Southfield, MI, November 1, 2017 – Broadcasting from the small city of Fort St. John, low-power FM radio station CKFU 100.1 brings country music and local sports broadcasts to listeners in northeastern British Columbia, Canada under its ‘Moose FM’ branding. Forced to urgently replace its previous automation system, the station – whose bold approach is reflected in its anagram-inspired call letters – turned to the ENCO DAD automation platform. The move has delivered significant time savings while opening the door for further workflow efficiencies and future growth
Already planning to replace their end-of-life Scott Systems SS32 system within two years, Moose FM accelerated the switch when their primary on-air computer crashed in January. Up to that point, the plan to replace SS32 had been motivated primarily by support concerns. “There was no longer any SS32 technical support to help us,” said Adam Reaburn, owner and general manager of Moose FM. “In a small-market station like ours, I’m my own engineer, so support is a vital piece of the puzzle.”
Beyond those support considerations, Reaburn also wanted a platform for future growth. “The SS32 system had been pretty reliable for us, but its tools and workflow were designed for what radio was more than a decade ago. It wasn’t built for today’s dynamically changing environment.”
Following a recommendation from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan-based systems integrator Pippin Technical, Reaburn found ENCO DAD to meet all of the station’s criteria for price, reliability and future flexibility, while also offering a level of familiarity that would enable a smooth transition. “While ENCO DAD offers considerably more capabilities than our previous system, its ease of use and the operational similarities to SS32 for its general functions made it easy for our on-air staff to quickly become comfortable,” Reaburn explained.
Deployment of the new ENCO DAD solution went similarly flawlessly. ENCO converted Moose FM’s library database in advance and remotely pre-configured the new systems – three workstations for on-air, production, and traffic/administration – before providing two days of commissioning and training on site. “It was a very smooth process, especially considering how critical on-air automation is to a radio station these days,” recounted Reaburn. “Integrating DAD with our existing Selector music scheduling software and Natural Log traffic system was also very straightforward, and they work together seamlessly.”
Going beyond just serving as a robust replacement for Moose FM’s previous system, ENCO DAD also brought the station immediate operational improvements. “With DAD, it’s so much easier and faster to get ads and other content into the system,” said Reaburn. “We simply drag the audio files into a folder, and the DAD Dropbox utility automatically ingests them into the library while performing any needed format conversions in the background. DAD has removed a lot of room for manual errors and significantly reduced the time we spend loading in content, especially for longer-form programs. We save five hours each week in staff time just in this facet alone.”
ENCO DAD has also freed Moose FM from the inefficiencies caused by SS32’s single-system limitations. “Even for simple tasks like changing a date on a commercial, with SS32 we could only do it through one machine, and only one person could be using it,” Reaburn recalled. “With ENCO DAD, our staff can perform these tasks from any of our workstations, making it easier and more efficient to make quick changes and have them synced across all of our systems.”
While the DAD system has been rock-solid for Moose FM with no issues, Reaburn and his team have called on ENCO’s renowned customer support services for assistance in learning best practices and exploring new capabilities, and found ENCO to be very responsive and accommodating. “We’re a bit unusual in how we work, as we’re truly live for so much of the day,” explained Reaburn. “That impacts when we can upgrade or experiment with our software, and ENCO has been great in working closely with us to accommodate our needs.”
Reaburn is equally enthusiastic about the future of ENCO DAD in the station’s operations. “I’m starting to work with the iDAD application for remote recording and submission, which gives us the invaluable ability to get information alerts like highway closures on the air literally within minutes of recording them, from any location,” he said. “DAD’s ability to do multiple playbacks also enables new possibilities for us to create side channels or additional distinct offerings. And we’re still discovering lots of things in DAD that we didn’t even know we could do.”
Overall, Reaburn summarizes Moose FM’s transition to ENCO DAD as a very positive experience. “The ENCO system has ably replaced all of the functionality we had with our old system, while giving us more flexibility and saving us a lot of time,” he concluded. “And we’re excited to continue exploring all of the new things that the system can do for us, from creating new operational efficiencies within our building to enabling new revenue opportunities.”
Founded in 1983, ENCO pioneered the use of computer-based, digital audio and program automation for radio station and TV studios. The company has since evolved its product line to cross all aspects of today’s automated broadcast and production workflows, including closed-captioning, visual radio, audio compliance, instant media playout, remote contribution, and cloud-based web streaming. Its two flagship systems, DAD and MOM, bring the industry’s best reliability, cost-efficiency and intuitive operation to automated radio and TV operations worldwide. ENCO is headquartered in Southfield, Michigan USA and retains a global distribution network, plus a growing network of partnerships with complementary industry vendors. For more information, please visit: www.enco.com.