“Networks … no longer want to be in the uplink area”
This is part of a series of interviews with companies planning to exhibit at the NAB Show 2021 in October.
Joe Schifano is Senior Director of Business Development at NPR Distribution.
Radio world: What do you think will be the most important technological trends that radio professionals should watch out for at the show?
Joe Schifano: The convergence of radio broadcasting and IP audio delivery. Automotive dashboards are becoming a hub of entertainment, and broadcast radio will have to remain an automotive player.
RW: What will be your most important news or message for the participants?
Schifano: The shift of our Hub product from a standalone service to sharing the same platform as our flagship public radio product ContentDepot. Switching to the ContentDepot platform will significantly improve the user interface. This will also allow us to share ContentDepot features such as MetaPub, programming authorization, receiver monitoring as well as spot insertion.
RW: What will be specifically new? And how is it different from what exists on the market?
Schifano: We are in the final phase of upgrading our Hub product. What we are seeing is that networks that support their own content distribution – satellite and / or terrestrial – no longer want to be in the uplink business. They want someone else to run their distribution system so they can focus on other parts of their business, like generating income.
The advantage of the Hub is that the content creator remains in control of the content and to whom it is delivered, without having to manage an uplink operation.
No more cap-ex discussions or the maintenance of an aging infrastructure. No more calls in the middle of the night because of an uplink problem that needs to be fixed immediately. No more paying for endless support contracts on the system you bought or worrying about software upgrades.
The only equipment required from the content provider is an audio codec. Everything else is located at our facilities in Washington, DC In addition, we are fully redundant with a manned location in St. Paul, Minn. Our new interface simplifies the process of planning shows, spots, cues and more. Locating programming and spots becomes much easier, which in turn allows for more income opportunities.
RW: Affiliates of the public satellite radio system are in the process of completing a major receiver change. What is the status of this?
Schifano: The project is finished. Our head end has been completely replaced, as have all the receivers of nearly 400 public radio stations. We are now fully redundant at our primary location and our backup location.
RW: Will your booth or interactions with customers change due to the pandemic?
Schifano: Even though we will have a field team in the central hall, it probably won’t be our full team. At least for the October show, we’ll be using remote meeting technology to answer any questions that may arise.
After 18 long months of the pandemic, our team is eager to see both our existing customers as well as our prospects in person. Although we have survived in the virtual world, we really can’t wait for things to get back to normal.
Readers looking for more information about the NPR Distribution Hub service can visit https://www.nprds.org/hub.