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Working at Burli Software affords us a chance to work with some of the largest media companies in the world, and quite often requires that we keep up with the biggest markets, complete with all the exciting and complex demands that go along with that.  But what happens when you become the trusted newsroom system of a broadcasting company that services some of the smaller parts of the market?  What are the challenges there?

We sat down with Corney Unger, one of the lead technical coordinators at Golden West Broadcasting, for a chance to hear about Burli’s early days at their stations, and how they apply it today.  Unger is one of the lead contacts bridging the traditional technologies of broadcast and the data-centric world of today, and had a lot to say about their history with Burli.

Close to the Community

The first thing one needs to understand about Golden West is how closely knit it is to the community and geography it serves and lives in.  Headquartered an hour south of Winnipeg in Altona, Manitoba, Canada, Golden West is a specialist in small-town broadcasting.  It turns out being headquartered in a town of 4,100 residents really develops your sense of community.

They own 44 radio stations across central Canada in a chain stretching from Alberta to Western Ontario, mostly in smaller towns.  As such, their focus is on local, well, everything.  News, weather, sports… all of it is focused at least in part on the local happenings in rural Canada, requiring a people-focused approach that you don’t always find in larger markets these days.

Golden West’s presence across Central Canada

Which is part of why Golden West has always had a close relationship with Burli.  Going back as far as 1999 and dealing with the company’s founders, Unger describes the relationship with Burli Software as “Real people helping real people”.  He became part of Golden West that year, having graduated in broadcasting technology out of Calgary a few years earlier, and was eager to be part of an industry that was about to change right under his feet.

An Evolution in Technology

Unger remembers starting out with what would be the first Windows based computers he’d seen in a professional environment – Windows 95 was a relatively new thing, and it entered that market at roughly the same time he did.  He watched the rise of the internet as experienced in small town Canada, first using dialup modems (with the speakers de-soldered and removed so they wouldn’t screech on-air, he recalls with a laugh) and launching Burli.

Corney Unger, IT Coordinator with Golden West

Replacing Telex newswires and fax machines with an internet-enabled newsroom product was a welcome change.  Suddenly, it became easier to do almost everything – all stories were brought into a single place easily and quickly.

Flash forward to 2017, and Golden West’s approach to community broadcasting has grown leaps and bounds.  Not only are they broadcasting across dozens of AM and FM stations in the prairies, they’re also providing online content to their listeners so that those communities can stay up to date on all the media, news, and information they need.  “That’s the reality of our newsrooms”, says Unger.  “They aren’t just radio newsrooms anymore, they are basically newsrooms for [all of] our media outlets!”

Reaching Across the Center

Golden West finds their greatest value in Burli to be the ability to share data and stories across all those communities.  It’s not likely that the bigger national newswires will carry stories about your local peewee hockey team, so it’s up to them to create their own news and share it with their other member stations.  Blended in with the national feeds, the local content gives people in Central Canada lots of great reasons to stay in touch with that radio – even in an age of podcasting and RSS feeds.

So it’s no surprise that Unger was enthusiastic about Burli Newsroom’s Virtual Newsroom features.  Stories can be immediately pushed, pulled, and shared into and out of connected newsrooms no matter how far apart they are.  When you’re creating a significant chunk of your content locally, it’s truly important to share that content quickly and easily.  Burli lets you treat locally created content much the same as the national news content, and is just as easy to work with.  They’ve even started auto-dispatching stories recently, sending data from a central creation point across the region with almost no effort.

Working Together

To say Unger is pleased with Burli as a company and a support organization is an understatement.  “Burli has always been in that top 1-2-3 of recommended support, and [they know] how to do it right”, he says, “And they haven’t wavered since 1999… If we can get support like Burli gives us then I’m a happy guy”.

He describes his support interaction with Burli as straightforward and infrequent – exactly how he wants it.  “You can keep working on the new stuff, and we can keep working on our stuff!” he says with a laugh.  He’s much happier knowing that Burli can be set up and sit relatively quietly without a lot of maintenance.  He’s only in touch when something is changed as part of an upgrade or workflow shift, and even then he’s happy with the service he gets.

Unger was kind enough to grab a few comments from his newsroom staff, and although there were lots of great ones, this one from a former big city resident leapt out.  “I curse a lot less at Burli during my shifts than any other technology in the building… which, for this transplanted New Yorker, is really saying something.”

We’ll certainly take that as positive feedback.

The Stuph File Program – Episode #0444


Welcome to the latest edition of the Stuph File Program.

For a program list of the items included and all their accompanying links in this one hour show, you can find the information on my website in the Stuph File Program section, or just follow this link to #0444.

To download the podcast, right click here and select “Save Link As”

Featured in this episode:

Click logo for iTunes podcast subscription If you have any comments or suggestions, or items for the mailbag, feel free to click on the “Comments” link below to add your thoughts.

Dealing With Tragedy On The Air


It seems that a week rarely goes by without a tragedy in the world. Each affects your audience emotionally and personally. And almost every time, radio stations are taken by surprise because it’s impossible to plan exactly what to do in every situation But we can prepare for how to deal with tragedy and emergencies when they happen. This guide will help you sort the steps to relate to your audience when they need you most.

Of course, there are many types of tragedy and emergencies. Some are personal (a sick child, a father who’s been laid off). Others are personal to a cast member. Many times, they’re local (natural disasters, for instance). And then there’s the increasingly common events of terrorism and mass killings.

When something extraordinary happens, will you be there to reflect it, be a part of it? Are you prepared to change direction as the situation calls for it? Jeff & Jer called it the ability to change course to “know how to be really good when things are really bad.”

Radio can shine and air personalities can stand out in times of tragedy. And I’m not talking about covering the news event.

As Deborah Parenti of Radio Ink puts it:

Cable news outlets run 24/7 updates from news sources and press conferences. They hash over the events with talking heads, “experts,” and “analysts”, interspersed with a few eye witness interviews repeated over and over throughout the day. Depending on the channel, some of it is also presented through a political lens. Indeed, it’s a role they have carved out as part of their 24/7 cycle, one which has also shunted broadcast TV coverage to more of a “bulletin” status…But where radio distinguishes itself and what truly spotlights its niche among all media is/was and will continue to be, its distinct ability to reach out, dig in and be part of the community. That’s a far different role than reporting on the community.

