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The Stuph File Program – Episode #0500

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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 #0500.



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

Featured in this episode:


  • Jed Allen, actor, Beverly Hills, 90210
  • Clint Masse, creator — Guinness World Record Snow Maze
  • Stuart Nulman, Book Banter

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.

The Stuph File Program – Episode #0499

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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 #0499.



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.

The Biggest Cause of Listener Tune Out Is Confusion!

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As human beings, we all respond to simplicity, clarity and familiarity. When we can’t understand what’s happening, we run for cover. Confusion is stressful, and we avoid stress. This has profound implications for radio shows.

Personalities and programmers agonize over cracking the ratings code, constantly seeking to find a magic formula that launches their station to new heights. The quest usually includes endless tweaking of clocks, adjusting format execution and building in hooks designed to keep the audience listening longer.

But the key to ratings success isn’t quite so complicated. There are six things that cause listener tune out. Eliminate or reduce tune out, and ratings go up. And the most common reason listeners tune out is confusion. And that comes from three sources.

3 Ways to Reduce Listener Confusion

The problem with confusion is that most broadcasters don’t realize the content is confusing.

First, they don’t listen nearly as much as we think they do. Recent studies show the average length of tune in has dropped to 7-8 minutes per occasion.

But even declining TSL isn’t the biggest contributing factor.  Listeners aren’t paying nearly as much attention as we would like. Listening to the radio is mostly a background experience. They’re usually actively engaged in many other foreground activities that take up more of their attention.

And they constantly button-punch. They jump from one station to another. Many times, they don’t even know what station they’re listening to.

When visiting clients, I usually Uber to and from stations. Recently, on a 30 minute drive from the airport to a meeting, the driver had my client’s morning show on. After about 20 minutes, I asked what station she was listening to. She gave me the wrong answer. I asked about my client’s morning show (the one she was listening to) and she said,

yeah, they’re okay but I don’t listen to them much. I like this show a lot better.

Okay! The listener was confused. Now you may not think that’s a big deal because it’s a PPM market and if the driver had a meter, they’d get credit. But here’s the problem. When listeners can’t recall the station, the chance of getting them back for additional occasions is greatly reduced.

That’s why it’s so important to reduce confusion. Here are three ways to do it.

Reset The Scene

Since the audience constantly tunes in and out, reset the scene as often as possible. You can’t possibly do this too much. It doesn’t have to be a long reset, but it has to be clear.

That’s why television shows often begin a new episode with highlights from earlier shows. It reminds viewers of what has happened in the story so the viewer isn’t confused. Television does it, and that’s a foreground medium.

Mojo in the Morning has been a market leader in Detroit for decades. His show is well constructed and easy to understand. It’s loaded with benchmarks and features that help with recall.

Mojo realizes that reducing listener confusion is a primary key to TSL. He understands the importance of resetting topics in each break so listeners can follow what’s happening on the air. He says:

You cannot rehash enough what you are doing at a particular time. As tedious as it sounds, it’s important to consistently re-explain your regular benchmarks. Re-explain who the characters are. It’s especially important to re-introduce characters and benchmarks after summer and vacations for new cume as well as for those who may not have heard the show for awhile.

Manage The Microphones

Another common cause of tune out is when voices compete for attention on the air. Listeners have a hard time sorting out who’s talking, especially when personalities talk over one another.

In the studio, it doesn’t feel like a big deal, but it’s a very different environment than listening to the radio. In the studio, we can see one another. Secondary and tertiary voices enter the conversation and it’s easy to follow because we can see it.

When the conversation starts to get animated, we can sort out who is talking because we have eye contact. But listeners are blind. They can’t see you. It’s an entirely different experience.

So when personalities talk on top of one another or an unfamiliar voice enters the segment,  the audience is confused. And when they’re confused, they tune out.

That’s why it’s important for the show’s host to manage the on-air traffic flow.

