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Soak it in: Summer of Products 2019

Fri, 08/09/2019 - 13:41

It’s new equipment season!

This annual feature is all about new gear that has come onto the market in recent months, especially during spring convention season.

Check out this installment of products, and also find previous batches online here.

Radial DAN-TX2 Dante Interface

Dante digital networks offer a lot of promise but how does one get non-Dante native audio equipment like CD players, analog mixers, computers or mobile devices onto the AES67/Dante network?

Radial Engineering’s DAN-TX2 is designed for such a mission. Housed in the standard Radial Engineering steel box, the DAN-TX2 offers XLR-1/4-inch combo inputs, RCA inputs and a 3.5 mm input.

Other features include inputs pads (18 dB), a stereo link, power over Ethernet and 24-bit/96 kHz conversion of your analog sources. An optional rackmount kit allows for putting a pair of DAN-TX2s into a rack.



Samson CL7a, CL8a Condenser Microphones

The Samson CL7a is a large-diaphragm condenser mic with a capsule sporting a 1.1-inch 3-micron thick, gold-sputtered diaphragm. Samson says it is intended to provide a balanced sound built around a smooth midrange and slight high-frequency lift around 15 kHz, ideally imparting a sense of air around the sound source.

The mic features a cardioid pickup pattern, along with a selectable two-pole high-pass filter at 100 Hz to remove unwanted low-frequency content like stage rumble and wind noise. Additionally, the CL7a can handle SPLs of up to 147 dB, and includes a 10 dB attenuation pad, which is used to prevent overloading the onboard preamplifier by lowering the input sensitivity of the microphone preamp circuit. Inside the durable die-cast body, an internal shock-mount provides protection for capsule and isolation from vibration noise.

Meanwhile, the Samson CL8a multipattern large-diaphragm condenser mic has a custom-tuned capsule with a dual 1.1-inch gold-sputtered, 4-micron thick diaphragm. This design provides a range of selectable pickup patterns (cardioid, omnidirectional and bidirectional). Similar to the CL7a, the CL8a has a selectable, two-pole high-pass filter at 100 Hz and a 10 dB attenuation pad, and it can handle SPLs up to 147 dB.


Art: SOP3-Avid

Avid Pro Tools 2019.5

Avid has released Pro Tools 2019.5, offering new capabilities including higher track counts, the promise of seamless track and timeline interactions during playback and macOS Mojave support, plus immediate availability of multiseat network site licensing.

According to Avid’s announcement, Pro Tools | Ultimate delivers 50% more voices/audio tracks than previous versions, supporting a base voice limit increase to 384, up from 256. Pro Tools | Ultimate software and HD Native customers will be able to further increase the number of available voices up to 768 per system — on par with a three-card Pro Tools | HDX system — with the addition of native Pro Tools | Ultimate Voice Packs.

Pro Tools now supports 1,024 MIDI tracks, up from 512.

The new Pro Tools release has enhanced playback features that enable more fluid creativity in the software, according to the company. For example, users can insert plug-ins, add or delete tracks, change routing or adjust loop duration during playback without playback errors.

Pro Tools | First users can now create and save an unlimited number of projects locally. Users can selectively sync up to three projects to their complimentary cloud storage.

Avid also announced the availability of Pro Tools multiseat network site licensing for facilities and institutions. Multiseat licensing enables administration of multiple Pro Tools seats from a single account and local server, eliminating the need for a multitude of physical iLok dongles and cumbersome site management. A Pro Tools or Pro Tools | Ultimate multiseat license includes the Avid Complete Plugin Bundle — plus HEAT, Pro Tools | MachineControl and Pro Tools | DigiLink I/O License — with all Pro Tools | Ultimate seats.

Pro Tools 2019.5 supports macOS Mojave, which is standard on recent Apple computers including the Mac mini 2018 and MacBook Pro 2018.


Art: SOP3-Sage

Sage Alerting Releases Update

Sage Alerting Systems has announced a free firmware update for its ENDEC model 3644.

Firmware Version 89-34 “addresses a changed requirement in the FCC EAS rules, Part 11.33(a)(10), which affects how the valid time frame of an alert is determined.” That modifies the current method of frame validation, according to the company.

Sage adds, “This release does not affect the ENDEC’s reception and relay of the scheduled Aug. 7 National Periodic Test. Whether your ENDEC is running version 89-30, 89-32 or this new version 89-34, your ENDEC will relay the NPT.”

Visit for more information or to download the update.

Perhaps larger than this specific update is a notice from Sage of an upcoming September update that will address changes to the IPAWS server. That update will be a paid update. More information on that coming.


The post Soak it in: Summer of Products 2019 appeared first on Radio World.

Radio Innovation: Embracing Old and New Technologies Alike

Fri, 08/09/2019 - 12:42

The spirit of the new innovative radio station will always be about mixing some of the old with some of the new. The key in this evolution is knowing what is important to you, your listeners and the impact it will have today or in the future. The challenges and successes will look very different from station to station, but together we can build the future of radio in new ways.

I work with two small Catholic radio stations, where our needs are likely very different than many of yours; but I’d like to share some of my experiences in the hope of inspiring others.

In the past, I have written about upgrading to Wheatstone IP and cool tools such as vClock. Today, I want to talk about other tools that have been driven in part by the change in the FCC studio rule.