One of the most important things you can do as an air talent is find a way to become the show to tune in when something major happens. Weather emergencies, local tragedies and city-wide celebrations are moments that matter for your show. Your link to the audience is magnified. It’s the time when you have to be at your best.

Capture The Moment Emotionally

The ability to capture the moment can be the difference between success and failure. If you are able to identify those moments when they occur, react quickly and tap into your audience’s reaction with an emotional sincerity, you can make giant strides in your goal of attaining local celebrity status. this happens when you’re able to stay within your character profile, yet speak passionately in times when listeners are highly emotional.

Great personalities are able to speak with passion. Showing that you truly care about a subject can go a long way toward winning listeners. But you can overdo it when you pour too much emotion into the presentation.

Fast Company says:

Passion in speaking is like spice in cooking. If you’ve ever added cayenne pepper to a dish, you know you need to be careful to use just the right amount. Too much emotion in your speaking is like dumping in a whole tablespoon of hot pepper—it’ll be the only thing anyone will notice, and they won’t want to finish.

Passion vs. Emotion

Passion is important in delivery, only in small doses. To connect emotionally, you’ll need to use your personality skills.

The only thing the audience will recall is your emotional display. Speak with passion to allow your message to take on vivid color but stay calm. When listeners are surprised by the intensity of emotion, they miss your message. Emotions should be the spice to your recipe, not the main ingredient.

When you’re too emotional, your show become fatiguing. A little goes a long way. Your voice can become sharp, and you come off as if you’re shouting. Or, you are overcome with grief, and your voice sounds light, lacking the power of motivation. The audience might hear you, but they won’t be listening. At least, not for long.

While staying under control, build toward a high point, and use the rhythm of your delivery to add power to segments. If you stay in the same vocal tone too long, listeners become immune to the message.

Vary your pace, tone and inflection to keep attention and cause response.

Dealing With Tragedy: How To Respond

Each tragedy requires a different response. And while there’s no formula, you can work through this process to get a handle on your reaction.

Is It Local?

The first consideration is whether the tragedy is a local event. If it is, many of the recommendations and guidelines that follow don’t apply.

When an event  disrupts life in your community, your response should be bigger and deeper. It will also have an affect on how you should react over time. If the tragedy impacts your audience where they live, plan to be talking about it more often and for a longer period of time.

But don’t avoid it because the “event” is somewhere else. Many stations get sucked into “it’s not local”. That’s just an excuse. If the audience is affected by it and is talking about it, it’s local.

Be Who You Are

Unless you’re a news station, don’t try to cover it as a news story. The temptation is to distribute information and provide updates. You may even be tempted to broadcast a sister station’s news coverage. Don’t.

If you run news on your show, isolate the facts to your newscasts. It may make sense to add more frequent news updates, depending on the impact and timing of the tragedy. But your personality content should always be emotionally connecting with the audience. And you should tease the next news update frequently.

For most shows, it’s not about providing the facts or being on top of a breaking news story. Listeners are coming to your station for your reaction. This is a time to reflect your character through the filter of the audience’s mood.

The closer the event hits your target audience, the greater your response. But don’t try to be someone else.

Adjust, Don’t Change

In other words, know who you are and what you are for. What is the primary reason your audience comes to you? Be that. Your content will adjust, of course, but don’t change the nature of your personality brand.

Sometimes personalities try to explore the reasons for a tragedy. Unless you’re a news or talk station, that’s not your role. You can’t solve the problem and your audience doesn’t expect you to come up with any solutions. The goal should be to have a strong emotional reaction, but don’t let it become a rant on all the problems that led to the event.

When tragedy strikes, you will be taken out of your routine. Your comfort zone is challenged. That’s okay. It’s good to stretch your boundaries. Just stay within yourself and don’t try to do more than you are capable of

If you’re not sure what to do, it’s more important to talk about it frequently than to talk about it in depth.  One show I work makes it a point to reference a tragic event every quarter hour in some way, but doesn’t turn the whole show into constant coverage.

Respond Quickly

Most of the time, being quick is more important than being polished. Responding quickly is key. Timing is critical. Information moves at light-speed. While you’re not going to compete for covering the story, your response must consider recent developments. And you have to be on it while the story is top-of-mind.

When San Diego was on fire (a Sunday) and tens of thousands of listeners were driven from their homes, my stations took action. By Monday afternoon, we had over $1 million in cash to give directly to the victims. We didn’t wait. We took action.

Your response will vary depending on the timing of the event. Key questions to consider:

  • How long ago did it happen? If it happens at night, and you’re on the next morning, how is your audience feeling right now? Don’t re-hash the facts and details just because you didn’t happen to be on the air at the time of the event.
  • How much does the audience know? If the story just broke, or is happening while you’re on the air, it’s still fresh, and listeners are probably not fully informed. This would require a slightly different approach. But remember, information moves quickly. They’re probably just as informed (or more) than you are.

The most important thing is to make a decision and take action. Don’t wait. You’ll miss the moment. Get on the air and get moving. Figure out the details later.

Brand Values

How closely does this tragedy hit your audience’s lifestyle? When a gunman shot up an Orlando nightclub, it affected everyone in the world, not just the local Orlando community. The same happened in the Arianna Grande concert bombings, especially for hit music stations and parents of her fans, mostly young girls.

The more it impacts the lifestyle of your audience, the more it touches your brand values. And as a result, the attention it should receive.

When you think about it, every major tragedy affects your audience’s world. Find an entry point that can be an emotional connection for your brand. That might be collecting stuffed animals for children. Or taking care of pets and animals. Or a diaper drive for moms. If you’re a Christian station, maybe there’s a church that has been impacted that you can help.

Find a need in the disaster area and focus on that.

