote contributors and collaborators, thanks to the free, downloadable LUCI Global app for iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows. All the calls and remotes are mixed in the cloud and managed by your producer, screener, or primary host.

Even though there are plenty of powerful features built into this integrated suite of services, it’s incredibly easy and intuitive to use. Please contact us when you would like to take it for a 30-day test drive.

COVID Virginia Station Helps Listeners Be “Together in Isolation” — Radio World

COVID Virginia Radio Station with Backbone NetworksThe TV/Radio industry is suddenly embracing the benefits of cloud broadcasting as the world fights against COVID-19. In the new Radio World, read how one Roanoke resident has quickly launched a powerful emergency radio station with the help of his community and Backbone Networks, using the gear they already own: laptops and smartphones.

COVID Virginia Radio, via BackboneCOVID Virginia, a hyper-local station created by veteran radio reporter Bill Trifiro, promises to be a template for communities in dealing with national, regional, and local crises. Bill recognized the importance of employing an integrated cloud approach like Backbone Production Suite™ in terms of ease of use, quality, reliability, and affordability.

The station’s cloud-based core, donated by Backbone, provides live radio assist, automation, streaming, terrestrial syndication, multiline call-in phones with SMS handling, studio quality remotes, multiple co-hosts from their homes, podcast generation and hosting, and a branded website with HTML5 player.

With Backbone’s cloud topology your station can:

  • Produce better broadcasts, made easier, by more people, at a lower cost
  • Avoid specialized equipment, just use your laptops and smartphones
  • Scale up to as many remote contributors as desired via the downloadable LUCI Global app
  • Manage phones and take calls from anywhere
  • Eliminate the IT issues of complex studio equipment
  • Transmit professional sound, rivaling conventional hardware solutions
Backbone Talk Radio Production Suite, in the cloud

Manage all broadcast communications on one Mac® screen.

During this COVID pandemic and beyond, your Backbone friends want to help in any way we can. We think Bill’s brilliant concept is a game changer in battling this threat and perhaps threats to come.

If you are an existing AM/FM/TV station or municipality, please contact us. We have a limited number of slots available for a 30- to 60-day “free trial”, maybe longer. If you want to keep or repurpose it when this all goes away, it’s less than $700/month, fully loaded, including unlimited LUCI Global users and usage.

 

 

 

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Remembering Fritz Kass, A Monumental Figure

This past weekend we attended the memorial service for Frederick “Fritz” Kass who passed away last month in upstate New York. Anyone who met Fritz Frederick "Fritz" Kass, IBS CEOunderstands what a powerful, yet kind individual he was and how deeply he will be missed by his family, friends, and everyone associated with the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System (IBS), the all-volunteer college radio association he built and ran over the past 58 years.

Fritz was truly a one-of-a-kind man with an illustrious career spanning many fields, from his military combat experiences as Navy Captain, to his success as an entrepreneur, to his active participation in community organizations and civil aviation. Please take a moment and reflect on a very brief summary of a very big man’s life here.

We at Backbone were fortunate to meet Fritz and IBS a dozen years ago and help fulfill Fritz’s vision of an online network of IBS affiliated college and high school radio stations. He envisioned helping students and faculty advisors implement the professional practices they learned at the many IBS conferences around the country. We are grateful for the opportunity to operate that network on behalf of IBS, and we’re proud to have been associated with Fritz in creating it. IBS and the IBS Student Radio Network will continue to go forward continuing Fritz’s mission, ever remembering his keen vision and love for college and high school radio and the students who make it.

Alt Newspaper Teams with Community Radio to Serve New England’s Second City

New England’s second largest city has its first community “media station”, a term coined by Talkers Magazine. Worcester Magazine, the city’s alternative newsweekly, has teamed with Unity Radio, a community-focused online andBackbone powers newspaper radio station low-power FM (LPFM) radio station, to create “ a joint venture unlike anything else in the Worcester media landscape”. The station’s technology, unlike traditional stations resides in “the cloud”, virtualized — without physical hardware, bricks or mortar.

The new media enterprise, which is based on all the elements of Backbone’s Production Suite™, was “soft-launched” during the city’s municipal elections November 7. The station intends to draw upon the resources of both WoMag and Unity’s non-profit parent, Pride Productions, as well as popular, local talk radio talents, like veteran morning host and news director Hank Stolz.