At KISW/Seattle, BJ and Migs have an eight person cast. Shea manages the show’s flow by applying the Rule of 3 to reduce the potential of audience confusion. Shea says:

WE USE THE RULE OF THREE, WITH ONLY THREE PEOPLE ON MIC AT A TIME. PLAYERS ARE SIGNALED OR INVITED IN RATHER THAN HAVING AN OPEN MIC. WE ALWAYS NAME CHECK THE PLAYER THAT COMES INTO THE CONVERSATION. HAVING NO MORE THAN THREE PEOPLE ON MIC AT ONCE PREVENTS TALKING OVER EACH OTHER AND BECOMING A CIRCUS.

If you’re on a show with a large cast of characters, try it. And remember that when listeners are on the air, they become part of the cast. So introduce them.

Many personalities have been trained to go cold into phone calls, editing directly to the listener’s first comment. That saves a couple of seconds but the audience is confused. Who is this person? Why are they on the air? Where did they come from?

Unfamiliar Voices

We like what we know. That’s a universal truth. It’s why we go to the same coffee shops, take the same route to and from work and listen to the same songs. Familiar is comfortable. Unfamiliar is stressful.

This is true with radio personalities, too. Believe me, your audience is not nearly as familiar with air talent as we give them credit for. And that goes for the main personalities that have been on for years as well as secondary and tertiary voices.

Whether it’s a big or small crew, be sure to name tag the show often. This is easy to do, but we overlook it way too much. It’s repetitive and tedious. It’s also critically important.

I work with a show that has five characters, all males. Their personalities vary but it’s very hard for listeners to sort the voices. Even with name-tagging, it’s hard to keep track of who’s who especially with the three guys that aren’t primary names on the show brand.

So in addition to following the Rule of 3, we’re working on identifying roles and personality traits in dialogue.

In a meeting, they asked how long we needed to go out of our way to introduce each character. The answer: It never stops. Ever. For one thing, we must constantly introduce new listeners to the show. For another, 50% of existing listeners tune in for less than 2.5 minutes per day. They know little about you. Introducing personalities and character traits never ends.

Conclusion

Confusion is a real thing, and it happens far more frequently than you think. It’s the #1 reason for listener tune out. It adds stress to the listening experience.

When there’s too much stress, buttons are pushed. And when buttons are pushed, TSL is lost. And the great danger today is that distracted listeners are less likely to remember to come back.

These are just three common causes for confusion. There are others, but fix these first. It’s a fundamental key to winning the ratings battle.

 

The Stuph File Program – Episode #0498

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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 #0498.



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.

The Stuph File Program – Episode #0497

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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 #0497.



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.

The Stuph File Program – Episode #0496

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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 #0496.



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

Featured in this episode:


  • Ivan Obolensky, author, Eye of the Moon
  • Jillian Clare, actress & producer, Pretty Broken
  • Ernie Smith, Tedium — history of the suggestion box

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.

The Stuph File Program – Episode #0495

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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 #0495.

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.

Why I Love Air Personalities: And Why You Should, Too

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Man, I love air personalities. Working with air talent is one of the most rewarding and exciting things I’ve ever done, and I have had the privilege to meet and work with some of the most amazing personalities in the world. And most of them are among the most interesting people you could possibly meet.

As a talent coach working with hundreds of air personalities, it’s a privilege to sort through the challenges in so many formats and markets. It makes life interesting!

Here are 9 reasons I love air personalities.

They Throw Talent Fits

Talent is typically volatile and their personality causes them to be excitable, extreme and over-the-top.  When they throw a talent fit, it feels like the apocalypse is happening. There’s a ton of energy coming from a place of passion (and insecurity). It’s energizing. And it’s exhausting.

Then it’s over. It usually passes pretty quickly.

This is healthy. When air personalities are repressed and keep things bottled up, it’s like a volcano. When the pressure gets too high, they blow their top! It’s much easier to manage and better for everyone involved when it happens in shorter, less extreme outbursts.

If you’re a PD, manager or talent coach, take a deep breath. Let it out. Now step back and don’t over-react. Chances are it’ll be better tomorrow and you’ll laugh about it together.

If not, fix it then.

When They Discover Something New

When personalities find a new way to connect to their audience, it’s better than a new flavor of ice cream or a new toy.

