Frugal sounds like an ugly word but it’s a game changer!

This week I spent one night while trying to go to sleep thinking about how much I despise the current Australian Government. I felt like posting on Facebook a rant over the numerous leadership failures shining through but I just want to say stop voting on what’s best for yourself and think about the country and society. Government is there to provide infrastructure and to make us a better society, not divide us into different classes.

On the weekend I read the first book I felt as if I couldn’t put down, titled “The Art of Frugal Hedonism” by Annie Raser-Rowland with Adam Grubb. It breaks down the consumerism that is spreading like wild across the globe and brings home the value of relationships. I thoroughly recommend it to all as it’s not pushy but has good life experiences that are relevant to all. I’ve been reviewing my finances through podcasts, a Christians against Poverty course and initially looking at the ABS household expenditure as a guide. The blogger aussiefirebug shows how people are taking advantage of the tax system and property. In all honesty it makes me sick including the franking credits. Let’s cheat the Australian Taxpayers by dipping into their pool for our investment loses, not me thankyou! It’s important to note being Frugal does not mean just buying cheap but consideration on ethical purchases.

The book goes on to explain that the average Australian spends $400/week outside of shelter costs. The writers have brought their spend down to just over $100/week. It goes further to explain the housing space per person compared to previous generations.

The number 9 is popular this week

So the buzz around the radio industry in Australia, channel 9 and their intention to take Macquarie Media. I’m interested to know what impact this will have on regional stations, will SCA end up dumping their own news service and then take Macquarie’s version?

I want this blog to be not only about my passion in radio but what I’m up to in general. Lately I’ve been listening to podcasts such as the Pineapple Project with Claire Hooper from the ABC discussing money and work practices, well worth a listen. Does anyone have a side hustle that works well for them? I’ve been investing through the Raiz app (previously known as Acorn). Benny Hope shot me through a message to say he’s been creating “The Burble” podcast, he’s certainly grown from his infancy at 2MCE.

I’ve also been studying up the ABS Household Expenditure Survey to help create my own budget and goals. It’s amazing what happens when you put automatic savings deductions in place from your main bank account. The Lime Scooter hire project in Brisbane has me interested in electric assisted scooters for getting around, at around $550, 25km/hr and a 20 mile range they seem like a great idea.

Once again the Ekka winds bring cold winds up from the south without fail although this year the southern states appear to have had a couple of days of snowfall.

Radio futurism

It’s been a long time since I posted and I’ve been thinking quite heavily each week about putting something up. I’ve now left my role at Sunshine FM and exploring other opportunities; it was time with a number of factors pointing to the decision. I had a trip down to Sydney originally intended to check out radio broadcast gear at SMPTE however that intention was quite a disappointment with what I found on offer. The trip however included catching up with childhood friend Damien Spanjer who organised for a tour of ABC Ultimo. It kinda shocked me that the ABC appears to update equipment in waves, like if there is a new building in the pipeline. Damien has always been extraordinary in writing business cases and I explained one of my pet peeves now is with free to air tv and finding quality viewing. It’s often said that at least free to air commercial tv really is dead in the water and I have to agree for the most part. I only watch the local news bulletin for 15 mins, as soon as they cross to sport I’m out of there!

So with this in mind I see Australian commercial TV as having two drawcards still, news and sport. Why there is no catchup tv for local news just astounds me. I’m interested in ABC/SBS programming but I want to know the lineup, Damien mentioned integration with Facebook and Twitter but there doesn’t appear to be a TV promo like the news bulletin headlines available in text form showing up. I think ABC & SBS will end up merging resources, I think it really is inevitable considering all the budget cut backs

It was so nice to catchup with Damien’s daughter, this young girl took my hand as we took the tram back home for dinner. Seeing her extroversion amongst introverted parents was just amazing and so joyful.

I stayed at APX Hotels & Apartments at World Square which was just perfect accommodation and thoroughly recommend them for price, service and quality. We ventured to the Hard Rock Café to find out the latest broadcast product offerings from AVC and the cloud based software really caught my eye. I spent the rest of the day with Damien playing tourist, so many of the train stations have been upgraded in the CBD and Barangaroo was full of people. I still can’t believe that George St at 9am in the morning was like a ghost town. I know the tram lines aren’t completed but that seemed to be enough to keep people away.

