The Blue Group

1001 Ridge Avenue
Clearwater, Florida 33755

This site and its contents
Site Design by


About Phone Byte
Phone Byte FAQ
A Need for a Better Mousetrap

The Digital Recorder specifically designed to record calls and play them back quickly and easily.

With one simple keystroke or mouse click (your choice) you can Record, Play or quickly locate audio files. Commenting (labeling) is faster than typing a cart label.

This screen also gives you a wealth of information including: Details about each recording such as time and date stamp, duration (both edited and raw).

Single letter markers of "S" or "K" (meaning Specials or Keepers) can be placed on selected files to note importance with one keystroke. These quickly make recordings stand out and are useful for others housekeeping functions.

Our unique editing begins with features you won't find anywhere else. Start Marks and End Marks (which can be inserted while recording) allows instant playback of edited files.

Think of Start Marks as electronic leader tape on the beginning, End Marks as leader tape on the end and Cuts and Splices as an electronic razor blade used anywhere in the middle. All editing Sa Nondestructive and can be changed many time.

With PhoneByte you can group or "Stack" calls to play back one after another or stop in between for your live comments. You simply Click and Drag into the order you want. And with only seconds to spare you can easily rearrange the order of playback.

Our custom Colorized Keyboard with built in Track Ball makes learning PhoneByte a breeze. Colored keys for special functions makes them easy to find and remember. For example the record button is red and says "Record" the Play button is Green and says "Play" other significant keys are likewise coded.

Your personal collection of sound effects or drops can be "assigned" to simple pushbuttons to play any time you touch the button. This feature works with the "F" row buttons on our custom keyboard. Optional keyboards make hundreds of bits ready instantly. Lets face it, often creativity is lost because you can't find the cart in time. The Personal Touch allows playback of those important elements the moment you need them.

Personal touch buttons can be purchases in 60, 176, or 300 button panels. Using more than one panel puts hundreds of drops at your finger tips. The assignments to buttons can be custom for each talent. Removable legend sheets allow a quick label changes as needed. Optional removable hard drive cartridges allow your key personalities to archive recordings. They are also a quick way to carry work to another PhoneByte location for promo production.

PhoneByte interfaced to your console or remote panel. Control inputs allow Play, Record, Stop and some editing and Audition switches wherever you want them. Control Outputs give you relay closures to Turn Off the console channel after play, turn on "Recording" lights , even turn on your cue channel.

Back To Top

PhoneByte FAQ

What is PhoneByte?

PhoneByte is a state of the art digital recorder specifically designed to record phone calls and play them back quickly and easily as needed in today's fast-paced, active radio control room.

We do that now with a reel-to-reel recorder, does PhoneByte do more that just record and play back?

Yes! PhoneByte does more than a reel-to-reel and does it all faster and easier.

There are many digital recorders on the market, can't they all do what I need?

PhoneByte was specifically designed for phone bits when you don't have any time to spare, need help keeping track of all those recordings, and are tired of splicing tape or threading another reel. The following features help tell the story.

Automatic Recording Numbering:
Each time you start a new recording PhoneByte automatically lists the number of the recording. One simple way to remember that great bit is to simply remember the number. You can later search for the recording by simply typing in the number (of course there are other easy ways, too).

Automatic Time and Date:
Just like the recording number PhoneByte records the time and date of each recording allowing you later to search for a particular recording by the time it was made. Example: "Where's that call about the mayor?" (or whatever). If you only remember it was about 8:15 AM you can quickly find that special bit because PhoneByte logged the time automatically.

Quick Notes:
If you wish, you may type a short note about any (or all) recordings which might be as short as the name of a song requested "Moondance" or longer if it serves your needs. And you can "search" for a given recording by this text field if you wish.

Quick Marks:
Sometimes you simply want a mark on screen to show a recording as something special but, you don't have time for more detail than that. One keystroke marks a bit as a "keeper" file and 2 strokes of the same key mark it as a "special". The meaning of these words is whatever you wish it to be, but remember, you can always group the "keepers" or "specials" together on the screen so that you can easily look at or audition just these groups of recordings.

