WHEAT:NEWS RADIO

WHEAT:NEWS RADIO

JUNE 2016 - Vol 7, No.6

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-- Scott Johnson, Editor

It’s All About the Network

EQ

Audio mixing consoles are now part of a much larger universe, the fabric of which is networking. How a console is networked is more critical than ever before, as are the applications that drive its usefulness.

Anyone still trying to pinpoint the center of the universe has obviously never misplaced his or her smartphone. Everything and anything of importance is contained in this small hunk of silicon not much bigger than your wallet.

Actually, if you’ve ever lost your phone, you know that this isn’t entirely true, either. Your pictures, your contacts, your e-mails — all of that data exists for the most part somewhere else. Your phone is a means to an end, a mere interface to a much larger universe of data and apps and communications.

The same can be said of today’s IP audio console. So while the audio mixing console is still very much a part of the studio, it is now also part of a much larger universe, the fabric of which is networking. “It’s basically a computer now,” says Sam Michaels to describe today’s audio console. Michaels, who is the Information Technology Engineer for Cumulus Media, Dallas, cites better integration with automation systems, more access to sources, and more flexibility overall as just a few benefits of the networked console. (Watch his full interview directly below).

The audio mixing console owes much of its success to IP audio drivers, which have replaced hardware cards and have opened up new ways to route, mix and process audio beyond the console chassis. “Audio over IP has greatly simplified things. From an integrator’s point of view, simply running Ethernet cables is much faster and easier than running audio cables all over the place. So we’re able to move so many channels of audio over an Ethernet cable, {and we’re} able to reconfigure that on the fly. It’s a beautiful, wonderful thing,” says Erik Utter, an integrator whose engineering firm, Utter Associates, consolidates broadcast newsrooms and other studios for multiple purposes or even multiple stations. (Watch his full interview directly below).

With sources no longer hardwired to the audio mixing console and console settings easily changed through a Graphical User Interface (GUI) (see You Say You Want An Evolution, May 2016 Wheat News), he says going from a CBS newscast at 5:30 to an NBC newscast at 6:00 isn’t much more than the push of a button on a console. All sources are handled by the network, and in the case of the WheatNet-IP audio network, audio mixing for talkback or other functions is locally accessible anywhere in the network via each I/O access point. The concept of ‘one console, one purpose’ no longer holds true for the same reason your mobile phone is no longer just for making calls.

“{Audio over IP gave} us the power of audio switching for radio and TV, allowing us to add more services than we’ve ever planned to do,“ says Kent Hatfield, VP of Technology for WXXI-TV/FM in Rochester, New York, which added on several new HD and translator services throughout greater New York in recent times. (Watch his full interview directly below).

He expects things to get “a lot more IP” in the coming years. “In the next two to three years it’s very possible you’ll see audio and video on a single IP connection,” he says. Currently, WXXI is running the Wheatstone TDM platform on the TV side and WheatNet-IP audio network on the radio side, and bridging the two via MADI, while planning migration to full IP eventually.

With audio mixing consoles now part of a much larger networked environment, one has to wonder: is all this leading up to the obsolescence of the fixed broadcast studio? “I don’t know if I’d go that far,” replies Cumulus’ Michaels. “But yeah, it’s amazing that you can essentially {put} a station on an iPad.”

I’m Listening, Radio

EQ

By Dee McVicker

If you’ve ever driven the 372 miles from Los Angeles to Phoenix, you know that there’s nothing between Blythe and Quartzsite except a few jackrabbits and your radio.

Sometimes, there are no jackrabbits.

Last week while making that trip, as I often do because of a nonprofit school I am affiliated with, I happened to tune into the faint voice of a fugitive who was telling a most interesting story about being on the lam for 27 years. I couldn’t tell you the station or where that signal was coming from, but I listened to it until I no longer could. To my huge disappointment, I lost the signal somewhere before the turnoff to US 60 and I never got to hear the conclusion of that story, even though I was nursing it along by traveling well under the speed limit.

The point is, for the first time in a long time, I was truly experiencing radio. I wasn’t thinking of all those things we tend to think about, having been on the equipment side of radio for so long.

I was experiencing the power of the medium like anyone else and I can tell you this: There’s just something about the voice of radio — the way it sounds, the personal nature of it ­— that makes me want to keep listening and driving. It’s as if radio is another character in the story!