It’s even more fun when it’s something they’ve been working on for awhile, and the light suddenly comes on. That’s when they run into your office and excitedly tell you that they “figured something out”. Then they proceed to explain their discovery. And you realize it’s exactly what you’ve been telling them for weeks. Almost word for word.

Don’t compete for credit. Everyone learns at their own pace and in their own time. When they discover it for themselves, it sticks! Don’t deflate that excitement by trying to take way their glory!

Their Ego…and Their Fear

Many programmers try to bring down the ego and minimize their fear. This is a mistake. Most air personalities can’t win without both ego and fear.

On Wall Street, traders say stocks are driven by greed and fear. Air talent is kind of like that.

Great personalities are driven by a deep desire to be popular and famous. They love being on the air because it attracts attention! It’s ego driven. That ego needs to be fed.

It also must be managed. When programming my stations, I felt that I spent at least half my time building up the confidence (ego) of my talent and the other half managing their fear.

Fear is a powerful force. A little of it is healthy. It keeps them inspired and motivated to perform. Sweaty palms can be a good thing. But when fear is out of control, personalties tend to freeze. Air talent overwhelmed with fear can’t perform.  This is when they need to be supported and understood.

Managing ego and fear take time and patience. The most important thing a PD can do is develop a trusted relationship. Do that, and difficult discussions from ego and fear are much easier.

Enthusiasm

Air personalities are naturally curious. When they become interested in something, there’s a childlike enthusiasm for it. Some call it immaturity. I call it a fun, youthful, charming and curious way of looking at the world.

And it’s contagious.

Jeff and Jer used to say (one the air):

You can only be young once, but you can be immature forever.

That’s pretty much it, right there.

Programmers and managers: Never, ever, ever suppress this trait. It’s like watching as child’s innocence taken away.

But you do need to direct it, focus it and help them channel it through their personality brand. Let them play. Just make sure they play in the yard!

Sensitivity

You already know air talent is sensitive because you’ve been in critique meetings with them. But when you understand them, it makes sense.

Great talent reveals their personal characteristics to listeners every single day. They fly without a net for 3-5 hours a day.mAnd the really good ones reveal things about their personal lives that causes them to be  vulnerable.

Then they pick up the phone, answer an email or check social media and someone is angry at them. Or disappointed. Thats hard. None of us like to be criticized, and when talent gets a complaint, it’s personal. That’s why they’re highly sensitive.

It’s a hard job.

Personalities need to know their talent coach/PD is a fan and has their back. And they’re already volatile and vulnerable folks.

Psychologists say it takes 9 compliments to offset one criticism. That’s why I recommend PD’s spend most of their time finding a good reason to praise talent. They thrive on positive feedback.

Testing Authority

I love air personalities because they challenge boundaries and guidelines. Constantly. A PD sets a talk break limit at 90 seconds, and in a week or two, they’re pushing two minutes. Set it for 2 minutes and it’s 2:30.

Tell them they have to play two songs between stop sets and you can guarantee one. Get into the stop set no later than 7:55, and they’ll be in around 7:57.

Look, they’re not deliberately violating the rules. They just don’t understand the rules. Or they do, but can’t figure out why it’s important. Or maybe they’re testing you to find out what will happen.

Somewhere deep down, you know that, don’t you?

Don’t take it personally. Push through it. Explain why your rules are important. If you can’t explain it, maybe the rules aren’t very good. Then, consistently restate the things that are important to the brand.

Work Ethic

Everyone thinks radio personalities are lazy.

After all, they only “work” 3-4 hours a day. Then they go home about the time most of us are firing up a second cup of coffee.

But a lot of blood, sweat and tears goes into a winning radio show, even when most don’t recognize it.

A morning show gets up at 3am, usually is fully engaged until 1 or 2pm, then constantly thinks about tomorrow’s show until they appear again the next day.

Then they do it all over again. This is a hard job. They’re always tired, and it’s not as easy as most folks think. Saying air talent is lazy is like saying an NFL player only works 16 days a year.

We may not fully understand it, but programmers should appreciate it.