For years, small stations struggled to maintain staffing simply to be open during business hours. Many small station owners went without vacations or even had to go to the station when they were sick. The alternative was hiring needless staff to sit and watch the door. With the changes to the FCC studio rule, our world has changed for the better.

As I started to help out my in-laws with Holy Spirit Radio, I was shocked by the amount the nonprofit was paying for phone service each month. For both stations and the multiple lines, they were paying close to $500 a month. Today, with even more functionality, the phone bills are less than $40. This cost savings has allowed us to add wireless internet backup and improved internet speeds for our wired connections at both locations (and still save over $200 a month).

We added a few devices from a company called OBiTalk, a division of Polycom. The OBiTalk devices allowed us to connect traditional phones, fax machines and phone hybrids in the studios with voice over internet protocol (VoIP) phone connections. In areas where public numbers were not required, we used the free Google Voice service. Google Voice allows calls within the U.S., Mexico and Canada for free.

This OBiTalk device allows connection of traditional phones and phone devices with VoIP phone connections.

We connected our WVRC units to Google Voice via an OBiTalk device. We changed our published numbers to a company called Callcentric. We even added a toll-free number. We now block all spam calls from getting through any of our phone lines. If one sneaks through, we add a rule for that number as well. I hate getting calls that my Google listing has expired!

The switch to VoIP and Google Voice has allowed many other shifts. As an example, we now have all calls to the station ring at the station, but also on my cell phone and in my house. We are now able to interact with listeners more.

Historically, we paid for extra lines year-round, but VoIP works very differently. It has channels instead of different lines. So, our primary line has three channels year-round, but we can increase it to six when we run our radiothon to raise donations.

This has also changed how we bring callers on the air. We can still use our hybrid, but we can also use an internet connection on our computers with the same phone numbers. We even have one host who, due to schedule conflicts, has been recording his show over the phone. In the past, I would drive to the station to do this, but today I can do this from the comfort of wherever I am on my laptop. One of these days I should teach him how to record using his computer.

The challenge we all face is the different levels of our staff’s technological expertise (or lack thereof). Changes can be difficult for certain members of the radio station staff, but, sometimes, you can make changes that they do not even know about or need to understand.


So today we can answer the station’s phone from anywhere in the world! There is no need to be in the studio to do that basic task, but what if a package is delivered or someone visits the station unexpectedly when no one is available?

With this Schlage SmartThings lock, I can unlock the door remotely.

Today we have a SmartThings door lock built by Schlage, a SmartThings alarm system and Ring cameras around the perimeter of the radio station and the doorbell. The doorbell allows us to answer the door using our smartphone. We can even have a full conversation with the person visiting. With the SmartThings lock, I can even unlock the door and turn off the alarm if I want to let them in (which has not happened yet). New technologies can allow us to be present even if we are not!

Radio engineers have always been good at setting up remote access to equipment such as the Broadcast Tools WVRC Plus boxes remote control or automation software with remote capabilities. At our stations, our engineer set up PCAnywhere on all the important computers. Unfortunately, this software does not meet today’s security standards or work effectively. Windows has options, but I have found they are not as user-friendly as they could be, especially for some members of our team.

This ring doorbell allows us to screen visitors without letting them in.

There are many services such as LogMeIn, GotoMyPC, TeamViewer and so many others. We initially switched to LogMeIn, but price increases made it difficult for a non-profit to continue. Today we use one called Splashtop ($99 per year). The service works just like LogMeIn, so it is easy for anyone to use. It allows us to manage our computers, help staff when they are recording or troubleshoot and correct issues in real-time from anywhere or any device. It is a software concept that is not new or sexy, but it is certainly necessary, especially for smaller stations without large staffing or presence.


One of the greatest changes we have made has been moving our files to the cloud. The cloud can be a scary place but, like anything, it can be used for good. We already use cloud-based services to manage our donor list and other aspects of our business.

A few years back, we had an issue when the hard-drive went bad on our automation computer. Luckily, we lost very few files as we were able to gain access to parts of the drive, and we had backup for others. It was a lot of work to piece it all back together, but it drove us to make changes.

One of the changes was adding a service called Dropbox. You may know it as a method to email large files, but Dropbox has services that allow you to map drives on your computer, and it automatically syncs the files to the cloud and to other computers that are logged into it. This has served us in many ways.

Dropbox is a great way to share large files.

First, some of our hosts create their program in other locations, so they can save them to Dropbox and they are already mapped to our automation software. I have Dropbox on my home computer and can edit any show or PSA at home, hit save, and it is automatically updated on the air. Dropbox has allowed our office or studio to be wherever we want it to be!

There are many cool uses with this technology. It just takes imagination. We have two stations that currently play identical programming, but if I wanted to, I could use Dropbox to set up alternative programming for one of the locations. I could share programming logs, but change the carts within the automation software to have local sponsor or PSAs.

Today our secondary location has a multitude of backups if the main connection goes down. If everything fails, the station will play the same programming from one week earlier. It would be hard for a listener to even notice a difference. Our recording software records the programs and automatically saves it to Dropbox. Then at the other location, the backup logs load in the files from the prior week. This is all done automatically with no effort from me.


Some of these technologies are not that new or innovative; but it is how we go about using them that matters. Over the past year, I have been using a very old technology to automate virtually every aspect of things we do each week.

