Field Report: NewTek TriCaster

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At the nationally syndicated Kidd Kraddick in the Morning radio program, we have found live and on demand video to be a game changing addition to our traditional broadcast. Via our website and Ustream channel, we get to show the action in studio with Kidd and program regulars Kellie Raspberry, JC, Big Al Mack and Jenna Owens in engaging and interactive ways, as well as present many creative segments and bits that are only possible via video. Three years into our video initiative, we have reaped the benefits of a stronger connection with our audience and the creation of new revenue streams.

NewTek TriCaster

To bolster our live and archive video production for the program, we chose a multi-camera production system called TriCaster from NewTek. TriCaster is a plug-and-play device that enables even non-technical users to stream, play and record video all at the same time. We remain impressed with its reliability and features that have helped us take our radio program into the video realm.

Better radio through streaming

The concept of adding live and archived video into our business model seemed like a good idea from the outset, but quickly got better and more exciting once we started. Without much of a publicity push, our first streams got hundreds of viewers. This quickly turned into thousands. Now our video offerings regularly exceed 7 million viewers per year.

TriCaster has streamlined our operation, allowing us to record every live segment as they air, and save each to an external hard drive. The show is now replayed all day on our Web site and Ustream channel so fans who may have missed it, or were unable to watch during their drive to work, can see it at any time. We also rerun segments of the show from weeks past during commercial breaks.

To increase interaction and build community with our audience, we integrate a message board where viewers can chat with us, and with each other as they watch the program throughout the day.

TriCaster makes it easy for us to B roll in video pertaining to topics being discussed, as well as funny bits from television or the latest funny Web or music videos. We have a weekly feature called Music That Makes You Cooler, during which we will drop in music videos of artists being played on the air. TriCaster's multiple video playback decks make it easy to alternate between content stacked for these types of segments and any of our live in studio cameras.

Another key attribute of TriCaster is that it is road-ready. With its compact size, we have been able to place it just about anywhere to create remote video studios on the fly. I have shipped the unit to various locations, and with a simple high-speed wired Internet connection, we're on the air.

Examples of popular video projects we have produced outside of the studio include our annual "Dysfunctional Family Vacation," which follows our whole crew for a weeklong trip each summer (most recently to London during the Olympics). We broadcast and stream our show daily from these remote locations as well as features on their off-air adventures in that locality. During the holidays, we select a local family in need for our "Breaking and Entering" series and provide them with a Christmas makeover, including a decorated tree and presents for everyone. This is set up when the selected family is out of their house, and the footage of their surprise when they return home is always compelling, fun and heart-warming.

Performance at a glance
■ Television-style virtual sets, moving backgrounds, effects and graphics
■ Portable device for the field
■ Works with multiple camera shoots
■ Provides broadcast and streaming output video
■ Includes graphics and production switcher

For remote broadcasts and special events that we are unable to cover with our video crew, we integrate Skype with our TriCaster. Recently, Kidd dropped in on our affiliate station in Houston and we were able to share video of his appearance with our national audience via live stream and video on demand.

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