Psychological Impact

Some tragedies are physical. Others are psychological. If the event took place in another geographic location, chances are your audience is more impacted emotionally. The more you can speak emotionally and tap into those feelings, the more effective you’ll be.

Every event has a psychological impact on at least some of your audience. Judge the extent of that damage and respond to how your audience is feeling. Then craft a response that connects with the emotions of that psychological impact.

At one station I work with, the station targets adult women, many of whom have school-aged children. The host of the show is married to a school Superintendent. Following a school shooting, the show brought him on to talk about how he’s dealing with it in the school district. How will their teachers be talking to the kids the next day?

That’s an example of injected the show’s unique personality brand into the topic. At another station, the host has four year old daughter. Following a dramatic event that involved children, the show brought a guest expert on to explain how he could talk to a four-year old about the tragedy. This is quite different than just having an expert on to talk about the event and give general advice. It puts the show’s brand into the story.

Personal Response

If you are personally affected by the news, use that emotion. Bring your perspective to the audience, especially if it’s consistent with how they’re feeling. If you can be the personality that puts into words how they are feeling, you can become a source of comfort.

However, if you’re really upset about it personally, work that out before you go on the air. Talk to someone. You need to be calm, collected and in control of the show. When you’re too emotional, your voice can become sharp, and you come off as if you’re shouting. Or, you are overcome with grief, and your voice sounds light, lacking the power of motivation. The audience might hear you, but they won’t be listening.

What You Need to Gather

While hearing you on the air brings comfort to your fans, it’s also important that you have some elements in place. Here’s what should be on your checklist to gather as soon as possible:


Assign one person the task of searching local and national websites for information that fit your brand’s needs. This can have value for on-air and your online/social presence. Make sure they follow up and stay up to date. If you don’t have a producer, recruit someone to help. It could be a friend, relative or someone from another department on the station. Your attention should be focused on how you’ll perform and craft your on-air content.

Get Contact Information:

Who can you reach as s spokesperson that has authority or can add an interesting angle? Television reporters? Newspaper people? News anchors? Depending on the situation, you might also track down community leaders from schools or businesses, head of charities, Pastors of churches, etc. Use social media to track them down. You may not use them to report on the news, but those close to the tragedy can often give you a unique angle to explore.

Interesting Personalities:

If there’s a character or two in your city that’s doing something unusual, it’s a great way to talk about the event without sounding like everyone else. Look into social media to see how ordinary people are taking action. Find the ones that are most interesting, reach out and form a relationship.

Possible Angles:

Figure out what kind of stories you will be relating. Find something unique, such as: What happens to pets? How will you protect your family to get them all in the same place? Do you need help or can you help (get folks together)? Are there scams to watch out for?

Be Real, But Positive

As the audience gets past the initial shock, they won’t want to wallow in the negativity of the story for long. Pay attention to find the right time to turn the corner and represent hope and positivity.

Most every tragedy has good news inside the horrors. Mr. Rogers called it, “Look for the helpers” and tell those stories.

Again, use social media to find sources of content. It’s even better if you can develop a relationship with one of the heroes and spotlight their story. This brings it home in a whole new way.

Public Response (Promotion)

If you’re planning a public reaction (promotion), your station should have a process in place.

Once you have a handle on the tragedy, plan your reaction. Here’s a step-by-step process for finding how to deal with tragedy on the air.

  1. If organizing a promotion or public response, make sure everything you do is user-friendly and easy to participate. Pick a high-profile public location, like a mall or major retail area. Stage it there.
  2. Then, invite partners to get involved. See if other media, such as television stations, want to participate. Chances are, they’re looking for an angle to cover without having to create their own thing. Let them promote you!
  3. Find your niche and tell that story in a powerful, sensitive and emotional way. What matches your personality and brand? Find that and make it famous

After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, my station (Star 100.7) bought a giant bell, similar to the famous Liberty Bell in Philadelphia.

We installed it in a public location, then invited listeners to come and honor the victims. Each name of the 2,996 victims as written on a piece of paper. Listeners came, chose a name, said the name on the air and rang the bell.

We carried it all on the air live. It took over 8 hours. No commercials. Was this great PPM programming? Of course not. It was hard to listen to. And it was a tune out. But what an impact. It was powerful, dramatic and it stood out from everything else.

It was hard and took time and resources. But it paid off.

The easy thing to do is join in the thousands of others that promote a donation code or tap into existing relief campaigns.

Don’t do that.

It’s lazy and you won’t get any credit. Not that it’s all about credit, but come on! We know why you’re doing it!

Forget about those agencies that are working on their campaigns. Why promote them? Do something on your own. Be unique and make a difference.


At the end of the day, you can’t plan these things, but you can be prepared. This is part of being a well-rounded personality with layers of audience appeal.

For more on how to speak emotionally when tragedy strikes and examples of great shows doing it well, check out How to Be Really Good When Things Are Really Bad.

Photo Credit: Freepik.com




To say podcast use in North America is on the rise would be something of an understatement.  In 2016, America’s podcast listening audience had grown an estimated 23% since 2015, and 75% since 2013 (Edison Research).  Since their rise in 2007, smartphones have turned into the perfect portal for carrying on-demand audio around with us at all times, and our culture is certainly interested in the smartphone!

Podcasting, at its heart, is a produce-and-consume model of distributing audio.  Content generators publish audio (and sometimes video) to the web, and subscribers use podcast receiving software (iTunes, Overcast, and similar) to download and play the content.  The actual downloading process on the part of the listener is usually automated, and playback is at their convenience.

To keep up in a challenging environment, many traditional radio stations have taken to podcasting as a way of staying in touch with their audiences.  Why not?  Radio has been in the business of creating high quality, captivating audio for decades, why not take advantage of that existing and constantly refreshed source of media?  There’s surely a place for professional audio engineers to capture some podcast listeners among a field of competition that has largely been developed by amateur enthusiasts.

Burli helps its customers get onto the podcast train by helping you easily convert your audio into podcasts.  From planning your show, to recording and editing, and all the way through posting it online, Burli Newsroom has it all.  Let’s take a look.

