It's commonly thought that growing up on video games leads to
certain side effects as an adult. For me, Super Mario Brothers and
Metal Gear were a gateway to things like phone editors, traffic
schedulers, remote control software and for the past four years Radio
Computing Services Master Control. It's easy to master, offers factory
support and is flexible and reliable.
|Performance at a
- Proof, edit and reconcile logs
- Easy-to-read, colorful screens
- Search and index audio cuts
- Multiple event chaining
- Paperless studio operation
RCS has a friendly, trained technical support staff answering phone
calls 24 hours a day to assist with any problems a station might
encounter. Because the company has a global base of clients, it
operates several foreign offices that handle the off-hours calls. This
allows callers to reach a technical person at all times — no
The service doesn't stop with the software. The hardware is
supported by the manufacturer's on-site service program that covers
replacement and repair of things such as hard drives, power supplies
Built for backup
One of the best features of the software is its redundancy in audio
and data storage. Each RAID array consists of several large drives that
distribute the data, so a drive may fail, but the system will continue
to run. The audio files of each station are primarily stored on the air
studio machine. Audio is also stored in a backup database on the admin
machine. Should one air studio machine fail, downtime is minimized
because a few clicks on one of the production machines will make admin
the on-air machine. Once this is done, the on-air operation relocates
to that studio or we swap the machines in the rack. In this backup
mode, audio plays over the network from the admin machine; operators
and listeners don't know the difference.
Loss of an entire system or studio facility could be a huge crisis,
especially considering the loss of music and commercials. Fortunately,
RCS uses standard CPUs and common hardware regularly available. The
audio library is backed up regularly to a common removable media that
can be stored in a safe location.
No problem with change
As programming needs change, so changes Master Control. All of the
applications needed for basic operation span two monitors. One displays
a bank of audio drops with three virtual players, plus the three main
decks for programmed elements from the log on the opposite screen. In
live-assist mode, jocks can point and click their way through an
airshift. Users can juggle items, play a drop or insert a song —
all while rarely using the keyboard. Most operations are easily handled
via a Preh keyboard or by using the track ball. The Preh pad is a
multi-function keypad that allows operators to play drops, change
segues, skip items and control the recording of voice tracks.
Voice tracking makes automation easy and reliable. Announcers voice
their shows in about one third of the normal time, cutting payroll and
improving the station's sound. Mistakes can be corrected by rerecording
the track. Segues can be edited and played back as if they were being
aired live. Satellite programming is also easily handled.
It can decode and generate contact closures using its Advantech
opto-isolator/relay boards. I use the relays and the scheduling of
control events to manage my silence sensors and what action they take.
Other features include the ability to interface to CD players to run
syndicated shows and start the recording of commercial feeds for later
editing. We never miss feeds. The logic functions are limited only by
the number of inputs and outputs on the card.
Master Control works with music scheduling software to link songs to
a Web page, so that a Web browser will display the artist and song
title. The data can be formatted in a variety of ways to suit a
station's website needs in displaying the current on-air
Smith is chief engineer for the ABC Radio Group, Atlanta.