Maverick Chooses Inovonics 730
ROCKFORD, Ill. — As part of a recent transmitter upgrade, Maverick
Media of Rockford decided to add RDS capability to two of our stations,
WXRX(FM) and its HD2 (AM station WNTA). Though far from a new standard, the
technology finally seems to be gaining some maturity and RBDS-capable receivers
have gained some respectable market penetration, so the time seemed right for
us to break into datacasting.
Using the maxim “if it’s
worth doing, it’s worth doing well,” we opted for Inovonics 730 RDS encoders,
which appeared to offer the best package of capabilities available on the
Though I have no history
with comparable products, my hands-on experience with these units seems to bear
out our initial impression.
One useful feature of
these units is that they do not rely exclusively on serial input to receive
data. They will connect to a network and can be addressed by IP. This has
turned out to be crucial for our installation, as the point-to-point IP
connection to our transmitter site works quite well but the method we’d planned
to use to establish serial communications over that link was not
Each 730 unit can use
three ports simultaneously, two for TCP connections and one for UDP
connectionless communication, so I can use the included software to retrieve
and/or change settings on either unit without interfering with its regular
updates by other software, or multiple servers can send independent updates
It’s difficult to
evaluate these units independently of the software that updates them, however.
While the included program is excellent for modifying settings and setting
static messages (including a default message to use if the data feed is
interrupted) via USB or IP, it would be impossible to keep up with “now playing”
information or spot-triggered sponsorship messages.
These units included a
trial version of Center Stage software from Arctic Palm, which was able to do
this, as well as set RadioText Plus tags for the artist and album fields, and
to download, parse and send regular weather updates to one of the encoders.
We selected Broadcast
Electronics’ The Radio Experience program instead, favoring its user interface.
It also allows management of scheduled and triggered messages through a website,
whereas CS required users to install a program and connect directly to our
neither of these programs seems capable of using the full features of the 730
encoder; e.g. neither can set RT+ tags like program host and station name for
our talk station, though it’s possible to do so by sending the appropriate
command to the unit. The 730s are the most capable devices in our datacasting
chain, with features waiting unused for now.
As another example, our EAS
units are able to send alert messages that supersede regular messages, but
required an update to do so, which was not available when we installed them a
few months ago. That confidence in the devices’ future capabilities has made
them well worth the investment, especially since Inovonics’ technical support
has been eager to assist with every new application we have attempted.
Jerry Mitchell works in engineering/IT for Maverick Media of
For information, contact Lukas Hurwitz at Inovonics in California at (831)
458-0552 or visit www.inovonicsbroadcast.com.