Scripted, Educators’ Media Guide Launches, Backbone Supports K12 Stations

Just released, the media education resource K12 educators have been waiting for: “Scripted” An Educator’s Guide to Media in the ClassroomThis comprehensive, step-by-step “recipe” book is the manual we, too, have been eagerly anticipating. It opens up the world of hands-on mediaScripted, an Educator's Guide to Media in the Classroom experience to students at an age when they can absorb so much more, and at an age when they critically need to develop their lifetime communication and presentation skills.

How does Backbone figure into this? Well, for the last dozen years we have operated the largest college and high school radio network, The Intercollegiate Broadcast System‘s Student Radio Network (IBS-SRN) on behalf of IBS, the 1,000 member, all volunteer college radio & TV association.

Backbone provides the technology infrastructure in the cloud — the 24/7 radio station. Plus, we are happy to populate the station’s automation library with a few thousand free indie music tracks courtesy of Pirate Promotions. However, the entire choice of content and curriculum is up to the school and the teacher or faculty advisor. Historically, that has been a speed bump for many educators when there is very little published guidance to help them build a media program. Scripted, as far as we can tell, is the first such guidebook that starts with easy-to-use 21st century technologies, then actually lays out an extensive set of templates upon which schools can confidently build a curriculum pathway, evaluate progress, project budgets, specify products with the best ROI, and even ways to self-fund the entire program with local business sponsorships.

We want to thank and congratulate the authors, who all happen to teach with Backbone Radio in their respective schools. This, we believe, will be a watershed moment for student-run radio, where every school can now easily create and afford its own broadcast/podcast program, and do it with the guidance of a systematic yet flexible set of proven methods and benchmarks.

We look forward to seeing Scripted become the nucleus of a media movement in education, and we hope to be creating one or more radio networks just for schools that want to extend their reach. See more at https://www.scriptededucators.com/

Radio World Follows Up on a “Volunteer Miracle”

How do you pop up a radio station virtually overnight to fight a deadly pandemic? Ask Bill Trifero who assembled an all-volunteer army of professionals and a few companies like Backbone and Technical del Arte to chip in state-of-the-art technology. He reports how it came about in Radio World

For the past four months, it’s been our honor to work with Bill on tackling this crisis with 24/7 radio coverage. Equipped with just smartphones, laptops, and Backbone Production Suite, which includes LUCI Global, operating in the cloud, the station was up and running in a matter of a hours and days instead of weeks and months.

Multiple hosts and reporters worked simultaneously, remotely in collaborative broadcasts, without having to buy or borrow many thousands of dollars in hardware. Virtually, every function an agile radio station needs to operate, including phones and terrestrial program syndication to their participating local station, was at their disposal. This is how the cloud can work magic, and Backbone is proud to have been there to help.
Read more in Radio World

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

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.

 

 

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!

Your Community Radio – What About LPFM?

It’s a beautiful thing when a technology like ours can simultaneously give a worldwide reach to a community and still be the most affordable, effective way to communicate with local residents. That’s the message we will be bringing to two conferences in May in both Boston and San Francisco.

MassAccess WGBH composite logosFirst on May 3rd at WGBH in Boston, at the MassAccess Spring Mini Conference, we will meet with local TV stations and community media centers from across Massachusetts.  Then, at the end of the month in San Francisco at the Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference, we will meet with media centers from around the United States to discuss how to employ radio to promote civic engagement.

Alliance for Community Media LogoOf course, you would expect us to be promoting Internet Radio for communities – we’ve been serving city-wide school districts and community youth centers for a few years now.  What we hope to achieve at these conferences is to help communities find an effective way to integrate their “hyperlocal” (LPFM) terrestrial radio with their Internet radio operations, and save money in the bargain.

Some of the topics we hope to discuss include:

  • Reaching out with both smart phones and FM radios
  • Engaging communities better through live, remote broadcasts
  • Operating a station with a staff of one…or fewer
  • Creating professional presence with minimal capital equipment
  • How to share audio content with/from other communities, self-syndication

This appears to be a pivotal year for community radio, and we want to be a part of it.  We hope to see you at one of these events.  Please let us know if you’ll be attending.