Programming

I love when they give their feedback on programming. It shows they’re engaged in the brand. Their ideas aren’t always valid, but usually there’s genius in their input  that can make the entire station come alive.

But you have to nurture it. And most of the time, you have to ask for it.

One of the best tactics a PD can employ is asking the morning show talent their opinion on promotions, contests and major decisions. Showing that respect helps them buy in to the decision. And that can be the difference between just another contest or promotion and an amazing success.

And: The Escape

Isn’t it great that they can’t wait to get out of the station when the show’s over, but can’t wait to come back in the next day and perform all over again?

That’s contagious. I love it.

Conclusion

Personalities make radio come alive. In fact, they make it worthwhile. It wouldn’t be the same without these outrageous, extreme and unpredictable characters. Without them, what’s the point? It’s not really that fun without air talent, is it?

Unfortunately, there just aren’t enough true personalities. There are a lot of announcers. Announcers aren’t nearly as much fun to work with. They work shifts, but don’t perform shows.

If you’re a programmer, air talent holds the key to your future. So maybe it’s time to understand everything about them and become experts in coaching talent.

Maybe I love personalities because they are rare. Or maybe they’re rare because we don’t let them be who they are.

The Stuph File Program – Episode #0494

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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 #0494.



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.

The Stuph File Program – Episode #0493

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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 #0493.



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.

The Stuph File Program – Episode #0492

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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 #0492.



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.

The Stuph File Program – Episode #0491

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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 #0491.



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.

Who’s Ready to Step Up and Fix Commercials On the Radio?

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Radio’s commercial problems continue. The ads have been horrible for awhile now. But it’s becoming a crisis. And at some stations, the ads make up nearly 25% of programming time.

Listeners know we have to play some. They accept that. They’re actually quite forgiving. Even millennials are okay with putting up with some commercials, as I proved in my study on 18-30 year old listeners.

But do the commercials have to be so painful? Do the stop sets have to be so long? Does every station have to break at the same time? It’s time to fix the commercial problems.

Check out this data from NuVooDoo. Their research shows that well over half of listeners to every format think radio commercials either “don’t apply to them” or “don’t sound good”.

This is embarrassing. And frightening.

One of the issues is creative input in production. The copywriters disappeared years ago. They’ve been replaced by account executives writing commercial copy for clients. It’s horrible.

Another is the sheer number of units. As revenue decline, we keep adding more. More avails doesn’t mean more advertisers or bigger budgets. It means lower rates, which opens to the door to a lower class of advertiser. Usually not the ones who have great spots. Radio has become a steady stream of per-inquiry ads, mattress stores and pawn shops. And it’s horrible.

A third issue is the tendency of each station to schedule stop sets at exactly the same time. I know they’re trying to game the ratings system, but what we’re really doing is running listeners off the medium. One station plays commercials. The audience tries to escape the pain, and all other choices are playing the same spots.

And I haven’t even mentioned the 15, 18 or 20 (or more) minutes of commercials running every hour.

Opportunity?

Listeners respond less to radio advertising than ever before. Perhaps it’s because they’ve become conditioned to the endless drone of bad ads. Or they’re immune to disruptive advertising of all types.

But we have an opportunity to turn this trend around.

While more and more ad dollars have been leaving traditional media, online advertising is benefiting. But there’s a backlash in the ad community and digital is getting hammered for similar reasons. There are too many ads, they’re not very good and their main advantage has been compromised. It turns out digital ads aren’t as accountable as we have been led to believe.

Video and audio pre-rolls are in our face, but don’t necessarily get viewed. Click bait ads luring clicks where we don’t intend to go, but don’t convert into sales. And hired “bots” that game the system are causing many advertisers to rethink the amount of ad dollars going to digital.

How to Fix the Commercial Problems

It’s not easy to turn our industry around, but now’s the time to take action. Listeners like radio. They really do. Even millennials. In focus groups, they get it that radio has to play spots. They just don’t understand why the commercials suck so much and why there are so many.