Get It Together

To be perfectly honest, there’s nothing special or different in how you prepare your audio for use in podcasting.  In fact, what we’re seeing with our customers is a tendency to take the content that was already destined to go on-air live and simply reuse it for their podcast.  When we recently spoke with Bell Media, they told us that they do exactly that – especially in their sports talk format.

With the exception of some editing around specific length and/or content, getting your audio together for use in a podcast should be relatively simple.  In fact, you can even use the automatically-generated content coming from your Burli audio logger!

Put It Online

Once the podcasting features have been enabled in Newsroom by your System Administrator, there’s not a lot of work to do to get it online for public consumption.  To start, right-click your finished audio project, and select Podcast this audio…

You’ll be taken to the Podcast Uploader screen.  All you need to do is populate some fields to describe which show you’re podcasting, and click Upload now.  Your file is uploaded, and you’re done!

Just for information, here is how the fields translate from Burli Newsroom into Apple iTunes:

Again, this all assumes your System Administrator has set up your credentials to establish a podcast channel with a provider, and given those credentials to Burli.  Once this step is complete, Burli can access the channel (or channels, if you’re creating more than one show.  The channels are available from the pull-down menu shown above).

Ingesting Podcasts

Of course, podcasts themselves are just another alternate form of audio input as far as Burli is concerned.  Newsroom allows for ingest of podcasts just as easily as any newswire.

If you have a podcast you’d like to add to your In-Queue, please speak to your System Administrator.  Then you can use that incoming audio any way you’d like.

New Fields in Audio

As the industry grows and changes, one thing is certain – we all need to change with it!  Making the leap to podcasting is just one way in which radio is quickly adapting to become a stronger and more competitive medium, and it’s also one more way Burli Software is helping our customers.

Should we discuss your business and station goals? Fill out the simple form below and we will be in touch shortly.

Request Form



The Stuph File Program – Episode #0443


Welcome to the latest edition of the Stuph File Program.

For a program list of the items included and all their accompanying links in this one hour show, you can find the information on my website in the Stuph File Program section, or just follow this link to #0443.

To download the podcast, right click here and select “Save Link As”

Featured in this episode:

  • Lynne Matsuoka, former courtroom artist — The Watergate hearings
  • Andrew Fazekas, science writer — Falcon Heavy launch
  • Sagar Mohite, creator, Hyperspace

Click logo for iTunes podcast subscription If you have any comments or suggestions, or items for the mailbag, feel free to click on the “Comments” link below to add your thoughts.

Library Depth & How Often Songs Should Play


The ratings come in. You have a TSL (time spent listening) problem. The cume went up, but your average quarter hours are down. Your first thought is to examine music library depth.

Then the research comes in and the perceptual confirms it. Listeners say you repeat songs too much.

Listeners tell you they can predict the next song, and air talent is constantly complaining about having to play the same music over and over. You get phone calls asking why you play the same songs over and over.

What’s a programmer to do? Your natural reaction is logical. The answer is obvious, right? Fix this problem by adding more titles to the library to reduce fatigue and increase variety.

It won’t work.

9 Realities of Music Library Depth

In fact, slowing rotations is exactly the wrong move. Here’s why:

Ratings Are Misleading

There’s an inverse relationship between cume growth and TSL decline. I call it the two-switch theory of radio programming.

When reach (weekly cume) increases, it’s almost always a result of attracting secondary and tertiary listeners, not fans. These secondary listeners spend far less time with your station, so average TSL naturally declines.

Your audience reach has increased! Congratulations. You should expect a lower TSL. Avoid knee-jerk reactions to ratings.

More Songs=Weaker Library

You were already playing the best music for your audience (well, probably). That’s probably one reason  you’re attracting more listener to your station.

Every song added is weaker than what is on. It has less appeal to the cume you’ve attracted. As a result, it dilutes the power of your playlist.

The more songs you add, the weaker your library. The appeal of the station goes down and you lose the button-punch battle.

What’s Your Criteria?

If library depth is based on music testing, re-evaluate the criteria used to merit airplay.

Many programmers gravitate toward playing songs with low negative scores. That seems logical, but many times, the songs with higher negatives also bring out more favorites. Removing high negative songs may result in less frequent reasons for the audience to leave, but it also chases away passionate positives in some song scores. That passion is the incentive to stay tuned.

Theoretical attempts to reduce tune-out can cause bland stations. Those “non-negative’ songs almost always lack strong positives resulting in a “sameness” factor that is fatiguing and adds to a repetition perception.

Weak Song Repetition

Repetition issues arise when playing too many average or weak songs, not listener favorites. Playing a bad song once is one time  too many. My favorite song? You can’t play it often enough.

Test this theory the next time a listener complains. Ask which song is played too much. Then ask if they LIKE that song. Chances are they don’t. Then ask for their FAVORITE song and if you also play that too much. They’ll say “No, you should play it more”. Most likely, it’s in the same, or more frequent, rotation.

Sound Repetition

Repetition is also influenced by “sameness of sound”. Similar songs by the same artist (especially over-played recurrents and gold) add to fatigue.

And artists who tend to sound the same can increase perceived repetition.

Many/most listeners don’t distinguish between similar sounding songs by the same artist (Katy Perry, for example) and familiar songs by similar sounding artists. So while your music software is not breaking your scheduling rules, listeners hear it differently.

Not Your Fault-Maybe

Listeners generally have no idea which station they’re listening to when they hear a song. They heard it on the radio and assign “repetition” to their favorite station. Congratulations! That’s you! You’ll be credited for a repetition image, even if you’re not the station causing it.

It’s not fair, but it’s reality. And there’s not much you can do about it.

So if listeners are going to assign you a repetition image, at least be repetitious with  the best songs!

Or Maybe It Is

Repetition often results from poor music scheduling more than library depth. Listeners are creatures of habit, tuning in at the same times each day. You can have the largest library in all of radio, but if the same songs play in the same dayparts, hours and quarter-hours, they won’t experience the depth of your library.

