TV News February 2017

WHEAT:NEWS TV

FEBRUARY 2017
Vol 4, No.2

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-- Scott Johnson, Editor


NEWS: Wheatstone Acquires PR&E

New Bern, NC February 17, 2017 – Wheatstone Corporation has acquired the assets and intellectual property of Pacific Research & Engineering (PR&E) from GatesAir of Quincy, Illinois (formerly Harris Broadcast) for an undisclosed amount. The purchase includes audio consoles, the networking system, the furniture lines, all designs, trademarks, engineering files and tooling, effectively restoring the PR&E console brand under the Wheatstone umbrella.

PR&E is a distinguished console manufacturer dating back to the 1970s with more than $80 million in products and services sold globally.

“We have a respect for the PR&E brand that goes way back. They were considered the Mercedes Benz of consoles at one time, and today, the name PR&E still stands for quality. Our intention is to not only restore the PR&E brand, but to grow it and give existing as well as new customers the mobility to easily transition to IP networking,” says Wheatstone CEO Gary Snow.

Wheatstone previously acquired Auditronics in March of 1999 and Audion Labs in October of 2015, and currently manufactures a complete line of broadcast studio products that includes Audioarts Engineering and VoxPro brand names, as well as Wheatstone IP audio networking, control surfaces, talent stations, audio processing for FM, AM and streaming, software applications, and other products developed and designed specifically for broadcast.

Radio World Article "Wheatstone Acquires PR&E From GatesAir" Feb 17

Radio World Article "Wheatstone Plans PR&E’s Future" Feb 21

Avoid A Hack Attack

In September, TV viewers in New York reported seeing weird messages pop up on their screen during an emergency broadcast test. A hacker had broken into the Emergency Alert System and changed an emergency code to transmit a line from the Dr. Seuss book, Green Eggs and Ham.

This was just one of several hack attacks on broadcast facilities in the last year.

We are all at risk and we all play a role in securing broadcasts against malware, hackers and ransomware, both manufacturer and broadcaster alike. The good news is that we can prevent malware and hackers from taking over if we work together. At Wheatstone, we’re tightening security on our products and systems, from manufacturing practices to the very code that goes into the WheatNet-IP audio network.

Click here for a few simple things you can do to avoid getting hacked:

Separate from the public internet. “WheatNet-IP and probably any other studio network should be kept either on a separate VPN or a physically separate network, not exposed to either in-house enterprise networks or the internet. Anything internet-facing is vulnerable,” says Wheatstone Systems Engineer Scott Johnson.

We can’t stress this point enough. Read on.

Secure the WAN. Encrypted VPNs are the standard go-to option for securing networks. Connecting employee home PCs or studio proxy computers to a VPN creates a secure tunnel on an inter/intranet that handles traffic as if it were on a private circuit. VPN tunneling options vary from the more traditional Layer 2 options to more recent broadband VPN options that work at the Layer 3 level and use infrastructure (virtually or physically) separate from the public internet. For strictly security purposes, it’s hard to beat a dedicated separate leased line, especially if it’s fiber optic. These are generally more expensive than VPN options. But if you’re sending live-action feeds from a sports stadium to the home studio a state away for live mixing and final production, you might consider leasing “dark” fiber from a provider, as these links are virtually impenetrable to hackers. Whatever your link, whether it’s an existing ATM or newer MPLS, you’ll need to use VPN tunneling and encryption as protection against hackers.

Another option that is growing increasingly popular for short-distance WANs or STL hops (generally less than 20 miles, line of sight) are licensed-frequency IP radios. These microwave links are fairly secure from hackers, and they’re relatively affordable.

Back up all relevant files. The idea is to hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. Whether you back up to a drive at a sister station or use offsite storage in a cloud isn’t as important as actually sticking to a backup schedule. Always keep a running backup of your critical files, and make sure to use a secure link for the transfer. Better yet, advises Johnson, keep a mirrored image of your entire system on a drive located offsite, which will make it that much easier to get back on the air should the unthinkable happen.

Segment your network. Relying strictly on the network’s DMZ to protect your station is like putting all your money in a room, and having one security guard protecting it. It’s far better to spread out your wealth – that is, group studios into separate segments each with edge switches, and then connect those segments to one central, redundant switch bank so that if one part of the system gets infected, the rest is isolated.

It’s worth noting that if you are connecting studios with our WheatNet-IP audio network, a lot of your wealth is already spread out in separate I/O access units we call BLADEs. Each BLADE has built in audio tools such as mixing for summing and mixing audio at any point in the network, plus will reconfigure itself in an emergency – and, in fact, can recover settings for your entire network! (BLADE-3s also can be ordered with an audio playback option, which can automatically be triggered for playback by silence detection within the BLADE or triggered directly from your console.)