I actually had this revelation a few weeks prior, when I was again making the trip to Los Angeles, this time by plane. My rental car’s radio had been set on 89.3, local public station KPCC-FM. As preoccupied as I was at the moment — shuffling around looking for my glasses, trying to read the GPS on my iPhone as I changed lanes — I was bowled over by the omnipresent voice on the radio. I drove around a little longer so I could continue to hear that voice and a few others to follow, which, if you’ve ever driven in Los Angeles, can only be viewed as an act of desperation.

In fact, I was so excited about this new revelation that I immediately contacted the reporter at KPCC-FM who had been interested in doing a story on the nonprofit school for which I am affiliated. I was bowled over once again. This was a side of radio I had never experienced. I had recently worked with the news crews of three different networks, including NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, and publications such as Parade magazine. They had all captured the story of Exceptional Minds, the nonprofit school for young adults with autism that I am affiliated with, but none quite like radio. Last week, I watched and listened as KPCC-FM Arts Education Reporter Priska Neely asked question after question of the school’s co-founder and her son. Even though I know the story well, it was as if I was hearing it for the first time in their voices.

Their story will air in the next few weeks. In the meantime, I’m listening, radio.

Jay Tyler’s LXE Tour de World!

At the 2016 NAB Show, we introduced the LXE, a complete rethink of the broadcast audio control surface. With the LXE, you can completely configure every knob and button, assigning functions as you wish. Complete with a gesture-based touch screen interface, it was, to put it mildly, quite enthusiastically received. Once we got back, Jay Tyler grabbed one of the consoles from our NAB truck and took it on a world tour.

WIN A T-SHIRT!

We can only imagine how many frequent flyer miles he'll rack up. You probably can, too! So, here's an idea - why don't you give us your best guess, along with your T-Shirt size? The five people that guess the closest will receive an addition to their wardrobes!

Just enter your guess by clicking HERE. There's no deadline, but we'll award the shirts sometime after Jay returns, and we'll post the results here. When they're gone, the contest ends.

Here is the tour itinerary. Good luck!

Panama May 10-14
London, UK May 15-18

Paris, France May 18 - 23
Zurich, Switzerland May 23-25
Rome, Italy May 26
Germany May 27-29
Singapore June 2-3
Melbourne, Sydney, and Perth, Australia June 4-11
Auckland and Christchurch, New Zealand June 11-16

WHEATSTONE AT KOREA’S KOBA SHOW AND BROADCAST ASIA IN SINGAPORE

Jay On Tour

During the third week in May 2016, Wheatstone attended the KOBA broadcast show in Seoul, Korea.Business was brisk and there was a great amount of interest in Wheatstone. A big hat's off to our new Korean dealer KOIL Corp for a great job!

After Korea, Team Wheat attended Broadcast Asia June 2nd and 3rd. The booth was quite active and we enjoyed meeting old friends and making new ones. One thing for certain - they LOVE Wheatstone stuff!

Click to see gallery

Your IP Question Answered

Q: I’ve been hearing about IP microwave links as being a possible STL solution. What can you tell me about these?

A: These RF links have been used by other industries for some time, but are now finding their way into broadcast facilities because they’re a practical and affordable option for transporting linear audio within 25 or more miles, line-of-sight, from the studio audio network to the transmitter, stadium or other location. They’re bidirectional and come in half or full duplex, on either licensed or unlicensed frequencies. They can range in price from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand, which is why they’re also a good option for an “IP zipline” from the AM studio or transmitter to those new FM translators, or as a substitute link in lieu of expensive Internet or mobile service to the transmitter site. Little more than an IP radio and antenna is needed on each end of the link. Linear audio from your IP audio network feeds directly into the IP radio through RJ-45 connectors. And because it’s an IP link, it can carry bidirectional audio, camera video, voice-over-IP, and data of all kinds, both ways. For example, a WheatNet-IP IP88D BLADE (the I/O units used to connect the network together) could easily run 8 stereo channels each way through an IP radio link, and depending on the bandwidth of the link, there might also be room to move other data such as surveillance video, VoIP, or remote control. IP radio and antenna systems are available for the unlicensed 5.8 GHz band as well as frequencies in the Part 101 band (usually 6 GHz or 11 GHz), which opened up to broadcasters in 2011 when the FCC abolished the so-called “last link rule.” To find out more about IP microwave links and our EDGE network unit that acts as an interface between these inexpensive transport systems and WheatNet-IP, click on Your Cheat Sheet to Part 101 Wireless IP STLs or Life on the EDGE: STL Via IP Microwave.