It doesn’t matter how many titles you play if listeners hear the same ones. Another overlooked factor is repetition based on lifestyle. If they hear the same song on their drive to and from work, you might have a repetition problem.

Repetition Images May Be Good

If they really are hearing the same songs over and over on your station, that means they’re listening-a lot. Attempting to “fix” this “problem” removes the reason they listen in the first place, and reduces your appeal to both heavy listening fans and those who listen much less.

The more popular your station becomes, the more your repetition complaints will rise. Wear it like a badge of honor!


Fans always say they want “more variety”. We assume they want more depth and breadth in music.

What they want is more variety of their personal favorites. You can’t satisfy personal favorites, because everyone has a different idea of what that favorite is. Trying to satisfy the library depth problem will take you down a dark, lonely path toward ratings oblivion.

Personal Bias & Library Depth

Face it. You listen more than anyone else to your radio station. Your average P1 invests just a few minutes a day with your station. Don’t you want them to hear the best version of your brand every time? Can you afford to have their hear anything else?

That alone will lead to a tighter playlist.

It’s only natural for your personal tastes and preferences to creep into music decisions. Fight the temptation to compromise the best interest of the station because you like a certain song or genre of music.

Yes, your “gut” is important, but not as important as programming to the preferences of the audience.

When In Doubt, Leave It Out

One of my earliest programming lessons came from consultant Frank Felix. In an ultra-competitive battle between two classic rock stations, I was an advocate of a longer playlist. Playing “Stairway” every 19 hours seemed like a sure way to burn our library and develop negative images.

To Felix, library depth was an easy problem to solve.

I’ll never forget Frank telling me:

The way to defeat a direct competitor is that when they play nothing but the 20 greatest songs of all time, you play the 19 greatest. That way, once every 20 songs, you’re playing a bigger hit.

That philosophy applies to all competitive situations. Listeners never get tired of hearing their favorite songs. They quickly tire of average songs they don’t like so much.

If you’re not sure about those borderline songs that could go either way, leave them off. Generally speaking, it’s true that you don’t get hurt by what you don’t play.

Program For Passion

When assigning songs to categories, pay particular attention to those songs with high passion. Favor those with the most favorite scores. Many songs test well because nobody dislikes them. Those songs usually have low burn, and are very play-able.

However, they don’t deliver the same excitement as high-scoring songs driven by favorites. It’s fine to accept more burn in a high-passion song.

This applies especially to CHR stations. How many powers should you have? There really aren’t more than 3-4 true power hits at any given time. Beyond that are titles that are not yet familiar or lack the passion. Avoid the temptation to add more “A” songs, just to fill the category. It’s better to adjust the category based on the strength of current music.


If short playlists beat large lists, how can you maximize your library? Learn to recycle effectively.

Very few listeners tuned in between 10am and 5pm will also be listening from 11pm to 6am. In fact, almost none. So why waste fresh library tracks when virtually nobody will hear the variety?

Recycling recurrent and gold categories is simply replaying the songs used during certain daytime hours in the overnight.

Some stations take it a step further and replay the exact playlist overnight. This allows the music programmer to spend more time perfecting the schedule in the most important hours rather than wasting resources on low-leverage times.

Most music scheduling systems handle recycling easily.


Finding the right rotations is more art than science, and it will take some trial and error to find the balance that works best for your brand.

Exercise discipline, objectivity and use research tools as a guide.


The Stuph File Program – Episode #0442


Welcome to the latest edition of the Stuph File Program.

For a program list of the items included and all their accompanying links in this one hour show, you can find the information on my website in the Stuph File Program section, or just follow this link to #0442.

To download the podcast, right click here and select “Save Link As”

Featured in this episode:

Click logo for iTunes podcast subscription If you have any comments or suggestions, or items for the mailbag, feel free to click on the “Comments” link below to add your thoughts.



As a strong voice in the areas outside of Toronto, Durham Radio has been providing a critical aspect of the news that the stations in the larger GTA area can’t – local content.

“We’re in the pool with the big guys”, says Doug Kirk, President and founding member of Durham Radio, of their position as a group of stations based in and around the suburbs outside Toronto (Oshawa, Hamilton, and Caledonia).  Differentiation of content by providing a local aspect to the news quickly became critical to their success.

Having started in 1994 with a single AM station, and then having grown to five member stations over the course of 24 years, Kirk has seen a lot of change during his time.  In order to survive so near to the Greater Toronto Area, he wanted to grow Durham in a way that allowed it to be effective across a considerable geography surrounding the largest broadcast market in Canada.  So how did they do that?

Durham Radio Inc surrounding Toronto

Doing it the Old Way

Saddled with a frustrating workflow, Kirk worked with his team to drive a new way for Durham’s member stations to create and share their news, and keep local ears on local radio.  The news process at Durham used to involve paper – a lot of paper – and recording of newscasts to physical media, such as mini disc.

Dealing with static media was quickly becoming a problem.  It’s possible to create great news that way, but not so easy to share it – which was one of Durham’s chief goals.  They wanted to create news that was too small for the larger media companies in Toronto to chase directly, and share it among their member stations as the company grew.  Their existing method was an inflexible way of creating content, and also made it very difficult to cover shifts for absent staff.  They “really wanted to modernize… and Burli came onto the radar”.

They saw Burli Newsroom’s ability to digitally store and share their news content as key, and decided to use this capability to win within their market.  Kirk describes Durham as “proud to have… highly, intensively local news content”, and wanted to have lots of interoperability within their stations to take advantage of that.  Plus, Burli “allowed us to save a lot of trees” he says with a laugh, adding “it allowed us to be a lot more flexible in getting the content to work”.

Change and Challenge

During our interview, Kirk first described the implementation of Burli as being not easy, and presenting challenges.  But he quickly followed that up by saying it was the humanfactor involved in change, not any technical issues around Burli, that presented the issue (the early reaction was “It doesn’t have any paper? Oh my God!”).  The installation was smooth, and he never heard about any major issues.  “The implementation team was pretty flawless… it worked really well!”  Now his news team couldn’t conceive of doing anything with paper.