Here’s how we can make an impact:

Shorter Stop Sets

Look, I know PPM wisdom suggests longer stop sets and fewer interruptions is better for ratings. But the long-term damage is severe. When we hit that 8 minute break, listeners tune out. Some punch the button physically, but almost all stop listening. And stop responding to the ads. It’s time to rethink the programming clocks.

What will happen when (not if) advertisers suddenly realize that they’re paying for ears on the programming, not on their messages? Frankly, it’s amazing they haven’t figured this out already.

Radio is doing exactly what advertisers are questioning about digital ads. We’re baiting the audience to tune in, but they’re not hearing the ads. We’re making it unlistenable.

We need to reduce stop set length in two ways:

Play fewer spots overall and distribute them differently. Reducing the spot load isn’t just a good idea. It’s a tactic for survival. The industry can’t support the current spot loads. Let’s start by reducing the commercial loads to 6-8 minutes per hour.

And don’t play them in one or two breaks. It may be good for the Nielsen PPM game, but it’s horrible for the art of radio. Not to mention the benefit of our other customers: the advertiser.

What if we played three stop sets per hour of just 2 minutes each? Or three minutes, if you must? Wouldn’t that be promotable to both listeners and advertisers?

Improve The Quality

We have to get better quality in the commercials we air. It’s an emergency. The ads are terrible. They don’t work for the advertiser, and we’re doing a dis-service by pretending they drive response.

Account executives sell a schedule, get the ads on the air, then hide under their desk on Mondays hoping the client doesn’t call to find out why the weekend sale was a bust.

Let’s make a commitment to quality and creativity. Where’s the pride? This alone would help our audience shares.

And while you’re at it, make sure the commercials are relevant at the time they play. It’s becoming more and more common to hear an ad on Wednesday evening about a sale that ended the previous Sunday. Who’s paying attention to the listener experience? Not to mention the advertiser’s interest. You might think it’s not your problem. But it is. It makes us sound out of touch.

Position It

And third, let’s get creative in programming our stations again.

Radio has long battled the “too many commercials” complaint. And we’re not fooling music fans by promising “commercial free” segments. Especially when their Spotify subscription is always commercial free. Radio stations are chasing each other around the clock without regard to the bigger picture.

How about acknowledging that we play commercials, but make a guarantee or promise that we’re not going to be extreme? It wold be refreshing to hear authentic messaging promising short stop sets and limited commercials. And if you want to throw in a couple of commercial free hours each day, go for it! That’s a bonus.

A NuVooDoo study reveals that among likely ratings respondents, playing fewer commercials is highly appealing. Of all the “less commercial” messaging:

“…a claim of playing 50% fewer commercials topped the list – followed very closely by a commercial-free hour. Among those likely not to accept the offer of participating in PPM, 50% fewer commercials is a decisive number one.

Conclusion

There’s so much hand-wringing about the future of radio and the state of the industry. But the solution is pretty clear: Fix radio’s commercial problems by playing fewer commercials, and make them better.

Of course, that sounds simple, and it won’t be without pain. But it’s hard to argue that hanging onto the current model is more about survival than growth.

Until we make substantial changes, we won’t get well. Everything else is just gaming the system. And the audience stopped playing the game long ago.

 

The Stuph File Program – Episode #0490

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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 #0490.



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.

QGoLive Integration with Burli

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QGoLive’s mobile App (iTunesGoogle Play) is a widely-used tool for doing high-quality live shots right off a mobile phone. It also includes scripting, recording and editing tools. Meaning reporters can optionally record their live hits, clean them up a little and file them for later use. Or they can build entire voicers, wraps or simple actuality right on their phones.

QGoLive users can now send their content directly into Burli’s newsroom systems with the click of a single command.

Both Burli Newsroom and Burli NE ingest QGoLive material and make a new story out of it.  The QGoLive stories appear alongside other incoming sources and can immediately be used in news production.

In effect, QGoLive has become another field recorder and editor for Burli.

The QGoLive features are available in Burli Newsroom version 233q and later and Burli NE version 11.4.31 and later.

The good folks at QGoLive have created a simple tutorial on how to file into Burli.

If you have any questions or are interested in how Burli works with QGoLive, or how to configure it in your newsroom, please get in touch!