As a small station, we take our primary content from satellite, but there are many other pieces of content as well. Some is emailed to us while others we have to download from specific websites weekly or sometimes daily. I have used an old technology called batch files to automate all of this.

We have batch files that download from specific websites. We have others that look at certain folders such as Dropbox or Google Drive to rename and move files. One example is a program that is emailed each week and airs on Sunday. On my Google phone, I click a button and it saves the program file to a Google drive. Every Sunday morning, the day the show airs, the computer automatically looks for the file and copies it to our website and into our automation software files.

How do you find ways to use old ideas like batch files? They often look difficult, but a quick Google search can find answers to many of your questions. You simply use a text editor (free program on all Windows computers), save the file as a .bat file, and then add it to Task Scheduler, which is also part of Windows. It is all about formatting each line in a precise manner. I had to figure out how to download files with varying date formats, but once I was able to figure it out, I will never have to touch the files again.

The world is changing constantly. Some of the changes are for the better, in my opinion, such as the elimination of the FCC main studio rule. The key is how can we change the way we work to ensure we are seeing the greatest benefits while providing an even better listening experience. Sometimes it requires mixing old and new technologies with thinking a little outside the box. Isn’t this the way radio has always been?

Frank Eliason is a consultant helping Fortune 500 brands with customer experience and digital disruption. He is an author and director of operations for Holy Spirit Radio in the Philadelphia area.

The post Radio Innovation: Embracing Old and New Technologies Alike appeared first on Radio World.

VB-Audio Software: France’s Best Kept Secret

Fri, 08/09/2019 - 11:13
A screenshot from the MT series

Vincent Burel, the brains behind VB-Audio Software, started out in the late 1990s writing DirectX and VST plugins, along with plugins in other proprietary formats. Most notable was his shareware Quickverb plugin, able to run on the original Pentium processor without maxxing it out; no mean feat back in those days. 

A screenshot from the MT series

Plugin development continued to be the core of VB-Audio’s efforts through the mid-2000s. Then, teaming up with developer Joram Ludwig, Vincent created the MT128 multitrack recording system, VB-Audio’s flagship product. Today, in addition to the MT128, VB-Audio offers several handy applications, from a software spectrum analyzer to software mixers, on up to DAWs like MT-64 and MT-32 SPLite, scaled-down versions of MT128.  


One of the most useful apps I found on the company’s website was the Voicemeeter mixer. Voicemeeter comes in three iterations: just plain Voicemeeter, Voicemeeter Banana and Voicemeeter Potato. 

These are essentially replacements for the Windows audio mixer, but they’re replacements on steroids. The Voicemeeter can present up to three hardware inputs, depending on your sound card configuration, and three virtual inputs, which can be configured from any software that uses an audio device, such as Skype, or a DAW program. Outputs can feed either a hardware sound card or any virtual destination. This makes it ideal for mixing mics and other sources for a podcast or a portable production rig. The Banana version includes a built-in recorder that can capture a stereo mix or individual channels. The interface is reminiscent of the old “Portastudio” multitrack cassette recorders a lot of us cut our teeth on. The Potato version adds more tracks, effects, and aux sends.

The “Potato” Voicemeeter

I asked Vincent Burel where he came up with names like Banana and Potato for the different versions. 

“When I developed the second version of Voicemeeter, I did not want to add a boring suffix like ‘Pro’ or ‘XL’ or … whatever. The Voicemeeter name was already boring; so I said, ‘Let’s find something funny, that people will keep in mind.’ The ‘Banana’ suffix comes naturally!” 

As for Potato? “Potato version sounded obvious.” Obviously …

Another handy app is VBAN, a network-based audio delivery system designed to work with Voicemeeter or the MT series. Basically, audio being played back on one PC can be delivered over a LAN to another PC and monitored and/or recorded there in real time. This sure beats running additional audio cables through the building! 

[Bask in the Glow: Summer of Products 2019]

The Voicemeeter VBAN software hub can send audio to up to four destinations on the LAN that are running the VBAN Receptor program. From there, the audio can be routed to the Windows default audio device, or to any DAW software input. A live performance in one studio can be captured in multiple production studios for recording, safety backup, or just confidence monitoring.

VB-Cable is a virtual device that, once installed, appears as just another available sound device in Windows. It behaves like an audio patch cable, allowing the user to connect various audio hardware devices with any audio software or vice-versa. 

Let’s say I need to record only the audio from a YouTube video. I can bring up my DAW software, and under audio input devices, select VB-Cable, route my Windows default sound playback device accordingly, and VB-Cable seamlessly routes Windows audio to my DAW. VB-Cable comes with a small app to control settings, allowing input level adjustments and analysis of the incoming signal.

[Cleanfeed Offers Effective Remote Solution]

The beauty of these smaller offerings is the “donationware” distribution model. To activate the software, a donation of any amount can be made to VB-Audio. Suggested prices (very reasonable) are listed in the site’s web store. MT-64 and MT-128 have fixed license fees.

Speaking of MT-64, it provides up to 64 tracks of recording and playback, with a few nifty extras thrown in, for $150. (The scaled down MT-32 version has many of the same features with half the available tracks, but doesn’t include project management, which allows the user to save and recall projects.) 

One handy feature of the MT series for broadcast use is the Sound Pad. This allows a user to very easily load soundbites, samples, loops, stingers, etc. into one screen and fire them off on demand. All of VB-Audio’s apps are optimized for touchscreen operation, making this even easier to use. 