“It’s a high payback for the time invested in learning the system that they could do their jobs a lot more efficiently”, Kirk said of the news staff as they learned Burli.  “They got a good return on investment on the time they spent on the system… They were just thrilled with it.  A month later they were all high-fiving!”

In fact, they added their latest installation of Burli at their newest Caledonia station just last year, and “It’s proving its value again”.  Nothing like a happy customer, continuing to succeed!

Should we discuss your business and station goals? Fill out the simple form below and we will be in touch shortly.

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How To Figure Out How Long Should Your Spring Promotion Run


One of the most difficult decisions for programmers, promotion managers and air talent is figuring out promotion length.

How long should a campaign last? A weekend? 2 weeks? A month? How can you decide how long a promotion should run? You want it to be long enough to establish roots and get traction. But not so long it starts to get boring.

In the past, radio stations extended promotions over a longer period of time. It was common for a contest to last 10, 12, or 13 weeks. Now, with shorter attention spans and a faster paced society, promotion length is impacted. The shelf life is generally shorter. It’s become more typical for a campaign to run 6-8 weeks, and many times a major promotion lasts less than a month.

The trend toward shorter and more concentrated promotions is going to continue. So how can you decide the proper length for a promotion campaign?

Here are six things you should consider:

How To Decide Promotion Length

There are many variables that impact how long your campaign should last. Here are six of the most important considerations:

How Big is the Promotion?

Obviously, a larger promotion can be sustained longer than a shorter one. And usually, the bigger the payoff, the longer the promotion can last.

This is not an absolute, but generally a bigger prize will command interest over a longer period, particularly if the promotion involves a large pay off. It’s logical, right?

But no matter how big the prize, if the storyline of the campaign doesn’t have enough depth, it’s hard to keep it fresh and interesting. I’ve been involved with many contests with big money prizes that just couldn’t hold up because the story wasn’t strong enough to support it. And I’ve also had great promotions with relatively small payoffs that last much longer.

If possible, extend the length of your campaign by building the promotion in stages. Instead of rolling out every aspect of the contest, keep some surprises back and add drama in layers. This also makes it easier for your audience to follow and understand.

A promotion built in layers has movement, momentum and will be perceived as even bigger than the actual payoff. It’s also more interesting to the non-player.


Regardless of the actual promotion length, factor pre-selling into the campaign. Short promotions are challenging because your secondary listeners (also known as P2’s and P3’s) take longer to catch on. They figure out what you’re doing just as it’s winding down.

With pre-promotion, you can establish familiarity in a campaign while still running the actual promotion for a shorter time period.

If it’s a short promotion, pre-sell longer. In this regard, radio stations can take a page from movie companies, rolling out a campaign for a new film in stages. You’ve probably seen trailers that promote the next big blockbuster months or even years before it’s released. The closer it gets, it becomes more specific, revealing more details. And in turn, building anticipation for the launch.

Caution: Promoting too far in advance without updating the messaging and creative assets will result in fatigue before the promotion even begins.


Many stations make a big mistake by back-selling their campaigns too long.

Once the promotion is over, it’s over. Listeners really don’t care who won, unless it was them. However, they do care that there actually was a winner. So use all of your resources to promote winners.

But on the air, back-selling should be short. Very short.

The ideal back-sell would creatively segue into a pre-promotion for the next campaign. By leveraging the success of the previous promotion, you’re build momentum for the next one while paying off the first.

if you are clever, you can transition from one chapter into a new one, much the way a movie company promotes a trilogy. One movie ends by setting up the next one.

When back-selling, the philosophy is, Don’t tell me what I missed…tell me what I’m GOING to miss. The promotion ends, but the story doesn’t.

Interest Level

Another factor that influences the length has nothing to do with the active audience. It’s all about the story that has already happened.

This is common in cause marketing.

You can constantly tell a story of how the cause is making an impact by revealing the benefits of the campaign in the past. That can extend the shelf life because it is about a story, not the payoff.

The actual promotion is a tactic that is just one in a series of ongoing events that all contribute to a larger story.

Promotion Weight

Generally, most stations don’t run nearly enough promos to reach critical mass. Attention spans are short, listeners are not paying much attention and it takes multiple impressions to create response.

No matter how simple the promotion, the audience just won’t get it right away. For best results, plan to overwhelm listeners with more promos than you think you need. That’s the only way to make an impact.

The shorter your campaign, the more heavily you should promote. Promoting a campaign 4-5 times per hour is not too much, as long as the promos are creative and interesting. But you can’t sustain this level for months. So a key consideration in duration of the promotion is taking into account how heavily you’re planning to market it.

In our fast-paced. competitive world, it’s usually better to run heavy promotion for short periods and then move into the next aggressive campaign.

Promote it Off Air

Great contests and promotions attract attention beyond the existing audience. They usually are more effective driving repeat listening occasions, but some promotions can also build cume if the promotion is interesting enough.

So doesn’t it make sense to leverage that aspect by promoting it externally? Don’t just rely on promos to drive it.

Along with ads on TV, direct mail or outdoor, use other resources. Social media advertising is highly effective and can be targeted by lifestyle, interest, demographics and geography. This is especially valuable if you’re also using it to build your station database.

If you have a good database, run extensive email campaigns. I have clients that run multi-week (up to 8 week) promotions with almost no on-air promotion. They drive it all off-the air, and it’s converting into measurable listening increases.


Okay, so how long should a promotion be? Obviously, the answer depends on a variety of factors. But if you force an answer, generally they should be at least two weeks, but not more than six.

On occasion, a promotion will run up to 10 weeks. More than that, and you’re probably stretching a bit.


The Stuph File Program – Episode #0441


Welcome to the latest edition of the Stuph File Program.

For a program list of the items included and all their accompanying links in this one hour show, you can find the information on my website in the Stuph File Program section, or just follow this link to #0441.