Backbone powers community radio

Worcester Magazine at local elections on Unity Radio, powered by Backbone

During election night, Unity Radio set up operations in Worcester City Hall awaiting ballot counts, where they interviewed candidates (using Backbone Producer™), took listener phone calls (Backbone Talk™), and aired studio-quality remotes from reporters with smartphones around the city (Backbone Co-Host™ with LUCI™ Global). The live production was streamed online (Backbone Radio™) and fed through a low-latency IP connection (Backbone Syndicate™) from the cloud to Unity’s new LPFM transmitter located several miles away.

Read more here: “Worcester Magazine, Unity Radio announce online station

Internet radio at TCEA 2016 in Austin Texas!

TCEA Radio

TCEA Radio Booth

Last week I traveled to Texas for the TCEA 2016 Conference where I was asked to present on running an Internet radio station. I spoke on the history of radio and how it has transitioned over the years from monaural, terrestrial AM radio broadcast to full digital internet broadcasting.

While touching a bit on the Backbone technology the main meat of the presentation was more about the production aspects of running an Internet radio station. Running a radio station requires a lot of content and a lot of people working together to produce compelling programming for your listeners.

It was very interesting the number of schools interested in broadcasting! About half of those in my session were there as part of their writing and journalism programs. Being Texas, there was quite a bit of interest in broadcasting the football games and using the broadcasts to teach sports journalism.

This is a trend that we are seeing where a number of our schools are running their radio stations as part of their journalism programs. We are also seeing this with commercial customers too where many journalism outlets are broadcasting and podcasting quite a bit.

It is quite a bit of work to run a station, a full week of programming is 168 hours! Often the most interesting and compelling programming is something that resonates well with the community of the station. A high school is one of the centers of the community and it is a great place for students to learn about story telling and connecting with their audience.

I’d also like to thank Scott Floyd and our friends at White Oak Independent School District for setting up and running the TCEA Radio Station. They broadcast new educational technology product reviews, expert interviews, conference updates and wrap-ups, as well as opportunities to win the latest SWAG!

Overall, it was a great experience and a good reason to leave New England in the winter!

For those of you that want the slides from the session here they are:

 


Indiana Junior High Club Sets Example in College Radio Network

Lincoln Junior High School Radio Station Storm RadioIn the largest network of online college and high school radio stations, you would expect the biggest, most senior or most affluent of the student radio clubs to maintain the leadership role for its sister affiliate stations. However, a new affiliate station in Plymouth, Indiana has stepped up to become one of the nation’s most active and successful online stations, even though the station comprises the youngest group of broadcasters in the IBS Student Radio Network—and said to be the only 24/7 junior high radio station in the United States.

In little more than six months from launching Digital Storm Radio, the students of Lincoln Jr. High School, under the direction of Ms. Paula Neidlinger, have established their station as living example of what student-run radio can achieve. Not only have they brought home three first place awards from this year’s premier college IBS College Radio Awardbroadcasters’ conference in New York City and tackled the task of creating their own staff training videos, but they have found the elusive formula for funding their radio station through local sponsorships.

Winners in News, Sports, Talk
Last month at the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System’s 75th annual International Conference, the LJH Digital Storm team Lincoln Junior High School Radio Award Winnerswere finalists in five categories in the high school division, walking away with three wins: Best Spot News:  Trenton Arveson, Nikki Laucis, and Brittney Klotz;  Best Sports Update:  Soren Houin and Shaun Frantz; and Best Sports Program:  Adam Hunter and Korey Kopetski.

Storm Radio is one of the few “high school” stations to schedule live call-in talk shows, and has been a beta partner in testing our recently announced Backbone Talk™ broadcast phone system in the cloud. The LJH radio team saw this as an opportunity to put their own spin on documenting a new technology, so they applied their media expertise and made their own training video showing how to configure a mixing board for “mix-minus” and how to screen phone calls through their Mac® computers. We are proud to feature this video on the Backbone YouTube page.

How are they funding the station?
Tackling one of the most important, and difficult, subjects in broadcast media, the team have secured six sponsors from their community, including a funeral home, a pizza parlor, a Ford dealership and Coca Cola. Junior High Radio club finds community sponsorsIn addition to performing live reads, the students have produced commercials for each sponsor. These spots run throughout the day and night, using the Backbone Radio automation system.

More about Storm Radio
Storm Radio, is one part of the Interactive Media program at Lincoln Junior High (Plymouth, IN), which is a new program this year.  The radio station is a 24/7 Internet Radio with the call tag – STORM RADIO – “Ride the Waves.”  The radio station is Internet based, so it’s available through the TuneIn App on iOS and Android devices, the LJH DigitalStorm website-http://www.ljhdigitalstorm.com/ , and the Internet at: http://tunein.com/radio/Storm-Radio-s231710/    Students research, write, create, and broadcast daily and provide 100 percent of the programming.