In terms of project management, one well-thought-out trick MT-64 has up its sleeve is the ability to mirror hard disks right within the program. During initial setup of a project, the user can configure MT-64 to record to two separate drives simultaneously, with one mirroring the other, so a drive glitch or failure doesn’t ruin a mission-critical recording. 

It also has the ability to quickly edit and mix multiple tracks, record continuously or for a set duration (useful when recording satellite feeds, etc.), and provide up to eight stereo aux buses for monitoring.

My only real complaint with MT-64 is the lack of audio processing features such as EQ, compression or effects. There’s no VST or DirectX implementation either. 

I chatted with Vincent on that point. He explained that the MT system was “originally made as a multitrack recorder only, designed to be connected to a mixing console, like a true tape recorder.” He mentioned that plans are afoot to implement a complete mixing environment into the system. The Voicemeeter mixers do provide at least some rudimentary EQ and processing on the hardware input channels; and Voicemeeter Potato includes reverb. “Voicemeeter is a kind of proof-of-concept for all our virtual live mixing console projects,” Vincent said.

[AEQ Helps ISB Cover 2nd European Games]

This is the main reason behind the donationware payment model. I kind of wish VB-Audio would include a scaled-down version of the Sound Pad feature in at least one of the Voicemeeter mixers. I could even see paying a set price for that. I look forward to seeing full mixing and processing capabilities added to the MT series. Coupling that with one or two multitrack sound cards from the likes of RME, Digigram, or ASI would make for a powerhouse standalone DAW.

Also, because of its optimization for touchscreens, the interface may not seem as intuitive as other applications. Gone are the usual Windows menus at the top of the screen, as is right-clicking; but standard Windows keyboard shortcuts remain. Fortunately, a well-written manual is provided; and the website is loaded with tutorial YouTube videos, many produced by users of VB-Audio products.

These days more and more production elements are coming from virtual sources, and being delivered in similar fashion. VB-Audio has produced utilitarian, stable tools to make using and producing those elements a lot easier. Definitely worth a look.

Curt Yengst, CSRE, is an assistant engineer with WAWZ(FM) in Zarephath, N.J.

The post VB-Audio Software: France’s Best Kept Secret appeared first on Radio World.

IBC Sneak Peek: DRM Highlights Recent Progress

Fri, 08/09/2019 - 00:00

Digital Radio Mondiale is preparing for its presence at IBC2019 in Amsterdam, Sept. 13–17.

Under the overarching theme “DRM — Smart Radio For All,” the DRM consortium is organizing two interactive sessions that will look at the practical implementation of DRM in various parts of the world. These sessions will also focus on receivers and receiver solutions.

Gospell will host the first DRM event, “The Gospell Receiver — End to End Solution for Your Needs,” at 3:30 p.m. Friday Sept. 13 on stand 3.C67.

On Saturday Sept. 14 at 3:30 p.m. Nautel will hold a DRM session at its booth 8.C49. This gathering will provide attendees with information on developments regarding recent DRM implementation. It’ll also detail the standard’s benefits and some of the creative ways in which DRM can be put into practice.

For more details and an invitation please write to:

IBC Stand: 3.C67 (Gospell); 8.C49 (Nautel)


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The post IBC Sneak Peek: DRM Highlights Recent Progress appeared first on Radio World.

iHeart Doubles Down on “Podcast, Meet Broadcast” Strategy

Thu, 08/08/2019 - 15:00

This weekend, iHeartMedia will launch the next element of its “Podcast, Meet Broadcast” initiative. The company says it wants to introduce new listeners to the format via 270 radio stations and an iHeart original podcast co-produced with Funny Or Die.

According to a press release, the first of iHeart’s new “Sunday Night Podcasts” programming will debut Aug. 11, headlined by Episode One of Season Two of “The Ron Burgundy Podcast.”

“Research shows that more than two-thirds of the population still are not dedicated podcast listeners — many have never even heard a podcast before — and Sunday Night Podcasts will help introduce different audio series from a variety of genres to a whole new audience,” iHeartPodcast Network President Conal Byrne said in the announcement.

Sunday Night Podcasts will be tailored according to station format, and iHeart says some of the other to-be-featured podcasts include:  “Stuff You Should Know,” “Ridiculous History,” “Atlanta Monster,” “Stuff You Missed in History Class,” “TechStuff,” “Math & Magic: Stories from the Frontiers of Marketing,” “Whine Down with Jana Kramer,” “Hell and Gone,” “The Ben and Ashley I. Almost Famous Podcast” and “Happy Face.”

iHeart first tried out this strategy in October 2017, with a one-hour special airing of “Inside Psycho” on 70 news/talk stations. Then in June of last year, the company signed Anna Faris to bring the “Anna Faris Is Unqualified” podcast to broadcast radio, as well as the iHeartPodcast Network.

Additionally, iHeart says the exposure has demonstrably changed download numbers for podcasts in the past. Case in point: True-crime podcast “Disgraceland” aired on about 70 classic rock stations in March, and during the following week, the number of downloads doubled the podcast’s weekly average.

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The post iHeart Doubles Down on “Podcast, Meet Broadcast” Strategy appeared first on Radio World.

Insertel Canarias Trusts AEQ

Thu, 08/08/2019 - 14:50


Carlos Medina (left), project manager, and Henry Reyes, technical director working with AEQ Phoenix audio codecs and Phoenix Control software.

