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Thursday, October 2, 2014

(DIALOGUE) ROI Through Technology


Last month, 30-year broadcast and tech executive Phil Argyris was tapped to lead GatesAir, formerly part of Harris Broadcast. I asked him to share some of his vision for his company and the industry.

What are radio?s greatest tech opportunities today?

Multichannel HD Radio remains a strong opportunity for the over-the-air model. The bandwidth efficiency of the HD Radio digital stream brings not only additional channels into play, but also interactivity. Two-way streams can potentially drive audience engagement through interactive experiences and turn into revenue generation, mixing in ads and sponsor-driven messages.

Global opportunities show how well radio as an industry is thriving. The efficient use of the spectrum to deliver audio (and video in some cases) has proven successful in parts of the world where nationwide DAB networks have been deployed. These developments are significant for U.S. broadcasters, demonstrating global momentum and opportunities that exist around the transition to digital radio.

We also remain engaged in next-generation signal boosting and hyperlocal advertising strategies that drive very targeted messaging ? right down to the local neighborhood of the listener.

How does all this impact and grow radio audience and revenue?

In addition to revenue generation through emerging opportunities from ZoneCasting, HD Radio, and other digital technologies, there needs to be an ongoing cost-benefit for the station infrastructure. We?re driving innovation by optimizing existing networks, establishing paths toward digital and IP systems, and minimizing ongoing operational costs for the station.

The main point is that to make a real bottom-line impact, there needs to be cost reduction on the operational side that can drive more investment in new technologies and initiatives.

With broadcast companies today stretching the life of their assets, what creates sustainability for GatesAir?

The short answer is our focus on solving customer problems, and presenting solutions that allow them to make continued investment and drive profitability. This could be new services, the ROI for replacement equipment, or the investment in new networks across areas of the world that are just beginning to deploy digital radio. We provide a value proposition that allows the broadcaster?s top and bottom line to grow.

Our long-term sustainability is cemented through several factors: continued investment in research and development; a strong manufacturing and engineering base, along with our constant drive to innovate; and a customer-first strategy adhered to by all of our employees to build and deliver solutions that reduce long-term operational costs and accelerate return on investment for the customer. We continue to have the strongest, most dedicated sales force with a well-planned strategy and comprehensive global reach that keeps us agile.

The predecessor companies of GatesAir, Gates and Harris Broadcast, offered a vast line of products, from the antenna to the studio. Will this broad product line remain, or will GatesAir narrow its focus in some areas?

The radio business of GatesAir, like Harris Broadcast, comprises three pillars: create, transport, and transmit. Our range of studio solutions, covering networking, consoles and furniture, comprises the ?create? pillar. A wide range of IP and legacy solutions for audio contribution and distribution ? from point-to-point STL and remote contribution to multipoint IP distribution ? comprise the ?transport? side of the business. And of course our latest range of high-efficiency transmitters and software defined exciters constitute the ?transmit? pillar.

I see these solutions remaining at the core of the GatesAir business. We continue to innovate across all three of these sectors, and remain the only industry vendor able to design and deliver complete turnkey solutions for the radio broadcaster. Engineers and managers attending the Radio Show or the IBC show in Amsterdam in September can see our latest innovations in these areas.

Any thoughts on the automotive dash and what radio needs to do to maintain an integral spot?

Radio still draws and retains a significant audience, and there is still plenty happening on the AM and FM dial to persuade listeners on the road to explore what?s happening. We need to aggressively pursue building audience size and generating more advertising revenue. As an industry supplier, we can help by developing technologies and solutions that help broadcasters achieve these goals.

Our MaxxCasting solution was specifically created to help broadcasters strategically boost signal coverage across their spectrum allotments. This has the dual benefit of drawing in more listeners and advertisers from the significant increase in the broadcaster?s signal presence marketwide.

Deborah Parenti is EVP/Radio for Streamline Publishing. E-mail:

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