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
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
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
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.
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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
We do that now with a reel-to-reel recorder, does PhoneByte do more that just record and
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
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
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
Of course, PhoneByte allows all of the following to be connected to your console switches,
lights, or other switches as you wish.
RECORDING NOW (FOR LIGHTS ONLY WHILE RECORDING)
END PLAYBACK (TO MUTE CONSOLE, MOMENTARY)
START PLAYBACK (TO TURN ON CONSOLE CHANNEL, IF DESIRED)
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
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
*Dolby AC-2 is a registered trademark of Dolby Laboratories Licensing
Corporation,**WINDOWS is a registered trademark of Microsoft
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THE NEED FOR A BETTER MOUSETRAP
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.
THE WORKING ENVIRONMENT
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 DOWN SIDE OF TAPE
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
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
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.
NOW THERES A BETTER WAY
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
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.
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SIMPLY KEEPING TRACK
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
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.
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NON DESTRUCTIVE EDITING
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
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
"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
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.
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A FEATURE CALLED STACKS
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.
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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.
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TAKE THE ADVANTAGE!
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
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