SANTA CRUZ DE TENERIFE, Spain — Insertel is a telecommunications company located and operating in the archipelago of Spain’s Canary Islands, off the coast of Africa. The company provides broadcast telecommunication services for radio and TV stations, including the hosting of communications and IT systems for third-party transmission centers.

Both Carlos Medina as our project engineer and myself, Henry Reyes, representing the company’s technical direction and operations, bet heavily on AEQ technology as part of our services for radio broadcasters. These services consist in transporting their program and contribution audio over IP Networks and especially over the internet.

From the start of the project we relied on AEQ Phoenix audio codecs. We have recently expanded our network with eight Phoenix Venus 3, seven Phoenix Mercury and three Phoenix Alio codecs. The units installed are dependent on our customers’ needs, the type of connection that they require and also the type of link available.

The Phoenix Alio has allowed us to expand our services while providing greater flexibility for our users, since it includes a mixer with five inputs (four mono and stereo line), headphone outputs and line output, all in the same unit, allowing us to provide services of outside broadcasts to our clients.
Phoenix Alio is a portable audio codec with physical interface that can also be controlled remotely, with a help request button and the smart RTP communication establishment protocol. These characteristics make it easier for us to monitor and control the services we provide.

We currently have point-to-point connections, multipoint connections and outdoor services.

[AEQ Netboxes Provide Access to IP]

Given the large number of codecs connected in our network, and its wide geographical distribution throughout the islands of the archipelago, from the company’s perspective we considered it very important to have a centralized management system. The AEQ PhoenixControl IT platform has all the necessary tools for the network management.

From AEQ PhoenixControl we can monitor the status of all audio codecs connected, see alarms and events, even check the audio levels of input and output of each piece of equipment thanks to real-time precise data on screen, as well as having the ability to initiate and modify of any connection between remote teams in a fast and intuitive way.

On our Insertel network we normally use RTP communications for our point-to-point connections; however, the AEQ Phoenix codecs allow us to use any other common protocols to establish the connections. That can include SIP, either with or without a proxy server.

For connections requiring a SIP server, AEQ provides free of charge the use of their dedicated SIP server. This service is included with all of the codecs that AEQ sells and allows us to connect two codecs without the need for fixed IP addresses.

Also, the AEQ audio codecs allow us to configure and modify the buffer to enable the correction of communication errors.

At Insertel we have trusted the technology from AEQ because it is a manufacturer of recognized reputation and its products offer superior performance in the real world. We can testify that it is up to our standards and very reliable.

For information, contact Peter Howarth at AEQ in Florida at 1-800-728-0536 or visit

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Equity Communications Creates Three-Signal Oldies Footprint

Thu, 08/08/2019 - 14:18

Equity Communications is highlighting an unusual programming strategy in southern New Jersey involving a trimulcast on two AM and one FM signals.

It has added the FM to an existing simulcast of oldies currently heard on WMID 1340 AM and WCMC 1230 AM Atlantic City-Cape May.

“The new signal — Wildwood Crest-licensed 93.1 FM — is co-owned by Equity Communications LP and was the former easy listening station WEZW,” the company stated in an announcement.

“The new signal provides FM coverage to the WMID/WCMC AM simulcast in portions of Atlantic and Cape May counties. This trimulcast is an effort to introduce ’50s, ’60s & ’70s classic oldies to listeners who don’t tune into AM for music and haven’t heard these songs in 30 years.”

Equity President/Owner Gary Fisher said this content has found a “fanatical” following nationally via streaming and mobile app, and that local listeners seem particularly engaged with it, expressing gratitude that the music is on the radio. “Now our local South Jersey listeners can have the same quality listening experience and enjoy these timeless classics in digital FM stereo.”

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The post Equity Communications Creates Three-Signal Oldies Footprint appeared first on Radio World.

“The Disease of More”

Thu, 08/08/2019 - 11:24
Patrick McFadden

In late July, NAB Vice President of Strategic Planning Patrick McFadden blogged about the FCC’s proceeding about possibly reallocating carriers a portion of the C-band to wireless carriers. Some excerpts:

The conventional wisdom in the communications arena is that the United States is engaged in a race to be the first nation to deploy the next generation of wireless technology: 5G. But while many insist on the importance of winning the ‘Race to 5G,’ we somehow can’t quite get out of the starting blocks. …

Up to this point, the FCC has been working as quickly and responsibly as it can to resolve the critical questions regarding what to do with the C-band … That process has led to a consensus that it is possible to reallocate a portion of C-band spectrum while protecting television viewers and radio listeners from disruption. 

Further, a consortium of satellite companies has demonstrated that they can make 200 MHz of spectrum available in the very near future while continuing to accommodate programming distribution in the remaining 300 MHz. While certain details still must be worked out, including the mechanism for the sale of spectrum to wireless companies and the interference rules to ensure a peaceful coexistence between wireless and satellite operations, a 200/300 split has emerged as a bird in the hand that would allow the FCC to move forward quickly without running the risk of programming disruptions. …

Unfortunately, because of pressure from competing interests, the FCC has been reluctant to take the win. The devastating consequence is that the C-band Alliance, a consortium of satellite operators that currently use the C-band, is feeling undue pressure to come up with even more than 200 MHz to reallocate for wireless services. This pressure will lead to bad results for consumers across the country. As they themselves have insisted to the FCC and their customers, there is simply no reasonable way for satellite operators to provide the same level of service to their existing customers if they must immediately surrender more than 200 MHz. …

There’s a win staring us all in the face: reallocating 200 MHz of C-band spectrum as quickly as possible while protecting critical content distribution infrastructure in the remaining 300 MHz. A relentless insistence on getting to a higher number for the sake of getting to a higher number carries real risk of breaking the content distribution system that viewers and listeners depend on today. …

The commission can revisit the C-band as technology evolves and alternative distribution mechanisms become more viable. But forcing a messy, disruptive and delayed result for multiple industries for the sake of a higher number of megahertz right now seems to benefit no one.