To download the podcast, right click here and select “Save Link As”

Featured in this episode:

Click logo for iTunes podcast subscription If you have any comments or suggestions, or items for the mailbag, feel free to click on the “Comments” link below to add your thoughts.



Our team at Burli Software had our start in radio newsrooms, and have always proudly supported news radio in Canada, the US, and around the world.  But what happens when the face of radio itself changes?

The past few years have certainly shown an ever increasing collaboration between radio and social media.  As terrestrial radio continues to try and differentiate itself in a world of satellite radio, podcasting, and other media, it has worked hard to stay up to date. Now radio journalists are often reaching listeners not only through their audio, but through the emerging social media technologies that have stormed the internet for the past decade.

In the Burli Newsroom system, we offer fast and easy ways to link your news to the online world.  With a little configuration, we can post to Twitter and SoundCloud today.

Posting to Twitter

When it comes to rapidly sharing short bursts of text, nothing compares to Twitter.  Often turned to as a source of breaking news itself, Twitter has taken an unexpected place in the world of journalism as it fulfills a function that it was never designed for – sharing of categorized news and events at unprecedented speed across the globe.  Why not take advantage and be part of that conversation?

Burli allows for very fast posting to Twitter.  From within the Newsroom software, right-click an item in the In-Queue (or any selected text) and select Send to Twitter from the menu, or press Ctrl+Shift+T.


You will be presented with a New Tweet dialogue.


From this handy little window, go ahead and edit the text of your Tweet (it can be different than what remains in Burli).  Your character count remaining will update as you type, letting you know when you will reach the limit (you won’t be allowed to post an illegal length Tweet).  Choose any or all the available Twitter accounts your System Administrator has set up for you, and click Send.  Your Tweet will go out right away!

We even allow for URL shortening to save you some character count.  As you input a valid URL (starting with either http:// or https://), Burli will reserve up to 23 characters regardless of the length of the URL. At that point, any more characters in the URL will not count towards the character count.  Once the Tweet has been sent to Twitter, it will automatically be converted to a shortened URL.

Posting to SoundCloud

For audio sharing, SoundCloud has risen very quickly as a recognized leader online.  Posting to SoundCloud is supported directly in Burli, and is just as easy as Twitter.   Pick any audio file, right click, and select Upload to SoundCloud.


You will get a Share dialogue pop-up.  You can give your file a different name on SoundCloud than it had in Burli, and attach a graphic.


Click the Upload button, and Done when the upload is complete.  Your file will now be on SoundCloud’s server, and visible on their site.


Ingesting Social Media Sources

Finally, we also allow for use of social media as a source of news – it’s a great way to get current information onto your machine, sometimes even faster than a newswire!

In Burli Newsroom, your System Administrator can add Twitter to the Filter Tree, where it will act like any other source of news.  Tweets will appear as stories you can capture, edit, and publish into your scripts.

In Burli NE, we also allow for ingest of SoundCloud, Facebook, and YouTube on top of all the capabilities described above for Newsroom.

Should we discuss your business and station goals? Fill out the simple form below and we will be in touch shortly about your request.

Request Form


The Stuph File Program – Episode #0440


Welcome to the latest edition of the Stuph File Program.

For a program list of the items included and all their accompanying links in this one hour show, you can find the information on my website in the Stuph File Program section, or just follow this link to #0440.

To download the podcast, right click here and select “Save Link As”

Featured in this episode:

  • Michael Pocock, founder. Book By You
  • Andre Sogliuzzo, voice actor
  • Dennis Hof, owner, Moonlite Bunny Ranch — accepting Bitcoin

Click logo for iTunes podcast subscription If you have any comments or suggestions, or items for the mailbag, feel free to click on the “Comments” link below to add your thoughts.

Get Your Own Pro Video Studio For Less Than $500


It’s clear that video is a powerful tool for communication, engagement, exposing a brand, selling a product and getting attention online. There’s no reason to invest thousands of dollars in expensive cameras and video gear. You can build your own video studio on the cheap!

Most of us are overwhelmed easily at the prospect of starting a video strategy, starting with the equipment and technology needed. But it’s not that intimidating when you really get into it, and you probably have some of the most important gear you need already.

Degree of Difficulty

You’ll be amazed at what you can produce in your video studio that’s built for less than $500. Not only is it  a fully-functional professional video studio, you can put it almost anywhere. You really don’t need much space.

Rick Morton, morning personality on Z90/San Diego explains  how he did it in this short self-produced video, which was created entirely in one corner of his morning show’s office:

Pretty cool, huh? And remarkably easy. Once it’s set up, you can generate a ton of high quality video.

Video Studio Shopping List

Here’s everything you need, with prices: to build your own video studio on the cheap:


An unused office or just a wall in a low traffic area will do fine. If there’s absolutely no space at your station, do it at home. It’s a tax deduction! You will want to find a place that’s as quiet as possible. If it’s just outside the break room, you may have some background noise or have to re-record some of the footage and that can get annoying.

Cost: $0


For greatest flexibility, paint part of your studio area white (a clean white background can look great in some videos). Paint another part chromakey green (for a green screen background that can be replaced with any image you choose). In a third section add a backdrop with your logo. Paint it on or get a large vinyl sticker or  poster from a copy shop. Another nice effect is the backdrop with repeated logos on a plain backdrop. You’ve seen these in many press conferences.

If you’re building the studio to be shared with other stations in your cluster, make sure the logo can be replaced easily and quickly. Or, you may just go with the chromakey background to make it as flexible as your imagination.

Maximum Cost: $50.

Note: If you don’t want to paint a wall, or don’t have a wall to paint, get a green screen background for about $20. You can hang it whenever and wherever you need it.


You can do a lot using the green screen and graphic or video backgrounds in production, but you should also have something that provides depth and identifies with your brand, like an aerial shot of your city. That’s what Rick used in the video above.

Try to find a high resolution photo and have it enlarged at a copy center. If you can’t find one, check with a local traffic service and see if they’ll take a picture from their helicopter the next time they’re out.

Cost: $30.