OK, this sounds neat so far but, can I start it from the console just like I do my reel-to-reel?

Of course, PhoneByte allows all of the following to be connected to your console switches, lights, or other switches as you wish.



OK, most of those were pretty clear but what is a "Start Mark"?

Now, here's another piece of magic. Let's say you're recording a bit, the call is a little slow and you think you probably won't want to air the first few seconds. Without stopping the recording, simply press the "Start Mark" button and at play back time PhoneByte will begin at the mark, skipping those first few seconds.

Why not just start a new recording altogether?

As the call progresses you may find that a good call just isn't right without the whole beginning. The "Start Mark" can be quickly removed to play back the whole recording. The "Start Mark" can be moved several times "on the fly". In essence, it's a simple edit while your recording, and you can still go to air 1 second after ending the recording. (Try that with tape!)

So what does the "End Mark" do?

"End Mark" works much the same way. If the caller told you a real zinger, you could just stop recording so the automatic timers would be accurate or, you can simply enter an "End Mark" on the fly. Now ,if the caller hits you with another zinger . . . you can simply hit "End Mark" again. But, if you think maybe there is still more good stuff coming, you are still recording.

Now what was that about automatic timers?

PhoneByte gives you timers counting up (elapsed time) and counting down (remaining time), each time you edit, change an "End Mark" or a "Start Mark", these timers are corrected so you can lay that bit perfectly over a song or spot intro.

With tape I can cut & splice, what about PhoneByte?

Cut and splice? . . . yes! But, unlike tape the original is never on the floor being stepped on. Using our own unique and fast editing methods you can cut, splice or restore to original as you wish.

What about the audio quality?

PhoneByte uses high quality PCM recording, standard. Our Dolby AC 2* option allows for unsurpassed data compression allowing more recording time. All digital audio is not created equal. You'll love our sound!

But wait, we're talking about telephone calls. How important is the sound quality?

Keep in mind that you're recording the phone caller and your own mic. You want to capture all the overtones so that recorded bits can be played back-to-back with live mic and sound exactly the same.

OK, I've been around computers awhile, tell me about the user interface.

PhoneByte uses a GUI (Graphical User Interface) somewhat like Windows** but designed for the task at hand, not every "Computer Thing" ever thought of. Those functions that aren't remote controlled from your console can be done from the trackball built into the keyboard or by the use of wisely chosen "Hot Keys". Many like to learn with the trackball but, find actual operation is very much faster when you use the "Hot Keys".

OK, what other features will PhoneByte bring to my control room?

How about "Automatic Record"? PhoneByte can automatically start recording when you answer the phone. You say what lines should be auto recorded (feature available with certain phone systems) and you can quickly turn off "Auto Record". PhoneByte will also mute its own output during recordings so you won't get feedback or continually have to reach for your cue button.
PhoneByte is for those who demand high performance programming and want to free AIR TALENT to be personalities rather than technicians or tape handlers. Please, call so we can discuss going to work for you.

PhoneByte is another product of The BLUE GROUP the maker of DigiStation hard drive automation. Give us a call to discuss how we can help keep your station up to date in the '90's.

*Dolby AC-2 is a registered trademark of Dolby Laboratories Licensing Corporation,**WINDOWS is a registered trademark of Microsoft

Back To Top


a short discussion about PhoneByte

In many contemporary radio stations interaction with telephone callers is often a valuable element of a stations format. This significantly aides the station in presenting an image of being in touch with the community. It also allows the station personalities an opportunity to integrate creative thoughts and generally entertaining comments from the listening audience. The value of airing phone calls is well understood by contemporary programmers. For a variety of reasons, most radio stations prerecord these telephone calls before putting them on the air. Until now, the most efficient way to make these recordings was with a conventional reel to reel recorder. This method of recording is reasonably acceptable, but brings with it a host of limitations and considerations which require the air personalities to limit their own work and creativity to the realities of the recorder (such as searching for the correct recording, cueing, and editing, etc.).

