Finalist in 2020 Community Radio Awards

Darryn Capes-DavisCommunity, Parramatta LGA, Radio

I am proud to be a finalist in the 2020 Community Radio Broadcasting Association of Australia (CBAA) Awards. Overall Alive 90.5 FM had 5 finalists out of 10 nominations.

I was a named finalist in the Excellence in Technical Services category. I also provided primary input to the station’s finalist achievement for Excellence in Technical Innovation. You can read all about Alive 90.5 FM’s achievements HERE. Congratulations to all finalists and to station Chairlady Gillian Schrickker.

Read on for a summary of my achievements in both categories.

Excellence in Technical Services

Darryn started at Alive 90.5 FM in late 2018. Darryn has a broad experience in IT, Electronics and Engineering and has brought many innovations to
Alive 90.5FM in 2019/20. Darryn assisted in delivery of the Alive 90.5FM website, which acted as the foundation of website improvements in 2019/20. A major innovation in 2019/20 has been the introduction of an online, website integrated CRM for membership management (CiviCRM).

Darryn has leveraged Office 365 and SharePoint, migrating station Files to OneDrive allowing for remote access for station management and
operations. Darryn has also used Azure cloud and automation to automatically move logs and logger Files in real time for Station staff and Presenters to access remotely.

Darryn managed the full implementation of Radio Data System (RDS) at Alive 90.5FM. Prior to 2019/20, RDS equipment at Alive 90.5FM was only used to broadcast the station name. Darryn reviewed and tested track data showing that greater than 80% of artist/title data was accurate, and using
available software, implemented a new real time RDS update system.

Being an active Presenter and Outside Broadcast team member, Darryn has revitalized OB technology, documenting and configuring the TieLine, as
well as bringing in new innovation with mobile remote broadcast technology.

In 2019/20, Darryn managed the migration of Alive 90.5FM station internet and communications form ADSL/Analogue to NBN and VOIP. Careful
attention was taken in reviewing the ATA devices to connect VOIP to existing telephone hybrids, working with the VOIP provider to obtain test devices prior to signing with the VOIP provider.

In 2019/20 Darryn managed a Windows Domain migration, devising a migration and testing program including a full studio test domain. Final
migration of all station and studio computers was completed within 2 hours of the scheduled 3 hour migration window. During the migration window
the station ran prerecorded material from a laptop straight to the broadcast audio chain, freeing all servers and computers for the migration, but allowing OnAir broadcast to continue.

In all cases Darryn has created user documentation and training manuals allowing current and future Presenters to self-train, and also makes himself
available for training.

  • Darryn has improved the station in the following areas:
    • Online Website Integrated CRM (CiviCRM)
    • CiviCRM implemented with full integration to WordPress Website
    • Online Membership Signup and Renewal
    • Stripe payments for Membership
    • Financial Integration to Xero
    • CiviCRM groups drive OÞce365 Groups (E.g. Presenters)
    • SMS Integration with custom plugin written for integration to Telnyx SMS
    • Manual writing and support sessions with Membership officer
  • New CD Players
    • New CD players sourced to replace old CD players – console integration required
    • Shim adapters (15 pin to 25pin) created to allow for plug and play into existing studio environment
    • Liaison with Presenters to test
  • OÞce365 SharePoint
    • All Files migrated (except to Music) to OÞce365, One Drive allowing easy access for station Board, Management, Presenters.
    • Automated Playout Log transfer to Presenters SharePoint
    • Automated Logger (Audio) transfer to Presenters SharePoint
    • Automated forms and workflow for access request e.g. Website/Social Media access
  • Black Start Guide
    • Black Start Guide created so any Presenter can restart after a Power Failure, including both long power failure (Server Rack UPS Expire) and short power failure.
  • iOS App
    • Investigation of source of current iOS App to update for new streams
  • Broadcast launch Dashboard (SMS Inbound)
    • Broadcast Launch dashboard implemented to provide for SMS into the Studios for audience engagement and feedback,
  • Mic and Monitor Stand Project
    • Collaboration with Head of Programming to plan for new Mika Mic and Monitor Stands in studios.
  • Podcast System Transfer
    • Investigation of platforms for providing Podcast hosting after Whooshkaa changed their charging model.
    • Initial use of AnchorFM, but due to their choice to ban Podcasts for which we had license for, it was decided to host on Alive 90.5 FM website
    • Used WordPress plugin (Seriously Simple Podcasting) with OnAir2 theme customisations to tie Podcasts into shows.
  • Website Improvements during 2019/20
    • WordPress post type extended to include ‘OnAir Read’ section to provide for a scripted read for Presenters for Community Diary items
    • Creation of website section for Presenters which lists all posts with an OnAir Read
    • Previous paper system replaced where reads were often cut and past of media releases
  • Also VOIP, Active Domain, TieLine setup, Mobile OB Setup

Excellence in Technical Innovation

Alive 90.5 FM’s COVID-19 response reduced studios to a single Presenter on any shift, ruling out in person interviews with guests. Also,
many Presenters identified as vulnerable and wished to present remotely. Darryn Capes-Davis coordinated Alive 90.5 FM’s technical
response to the COVID-19 crisis providing for quick and innovative upgrades to allow for remote presenting in various ways.

A first level response was to implement the station’s Playout software remote access option. A virtual server was rapidly set up for
Station Playlist Remote VT Server. A training guide was written, and a form and workflow set up for a Presenter to gain access with
approval by Alive 90.5 FM Program Committee chair. In some cases remote training was completed. While not innovative in itself, Darryn
used the system to do ‘near-time’ Drive programs, voice tracking the weather and traffic just before segments were due to air. A few
other presenters also followed this technique, while others voice tracked in less ‘near-time’ ways.

To solve the issue of no guests in studios, Darryn worked to provide three levels of audio connection.

  1. Regular phone call – updated manuals
  2. Conference calls – used innovative setup and procedures to leverage VOIP system features to allow for two conference ‘rooms’ to be available until Dec 2020. Manual was written and training given.
  3. Web audio into studios via PC – the most innovative part of the COVID-19 response was to setup studios to allow for web audio, complete with mix-minus arrangements for studio console audio and local PC audio. This was completed by innovative use of virtual sound software and virtual sound mixer.
Remote Audio Options

This work was completed in March/April 2020. In those months and since, Alive 90.5 FM talk shows used the remote web audio to bring in guests via various web technologies including Zoom, What’s App and The same solution has now allowed for international audio via Zoom and without costly international phone calls.

Setting up a PC to marshal web and console audio is not an easy task. It is very easy to send audio to a PC from a studio console. It is very easy to send PC audio to a console. It is more difficult to allow for interaction with local and web remote PC audio, while still interacting with the studio console.

The heart of the innovative solution was Voicemeter Banana virtual mixer and VB-Audio virtual sound cards. In summary the setup allows:

  • Studio console audio to go to all PC (web) applications as well as a record bus for local PC record
  • Local PC audio to go both to all PC (web) applications as well as to studio console, as well as a record bus for local PC record
  • Web remote audio to go to studio console without causing a feedback loop
  • Also support for another studio and OB stream to be marshalled. This allowed for both Alive 90.5 FM studios to be mixed together, though this setup was not used.

Some innovation was used for conference call option. Usually a conference call needs to be set up again and again. However, testing end dates for scheduled conference calls showed that the 3CX VOIP system would allow for reuse of scheduled conference calls. Direct dial-ins were set for each studio so that guests could call in and join the conference.

Virtual Mixer Setup

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