We urge the commission not to make “more” the only goal of this proceeding. …

The post “The Disease of More” appeared first on Radio World.

IBC Sneak Peek: StreamGuys Expands SGrecast Integration

Thu, 08/08/2019 - 11:13

Streaming services developer StreamGuys has made available a new API for its SGrecast stream recorder/playback system. The new API is designed to allow frequent users of SGrecast to customize it and integrate it into the user’s workflow.

In other words, it would allow one to build a custom SGrecast GUI similar to the way an OEM makes a house brandable product for varying clients.

StreamGuys President Kiriki Delany explains: “While our SaaS solutions provide very powerful functionality on their own, large media enterprises such as radio station groups often have an established fabric of workflows spanning their production and publishing operations… By offering APIs for SGrecast and other StreamGuys solutions, we are making it easier to tie our offerings into those customers’ current systems and bringing our services into their ecosystems. This creates more opportunities for automation, while enabling users to access our robust capabilities from within their current tools without needing to separately open our standard user interfaces”

A release elaborates, “The new API enables clients to programmatically manage recordings; create new content in the system via uploads; edit content and metadata; list and view all content in the system; generate embeddable content players; request content-related information such as metadata and delivery URLs; and much more.”

Furthermore, “StreamGuys will also introduce new APIs for its analytics and monitoring tools in the coming months, including the SGmon real-time listener and bandwidth metrics service and the SGreports logging and analysis service. Longer-term, APIs for additional solutions in StreamGuys’ end-to-end SaaS suite for producing, managing, monetizing, and delivering live and on-demand streaming media will be introduced based on customer demand.”

IBC Stand: 8.A59 (ENCO)


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C-Band Contention Ramps Up

Thu, 08/08/2019 - 11:06
GettyImages/ jaroszpilewski

Seems like everyone has been floating a proposal on what the FCC should do with the C-band. Plans from competing groups in Washington have generated buzz in broadcast circles, and even members of Congress recently released some details of their own compromise proposals for the spectrum.

At this point it seems certain that the FCC will transfer some or all of the 500 MHz spectrum of the C-band to wireless companies for new terrestrial 5G networks, in some manner. Experts say radio broadcasters who receive programming via satellite earth-stations could face disruptions and financial ramifications of a massive C-band migration caused by a repack.

The value of the band — and we are finding out just how valuable it is — is drawing lots of attention from broadband companies who want to see the repurposing of the spectrum (3.7–4.2 GHz) for 5G use. Other groups including the National Association of Broadcasters, National Public Radio and the Society of Broadcast Engineers, want to avoid a spectrum crunch; they regard the spectrum as essential for broadcasters and the fixed satellite service licenses using the 500 MHz for distribution of programming.

Some of the stakeholders told Radio World in July that the interest groups involved are trying to find what one called “a mutually acceptable landing spot for the spectrum shakeup.” 


The FCC will ultimately resolve the 5G mid-band state of affairs, observers said, with a Report and Order expected later in 2019. 

The commission’s options include splitting up the C-band spectrum or mandating the sharing of the same spectrum by both commercial wireless and fixed satellite users. The latter is something NAB and NPR oppose. 

Ideally, the FCC could just pick the proposal with the most stakeholder support behind it, but none of the competing proposals has gained universal support from wireless carriers or broadcasters, said one industry insider. 

One thing that is clear to observers is that the 5G FAST plan spearheaded by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is moving forward. 

The 5G FAST plan includes three central components: freeing up much more spectrum for the commercial marketplace, promoting wireless infrastructure deployment and modernizing regulations to promote more fiber deployment, according to Pai.

The commission in June voted to modernize the legacy regulatory framework for the 2.5 GHz band to make it available for advanced wireless services, including 5G. It’s not clear how that move could impact the C-band decision, industry observers said. 

In addition, the FCC intends to start its third 5G spectrum auction in December 2019. It will be the largest spectrum auction in the nation’s history, according to the FCC, with 3,400 megahertz in three bands to be auctioned. 


NAB says it is playing a constructive role in the FCC’s C-band rulemaking process, according to Patrick McFadden, associate general counsel for NAB. 

“More than a hundred million American households depend on the C-band spectrum for news and entertainment they enjoy every day. As the FCC weighs options for reallocating a portion of the C-band, NAB is committed to working with the commission and other stakeholders to protect viewers and listeners from disruption or loss of service,” McFadden said. 

There are more than 16,000 registered receive-only dishes in the field, according to NAB, being used to receive national and syndicated programming for TV and radio. 

NAB has asked the FCC to take a cautious approach into wireless expansion of the band and continues to press for a realistic resolution. 