This documentation will discuss limitations of the existing systems and how a new product called PhoneByte, from The Blue Group overcomes these limitations while offering user friendly operations and other features which simply aren't practical with old technology.


A typical control room is often a very fast paced creative environment. Personalities are constantly interacting with the music, commercials, news, and their telephone callers. Creative minds are working double-time to perform live everyday for their audience. In general, they have to think on their feet, and respond to these various programming elements in a very timely fashion. It is therefore, desirable to make the equipment that these personalities operate respond to the needs of the people in the control room, allowing needed flexibility, quick response, and not distracting the staff with unnecessary mechanical realities. Unfortunately, the operation of an open reel tape recorder is sometimes a significant limitation to this performance.


The limitations of using a reel to reel include many concerns; including, the fact that simply keeping track of where the individual phone bits are on an open reel machine is not a trivial task. At typical tape lengths and operating speeds, there's 30 minutes worth of recordings through which to sort and find the call that you want to put on the air. Most operations cannot simply log the tape counter location because they're using that counter for other timing concerns, such as making the phone bit "talk up" the records. Some will attempt to put paper flags in the reel to mark a certain recording, but if they later desire to rewind past that flag it's instantly gone. Some disc jockeys may not even perceive this problem because they have simply limited their horizons and creativity by this housekeeping reality. If you think about it, if it was easy to identify and later locate individual recordings you could save bits until they more uniquely fit into the program. Many jocks find themselves thinking they had best play it now, even though it would be better in a later point in the program, they know by then they would have simply of lost track of the call.

Recording tape is simply not a fast access medium. If one wishes to locate a recording at a particular location on the tape they must have some recollection of where to find it, must spend the time fast winding to that approximate point, and then spend more valuable time listening to individual elements to be sure that they have indeed located what they want. After locating any particular recording, they must spend additional time finding the precise beginning of that recording and cueing up to that point. In many situations this one physical reality alone preempts the timely usefulness of otherwise entertaining phone bits.

Another limitation of using the open reel machine is the simple fact that if a tape is cued and ready to go on air, but will not be aired for another minute, or two, or five, that machine is simply not available to make subsequent recordings. Obviously, the cued up bit would be inadvertently erased. This one, two, or five minute period is a significant amount of time in which potentially quality phone calls may not be recorded. Keep in mind, that it's not very practical to say to the caller "hold on for five minutes, when I come back be spontaneous". That is not a reasonable expectation.

Recording with tape dictates that editing requires physically cutting the tape with a razor blade to reassemble it in the desired fashion. While, this method has been used for decades it's less than a perfect system, including accidents of cutting out wrong sections, and sometimes literally losing the pieces of tape that you wanted to put on the air. Sometimes, you find the piece that you needed is lying on the floor being stepped on. Not only is razor blade editing a destructive operation, but it often takes more time than many radio stations personality have to spend. It is also true that after razor blade editing no original copy exists.

Other problems stations have experienced with tape recording phone bits is simple console operational errors, such as leaving the console fader on. Subsequently, new calls are recorded on the tape and immediately played by the playback head and wind up on the air right on top of whatever commercial, or record that is being played. This can be extra embarrassing for the station, and hard for the air talent to notice because they have turned down their monitors so they can deal with the phone call.

Other down sides of using tape recordings can be simply the physical real-estate consumed in the studio by the tape machines. Many high performance stations using tape find it necessary to use high quality machines, and because of the inflexabilities use not one, but two machines, they often wish they had more. These machines are not only costly, but also consume significant amounts of floor space.

Some radio stations like to playback these phone bits at a moment where the total duration of the call is critical information. For example, some stations will start a phone bit, and then start playing a record at exactly the correct point to make the phone bit "talk up" the song. The typical way to achieve this timing with an open reel machine is to precisely locate the end of the recording in question. This involves more fast wind and search time, zeroing their counter, and then rewinding to the beginning of the bit, again spending valuable time, and searching for the exact beginning of the call. This does get them a timer that accurately counts down toward the end of the call. Of course, if they choose to do more editing this particular procedure would all have to be repeated.

