Nautel started with a handful of pioneers adapting new technology to tackle broadcasters’ biggest transmission challenges. It is now one of the biggest names in the business; but, as John Whyte, Nautel’s head of marketing, explains, that pioneering spirit remains.
RedTech: Where do you see opportunities to secure the future of radio?
John Whyte: A major theme at Nautel is “Worry-Free Transmission.” That means our employees and products are oriented to take the worry off the backs of broadcasters where we can. We strive to deliver products that work reliably for years and back them with a proven support team that knows what broadcasters are going through in those crunch moments at a transmitter site.
We’re working hard to use innovation to take the complexity out of transmission. An example would be our current work to minimize the number of fixed-purpose boxes in the air chain and move more functionality to flexible and resilient software implementations.
RedTech: What inspires your company to innovate?
Whyte: It’s just part of our DNA. Five decades ago, our company was a garage-type start-up. Our founders applied high power transistors — quite novel at the time — to transmit in the world’s most demanding locations and climates. That was the start of our innovation culture, which continues through each successive generation of engineering talent at Nautel. Further inspiration comes from the passion and energy of our customers approaching the challenges of their roles.
We’ve seen the difference control and user interface technology makes for broadcast engineers in understanding what is going on with their transmitters, diagnosing problems, and fixing them fast; and in doing so, maybe enjoying more time with family and friends. It’s rewarding for our employees to see their efforts making a difference.
RedTech: How do/es your product/s make radio increasingly resilient, relevant and competitive?
Whyte: Early in my career, I was inspired by Joel Birnbaum, a Hewlett Packard researcher who talked a lot about using technology’s power to hide its complexity. To that end, Nautel puts a lot of intelligence into its products. Intelligence layers in our transmitters help engineers and our support staff understand any issues occurring, and why.
Intelligence layers in our transmitters help engineers and our support staff understand any issues occurring, and why.
I mentioned our investments in control systems, remote monitoring and user interfaces to help simplify the ownership of transmitters. We anticipate that software implementations of the air chain will be a game-changer for our industry as functions like audio processing or digital coding are implemented on resilient servers or even in the cloud. We’re also passionate supporters of digital transmission, whether it’s DAB+, DRM, or HD Radio.
RedTech: How do you imagine radio by the end of this century?
Whyte: It’s challenging to predict the trends of the next 10–20 years, let alone into the next century. However, there is one enduring characteristic of radio that we can all rally around: the connection and service it provides to our listeners and communities.
Maybe there will be many changes ahead in how “radio” content is transported, but I feel strongly that the fundamental format and value of radio will continue for years to come.
This Q&A was published in the special edition, The Innovators. Read the entire issue here.