Uses This

A collection of nerdy interviews asking people from all walks of life what they use to get the job done.

A picture of Amanda Guest

Amanda Guest

Founder, BFF.fm

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Amanda Guest, and I am the Founder and General Manager of BFF.fm, an awesome community radio station in San Francisco, which broadcasts on the Internet. I manage the day-to-day operations of the station as well as lead the station's vision, strategy, and growth as an arts organization, which includes developing partnerships, booking shows, and DJing.

In my previous life I worked for many years in publishing as an online and social media marketing manager. When I moved to SF from MA in 2012 I became a remote employee, and the lack of a commute gave me the free time to start BFF.fm. After 5+ years of working a full time job to support my dream, the station, which is 100% funded by its listeners, has grown big enough to be able to support me working full time, and I was hired as General Manager on March 1, 2019.

What hardware do you use?

I'm pretty much always running from one thing to the next, so I got a 13" MacBook Air, which I can toss into my tote bag and carry from station meetings to DJing. And in between things I'm using my iPhone to update socials and answer emails. One of my dorkiest indulgences was getting all gold Apple products so they matched. When I was still working in publishing my colleagues at the home office were a little envious of my sleek set up, but I had to pay for it all myself. The company supplied me with a Dell laptop from 2005 and that was pretty much it.

At BFF.fm we use two 8-channel Axia iQ AoIP consoles paired with Axia QOR.32 DSP mix engines in our studios. After decades of working with analog consoles, it's super cool to see how technology has evolved to where now the console can be configured remotely over the web. So, if a DJ is blowing out the mic levels, for example, we can give it a nudge down from anywhere there's wi-fi.

The other cool thing about going digital is that while each of our tiny studios only have room for an 8-channel mixer, the channels can be reprogrammed on the fly. A DJ who plays CDs can add two CD player channels to the console, but then quickly reset them to turntables for the next DJ who spins vinyl. That might not mean much to people who haven't spent time in the community radio world, but DJs unplugging stuff and not plugging it back in or doing it incorrectly is a HUGE source of frustration. With our system the mix engines are hidden away where DJs can't mess with them, alleviating a lot of headaches.

When we got the new consoles they came with a link to a helpful video that showed that set up was so easy even a woman could do it! Despite how far the technology has come, the radio world still has plenty of room for growth and innovation.

When I'm DJing events I'll sometimes use either a Pioneer DDJ-WeGO4 DJ controller or my iPad mini. I usually make sure all of my gear to fit into my Jansport backpack. I've got this crazy one they don't make anymore that has tons of compartments and pockets and can fit my laptop, a stand for more ergonomic DJing, the controller and all the cables I need.. plus a change of sequins. (I DJ in head to toe sequins.)

And what software?

As a nonprofit, BFF.fm gets G Suite for free, which has provided some much-needed organizational infrastructure. We use Docs for board meeting agendas and minutes, Sheets for scheduling volunteers at events, Drive for storing all of our assets, and Analytics to measure the impact of everything we do on website visits. Beyond that, EmpireStreaming handles our streaming server and we use Creek as our station's backend platform.

BFF.fm has 94 shows and more than 100 DJs, so obviously communication becomes an important part of running the station. We use Google Groups for email notifications and Slack for more conversational stuff, although we've been relying on it more and more for important processes like scheduling reruns and reporting technical issues with the studios.

More and more DJs are going digital these days, so we require that every DJ playing mp3s download mixing software to ensure smooth transitions between songs. About 95% of our DJs use djay Pro. That's also what I use when DJing events.

What would be your dream setup?

The dream would be to have studios that were actually soundproofed (we're in an art space, which is magical, but also can be a bit distracting) and each would have its own production booth so we could get some of that Frasier/Roz action going. One of the goals for the station is to one day have our own dedicated space or even buy a building where we could have publicly accessible studios and a venue that provides opportunity for the community to better connect to the local music scene.

Also, in all my working life I've never had an actual office of my own, so the big dream is having a door I can shut.