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NPR Member Station WJCT-FM Automates with ENCO

Southfield, MI, May 17, 2016 – WJCT-FM—a National Public Radio (NPR) station serving Jacksonville, Florida—is relying on the ENCO DAD radio automation and control system to better serve its listeners across Florida’s First Coast. Just as the station’s previous automation system reached its end-of-life, WJCT received a State Grant through the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network (FPREN) that funded a facility upgrade, including the radio automation system and networking infrastructure.

“The grant enabled us to shore up our station operations to ensure that we can remain on the air in the event of natural disasters and public emergencies,” said Alan Rhodes, Broadcast Technician for WJCT-FM (89.9 FM). “We chose ENCO’s DAD automation system primarily for its reputation for reliability, and since installing the system there hasn’t been a single performance issue. It’s been 100% reliable in delivering our audio programs accurately and on-time.”

WJCT currently uses four DAD automation computers, three of which are dedicated to the on-air operation, with one dedicated as a backup system. Based on a Myers ProTrack traffic log, the DAD system automatically plays out all terrestrial and online stations, including the main NPR FM signal on HD1, “Classical 24” music on HD2 and “Music of Your Life” easy listening on HD3, as well as three Internet streams from the website, WJCT also airs a Radio Reading Service for the Blind on SCA1, and a FEMA emergency information service on SCA2.

Most often, the DAD systems play out live NPR network shows, such as “All Things Considered” and “Marketplace,” third-party produced shows like “Performance Today,” and original WJCT programming like “Deemable Tech.” However, during morning and afternoon drive-times, the station takes the reins from DAD to switch their own live programs, such as local newscasts and, in the 9-10am slot, the public affairs show, “First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross.”

Scalability was another critical factor in WJCT’s choice of ENCO DAD automation. While the station had maxed out its previous automation system’s database, Rhodes said that DAD’s database accommodates a virtually unlimited number of audio files. DAD automation software also scales from one to many workstations, each of which can playout up to 16 separate playlists simultaneously. And the high-speed database allows for instant searching and sorting, with scrollable asset lists.
WJCT also takes advantage of several specific DAD applications to streamline production workflows, including Dropbox for content management; and automatic playlist creation to simplify log maintenance. The DAD installation also integrates with Axia Livewire+, an AES-compliant Audio Over IP local area networking solution, to simplify facility-wide content sharing and distribution.

“DAD automation controls Livewire+, triggering it to switch or route audio from point A to point B. If we have a live network show coming in via satellite, DAD will switch that source and deliver it via Livewire+ to the appropriate destination for output to air,” Rhodes said. WJCT’s IT Manager Denise Cox supervised the IT systems integration and assisted with the end-to-end DAD workflow, which was purchased through local reseller Broadcasters General Store.

“When we were first shopping for this new radio automation system, Duane Smith, WJCT’s then VP of technology selected the ENCO DAD system,” Rhodes said. “A primary driver was NPR’s deployment of ENCO DAD systems in conjunction with its Content Depot project, as we knew it was being successfully used in the NPR community. Since we’re receiving programming from their DAD systems, that made it a nice fit for our station too. Today, DAD is absolutely the backbone of our station. Without it, the cost to run our 24/7 station would be astronomical. There are many times when we don’t even notice it running. It’s just there, in the background, doing what it’s supposed to do.”

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