Spring Tech

Alaska's KHNS Adopts Efficient Workflows With ENCO DAD System

As the Voice of the Wilderness, public radio station KHNS(FM) has been broadcasting to the Alaskan Panhandle communities of Haines, Skagway, and Klukwan since 1980. Situated near majestic mountains and the Upper Lynn Canal, the listener-supported station is a source of music, news, and programming from networks such as NPR, BBC World News, and Alaska Public Radio.

The staff has been downsized from 10 to four full-timers over the years and the budget remains tight — now even tighter with Alaska vetoing public broadcasting funding in June. But KHNS has managed to maintain a highly-efficient and reliable broadcast operation in large part due to the ENCO DAD radio automation system.

Over several generations and system upgrades, DAD has supported the operation in what I would call a flexible, hybrid configuration that lets us to choose when and how the station automates playout. While DAD is programmed to deliver 24/7 playlist, the station is only fully automated overnight and on the weekends. Since DAD continuously plays out their playlist as a background process, it’s always there and ready to go should they need it.

Like turntables and CD players, DAD has its own slider on their control room board. At the start of their shifts, KHNS’s DJs pot down DAD, do their live shows and then pot DAD back up when they’re finished. DAD plays any time there isn’t a DJ sitting at the board, running through a daily playlist that has backup programming if a volunteer can’t make a regularly hosted show.

This flexible DAD setup allows the station’s DJs to deliver a fresh, original show, playing music from two turntables and CD players — as well as a DAD mini-array — as they’ve always done, and more important, preserving the station’s unique, regional sound.

While KHNS chose DAD for its comprehensive functionality, the station is still discovering valuable features and capabilities. One such recent upgrade is ENconveyor, which automates the download of audio files, such as syndicated shows, from various web or FTP sites on the internet, and delivers them to the DAD media library, with metadata.

DAD’s DropBox application, also a recent upgrade, scans a watch folder associated with their own FTP site. When new media files arrive, DropBox retrieves them according to rules-based criteria. Together, these two new features save considerable man-hours and labor.

The ability to access the DAD system remotely from any mobile connected device, is another big time-saver. For instance, for the 1950s big-band retrospective, “Melodies and Memories,” KHNS’s producer can access the DAD system remotely, from a desktop application in her home, to upload the latest show for broadcast on Sundays at noon.

Whenever a problem occurs while I’m off-site, such as satellite network disruption or weather emergencies, I can remotely access DAD using an iPad or smartphone to turn on weather advisories or technical difficulties messages. That flexible remote accessibility eliminates the long drive to the station.

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