Many of these limitations may seem like small points, and taken as single items may be. Anyone that has to perform in this environment understands that taken as a whole these concerns indeed do have significant impact on the stations presentation.


Using modern technology The Blue Group has designed a product called PhoneByte. Which addresses these short comings of tape recording phone bits, and offers several enhancements to the airing of bits which simply were not practical with reel to reel machines.

PhoneByte is computer hard drive technology. It utilizes the IBM compatible PC platform with readily available hardware such as, a 386-40 computer, common hard drives, etc. The computer hardware is completed with sound card to digitize audio, a control card to allow machine control to and from PhoneByte, a control cable, and solderless terminal board. These additions, plus PhoneByte proprietary software turn your PC into a unique and valuable tool for the recording of phone bits.

PhoneByte is not a digital work station, an automation system, or a live assist automation etc. While PhoneByte does utilize the same state of the art technology, and is every bit as sophisticated as the above mentioned products it was designed very specifically for this one specific application in contemporary radio stations. It's true, that in many ways PhoneByte parallels an open reel tape recorder. You can make PhoneByte record by simply pushing a button, and stop recording by pushing another but, PhoneByte is simpler, faster, and uniquely qualified to the task at hand.

Back to Top


One place that PhoneByte really shines is in the myriad of quick and easy ways to keep track of recordings. At the beginning of each disc jockey's shift, a simple four keystroke routine tells PhoneByte that a new "talent" is on the air. This will instantly create a new screen for showing the phone calls recorded by this particular disc jockey. This alone assures that each jock will not be burdened by searching through someone else's recordings in trying to locate what their looking for. It also creates an easy, and convenient way for each jock to leave a couple of calls behind for use at a later date knowing that there's no need for other disc jockeys to erase them. The other jocks will never even realize they are there.

Keeping track of calls is done in several automatic modes by PhoneByte. Each individual call is automatically numbered and displayed on the screen. In some environments, this simple feature is all one would need to find a particular bit. Example, if you simply said to yourself or your sidekick "remember #214, that was a great call" or whatever the number was. Sometimes, that will be all you need to easily recall what your looking for. PhoneByte will also automatically stamp the time and date of the call. Often, one will be trying to locate a call made perhaps hours earlier and they remember only the approximate time that the call came in. The time and date stamping often narrows the call down to one or two possibilities. PhoneByte will also automatically display the total length of the call. This information is used in many ways. It is an easy way to show that the call was long or short, which also helps to identify what you may be searching for.

In addition to the automatic record keeping, PhoneByte realizes that some people simply want to enter a mark that means that a call was somehow special to them. It may be that they wish to keep track of all calls relating to a special topic of the day. Or perhaps, they simply want to make a designation that says "I think this was above average". One single keystroke will make PhoneByte display an "S" for any given file. This "S" stands for special, but its real meaning is whatever you wish it to be. By the way, striking that same single key twice will tag the recording as "K" for keeper. Which again, is simply a very fast way of marking another group as whatever distinction you wish.

There will be many times when you have an extra three seconds to actually type in a comment which will help you identify the call. If it's a request show that may simply be the name of the song requested. It's recommended that your comments be as short as possible, and still maintain unique meaning to you. For example, if the call is a women talking with a funny story about her cat, simply typing in the word "cat" is probably all you would need. Typing comments is an extremely fast option if you choose to use it. If PhoneByte had no other features its simple housekeeping alone would be a valuable asset.

