Inside the Radio Network

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The odds are good that at some point in your career one of your radio stations has taken programming from a national or regional radio network. In most cases, delivery of that programming has been via satellite. You connect a satellite receiver to a dish, audio and relay closures are available at the back, and you play the audio over the air using the relays to trigger your automation. But did you ever wonder what goes on at the network to get that audio to you?

The Culver City control room looks like any radio studio, complete with SAS console and Omnirax furniture.

The Culver City control room looks like any radio studio, complete with SAS console and Omnirax furniture.

The best way to illustrate the operation of network distribution is to describe each step in the process a network uses to get content to your station. Those steps include:

◊ Content creation
◊ Program contribution/ingest
◊ Content management/automation/audio routing
◊ Distribution

Content creation

This is where it all begins, the programs your station runs from the network have to start somewhere. Some content is produced by the network itself, other content may be created by our content partners and distributed by the network. Dial Global has approximately 70 studios combined across our company. We have studios in our offices in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Denver, Seattle and Valencia, CA. Our content partners also have studios of their own, which amount to another 30-40 studios in use during a typical day. There's a good chance most of these studios are in use simultaneously creating some program that's being fed to our satellite uplink's 120 channels.

In addition, we have our sports programming (including the NFL, NCAA and the Olympics) broadcasts, each of which is a remote broadcast. The model used to produce a sporting event or any remote is not unlike that of a stand-alone radio station. The challenge is doing multiple remotes simultaneously. We broadcast all 64 NCAA basketball games at the front end of March Madness for example. That's a lot of simultaneous remotes. Imagine all of those games going on at the same time that reporters in Washington and the Middle East are about to go live on a top-of-the-hour newscast. Our ability to take in all of the feeds from the studios, partners and remote locations requires quite an elaborate array of connections to those locations, which leads to the next area, program contribution.

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