The whole trip gave me time to reflect on where I’ve been and to focus on where I am going and where the media industry is headed. In all honesty I think Digital Radio (DAB+) is just a better version of AM Stereo. I know I and others were expecting new radio stations but ended up with music jukeboxes much like the commercial TV additional channels. The real platform or space that needs to be worked upon is the internet and looking at ways of how to cover content in what was typically terrestrial broadcast landscape. I think it’s time for the government and Commercial Radio Australia to approach Google, Facebook & Microsoft, the large data analytical companies to do what radio sells the best and I believe that to be “Voice”. We’ve already seen that if enough voice samples are taken you can generate speech sentences as if the person actually said it themselves. Who likes listening to the voice of Siri or Alexa, imagine if you could listen to a voice of someone familiar who has passed away. For example, what about Ken Sparkes? I’m not sure how far away we are from this reality but I’m near sure that’s where it is headed.

But what about the transitional period before that becomes a reality? Well from what I can see radio can provide the voice content between algorithm based user playlists from services such as Youtube and Spotify. We already see network stations using clocks to disseminate shows such as Nova’s Kate, Tim & Marty at different times on different networks. What is to stop them from doing these voice breaks live or pre recorded and sending the metadata time stamps between breaks so the streaming services can fill with the users desired music playlist, it’s just an algorithm being told I need x minutes/seconds here. Then you might say how do you monetise this, well it comes down to subscription options. The free based model might include the radio station advertisers, or the stream providers advertisers, if they want a particular news service again it will come down to packaging.

What about the worm polling used in political debates, why could we not have multiple demographic worms during our broadcasts. We know the devices are actually listening to what’s going on, just pull a few seconds every few mins to find out what radio content is being listened to. How many times have you tried to cover your phones mic but somehow Siri still can hear you say “hey Siri”?

I also think we need to return back the record button, giving it the ability to record all, record breaks, record adverts, record songs, with a recording pay toll or recording expiry period. How good was it (Sounding like Scomo now) when we could record radio on the tape deck?

I’m going to stop rambling now and hope that viewers of this post provide their thoughts on something that’s been on my mind for a while now. I think it’s more than time for this discussion to take place.

Spend some time testing G722 for your needs

The ability to broadcast from out in the public should be one of your high priorities for your station but making it simple, cheap and broadcast quality are some of the challenges to be posed. I have a large OB coming up where there are expected to be over 20,000 people in attendance. Making sure I have a stable connection to the studio and redundancy options are high in the priorities. Locating a good power source and an internet connection not highly bound by firewalls are all part of the challenge. We’ve managed to locate a small business in the heart of the event that has a simple internet connection that we will be connecting to via a long ethernet cable, wifi as a secondary fallback and 4G if we get desperate. The 4G is not the path we wish to take as we think with the amount of attendees that the mobile network will be congested.

I’ve also been testing our Tieline unit with a SIP VOIP connection. I purchased two Mynetfone WhirpoolSaver lines. These don’t have a DID associated with them as I only need internal user numbers for OB purposes but in essence you can use your OB codec just like a phone hybrid, an outlay just shy of $40 of which you get $10 call credit on each service but don’t use because you are calling the internal Mynetfone user numbers. It’s worth mentioning that the WhirlpoolSaver accounts are marked for residential support. For the mobile phone I have been using an app called Media5-fone which has an in-app buy in for the G722 codec. To explain further, the G722 codec is a HD VOIP codec and can best be explained for customers who are using full Telstra or Optus services and talking to another customer on the same service. These calls sound different because it is like you are right next to the person. Anyhow I set this up during the week with a little assistance from Charlie Gawley from Tieline and the results are fantastic. The only stumbling block is that the local feed from your phone mic won’t come through your speaker because it is just like a phone call but we plan to test through an iRig adaptor early this week which may overcome this issue.

Technorama 2018

Time for Technorama, rolled around again a couple of weeks ago and it was a blast once more. This time around I went to education day and I finally learnt how to solder correctly, all this time I’ve been heating the solder rather than the wire to put it on! Mike Tobin was legendary in his presentation and an honour to hear Julie Spencer with an obvious passion for what she does. John Maizels as always promoting the nurturing of technologists in the sector. While the programme was a little more basic this year rather than quite advanced technical depth it was quite enjoyable. The trivia night quiz was more of a more technical content nature and kept us on our toes. Melbourne showed off its winter coat but beautiful culture of people. It was good to meet with familiar faces and add a few new ones to the network. As a radio technologist, I find Technorama a vital component to further my education, networking and improving best practice in the sector.