Now, that PhoneByte has made it practical for you to save phone calls until they best fit your program you may find yourself wanting to air a call that's literally hours old. You can of course, hit one simple button to listen to an individual recording. However, you may recall the basic content of the call and just want to see if you began the recording with "Hello" or with your stations call letters "WLS". One simple key on the keyboard or on a remote panel on your console will simply audition the first few seconds of the call. This is called the Audition Beginning feature. Similarly, one button will let you sample only the last few seconds so that you can refresh your memory on how the call ends. This is referred to as Audition End. Many people will want to hear the first few seconds, as well as, the last few seconds and wish to make only a keystroke to accomplish this. PhoneByte does this as well, with its Audition Both feature. These audition buttons help keep the jock from saying "hello" live on mic, and then playing back a bit whose first word is the same jock saying "hello". This simple oversight sounds very foolish over the air, but is easy to prevent utilizing the audition buttons. The duration of the audition is adjustable by the operator. Some will want to hear the first one second, others would like to hear two, or three seconds. This is a personal preference and PhoneByte accommodates your choice.

The extremely fast access to recordings in PhoneByte allows one to be making a new recording up until the last moment before they actually wish to play something different on the air. It's truly practical with PhoneByte to stop recording only three or four seconds before wishing to air something entirely different.

Back to Top


Editing on PhoneByte is simple, fast, and totally non-destructive. The very unique editor was designed around the need for speed and simplicity. Unique "START MARK" and "END MARK" features are actually editing on the fly. With a little practice, your air talent can tell PhoneByte to start playback not from the beginning, but from some other "START MARK". This "START MARK" can be entered and/or changed at any time during playback or recording. With a little practice, talent can simply say to themselves "I don't think I'll want these first few seconds of the call" press the button, and the next playback will magically begin from this new point. The application of this is multifold, but here's one example of its application. Imagine a phone call which you believe is going extremely slow and perhaps boring. At the slightest gap in conversation simply pushing the "START MARK" button means the playback will skip those earlier boring moments. However, later if you find that the caller was actually being quite clever, although, a little dry, and those earlier moments where setting you up for a cute joke, your edit was non-destructive and can be deleted with a simple keystroke. The "END MARK" works in a similar fashion. For example, if the caller says something, tells a joke with an interesting punch line you may strike the "END MARK" button and the call will automatically end there upon playback. However, you are still recording and if you discover that they hit you with yet another funny zinger, simply pushing the button again will move it to this new location and you are still recording. The point is, you can often tell the rhythm and the attitude of the call and predict how things are going to go. Nine times out of ten you will be right, that was the proper place to end and the ease of the "START MARK" and "END MARK" features mean that there was little or no further editing required. Still, if for any reason you decide that you want to air the whole bit unedited these marks can be removed.

PhoneBytes non-destructive editing continues with "CUT" and "SPLICE" features. In our terminology "CUT" can be visualized as the beginning of what you want to remove from the recording. The "SPLICE" is the end of this removed section. "CUTS" and "SPLICES" are also logically entered with simple keystrokes while you listen to the recording. They may be later find tuned or removed entirely.

"START MARK", "END MARK", "CUT", and "SPLICE" are the edit modes of PhoneByte. Once any of these edits are entered they may be quickly and simply auditioned and/or repositioned by either using the mouse or PhoneBytes unique number pad control system.

The number pad control system is quite fast and easy to operate. After selecting the edit point that you wish to fine tune simply pushing buttons on the number pad moves that selected point, either forward or backward in time by exact sized steps. The buttons on the left edge of the number pad (7,4,1) are backward movement keys. The buttons on the right hand side (9,6,3) are forward movement keys. Those keys on the top row (7 & 9) make the edit mark move one second. The second row (4 & 6) will adjust one tenth of a second. While seldom used in phone bits, the third row (1 & 3) offers one one hundredth of a second increments. Each time one of these keys is pressed the selected edit is moved either backward or forward in time with each keystroke. This is a little easier to visualize if you look at a standard 101 keyboard and observe the arrangement of the number pad on the right. If it is still unclear PhoneBytes on screen images make it all easy to comprehend.

On the middle column of keys on the number pad (8,5,2,) allow you to listen to the current location of whatever edit mark you are fine tuning. These center keys make no change in the location of the edit marks, but simply give you an easy way to listen to edits.

