Teleconferencing eases radio days


16 May 2003

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Two local radio stations covering the north west and mid west have taken advantage of a new teleconferencing solution.

While new technology solutions are constantly coming on stream these days, many aren’t tailored to the needs of the small to medium-sized enterprises. However, Mid West and North West Radio, with studios in Sligo, Donegal and Castlebar, has recently taken advantage of a new offering in teleconferencing to improve its internal communications structure.

The service it has opted for is Eircom’s Instant Meeting, which was officially launched last week. The new teleconferencing solution is pitched at companies of all sizes and is designed to enable telephone meetings at any time without the need for advance booking or operator intervention. The service costs its users 25c per minute.

Once a company has registered for the service, it can hold meetings at any time. All attendees will have to call a specified number, enter a PIN and then proceed with the meeting. Registration can be undertaken online at www.eircom.ie or calling 1800 411 711.

Mid West Radio, which serves Co Mayo, was the first local station to be issued a licence outside of Dublin and commenced broadcasting in July 1989. Its sister station, North West Radio, commenced broadcasting a year later serving Sligo, south Donegal and north Leitrim. The stations’ ethos is based on providing a broad-based programming service with a community focus, which appeals to listeners from all age groups. They currently employ approximately 55 people.

“We are in the information age. Meeting to share that information is essential to making effective business decisions,” says station manager Chris Carroll. “Sometimes, geography and logistics make it impossible for participants to meet in the same room. Mid West Radio and its sister station North West Radio have offices in Sligo, Castlebar, Ballina, Donegal and Ballyhaunis. In today’s business climate, time management is an extremely valuable commodity and the use of teleconferencing allows us to maximise the best use of this time. By allowing our management teams to communicate by teleconference, problems can be resolved and decisions made in minutes rather than days,” he explains.

According to Carroll, the decision to opt for teleconferencing grew from the limitations imposed by the station’s infrastructure and the increasing business need for regular contact between management. “Being a radio station and with the aid of ISDN lines we often used our studios to communicate at a management level, but meetings were restricted because of studio availability and ISDN lines can be expensive. As we saw the need for regular management meetings grow we explored the idea of teleconferencing and contacted Eircom who provided us with the options,” he says.

Mid West and North West Radio has been using Eircom teleconferencing for two years now. According to Carroll, the service was fairly straightforward to set up. “Eircom advised us on the various teleconferencing options available and it was a case of deciding on which one best suited our needs. We found it easy to operate and it has improved communication with the effect of better overall management of the organisation,” he says.

Carroll welcomed the recent upgrade of the service and felt that it made it easier to use. “The service has been improved recently in that as a regular user we no longer need to book in advance. All end users have a universal PIN number which is only activated when the base PIN number is entered. It also means that a meeting can be convened at short notice and at any time, so in a way the service is always live,” he says.

As with any technology solution, at the end of the day businesses are keen to see a return on investment and Carroll felt that the adoption of teleconferencing had been positive in that regard. “By the comparison of time and travel, then there is a major saving to the company. Of course it also means that staff are more productive,” he says.

While often associated with large multinationals, the example of Mid West and North West Radio illustrates that teleconferencing may be an option for smaller businesses also and could be one solution to companies operating from a range of locations. When it comes to telecommunications, much of the attention these days is focused on data solutions. However, voice services are still at the core of every businesses’ needs and options do exist for those who need a little bit more.

By Dick O’Brien

Pictured (from left) Chris Carroll, station manager of Mid West Radio and North West Radio, and Tommy Durkin, Eircom account manager