Restrict access. A few broadcast stations were hacked into simply because they didn’t change equipment passwords from the default “password.” That happened in 2015. In 2017, we’ll need to get much, much better at restricting access. Most broadcast equipment manufacturers offer at least basic authentication protection, so use it. You should establish employee levels of access based on job function, from the presets on your Wheatstone console on out to the padlock on the door to the transmitter building and all major points of access in between.

A word about passwords: complex passwords that include symbols as well as upper and lower case letters are good. But longer passwords are better because it’s harder to crack a 25-letter password than a 10-letter one using “brute force,” the common practice of using automation and a dictionary to hack into a network (see comic). What about complex, long passwords? According to Johnson, the problem with long and symbol-filled passwords is that they’re hard to remember and the risk goes up that someone will write them down somewhere. “Human factors override technology. It happened at Three Mile Island and it can happen at a radio station,” he says. For this reason, Johnson suggests using long passwords with simple, easy-to-remember words.

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LXE

(note: thanks to http://xkcd.com/936/ for use of the comic for this article).

Straight Talk

MickeyInProd

Anytime we want to cut through all the chatter and get to what’s really happening in broadcasting, we call Mickey Morgan. Mickey is the audio engineer for Eastern New Mexico University, which broadcasts KENW-TV/DT and KENW/KMTH-FM out of Portales. He runs a very practical operation (which our Wheatstone TDM audio routing and D-8EX mixers are a part of) and he makes no bones about keeping it that way. If new technology can’t pass the litmus test – that is, pay for itself – he’s not interested. It had been a while since we talked, so we checked in with Mickey just before the start of the new year. Once again, he gives it to us straight.

WS: What’s the reality of the whole move toward IP for a broadcast facility like the Eastern New Mexico University?

MM: I know I haven’t been all that excited about it in the past, but now I can see how networking over IP can be useful as far as being able to have a remote studio and yet be able to take mics from a distant source, even control them, turn them on and off, that sort of thing. The best example is we’ve just completed a new football stadium here in Portales that is based on what Stan Wagon of Lubbock Audio Visual did for Texas Tech. They have a control room that’s underneath their basketball arena that also connects to the football stadium and to the baseball stadium by fiber link, so they just have a camera and mic package that they move from site to site. The result is all you need is one control room. There’s not really a need for a production van or a trailer and it’s just the bare essentials, the camera package, the microphones, the announcer’s headsets, that sort of thing.

WS: Do you do IP routing now?

MM: No, no yet. But I noticed that Wheatstone has come out with an IP interface (editor: the Gibraltar IP Mix Engine) that will let us set up a remote interface to our existing system, so that we can do remote production over IP when we’re ready.

WS: What are your thoughts on AES67, the transport standard that is making its way into all the TV standards that’ll move IP along?

MM: Haven’t really thought about it much. We’re at a point where we’re comfortable with everything! But I do like the idea that I can interface Wheatstone with Dante. That might be important going forward because it will make it so that you don’t have to have special adapter boxes between systems.

WS: What are some of the things you are thinking about these days?

MM: Well, it’s been in the forefront for a while, but digital mixing is really coming onto its own and is making a big difference. It’s just so powerful to be able to have one system for our radio and TV operation and things like total recall on the console (D-8EX), including moving faders. That’s nice because if one of our students makes a mistake, it’s easy to return to the default settings.

WS: Thanks, Mickey. It’s always a pleasure checking in with you.

Your IP Question Answered

EQ

Q: I have a Gibraltar BRIDGE TDM routing system. Can I add IP audio networking onto it?

A: Yes you can, by simply adding the Gibraltar IP Mix Engine. With this, you can add the WheatNet-IP Intelligent network to your existing Gibraltar network, or start a new IP audio network from scratch. Most of our TV audio consoles are IP enabled. Adding IP audio networking opens a world of cost-effective advantages, including routing management, audio processing, flexible I/O, third-party integration (AES67 compatibility) and so much more via access to our BLADE-3 interfaces.

EQ

Wheatstone

  • Zee Network (Dubai, UAE) purchased two LX-24 control surfaces with WheatNet-IP audio network and AirAura X1 audio processor through Horizon Avionics & Electronics.

  • WCCB-TV (Charlotte, NC) purchased an I/O BLADE and EDGE network unit for remote audio I/O to an existing Dimension Three TV audio console.

  • CBS (Philadelphia, PA) purchased a WheatNet-IP audio network system.

  • KTRS-AM (St. Louis, MO) purchased an LX-24 control surface, two L-8 control surfaces, a TS-22 talent station, five TS-4 talent stations and I/O BLADEs through BSW.

  • U.S. General Accountability Office (GAO) (Washington, DC) purchased a Series Four TV audio console, five L-12 control surfaces and a WheatNet-IP audio network through CEI.

  • Entercom (Gainesville, FL) purchased two LX-24 control surfaces, an IP-12 and IP-16 control surface and WheatNet-IP audio network.