The edit screen displays at its top a linear bar display called the edit bar. This single display represents your entire recording without need to scroll. Your edit marks ("START MARK", "END MARK", "CUTS" and "SPLICES") are represented on the edit bar with colored markers. Any sections of the recording "removed" through editing are illustrated by shading that portion of the edit bar. By simply glancing at the edit bar you quickly get an image of the editing accomplished.

Once a file is edited it can be easily played in its edited form or can be played in its "RAW" form. To "PLAY RAW" will disregard all edits and simply play the file from beginning to end. In an effort to keep the operator from accidentally playing the file in its raw form the "PLAY RAW" button must be pushed before every raw play. In other words, if you play it raw just to see what it used to sound like you won't accidentally get on the air with the unedited version.

Another useful auditioned tool is the "AUDITION SPLICE". The "AUDITION SPLICE" feature simply allows you to listen to the first moment before a "CUT" to just after the "SPLICE". This is quick, easy, and doesn't require a keystroke from you saying "I've heard enough stop now".

Also, useful on the edit bar is the fact that you can place the mouse at any point in the edit bar to choose an audition point. Whether an edited out section or not, press the mouse and audio will begin to play from that point. This is sometimes useful when trying to find a particular phrase within a phone bit.

The edit screen features several timers that automatically update and display the locations of "CUTS", "SPLICES", "START MARK", "END MARK", as well as, total edited time. There's even a counter that shows the exact position of the mouse along the edit bar.

Editing in PhoneByte is quick, easy, and nondestructive. The user is not burdened with lists of editing tools that a music producer might use. You are simply presented with those tools needed for this very specific task.

Back to Top


Another feature of PhoneByte is "STACKS", A quick way to make previously recorded phone bits playback seamlessly one after the other. A good illustration of "STACKS" is an on air feature which might be called "make it or break it". In this scenario, the station plays a brand new record the audience has not heard before and takes calls asking people whether they like it (make it) or whether they don't like it (break it). "STACKS" will let you very quickly and easily assemble a series of calls to be played back one after another. The screen presents you with a scrollable list of all your calls on the left hand side of the screen, and with a "STACK" list on the right hand side. Simple mouse click and drag techniques move files from the master list to the "STACK" list. These calls once on the "STACK" list can be easily removed from the list or rearranged within the list by the same click and drag techniques of the mouse. This simple stacking would take a great deal of time to accomplish with razor blade editing, and rearranging the order of the "STACK" with a razor blade would simply be an unreasonable request.

Now, back to our "make it or break it" example, lets say the first five calls of people who like the song "make it" and the last five people who don't like the song "break it". Lets further say that the air talent would like to introduce the first call, and then play all of the "make it's". Then, cause the system to automatically stop before the "break it's", so that they can open the mic again, and say something like "Now, not everybody liked this record what do you say?" before playing the "break its". The "STACKS" offer a "STOP" feature that makes this very quick and easy to accomplish.

In the "STACKS" area, you could optionally choose to make PhoneByte pause for a predetermined amount of time between each call.

Back to Top


External control inputs offer additional operational convenience for a variety of commands. The control inputs, can be connected to your station console, hardware switches of your choosing or the on and off switches under your console fader. External control inputs include play, stop, record , start mark, end mark and more.

Relay closures offered by PhoneByte control equipment such as your console channel on and off, on air lights, etc. Another, little convenience to the operator is the simple fact that PhoneByte mutes its own output during recordings. This prevents the jock from having to reach the console and put their phone bits machine in and out of cue all night long. Relay closures operate at the end of every playback, and can be wired to turn off your console channel at conclusion of any bit, so that on air accidents don't occur later. If your console requires you to turn on cue for a given fader after each play PhoneByte can do that for you too.

Back to Top


Lets face it in radio today the competition is fierce, your personalities need every advantage and freedom from machine limitations Make PhoneByte an important tool for your staff.

Back to Top