Like a Version!

So who else has an iPad 2 still? (Puts hand up). This is probably the best example of a device that is constantly trying to update applications with the latest versions. Many of our devices today have software updates available and I would not hesitate to say the average person has no idea how many they own that have updates available.

But who really makes sure their devices or software is using the latest version?! With each release there is a suite of fixes or additions that we rarely can inform ourselves with. What I would like to know is when should you update? and to be honest I don’t think it is every time. Some devices can be completely stuffed if the update doesn’t apply properly. So I think one of my questions to the Technorama team this year is what should you regularly update, how do you manage versioning and avoid risky business practice?

Skyhooks got it wrong…Ego IS A DIRTY WORD

Perhaps it happens in all workplaces or within community groups? but an Ego of one or more persons can really kill the organisation and vision. I’ve been known to show an ego and I’d have to say I work really hard to be level headed with the vision of the organisation in mind at the forefront as much as possible.

When you come across people who appear to only have their interests and own agenda in place it really drags the vibe and moral to places it just shouldn’t go.

Radio is full of ego but that doesn’t mean it should be that way. What is driving you to do what you do, is it for yourself or is it to foster the success of the organisation? Can you do both without getting a big head?

Plastic is not fantastic

Over the last couple of years I’ve come to understand that technology development and release is determined with those that have large amounts of wealth. Recently I learned about Nikola Tesla through a documentary video on Amazon Prime and I’m dumbfounded why this genius is not being taught about in the education system. Nikola did exceptional work with electricity, founding AC and even theories about controlling the weather not to

mention concepts of generating free or low cost electricity. On a separate occasion I came across a TV news clip of a man who had built a car that runs on any form of water or the man who created a the most astonishing heat resistant substance that ended up not being shared amongst humanity. My reason for this post is that the works of these people were withheld by government and corporate entities because it would impact the pockets of the elite with their current money making ventures on old technology.

I’m a technologist that wants to share technology that advances the human race with humanity and respect for the universe, not lining the pockets of people with obscene wealth. The title for this post was marked plastic is not fantastic as I believe this worldwide product has caused harm while holding us back from advancement and is a key failing.

There’s no I in TEAM! Respect for a 24×7 service

Something I have often been disturbed by, particularly in the community radio sector is the occurrence of self importance over the objective of the organisation. If you are a part of a station or you yourself are still referring to your shift as “Your Programme” then this post is aimed directly at you. I see regular posts on Facebook groups of people promoting “their” individual programme and I ask myself why? is the FB group a suitable audience, do they really care about your shift? Sure if it was a networked programme there might be cause for such a post but I fear a lot of the time it is just another post to say hey look at me.

While I have respect for someone that commits to a weekly shift on-air I don’t when it is purely self indulgence without thought of the community movement or objective the station is trying to achieve.

To run a 24 x 7 service is no easy task, particularly when you are trying to improve the art of radio constantly.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

  • The station on-air format
  • Volunteers
  • Equipment
  • Sales Team
  • Promotions Co-ordinator
  • Content/Music directors
  • Traffic Manager
  • On-Call Incident Managers / Techs
  • Station Operations Management
  • Board of Management
  • Listeners

Getting out and into the community

So on the weekend I managed to assist Sunshine FM104.9 carry out the stations ‘first outside broadcast (to current management knowledge). I’m generally not good with early morning starts but I managed to wake up at 4.30am for a 7am start! Two things were on my mind, transmission reception and mobile internet reception both of which turned out to be acceptable. 10 Mins before broadcast we lost power due to one of the electricity circuits being overloaded but moved to a more isolated circuit. A remote VNC session to our playout system on our iPad proved to be a little cumbersome in control, the previous app we trialled may in fact be better but we reverted to a laptop which worked quite well.

We were monitoring the off-air feed in between breaks as I’m still to get the return path to the OB site implemented. All in all a really good start to outside broadcasts and a few lessons learned. Those being ensure an adequate power supply, set up an exclusion tape zone to prevent equipment being bumped, have someone at home monitor the station and using a laptop for remote control of playout. Later this week I will listen back to the log recordings to hear what it sounded like.

I think I’ve increased my passion for outside broadcasts and look forward to the next one with the team!