Field Report: Condron Call Screener for Windows

A year or so ago I was asked to investigate a call-screening system for our four FM radio stations. At that time we spent many hundreds of dollars on what then was the top-of-the-line call-screening software. After many frustrations with installation, reliability and complex user interfaces, the idea of electronic call screening appeared to be more trouble than it was worth for our staff. What we really needed was a simple, user-friendly piece of software. It was at this time that we discovered Condron Broadcast Engineering's Call Screener for Windows.

The Call Screener software consists of two self-installing executables. One executable runs on the computer in the air studio for the show host, the other executable runs on the computer for the call screener. The two computers communicate with one another over TCP/IP. The air studio computer connects to a telephone hybrid via a serial port. With an existing infrastructure, setup can take as little as 10 minutes.

As phone calls are received the software tracks the status of each phone line. After calls are screened, short descriptions can be typed into corresponding fields next to each phone line. These descriptions, as well as a timer will stay attached with the caller until the call is dropped. The person screening the calls and the host can communicate immediately with an instant messaging text box at the bottom of each screen. This screen flashes brightly in the middle of the screen to get the other person's attention. Other features include customizable fonts and text sizes to make caller information easy to read, next and busy buttons that mimic the controls on the hybrid's control surface, as well as a total calls received counter.

Performance at a glance
  • TCP/IP-based call screening
  • Simple-to-use interface
  • Compatible with Telos and Gentner phones
  • Windows 95 through Windows XP compatibility
  • Suitable for remote broadcasts
  • Breaking the ties

    One of the most innovative features that the Call Screener software offers is the ability to use it from anywhere in the world via the Internet. When we send one of our shows into the field for a remote broadcast, we send the Call Screening software on a laptop with them. To connect back to the studio, the person in the field dials an ISP and opens the Call Screener software. The IP address of the air studio computer is set up in advance. Once connected, the users in the field will see all the current caller information, and they can actually answer calls and place them on the air. This is a huge advantage for our morning and afternoon drive shows that depend on airing a high volume of calls.

    In a world of sitting on hold for hours for technical support, it was a nice surprise to find out that the author of Call Screener for Windows, Chuck Condron, handles all technical support himself. The times I've had questions, Condron has been more than gracious with his time and help. He is eager to hear suggestions. Some suggestions have appeared as new features in software updates. One feature I currently hope to see emerge is the ability for more than one remote computer to connect to the host at a time.

    Condron Broadcast Engineering

    I recommend this software to anyone looking for a simple and reliable call-screening utility that isn't over-burdened with extra clutter such as large historical databases of caller information. The software will run on anything from Win95 to WinXP with little tax on the computer's resources, making the old Pentiums sitting in the closet valuable once again. Call Screener for Windows has versions that will work with all the current versions of Telos and Comrex Hybrids.

    Casey is assistant chief engineer, Infinity Broadcasting-Seattle.

    Editor's note: Field Reports are an exclusive Radio magazine feature for radio broadcasters. Each report is prepared by well-qualified staff at a radio station, production facility or consulting company.

    These reports are performed by the industry, for the industry. Manufacturer support is limited to providing loan equipment and to aiding the author if requested.

    It is the responsibility of Radio magazine to publish the results of any device tested, positive or negative. No report should be considered an endorsement or disapproval by Radio magazine.

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