 

 

Nieman Lab on the Future of Local Journalism

Nieman Lab LogoThe Nieman Lab, part of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, just ran a lead article by Joseph Lichterman on the how local newspapers are hoping online radio can be a growth area. Nice mentions of a number of our customers, the Omaha World-Herald, Hersam Acorn Newspapers and the Boston Herald.

The article confirms what we have seen over the last few years, a blurring of the lines between traditional media outlets, television, newspapers and radio. More and more outlets are becoming what Michael Harrison from Talkers Magazine calls a media station. From the article:

As Internet radio and podcasting have become more prominent in recent years, a number of local newspapers — from small community chains like Hersam Acorn, which owns 18 local papers, to metro dailies like The Boston Herald — have launched online radio stations.

It’s easy to understand why else Internet radio might be appealing to local newspapers. Radio has traditionally a local business — bound by the strength of a transmitter’s signal the same way a newspaper was defined by how far delivery trucks could drive in the morning. Local news and talk radio has been reduced to just NPR stations — if that — in many markets, leaving a potential market open. And the same force that worries terrestrial broadcasters — the coming of the connected car, where tuning into a podcast or streaming radio station is just as easy as finding something on your FM dial — is a potential opportunity for newcomers.

Most large metropolitan newspapers have a significant presence in the community. Radio is another way to get the news out.

With the release of Backbone Talk we have made it easier for stations to get on the air, get out of the studio and connect with the community.  We anticipate helping more local newspapers find their voice through radio. How do you see the industry evolving? Leave you comments below.

 

 

Alt Weeklies to Launch Online Radio Station

Association of Alternative Weeklies logoNetNewsCheck logoA nice article about how local newsweeklies are responding to the changing media landscape.

The Association of Alternative Newsmedia (AAN)  represents 115 alternative newsmedia organizations throughout North America. AAN member publications reach more than 38 million active, educated and influential adults in print, on the web and on mobile devices.

AAN’s mission is two-fold: to provide services and leadership that ensure the success of its members; and to strengthen alternative journalism through advocacy and education.

There are a wide range of publications in AAN, but all share these attributes: an intense focus on local news, culture and the arts; an emphasis on point-of-view reporting and narrative journalism; a tolerance for individual freedoms and social differences; and an eagerness to report on issues and communities that many mainstream media outlets ignore.

Fundamentally journalism is about reporting news whether in written, visual or audio form. AAN members are great reporters and journalists. They often provide a perspective not provided elsewhere. Online radio has a worldwide reach and putting a station together with the support of the broader association will provide a platform that will help get the word out.

Tiffany Shackleford - AAN Executive Director

Tiffany Shackleford

One way they hope to help the alternative newsweeklies is to extend their reach to other media.  TiffanyShackelford says sponsors — particularly groups who want to reach the “young independents” in small and medium markets, that alternative media attracts — “are already showing interest,” she added, “I think there is an opportunity for a lot of these advocacy groups who either won’t or can’t buy public radio because they have more stringent rules on sponsorships,” she says.

The article in NetNewsCheck is a great read on the current state of the industry and its future potential. If you are a newspaper and would like to expand your reach via radio we’d love to talk to you.

Extending Newspaper Brands through Online Radio


I just got back from the AAN Convention in sunny San Francisco where I was on a panel with Jeff Lawrence the Publisher of DigBoston. Our panel was on using Online Radio as a way for the Alternative Newsmedia to extend their brand.

The session was well attended and Jeff is quite passionate about his paper, DigBoston and the opportunity to extend their brand in the community. With many of the large major metropolitan newspapers cutting their budgets the “Alts” have become the arts and entertainment newspapers in the community. It is only natural for them to run a radio station as a way to broaden the appeal of what they already provide to the community.

The does not mean adding online radio will be easy, it will be a challenge, but one worth taking, particularly in the age of the internet. He gave a number of examples where in just a few months he was able to find sponsors for certain types of programming. The common thread was live and community based.

My part of the panel traced the history of the “media” industry where media was viewed through their specific type of media, newspapers, television and radio. Each media had a certain business model with which they needed to comply. For example, with radio, there was only so much spectrum, you needed to get an FCC license and there were restrictions on the amount of media properties you could own. On the capital side you needed to build a studio with specialized equipment and people to run that equipment.

Today with the Internet you do not need an FCC license to run an online radio station. There are few if any restriction on ownership of media properties and the ability to set up and run an online radio station is quite inexpensive. While there are differences between newspapers and radio there are tremendous synergies. The time is now to get into the market and extend your reach.

Contact me if you would like to see the version with speaker notes!