You could spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a professional camera, but you don’t really need to. All you really need is a smartphone, which you probably already have. Many video cameras on phones are higher quality than DSLR video. Cost: $0.

If you want a “real” camera, get a GoPro HERO3. Cost $199.

If you do a lot of action shots, it might help having this, but you don’t need it to start your studio.


This is a big help in getting the perfect angle, and they’re dirt cheap.

Get the  Stargoods Flexible Iphone Tripod Mini Octopus (Set of 3). Cost $16.99 (for 3). Or, upgrade for a better one, like this. GripTight GorillaPod Stand Cost: $29.


This is the most important item of all. Most amateur video is poor just because it’s not well-lit. Natural lighting is always best, but you can’t always count on it, especially if you’re in an internal office with no windows or a studio. So invest in a lighting kit like the 600W Umbrella Continuous Lighting Kit by LimoStudio.

They’re not expensive, and will make a huge difference in how your videos look. There’s a bit of a learning curve to use lighting kits most effectively, but you’ll figure it out pretty quickly. And there’s always Google and YouTube to help you.

Cost: Under $100.


You could spend several hundred dollars for professional software like Final Cut Pro but there’s no point unless you’re planning to become the next Spielberg.

If you have a Mac, you already have iMovie. That’s all you need. If you have a Windows PC, download simple video software that you can find it for free.

Cost: $50 (maximum).


When you create a video, upload it to your account on YouTube (start your own Channel) or Vimeo. You can upload it in HD, and the popularity of these platforms will lead to more potential fans discovering your work.

Cost: $0.


That’s it. You might find you can do this for as little as $200 if have most of the hardware (smartphone, computer).  But it will certainly be less than $500.

Now get to work. I can’t wait to see what you create.



Burli has developed a strong customer base around the world, especially in our home country of Canada.  We are fortunate enough to work with broadcasters of all sizes from coast to coast.

We wanted to take the time to talk to one of our key customers, Bell Media, and find out how they use Burli Newsroom, and why.  We dropped in on Chris Larke and John Bollwitt in Bell Media’s Vancouver studios for their feedback.

Larke and Bollwitt are both part of the engineering team that supports Bell Media’s multiple TV and Radio presences in Vancouver.  They are part of the dynamic group that powers CTV, the TSN sports talk stations, Virgin Radio, and QMFM.  As part of such a busy team, they rely on Burli to get them through their broadcast day.

Relying on key Burli strengths such as sharing data and stories across all of Canada makes it a good choice for an operation of their size and scope, and improved workflows that suit them perfectly just cement the deal.  Let’s look at how Burli gets applied with Bell Media.

Getting Started

Burli was installed at Bell Media in late 2015 to modernize and streamline their approach to sharing resources across their network.  Due to a high local influx of young talent from BCIT, “They’re very familiar with Burli already”, says Larke.  “So when we got Burli in here a year ago, they were very happy… There was a familiarity and they were just ready to go.”  Larke’s own exposure to Burli went back to the days when the software shipped on diskettes, so his comfort level with supporting Burli at Bell Media was also high.

Now having had the system on board for more than a year, they’ve found themselves using it heavily in several key areas of their radio business.  Burli is used most notably for the group’s sports talk broadcasts, but it’s also frequently used on their music stations for quick and reliable call recording and editing. They also use Burli to bring in traditional newswires, including the Canadian Press, and many RSS feeds to bolster their coverage of the major sports leagues.

Iain McLetchie at Bell Media using Burli Newsroom to create great sports programming

The best thing a software company can hear is that its product is stable and easy to use, something Bell Media has made mention of since taking Burli on.

Burli on the Air at Bell Media

The team uses Burli’s multi-track audio editor to add tops and tails, and then send the audio to air, podcasts, and websites quickly and easily.  They use the built-in Audio Logger to create much of their content, going back to pull key highlights out – even as it’s still being recorded –  something Larke says they’re doing more and more of.

The TSN sports guys in particular are using the logger heavily in their show prep.  “They come in before their show, sit down at Burli, because the producer… [of the] Vancouver Canucks games will cut every single goal… from the logger…  Snip, title, put it into the bank”, explains Bollwitt.  These clips are easily found, referenced, and put to use.

These functions are fast and simple, they say, which makes it easy to publish content to the listening audience, however it chooses to do that listening.

Coast to Coast

Where Burli and Bell Media really come together, though, is sharing media across the country.  Bell Media has a presence in every major market in Canada, and needed a way to share content across locations.  Burli fit the bill.

Individual TSN sister stations have exclusive rights to their local NHL teams, but share clips across the network.  This is an important part of how the sports side of the business functions across Canada.  And when set up with WideOrbit (Bell Media’s radio automation system), dispatching audio makes workflow much simpler.  “Your efficiencies increase tenfold”, says Bollwitt.

Bell Media also updates and maintains Burli centrally at a corporate level, which means there is more coordination for updates, Larke explains. When new features are rolled out in Burli, Bell Media can launch them internally to all locations at once, reducing confusion and improving workflows.

Keeping it Going

The system has been very stable since its installation, says Larke.  “It’s been very stable.  We had our own growing pains, but when we figured out it was a hardware issue on our side, everything stabilized…  After that, it was…” Bollwitt starts, but Larke finishes: “Rock solid”.

And on the few occasions when Bell Media has had to call Burli for support, he says, the support has been very fast and very helpful.  “We really haven’t had to, which is the beautiful part of it, but… anytime that we call you guys, [we get help] right away!” says Larke.

Should we discuss your business and station goals? Fill out the simple form below and we will be in touch shortly about your request.

Request Form

The Stuph File Program – Episode #0439


Welcome to the latest edition of the Stuph File Program.

For a program list of the items included and all their accompanying links in this one hour show, you can find the information on my website in the Stuph File Program section, or just follow this link to #0439.

To download the podcast, right click here and select “Save Link As”

Featured in this episode:

Click logo for iTunes podcast subscription If you have any comments or suggestions, or items for the mailbag, feel free to click on the “Comments” link below to add your thoughts.