Interesting Links
Born In The USA

Today, broadcast operations have extended beyond and expanded within their walls, thanks largely to IP and networking. But meanwhile, back at the factory, we’re keeping it all under one roof. Why?

EQ

First, it’s much, much easier to customize a studio system if it’s staged and configured in its entirety on our factory floor. “I work with broadcasters who want to know every single input, output and fader count, right down to the layout of where they want their microphones,” says Jay Tyler, Director of Sales for Wheatstone, where a good percentage of WheatNet-IP audio network systems are customized and staged before shipment.

“We’ve seen that transition over time, from them coming in to see the console they ordered to ‘Wow, I’ve got 25 studios in front of me and it’s all working in this one place,’” he adds.

EQ

A staged system can include several IP audio mixing consoles and WheatNet-IP audio I/O access or BLADE units, plus Ethernet switches (such as a core and several edge switches). It can involve setup and customization of Navigator software, metering or ScreenBuilder apps, as well as button panels, talent stations and other network accessories. If something isn’t clicking, we have the entire system sitting in front of us to troubleshoot before it even arrives inside a studio.

We also manufacture everything under one roof, from metalwork to console buttons, to radically increase the quality of our consoles, audio processors and network devices. For example, even something as seemingly insignificant as the sizing of console vent holes has a direct impact on the electromagnetic interference created, which in turn determines standards compliance.

EQ

Manufacturers who have been successfully making consoles for a long time (try 35+ years in Wheatstone’s case) take those specs seriously. We have a multi-axis CNC milling machine for precision machining of aluminum panels and parts to within a thousandth of an inch. We have both laser cutters and punch press machines to create the more intricate holes, patterns, and parts needed on some of our products – all computer controlled. We etch labels for consoles and BLADEs using a smaller laser machine, and finish our panels using a powder coating process that is much more durable than paint.

When it comes to assembly, Wheatstone has invested in several surface-mount machines that turn spools of components into assembled circuit boards based on computer instructions. Not only does this give us the ability to produce products more quickly and make changes with very little hassle, but it also increases component placement accuracy to within one ten-thousandth of an inch. We inspect the finished boards for errors using a high-res camera that can “see” if a component is not soldered correctly or if there are solder bridges or positioning errors, typically within thousandths of an inch. We can even trace an item back to the day and time it came out of the factory, and to the individual assemblers who worked on it. With all this working for us on the factory floor, we’re able to reduce component placement errors to virtually zero.

EQ

We couldn’t do that anywhere else but right here in our own house. We don’t have to set up for manufacturing the large runs that make outsourcing practical, which means we don’t have to cut corners on production. Keeping it all under one roof means we’re set up all day and every day to make our specific brand of consoles and products, and nothing else. It also gives us the ability to customize and stage systems for our customers.

Wheatstone Interviews the Broadcast Industry: IMG’s Ben Blevins

At this year's NAB show, we invited many people from all corners of the industry to join us in conversations about all things broadcast. Obviously, we focused on audio for broadcast because, well, it's what we know.

We didn't really know what to expect, but the results definitely exceeded even our greatest expectations. We touched on many, many subjects and heard some fascinating things about what people are doing with audio in the broadcast world. Each of these videos is a wealth of information spanning every aspect of audio for broadcast. Take this video of Ben Blevins, for instance. Ben works with IMG College Sports in Winston-Salem, NC and is responsible for managing the mixed and distributed audio for up to 70 college games each weekend.

See All The Interviews


WHEAT:NEWS ARCHIVE

WhosBuyingWheat6682

Wheatstone

  • iHeartMedia (San Antonio, TX) purchased two LX-24 and two SideBoard control surfaces, four IP-16 and two IP-12 digital audio consoles, eighteen TS-4 talent stations and a complete WheatNet-IP audio network with 30-plus I/O BLADEs, plus Screen Builder application and accessory items.

  • WPLN-FM (Nashville, TN) added an I/O BLADE to expand an existing WheatNet-IP audio network.

  • WSB Radio (Atlanta, GA) purchased seven LX-24 control surfaces.

  • Reach Media (Dallas, TX) purchased seven LX-24 control surfaces for the Tom Joyner show.

  • Electronica Infinita (Laredo, TX) purchased an L-12 control surface and WheatNet-IP audio network.