  • C-Span (Washington, DC) purchased a TS-4 talent station, IP-MTR64 “wall of meters” GUI, and three I/O BLADEs for streaming audio from Capitol Hill.

  • WBMA-TV (Birmingham, AL) purchased an E-6 control surface and WheatNet-IP audio network.

  • WSB-AM (Atlanta, GA) purchased a SideBoard surface and two I/O BLADEs for an existing WheatNet-IP audio network.

  • CBC Radio (Toronto, ON) purchased a MADI BLADE for an existing WheatNet-IP audio network through Marketing Marc Vallee.

  • Leighton Broadcasting (Winona, MN) purchased an M4IP-USB four channel mic processor and I/O BLADE for an existing WheatNet-IP audio network.

  • Grove Broadcasting (Kingston, Jamaica) purchased an LX-24 control surface through Recording Media & Equipment.

  • Townsquare Media (Lafayette, LA) purchased additional I/O BLADEs for an STL.

  • KKDA-FM (Dallas, TX) purchased three LXE and two L-12 control surfaces and WheatNet-IP audio networking with ScreenBuilder app.

  • iHeartMedia (Atlanta, GA) purchased additional I/O BLADEs for an existing WheatNet-IP audio network.

  • Humber College (Toronto, ON) purchased an LXE control surface, TS-4 talent station and WheatNet-IP audio network I/O BLADEs through Ron Paley Broadcast.

  • Rogers Broadcasting (Toronto, ON) purchased two split-surface LXE control surfaces through Ron Paley Broadcast.

  • iHeartMedia (Charlotte, NC) purchased an LX-24 control surface and I/O BLADEs for an existing WheatNet-IP audio network.

Click to See The Rest of the List...


Audioarts Engineering

  • Broadcast and Studio Company (Bangkok, Thailand) purchased an R-55e console.

  • Offerdahl Broadcast Service (Fosston, MN) purchased an Air-4 console.

  • WDBN-FM (Wrightsville, GA) purchased an Air-4 console.

  • Dixie State University (St. George, UT) purchased an Air-5 console.

  • Woof Boom Radio (Muncie, IN) purchased an Air-1 console.


Wheatstone Audio Processing

  • Pacific Media Group (Kahului, HI) purchased four FM-55 audio processors.

  • iHeartMedia (Charlotte, NC) purchased an M4IP-USB four channel mic processor.

  • Noalmark Broadcasting Corp. (El Dorado, AR) purchased an FM-55 audio processor.

  • Energy FM (Kingston, Jamaica) purchased an AirAura X3 audio processor.

  • Calhoun County (Blountstown, FL) purchased an M2 dual channel mic processor and WDM driver.

  • WKAK-FM (Albany, GA) purchased an FM-55 audio processor.

  • Cumulus Media (Wichita Falls, KS) purchased four FM-55 audio processors and three M2 dual channel mic processors.

  • Cumulus’ WYNN-FM (Florence, SC) purchased an FM-55 audio processor.

  • Cumulus’ KRBE-FM (Houston, TX) purchased two M2 dual channel mic processors.

  • Cumulus (Macon, GA) purchased an FM-55 audio processor.

  • Cumulus (Nashville, TN) purchased 18 M2 dual channel mic processors.

  • Cumulus’ WGLF-FM/WBZE-FM (Tallahassee, FL) purchased 10 M2 dual channel mic processors.

  • Cumulus (Harrisburg, PA) purchased 8 M2 dual channel mic processors.

  • iHeartMedia (Tucson, AZ) purchased an M1 mic processor.


VoxPro

  • KRLD-FM (Dallas, TX) purchased a VoxPro6 digital audio recorder/editor.

  • WBT-AM (Charlotte, NC) purchased a VoxPro6 digital audio recorder/editor.

  • WPLJ-FM (New York, NY) purchased a VoxPro6 digital audio recorder/editor.

  • Local Media San Diego (California) purchased a VoxPro6 digital audio recorder/editor.

  • KJWL-FM (Fresno, CA) purchased a VoxPro6 digital audio recorder/editor.

  • Entercom (New Orleans, LA) purchased a VoxPro6 digital audio recorder/editor.

  • Oakwood Broadcast (Mississauga, ON) purchased a VoxPro6 digital audio recorder/editor.

  • iHeartMedia (San Antonio, TX) upgraded to a VoxPro6 digital audio recorder/editor.

  • Humber College (Toronto, ON) purchased a VoxPro6 digital audio recorder/editor through Ron Paley Broadcast.

     

A Comparison
of Wheatstone Television Audio Consoles

Fybush and Owens on Dimension Three, Part 1

In this video series, Phil Owens takes Scott Fybush through each of the Wheatstone TV Audio consoles, explaining functionality and outlining similarities and differences.

This video is the first in the series, taking a close look at Dimension Three.

To see the others, please click here.

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