“Small missteps in this proceeding will have dramatic ramifications that threaten the stability and reliability of the infrastructure that distributes content American viewers and listeners enjoy, and in which programmers invest billions of dollars every year,” it wrote the FCC in an early filing.

The C-band Alliance, led by Intelset, SES and Intel, has proposed to split the band frequency, with 200 MHz for 5G and reserving 300 MHz for the broadcast community’s C-band dishes near the top of the range. Observers said the plan keeps 5G away from aeronautical mobile folks above 4.2 GHz. 

The CBA’s proposed approach would clear 200 MHz of the C-band in 18 to 36 months for terrestrial 5G use via a market-based mechanism.

[With Earth Station Filing Deadline Set, FCC Will Eye Potential C Band Opportunities]

The commission has asked for comment on auction-based and market-based proposals, according to FCC filings.  

“There are some very compelling parts to it,” said one person familiar with the alliance proposal. “This is what (the alliance) are expert in, so I would imagine it will carry weight at the commission.”  

In addition, the alliance has established a schedule of “transition-related expenses” that satellite operators would reimburse customers, including broadcasters, for repacking expenses — if the FCC accepts its plan. 

NAB asked the FCC in an early filing to ensure that “costs for implementing such a plan should be entirely borne by the beneficiaries of any private or public spectrum transaction: either the satellite operators or the mobile carriers who acquire spectrum usage rights.”


National Public Radio also is pressing the FCC for clarity in its final decision when it comes to the financial ramifications of a massive C-band migration of satellite earth-stations caused by a repack. 

NPR has a lot riding on the FCC’s decision, according to public radio officials, since the Public Radio Satellite System (PRSS) depends on C-band for distribution of programming to approximately 1,278 public radio stations, said Adam Shoemaker, counsel for NPR, in an FCC filing.

“We’ve been very active at the FCC and seen every one of the commission staff and most of the commissioners,” said Mike Riksen, VP for policy and representation for NPR. 

“We’ve also been very active on Capitol Hill with members of Congress. We want to make sure the policymakers who will make decisions on this are aware of our heavy reliance on the C-band.”

The public broadcaster is supportive of the Intelset approach, Riksen said, and the “continued access to C-band frequencies that are affordable to us in the public broadcasting world.”

NPR prefers a “division of spectrum” with designated spectrum for incumbent and commercial wireless users rather than mandating the sharing of the same spectrum, Riksen said.

“(NPR) has some basic requirements. We need access to C-band frequencies at affordable rates and we need it for reliable service,” Riksen said.

The FCC began vetting the idea of repurposing the C-band in July 2018 with a notice of proposed rulemaking. The commission earlier this summer asked for additional comments on several questions, including protection criteria for licensed or registered receive-only earth station operators against co-primary terrestrial operations; and how to accommodate licensed or registered earth station operators that are displaced as a result of repurposing the C-band.

[SBE Puts Forth C-Band Alternative]

Some experts told Radio World they see the FCC eventually splitting the band evenly 250/250 MHz each with most stakeholders willing to accept some frequency division. However some of the big commercial wireless carriers, like T-Mobile, still believe they have the horsepower to carry this through and gain more spectrum. 

T-Mobile has gone so far as to recommend that all satellite downlink sites be replaced by fiber, something NAB and NPR and other broadcast groups call “completely unacceptable.” 

“It’s become quite obvious that the FCC has no intention other than accommodating 5G since there is fear this country is already behind Europe and Japan in 5G rollout,” said Chris Imlay, SBE general counsel.            


And the fight for spectrum for next-gen broadband and wireless services has taken a political turn, according to industry insiders. 

To be determined is whether the commission ultimately chooses to reallocate some portion of the C-band through a private arrangement, a government-administered auction or some other mechanism. 

Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.), chair of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, earlier this year blasted the C-band Alliance proposal, which, if conducted as a private sale, would be worth billions of dollars to the consortium, he said.

It’s “irresponsible and unconscionable” for the FCC to give money to satellite companies when “the broadband needs of our country are so great,” Doyle said at a May subcommittee meeting, as quoted in media reports.

Doyle, who said he has seen some accounts that place the value of the C-band as high as $70 billion, wants the money to go to 5G deployment in this country.

More recently, Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Ca.) vice chair of the same committee Doyle oversees, proposed a compromise to repurpose the C-band. Her plan, called the “WIN 5G Act,” would use a “consensus-based, compromise approach to reallocate” the spectrum. 

NPR asked the FCC in July that “receive-only earth stations be allowed to participate in any reverse auction or other reallocation procedure that would affect their existing use of C-band spectrum,” according to its filing.

Since Congress makes laws and an agency like the FCC implements them, NPR’s Riksen said, the FCC must ultimately follow the lead of Congress.

“The FCC can make policy only through regulatory action. It has no statutory authority to do so,” Riksen said. 

[Senators Urge FCC to Be Mindful of C Band Incumbents]

Wireless groups, like the Competitive Carriers Association, ACA Connects: America’s Communications Association and Charter Communications, have proposed an even larger chunk of C-band’s 500 megahertz be reallocated for wireless than what the C-band Alliance would create. CCA proposes 370 MHZ or more for 5G and broadband development.

In addition, the FCC is still considering the flexible use of parts of C-band spectrum. The sharing of the 3.7 GHz to 4.2 GHz band between satellite earth-stations and point-to-multipoint (P2MP) systems remains a possibility, experts say.

