BORDEAUX, France — AirZen, the first “100% positive” radio station dedicated to wellness, and the only new national French radio station licensed by the CSA in 20 years, launched on Oct. 12, 2021. It was the brainchild of Mediameeting Group founders, Anne-Marie de Couvreur, Frédéric Courtine and Jean-Louis Simonet, as an incentive to help French people live better.
AirZen set up its main facility in Bordeaux to broadcast on the DAB+ M1 Multiplex that covers the area from Paris to Nice, including Dijon, Lyon, Marseille and Avignon. Towercast and TDF are its broadcast operators, and it also streams via the web. For its DAB+ broadcasting, the encoding starts from the offices in Bordeaux and is sent via optical fiber by Towercast to the Paris headend.
“No national radio had been created for a long time, so the AirZen founding partners had a vision as to the relevance of such a medium, especially in the face of COVID-19, which has changed our world,” says Maxime Paillé, Mediameeting Group technical director of audio and managing technical director for AirZen Radio.
The station follows a mainly talk format, with 70% talk and the balance being “emotional” music. It also carries over 300 podcasts per week focused on better living and working.
For its Bordeaux operations, AirZen chose Wheatstone L-12-EQ and L-8-EQ consoles for its two on-air studios and RØDECaster consoles for its two recording booths. The entire audio architecture uses the AoIP WheatNET IP ecosystem. Mediameeting Group also uses the system on all its FM stations.
The Issy-les-Moulineaux editorial office has a studio equipped with a Wheatstone Sideboard and two recording booths identical to those in Bordeaux.
“We have installed the Tieline codecs, but not yet used them to their full capacity. They include a Gateway 4, a ViA portable codec, a Bridge-IT XTRA and Report-IT licenses for reporters in the field. We use Gateway4 and Bridge-IT for live feeds between Issy and Bordeaux,” says Paillé. “We will develop these as the station expands. We chose technically scalable systems,” he adds.
Although AirZen is largely a talk station, the music is important. It’s not front of mind, but part of the broader wellness soundscape. “For sound processing, we chose Sound4 Impact because we didn’t want an aggressive sound, but instead one respecting the dynamics of sounds,” explains Paillé. “The DAB+ revolution makes it possible for us to create a less exhausting signal, which is also much more pleasant for the listener.”
A new tool with RCS
RCS Zetta and GSelector broadcast software are central to AirZen’s automation programming. “With RCS, our web agency and our digital team, we have set up a new tool that enables journalists to enter their reports right into the back end of the website,” explained Paillé.
“They can transmit the audio and associated data into the RCS Zetta/GSelector database as well as on our digital platforms with one click. “This unified automated system avoids duplication and provides a significant advantage by simplifying the tasks of journalists, digital and programming teams responsible for the over 300 new content pieces we provide per week.”
“This unified automated system avoids duplication and provides a significant advantage.”Maxime Paillé
The station restricts the volume of advertisements to only four minutes per hour, with the aim to create a new economic model based on the involvement of partnering companies to support the project. “The launch of AirZen was a significant investment and could benefit from the synergies and power of Mediameeting Group,” says Paillé.
Challenges and teamwork
One of the biggest challenges for the station is managing the sheer volume of associated data for the programming it provides, including images and information, across all its channels — web, mobile and digital radio.
“AirZen Radio is a Pure Player DAB+, and we are the first in France to fully exploit this new standard, as this is our only over-the-air broadcast channel. We also had to work fast! Everyone was responsive and helpful, such as SAVE Diffusion and RCS for team training. We haven’t lost any time. The launch of a national radio station only happens once in a lifetime,” concludes Paillé.
This historic launch of AirZen, with its “100% positive” theme, mobilized the energy and enthusiasm of all the partners, including the Mediameeting teams, installers and technical service providers. It is a unique project truly dedicated to its listeners’ well-being.