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Radio From The Cloud...

 

Monday, May 20, 2019

It's called Zetta Cloud and it could be coming to a broadcast station near you. Zetta Cloud is the creation of tech provider RCS which recently celebrated its 40th anniversary by winning an award or two at NAB 2019 in Las Vegas. The company is based in White Plains, N.Y., a suburb of NYC. The firms' cloud development team received a Future Best of Show Award for Zetta Cloud. The futuristic automated system was selected for its "design, features, cost efficiency and performance in serving professional users." RCS President/CEO, Philippe Generali, was "honored to receive this prestigious award" and called it "a great tribute to the leadership of Chip Jellison and his highly skilled team." ...

Zetta Cloud was introduced initially as a disaster recovery solution that would allow stations to keep broadcasting during an emergency that cripples its on-air studio. The cloud-based system would be used as an insurance policy against a computer system crash, a flooded or fire-damaged air studio, tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes or just about anything that causes an audio breakdown. But, could it be the future of radio beyond disasters???

Using this system would create a world with no physical air studio. All of the station's music, spots, IDs, voicetracks and other audio would be cloud-based and easily assembled, mixed and sent to the transmitter from a tablet or laptop. RCS makes it possible with Zetta Cloud. The system launches in beta this August...

What Generali describes as "dematerializing the studio" may be frightening to air talent used to working in a physical studio with a traditional board and station staff nearby, could become a reality. Under a cloud-based platform, programming can be created and controlled from anywhere. A radio host can take a virtual studio to where news is being made and send audio directly to the transmitter. An FCC rule change in January 2018 allowed broadcasters to no longer be required to operate a main studio within 25 miles of a station's city of license. The rule change also did away with the requirement that the main studio must have full-time management and staff present during normal business hours...

RCS is also working with sound processing companies, console manufacturers and other radio vendors to put their functionality in the cloud as part of an integrated package. "You'll see some pretty cool stuff in how to operate a radio station at a much reduced cost with minimal footprints in the market - if you want to" says Generali. "It doesn't mean that you can't have a studio with a big staff and everything. It just means that if you choose to operate differently, you'll be able to do that at a much reduced cost of hardware"...

My first take on Zetta Cloud is that smaller market stations must already be lined up to see and hear a sample with thoughts in mind of saving lots of money not having to staff a studio site. They would also have the flexibility of moving around to locations where they would have the means to cover an event when they choose. In essence, it would provide a station that could be considered a portable remote...

I(n)M(y)O(pinion):

  • An ideal use of Zetta Cloud would be as a back-up system for larger market stations and a money-saving operation for small market signals...
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