Westwood One, America's leading provider of programming content and information, supplies over 150 news, sports, music, talk, entertainment programs, features, live events and 24/7 Formats. Through its subsidiaries, Metro Networks/Shadow Broadcast Services, Westwood One provides local content to the radio and TV industries including news, sports, weather, traffic, video news services and other information. Westwood One serves more than 7,700 radio stations. More than 100 million adults throughout the U.S. on more than 2000 radio stations and TV affiliates hear Metro/Shadow. Westwood One uses an iSeries and LANSA Web based solution to provide weekly advertising schedules to radio stations and to collect affidavit information on how well these schedules were followed. The solution processes over 250 million transactions each year and replaces a massive paper based system.
Donn Amendolair, Director Data Processing Westwood One, says, "The Web solution is more convenient for both us and our affiliated radio stations. We save time on both sides and don't have to deal with a mountain of paper anymore. Since the solution was implemented for all radio stations, we are saving more than one million dollars a year."
We saved about three million dollars over the last two years
Radio stations that are affiliated with Westwood One are contracted to carry syndicated programs like Don Imus, the Ozgood file, Dan Rather Reporting, Ask Martha (with Martha Stewart), Larry King Live, Loveline and other news, talk & personality shows. Westwood One also owns the radio rights for the NFL, NHL, NCAA and other sporting events. The radio stations broadcast these shows live or from tape. News, sport, special events and weather and traffic reports are normally aired live.
"Network commercials need to be run during these programs for radio stations to meet their obligations under their compensation plans," explains Amendolair. "Radio stations have different commercial loads and may air anywhere between 30 to 1,700 commercials a week. We send the stations an affidavit telling them their broadcasting schedule for the coming week. The schedule would tell the stations the shows and commercials they are contracted to carry and the dates and times they are contracted to air the commercials."
"After a broadcasting week we would collect the corrected schedules (or affidavits) from the stations to find out how well they carried out the broadcast schedule. There are various reasons for them not to carry the commercials as contracted. There may be technical difficulties, or maybe they took the commercial out and carried it at a different time as some radio stations have contracts that allow them to carry a commercial any time they want."
"The radio stations need to report to us when in the week they actually carry the commercials. Obviously there are financial consequences. The advertisers need to know what our scorecard is and we use the information for the radio station compensation plan."
"A schedule was provided to a station in advance of the air-week and an affidavit after the week it had aired. It was the station's obligation to fill-out and return the affidavit to the network where it was collected and scanned, transforming the paper affidavit to electronic medium. And with 7,500 radio stations this created enormous print jobs prior to a broadcasting week and enormous volumes of paper to be scanned after a broadcasting week. Mailing costs were between $2 and $3 per envelope just for postage, not including the cost of manual labor involved in handling such massive amounts of paper."
"We wanted something more convenient for the radio stations and ourselves, but more than anything else we wanted to reduce our costs."
There aren't many solutions that can handle thousands of users and 250 million database records
Westwood One decided to use the Internet to exchange affidavit information with its affiliated radio stations to reduce the inefficiencies of the paper-based system. Amendolair explains why he looked for an iSeries based eBusiness solution.
"Altogether we get about 250 million affidavit records per year. There aren't many NT Web servers that can handle the interaction between thousands of users and 250 million database records. Most of our core system is written for the iSeries and it made sense to extend our existing iSeries affidavit system to the Web," continues Amendolair.
"I wanted something that would allow us to put our system on the Web quickly, and without having to make a change to my legacy system. LANSA fulfilled all that. Unlike other tools that I looked at, LANSA was easy to integrate with existing systems. We didn't have to change the operational system or replicate data."
"The main reason we chose LANSA was that the same code can run on multiple platforms. LANSA applications can run on the Web or on our iSeries depending on a simple compile type option. OK, there is more involved to it to make it look good, but you can get a page on the Web in minutes."
"I have since been reading pages of WebSphere documentation. It looks very powerful, but also has a long learning curve. I am pleased that LANSA leverages WebSphere's power, but hides the complexity."
"Once we got approval for the Web project, we ordered an AS/400e model 720 and LANSA Canada started with the development. Most of the application was finished before the machine arrived. I think your guys are great and very professional. The whole project went smooth. The hardest thing was to get the T1 lines to this building."
Most of the application was finished before the machine arrived
"Our New York headquarters was stunned at how fast and effective the implementation of the Web affidavit system was. The stations needed hardly any training. We just mailed them the URL of the site with the instructions to push 'Register' and sign up. For the most part stations were on and in before we even knew it."
"Within a month of going live we had 1,300 radio stations using the system. In that first month I received support requests from about thirty stations, but that is nothing if you think that over a thousand stations were using the system for the first time. Now, two years later, I get less than one support call a month."
"Now all our 7,500 affiliated radio stations are using the system. Our company policy is that radio stations signing up to be affiliated with us, must use the Web site. We no longer use the paper forms."
"The timeframes for delivering schedules to the radio stations have been reduced. The Web affidavit system save us time because we don't need to print, mail or scan any documents. We can now get the schedules to the radio stations earlier, and get the updated affidavits back quicker."
"The stations can fill out their affidavit on the Web faster than they did on the paper form, increasing the efficiency at the radio station. So there is the convenience factor for the radio stations as well. It is a win-win."
"But most of all we have reduced ours costs. The solution paid for itself in the first six months. Since we have all processes in place, we saved about three million dollars over the last two years. That is more than a million dollars per year. This is counting the savings of improved labor efficiency and postage."
The solution paid for itself in the first six months
"Based on the success of the Web affidavit system, we are now looking at implementing a similar Web solution at Metro Networks as well. Metro Networks does the local traffic reports. The person who reads the traffic report also reads the scheduled commercial. Their affidavit functionality is similar and we expect significant savings."
"We may extend the solution with LANSA Integrator and use XML to merge our traffic gathering system with the affidavit Web system. This would mean that the traffic report and the scheduled commercial are merged on the same Web pages from which the traffic report is being read."
"We may also look at using Wireless technology to push traffic reports to people's palmtop or mobile phone."
"We plan to continue to use iSeries in these new technologies as well. We use a small model 720 (level P10) to support our operational system and our Web site. The system has more than 600 concurrent users at most times, and rarely less than 300 concurrent users. The system is always available and the performance is consistently good," concludes Amendolair.
We don't have to deal with a mountain of paper anymore
Company and System Information
- Westwood One provides over 150 news, sports, music, talk, entertainment programs, features, live events and 24/7 Formats. Through its subsidiaries, Metro Networks/Shadow Broadcast Services, Westwood One provides local content to the radio and TV industries including news, sports, weather, traffic, video news services and other information. SmartRoute Systems manages traffic information centers for state and local departments of transportation, and markets traffic and travel content to wireless, Internet, in-vehicle navigation systems and voice portal customers. Westwood One serves more than 7,700 radio stations. Westwood One is managed by Infinity Broadcasting Corporation.
Gross Revenue in the year 2000 was $644.8 million dollars. Westwood One, Inc. is managed by Infinity Broadcasting Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Viacom, Inc. Westwood One has its headquarters in New York and offices in over 80 major cities.
For more information visit: www.westwoodone.com
- Westwood One uses an iSeries model 720 2032 for both its operational system and the Web solution. The system has more than 600 concurrent users at most times, and rarely less than 300 concurrent users.