The Digital Transition
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Today I can beam with pride when someone walks into the “On Air Studio” at We FM and it’s instantly awe struck with the spanking new look. It’s even more pleasing to see the quizzical look on their faces when they do not see the usual hardware that is associated with radio broadcasting. Gone is that big complicated looking 10 channel mixer board type apparatus that is typical for all on air studios. In fact a lot of the hardware is either gone or hidden away not to be touched at all.
What we operate today is a fully digital software driven broadcasting studio. This exodus of sorts is the brain child of our company director Julius “Jules” Williams. I believe it all started with the countless down time and dead air we had to endure for maintenance purposes and not to mention the cost of replacement parts for channel faders, DJ mixers, blown out speakers, and any other thing that can be broken. In fact, I often wonder how we really operated under those conditions but sadly some still do.
Now moving from one extreme to the other was by no means easy. One look at the studio now and one can see instantly that it’s out of the ordinary. Unique I might add. I’ve been told by many whom I’ve interviewed that they have never seen another studio like it. I doubt one existed before now.
The 1st question I am usually asked, is how do you guys work this thing? Well for starters this thing took us months of retraining and stumbling to get used to. In fact if someone starts their radio career at We FM today they would be unable to work in a conventional studio because they just won’t know how. Although it would be somewhat easier to grasp with minimal re-training.
The wizard “Jules” was able to get various pieces of software to work together for us to be able to function by just navigating a mouse on our huge monitors. All microphone controls are on screen, telephone calls are also on screen with calls from Skype and Magic Jack. Monitoring and linking with other radio stations can be done on screen all facilitated by a sweet program called M-audio Fast Track Ultra 8R. With this all digital set up, its way less cumbersome and offers more flexibility. The finer points of how do all these different software which I cannot mention and how they actually work together is all in the head of the wizard “Jules” himself. All I can say is that the experiment worked. We had to rethink how we do things but we gained a lot more than we lost.