Jelli Noise

Broadcast Radio: Get onto our cloud

BY Jelli ON June 11, 2013 IN Jelli News

“Hey! You! Get off of my cloud. Don’t hang around cause two’s a crowd
on my cloud, baby” – The Rolling Stones

Over the past four and a half years at Jelli, I have had the pleasure of interacting with many radio broadcast engineers. As part of those communications, I have also come to appreciate the operational challenges of running a station. Amid legacy systems, tight budgets, and scarce resources, I understand why there is sometimes little interest in integrating new technologies like Jelli. For this reason, we have spent a lot of time on engineering a platform that effortlessly interfaces with existing station systems and processes.

This article describes the steps for implementing Jelli at a broadcast station, and some of the benefits I hear from engineers after they have used the Jelli cloud platform. If you’re a broadcast engineer who finds yourself having to periodically power cycle systems to maintain operations, find creative ways to preserve legacy systems, tunnel into your station to monitor and troubleshoot issues, or simply spend endless hours manually reconciling logs, you will appreciate the advantages of what a cloud platform for radio can provide.

Before we dive in, it is important to note that since no two broadcast stations are identical when it comes to the on-air experience, operational procedures, and hardware and software systems in use, Jelli’s challenge was to develop an “interface” appliance that creates an agnostic layer between existing station operations and a cloud platform. By doing so, stations can take full advantage of the Jelli Platform without the platform having to operate differently on every station, based on physical setup. Figure 1 illustrates a typical installation of the Jelli Appliance within a local broadcast infrastructure, communicating with the Jelli Platform.

Figure 1

What is a cloud platform for radio?
Cloud platforms monitor and manage connected applications. For example, the Jelli Appliance (a web server that is installed at a station) is continuously monitored by the cloud. The Appliance interacts with the cloud to receive instructions on what music or ads to play, depending on the services that a station uses from Jelli.

The benefits of a cloud platform for broadcast radio are many. In most cases, issues are detected and resolved without alerting station resources. Local engineers do not need to log in to monitor and check status, periodically power cycle hardware, modify configuration settings, or have to worry about losing data.

The Jelli Platform also enables a continuous development process with no limit to the number of features that can be developed and released. There are no scheduled software updates, or fear of “running an older version” of software. Updates are completed in the background, without any local support or operational disruptions. New solutions and features are deployed within days after development and testing.

For the rare, catastrophic hardware failures, a new server can be installed and automatically restored in less than 1 hour. All of your data and settings are stored in the web platform and the server is automatically configured when reconnected to the Jelli Platform.

What is needed to get Jelli up and running?
The concise answer is that the Jelli appliance requires Internet connectivity, a spare program input to a local console, or switch, and a method for how you would like the Jelli Appliance to communicate with your automation system. After this setup is complete, and the appliance is communicating with the Jelli Platform, there is little left for engineering to do. Maintenance, feature releases and updates, content management, station configuration, and show setup are all facilitated by the web platform.

Interface Details
Without diving too deep into the technical details, the Jelli Appliance supports balanced and unbalanced analog and AES digital audio. The hardware may be placed either in parallel with your automation system, or in series with an audio chain. Finally, the event communication between Jelli and the local automation system is accomplished by using physical closures, TCPIP messages, XML feeds, or Jelli Audio Triggers. Many Jelli installations, however, do not require any direct communication between Jelli and local automation system.

The real power of using a web platform for radio, comes with the new experiences and features that are only possible with limitless processing power, infinite storage, the ability to access and operate on large amounts of data (from your local station or the Internet), and the ability to run complex algorithms. It is easy to understand why we, at Jelli, are excited about the future of radio. I look forward to collaborating with many more Broadcast Engineers in the future, and how Jelli can help solve real world radio engineering problems.

In 1965, the Rolling Stones probably couldn’t envision what the “cloud” would mean in 2013. Here at Jelli, we prefer a different spin on the lyrics and say to our partners, “Hey! You! Get onto our cloud.” And don’t worry, we’ve got plenty of room for everyone.

Stephen Dougherty