As a strong voice in the areas outside of Toronto, Durham Radio has been providing a critical aspect of the news that the stations in the larger GTA area can’t – local content.
“We’re in the pool with the big guys”, says Doug Kirk, President and founding member of Durham Radio, of their position as a group of stations based in and around the suburbs outside Toronto (Oshawa, Hamilton, and Caledonia). Differentiation of content by providing a local aspect to the news quickly became critical to their success.
Having started in 1994 with a single AM station, and then having grown to five member stations over the course of 23 years, Kirk has seen a lot of change during his time. In order to survive so near to the Greater Toronto Area, he wanted to grow Durham in a way that allowed it to be effective across a considerable geography surrounding the largest broadcast market in Canada. So how did they do that?
Doing it the Old Way
Saddled with a frustrating workflow, Kirk worked with his team to drive a new way for Durham’s member stations to create and share their news, and keep local ears on local radio. The news process at Durham used to involve paper – a lot of paper – and recording of newscasts to physical media, such as mini disc.
Dealing with static media was quickly becoming a problem. It’s possible to create great news that way, but not so easy to share it – which was one of Durham’s chief goals. They wanted to create news that was too small for the larger media companies in Toronto to chase directly, and share it among their member stations as the company grew. Their existing method was an inflexible way of creating content, and also made it very difficult to cover shifts for absent staff. They “really wanted to modernize… and Burli came onto the radar”.
They saw Burli Newsroom’s ability to digitally store and share their news content as key, and decided to use this capability to win within their market. Kirk describes Durham as “proud to have… highly, intensively local news content”, and wanted to have lots of interoperability within their stations to take advantage of that. Plus, Burli “allowed us to save a lot of trees” he says with a laugh, adding “it allowed us to be a lot more flexible in getting the content to work”.
Change and Challenge
During our interview, Kirk first described the implementation of Burli as being not easy, and presenting challenges. But he quickly followed that up by saying it was the human factor involved in change, not any technical issues around Burli, that presented the issue (the early reaction was “It doesn’t have any paper? Oh my God!”). The installation was smooth, and he never heard about any major issues. “The implementation team was pretty flawless… it worked really well!” Now his news team couldn’t conceive of doing anything with paper.
“It’s a high payback for the time invested in learning the system that they could do their jobs a lot more efficiently”, Kirk said of the news staff as they learned Burli. “They got a good return on investment on the time they spent on the system… They were just thrilled with it. A month later they were all high-fiving!”
In fact, they added their latest installation of Burli at their newest Caledonia station just last year, and “It’s proving its value again”. Nothing like a happy customer, continuing to succeed!