  • Innovative Technologies (Washington, DC) purchased three E-6 control surfaces to update the Senate Republican recording facilities.

  • CBC Radio (Regina, SK) purchased two more I/O BLADEs for an existing WheatNet-IP audio network.

  • Corus (Vancouver, BC) purchased a desk housing unit for an existing WheatNet-IP audio network.

  • OMT (Winnipeg, MB) purchased a WDM PC driver.

  • KBHW-FM/KXBR-FM (International Falls, MN) purchased two IP-12 digital audio consoles plus BLADEs and NAVIGATOR software.

  • Rogers Broadcast (Kitchener, ON) purchased a SideBoard control surface and GP-8 for an existing WheatNet-IP audio network through Ron Paley Broadcast.

  • Blackburn Radio (Wingham, ON) purchased an I/O BLADE for an existing WheatNet-IP audio network through Ron Paley Broadcast.

  • University of Wisconsin’s WRST-FM (Oshkosh, WI) purchased four IP-12 control surfaces and a WheatNet-IP audio network with BLADEs.

  • Cox Radio (Tulsa, OK) purchased 14 LX-24 control surfaces and BLADES.

  • Grant Broadcasting (Cairns, Australia) purchased three L-12 control surfaces and BLADES.

  • KSE Radio (Denver, CO) purchased an LX-24 control surfaces and BLADES.

  • Saga (Spencer,IA) purchased two IP-12 control surfaces.

  • Townsquare (Yakima, WA) purchased an IP-12 control surface.

  • Cox (Tampa, FL) purchased two IP-12 control surfaces.

  • Townsquare (Tuscaloosa, AL) purchased an IP-16 control surface.


Audioarts Engineering

  • KALX-FM (Berkeley, CA) purchased a D-76 audio console.

  • WGOH Radio (Grayson, KY) purchased an Air-4 console.

  • WDOG (Allendale, SC) purchased an Air-4 console.

  • KNDN Basin Broadcasting (Farmington, NM) purchased an Air-4 console.

  • WCCX 104.5 - CARROLL UNIVERSITY RADIO (Waukesha, WI) purchased an Air-5 console.

  • KTTR Radio (Rolla, MO) purchased an R-55e console.

  • Saga (Champain, IL) purchased a D-76 console.


Wheatstone Audio Processing

  • KBHW-FM/KXBR-FM (International Falls, MN) purchased an FM-55 audio processor.

  • University of Wisconsin’s WRST-FM (Oshkosh, WI) purchased an M4IP-USB four channel mic processor, three M-2 dual channel mic processors, and an Aura8-IP audio processor.

  • KHOC FM (Casper, WY) purchased an FM-55 audio processor.

  • Fox News HQ (New York, NY) purchased 14 M-1 mic processors.

  • TownSquare (Abilene, TX) purchased an FM-55 audio processor.

  • Entercom (Portland, OR) purchased an AM-55 audio processor.

  • Westwood One (New York, NY) purchased 16 M-2 dual channel mic processors.

  • Beasley (Fort Myers, FL) purchased two AirAura audio processors and a VP-8 audio processor.

  • CBS (Las Vegas, NV) purchased an M-2 dual channel mic processor.


VoxPro

  • RVA (Toronto, ON) purchased two VoxPro digital audio recorder/editors.

  • Alpha Media (Shreveport, LA) purchased five VoxPro digital audio recorders/editors through BSW.

  • KLTA/KQWB- GO Radio, L.L.C. (Fargo, ND) purchased a VoxPro6 digital audio recorder/editor.

  • KALC (Denver, CO) purchased a VoxPro6 digital audio recorder/editor.

  • Crawford Broadcast (Chicago, IL) purchased 4 VoxPro6 digital audio recorder/editors.

  • Momentum Broadcasting KCRZ KJUG (Caruthersville, MO) purchased a VoxPro6 digital audio recorder/editor.

  • TownSquare (Buffalo, NY) purchased three VoxPro6 digital audio recorder/editors.

  • Stephens Media Group (Tulsa, OK) purchased a VoxPro6 digital audio recorder/editor.

  • Medcom (Panama) purchased four VoxPro6 digital audio recorder/editors.

  • Ft Myers Broadcasting (Fort Myers, FL) purchased a VoxPro6 digital audio recorder/editor.

  • TownSquare (Poughkeepsie, NY) purchased a VoxPro6 digital audio recorder/editor.