Based in Helsinki, Finland, Airshift Media Ltd is a company founded by industry professionals who have been involved with some of the largest radio system projects in the world. The expertise gained in creating major enterprise-level systems is now for the first time available for all small- and medium-size broadcasters as well.
Airshift Media Ltd released two new product lines for radio stations in September 2006. Airshift Studio is a stand-alone production package that will help radios to deliver more. Airshift Airtime is a traffic and scheduling tool that interfaces with Airshift Studio. Together they form a seamless solution that every station can afford.
It is not easy to evaluate different products when looking for a new radio automation. Client-server systems require a lot of effort before they can be installed and used. Stand-alone systems are sometimes easy to install but they lack a lot of features. No one wants to buy a system without hands-on experience about how it works. Only a few want to once again start a new IT-project. Wouldn't it be nice if radio automation were as easy to acquire and install as a CD player?
Airshift Studio is a complete radio production system covering all main tasks related to radio production. It is also easy to check how it works: just download a full-featured version and use it for 15 days. If you are happy with what you see, register it and your radio automation project is finished. Couldn't be easier, could it?
Making life easier in studio
The radio automation should naturally help the DJ or presenter in the studio with his or her show. Radio automation systems are supposed to make life easier: instead of 4 CD players and 8 cart players it's easier to manage one playlist on screen.
Airshift does more than just automate playout. It provides the DJ additional information about the music, allows staff to communicate through an instant messenger, receives and creates news using standard RSS format, publishes podcasts...
Preparing your show
Radio systems should support both prepared and ad-hoc work. Most of them don't. As a radio talent you should be able to focus on essential things like what you say and play, not browsing through various windows. Therefore the planning is made simple: you can define hour clocks for your show - but you don't have to. You can import a ready-made music playlist from scheduling system - or you can just search the database and create your playlist as you wish. So as you like, its your show!
Training and support
Since Airshift is reasonable priced and can be downloaded from the net, the installation process is very simple. Whenever you have a couple of hours of extra time, just download the full-featured software and play with it. You will be amazed how easy it is to install and configure - and how many features it has.
One of the major pains in the stations is maintaining skills. Even though every automation project includes few training sessions, over the years people come in and leave the station. Maintaining skills is an important factor when calculating the TCO, total cost of ownership. It would be easier if every new freelancer and staff member could just go to a training site and learn from there what to do. Since not all radio professionals have formal communications or management education, a lot of emphasis has been put into also providing background, how to improve workflows and processes. Implementing the best practices makes you more competitive than anyone else. It's not the tools but how to use them!
Start with one and expand later
The Airshift Studio workgroup edition will provide an interesting alternative to traditional client-server architectures. In that version every Airshift workstation will store all the data related to production. There are no shared network resources like servers needed - if you don't want them.
The main reason why a central server is not anymore a good idea for radio stations is simple: backup. Even though the database is backed up frequently what happens if all the music files disappear because of RAID array failure? Thats right: they're gone forever. Backing up hundreds of gigabytes of information in an automated way requires quite expensive backup units. Even Microsoft is recommending small offices to set up a server only after they have 10+ PC's connected in the same network.
The idea how Airshift works in such cases is a peer-to-peer network, where none of units is a server. Each unit has enough capacity to store all the music, jingles and voice-tracks needed in the program. Since the data is mirrored to all the units, the system as whole is totally redundant: if one unit fails, no data is lost because the other units have the same data.
Reporting and statistics
Why should radio automation be built on a relational SQL database? One good reason is the ability to produce statistics and reporting. Copyright reports, playlists, TOP40-lists and music summaries are examples of what is useful to get. Database also allows much more options when the system needs to be integrated with other systems, such as music scheduling, music libraries or archiving systems.