Virtual radio studio: time to improve the workflow! (3 of 4)

From the beginning of the 20th century, radio production has been largely dominated by hardware equipment interconnected by copper wires. By the end of the century, the first software appeared - mainly for the automation and playout parts, but still driving hardware. Then the era of AoIP arrived with a shift from analog to digital, and all interconnections were simplified. Workflows evolved towards greater simplicity, and speed and reliability hit new highs thanks to the de-complication of the ecosystem.

No, not really.

Actually, for the most part, the technology evolution increased complexity in terms of features and workflows - but resulted in a business-as-usual reality for production teams.

Over the last decade, the consumer world has been through an enormous revolution in terms of user experience and user interface. With the massive adoption of smartphones, interacting with a device has become second nature. In this process, the likes of Apple or Google are relentlessly polishing their interfaces to reduce any friction between users and the goal they pursue. As parents, I’m sure we’ve all experienced the ease with which our children interact with smart devices. How good are these interfaces?

At its roots, radio is simple: people talking into microphones, playing songs and interacting with each other. This is much simpler than most of the tasks any computer or even smartphone can perform today.

But the truth is that interfaces in the radio world are largely outdated and should be reimagined. It is now time to bring production workflows to the same standards we demand from all our other devices.

Why does it matter? Because content rules - not the tools we use to produce it. And, let’s face it, the added-value of a radio presenter is not in his/her ability to simply move faders, nor to diagnose interconnectivity issues between heterogeneous devices. Likewise, once the setup is done and operations are under control, do you really want your dedicated technical team to be hand-cuffed to that outside broadcast show they have been assigned to? Maybe a remote interface to the studio would be perfect for support and monitoring!

In a virtualised approach, workflows can be dramatically simplified and integrated. When needed, we can rely on standards and APIs to enable better communication between the various components of a virtual radio studio.

Moreover, virtualisation opens a new world of possibilities in terms of interfaces, resources allocation and control over costs.

Mobility is key in the radio of the 21st century, but it can only be made possible if the tools we use enable it through great workflows. And, of course, costs and budgets need to remain under control.

But that’s for our next story. Stay tuned for more.