In June, netmix® CEO Tony Zeoli began touting the release of the company’s Radio Station PRO plug-in. It would offer an improved experience over the free version its team had maintained since 2019. Late last month, the company officially launched its commercial offering, a plan that had been in the works from the start.
The commercial plugin was designed for live audio broadcasters with a continuous broadcast schedule. Its audience ranges from radio stations and live streamers to Clubhouse moderators. It allows listeners to browse generated show and team pages, playlists and related information without interruption during a live broadcast. The goal is to create a more efficient programming and streaming system, saving broadcasters time and resources.
Nikki Blight created the original Radio Station plugin but stopped working on it in 2015. Zeoli adopted it in 2019 and chose Tony Hayes to manage its development.
“When I first stumbled upon Radio Station at WPVM, I saw the potential of broadcasters wrapped up in a free plugin that had been orphaned,” Zeoli said. “It just needed someone who could re-engage and bring it back to life. And it would surely help if they were into radio and streaming, which the other Tony and I both do. I don’t think anyone could have grabbed it. It had to be someone with a passion and interest in space.
The two weren’t launched with a free product. However, Zeoli said he quickly realized the potential of a retail version after taking over the plugin.
PRO plug-in upgrades
The team had several features that they wanted to improve over the free version. The first order of business was to improve the planning experience. For the free plugin, the team created a conflict catcher. However, they have built a front-end visual calendar editor for the retail version.
“Another issue we had to solve was the audio player experience,” Zeoli said. “Radio Station free has a simple audio player widget that we created earlier this year. What really sets the PRO version apart here is the addition of a persistent (or “sticky”) header or footer reader, so when the listener is browsing the website while the stream is activated, playback is not interrupted.
Hayes created a second plugin called Teleporter to handle the persistent player. The free plugin hosted at WordPress.org is built into Radio Station PRO, but it’s open to other developers in their apps.
The team also tried to tackle time zone issues in the world of global broadcasting. PRO adds a selector to help visitors set the schedule to their preferred time zone instead of performing “brain gymnastics,” as Zeoli joked.
The plugin’s widgets automatically refresh and dynamically display data, such as the next song in a playlist or a change in show title. The hope is to bring this technology to the blockade world, but we have to wait until next year. Zeoli said there was no rush as most of their users weren’t there yet.
The team added a new type of episode posting alongside the plugin’s original shows and playlists. Ultimately, they plan to allow broadcasters to further break this down into segments. Radio Station PRO nails the host and producer profile pages. It also has a built-in role manager, extended planning period, and additional layout views.
The fiercest competition in the space is against the commercial themes market. There are several live streaming themes out there, but Zeoli says these can be both prohibitive in the long run and lock users into a design that users may not want in the future.
“With so much data going into post types, you really don’t want to leave that in a theme if you want to change for some reason,” he said. “Unlike SEO plugins, there are no conversion plugins for themes or radio station plugins, so it could be a problem to be locked into a theme instead of having the flexibility of a plugin. independent of the theme. “
From Boston to Asheville: a life of radio
“I’m originally from Boston, where my interest in radio evolved early on into a career as a DJ in nightclub and mixing shows,” Zeoli said. “I listened to the radio all the time; news, discussions, sports and music, I was in it all. As I got older I tune into college radio and as a high school student I was lucky enough to intern at a local AM station and did guest mixes on the biggest commercial station, KISS 108.
He received a two-year degree in radio and television broadcasting from a small school outside of New York City. Then I returned home to Boston focusing on DJing while working in record stores. He went on to work for a record company and a DJ remix service.
“It was the early days of the World Wide Web,” Zeoli said. “And I saw the opportunity to marry my passion for DJing with streaming media and I launched my first startup, netmix.com, which was the first effort to broadcast DJ sets of popular electronic music and hip-hop DJs. “
He moved netmix® to New York and the company was acquired by Polyverse, Inc. in 2000. The company went out of business during the dot-com crash, but Zeoli retained the domain name for 19 years.
After bouncing between various companies and startups, he dove deeper into WordPress. He had stumbled upon it while working on a project for the Associated Press in 2003.
“This led to the launch of Digital Strategy Works, a WordPress and digital strategy agency (which I still run today), the founding of the WordPress Westchester Meetup and a presentation at the first WordCamps in New York and Raleigh, in North Carolina.”
A chance encounter in Raleigh landed him a specific WordPress job at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He then worked at a large corporation and eventually migrated to Asheville, North Carolina.
“I came back to radio to re-engage and merge my love of broadcasting with DJing with a new mixing show, the Asheville House Music Society,” Zeoli said. “I was definitely getting back into the rhythm of broadcast and streaming.”
In the spring of 2019, he had helped with the WPVM website, which used the radio station’s original plugin. He contacted Blight, the owner, after discovering a theme conflict. He quickly embraced the project, found a partner in Hayes, and had a new use for his decades-old estate.
“I just thought this was a very useful plugin and I could see the revolutionary potential of radio stations that really needed a full set of WordPress tools to help them publish search engine optimized content. on their WordPress websites, but in a way that matches the station’s schedule. formatting, ”Zeoli said. “I figured that, given my interest and decades of experience in streaming and broadcasting, combined with my experience developing agile products, I might find a way to continue. “