The Wireless Internet Service Providers Association along with Google and Microsoft have presented the FCC a plan and submitted research that shows the two services can co-exist on the same frequencies. The companies want to development of broadband service to rural parts of the country over fixed wireless access points, according to published accounts. 

You can read comments on the proposed C-band repurposing by going through the FCC ECFS database using Docket 18-122. 

[The Disease of More]

The post C-Band Contention Ramps Up appeared first on Radio World.

Surveillance Systems Are Powerful Site Monitors

Thu, 08/08/2019 - 05:02

A couple of years ago I faced a health crisis that sidelined me, as far as physical activity goes, for the better part of a year. Thank God that’s all in the rearview mirror now and I have fairly well adjusted to the “new normal.”

The NVR we use accommodates eight cameras with its internal PoE switch, but more can be added with an external switch.

It was during that period of imposed physical inactivity that I learned some things that were useful to me then and remain so now.

My job is primarily performed behind a desk and has been for years. I have great people in the individual markets and have no need to micromanage them. Rather, I serve as more of a resource for them, providing them with the tools, equipment and training they need to do their jobs.

Even so, to effectively do that, I would travel quite a bit, hitting all the markets every few years, giving me some face time with our people and eyeballing the facilities and equipment. With the information that I gathered during those trips, I was much better equipped to provide resources and planning for the facilities.

So it was with some frustration that I tried to perform at that same level without being able to travel and lay eyes on the sites and facilities. I was hamstrung and needed a solution.


It occurred to me that we had arrays of security cameras at many of the sites. Some I could tap into remotely and actually see the sites, although the field of view would be limited to those of the individual cameras, which were strategically located and pointed at areas of specific interest that did not necessarily coincide with what I wanted to see.

Still, those cameras did give me a window to the world, and they did provide some useful information. That, along with the GUI interfaces of critical pieces of equipment, allowed me to look in at will and gauge the overall health of many of our studios and transmitter sites.

While all that was going on, one of our markets did some upgrades to its studio and tower site cameras. The engineering manager there had found a source of reasonably priced high-resolution, dual-mode cameras and network video recorders, or NVRs. I was impressed with the quality of the images, which was infinitely better than the 480i images we had been working with. In fact, we had some instances of trespassing at one of our Southern California facilities — thankfully no damage — and I was completely unable to recover any identifiable facial images. It got me to thinking that the images from our DVR-based 480i surveillance systems were no better than those blurry bank robber images we so often see on the local news that invariably make me think, “Sure, I recognize that guy.” Right.

It was at that point that I vowed to make improvements — big improvements — and I would do it with the same family of equipment that we had already installed and were using in one market.

In the past, we have used contractors for video surveillance systems, but it seemed to me that this newer equipment, which uses Ethernet to connect cameras to NVR, could easily be installed by our own people and at a considerable savings. I also knew that our people would do a much better job of the installation than the typical security system installer.


We started with our Denver locations, installing 4K dual-mode fixed bullet cameras in strategic locations and 4K dual-mode PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) dome cameras where they would have the most unobstructed views of the site.

This image is from one of the 4K bullet cameras some 400 feet from the tower base. The 1-inch lettering on the video surveillance sign is visible.

Installation was easy. Running the Cat-5 cables was the hardest part. Mounting of cameras on block walls was done with concrete anchors, and all wiring connections were made inside the walls (or better said, were made outside with the connection then pushed back into the wall cavity where it would remain dry and out of the elements).

Camera power was provided by PoE (Power over Ethernet), built into the switch inside the NVR. That eliminated the need to run separate power cables, as had been done with the older 480i coax-based systems.

The NVRs came without hard drives, but a quick trip to Micro Center took care of that. We purchased a pair of 4 TB 3.5-inch SATA drives for each NVR and installed them in the places provided. The systems recognized them and we were off to the races. Western Digital makes a line of “Purple” hard drives specifically for this purpose.

The remainder of the project at each site involved opening the appropriate ports and setting up routing so that we could log into the NVRs from the outside world.

Once that was done, we could peek in with the browser of our choice or a mobile app. We could look at live views of any of the cameras, pointing the PTZ camera at whatever was of interest, or we could look at recorded material going back several weeks. We set the PTZ cameras up to “tour” the site, moving from view to view continually after a suitable timeout following manual control.

In addition to giving us regular looks at various points of interest in the recorded material, the continuous movement of the “Eye of Sauron” should give intruders the impression that someone is watching!


We quickly found out some interesting things about these network-based systems.

One is that we could, in many cases, visually check the tower lights with the PTZ. Another is that we could set up motion detection zones and schedules on individual cameras — and that rain and insect activity would often trigger the motion alarms.

We also found that we have a lot of interesting critters roaming our sites, especially at night. At our mountaintop site in Orange County, California, we regularly see deer, coyotes and occasionally really big kitty cats.

As for resolution, it is outstanding. It’s no problem pulling a facial image or even a license plate number from the color day or IR night images. It’s easy to see if the grass needs cutting, or if someone left a gate or door open, or how often a contract engineer visits the site and how long he stays.

We can also see what the weather and ground conditions are at the sites, which can be significantly different than the weather and conditions just a few miles away.

In short, together with web-based SNMP-enabled remote control systems and equipment GUI interfaces, we now have a means of monitoring our sites in ways we didn’t even dream of just a few years ago. In addition to monitoring our equipment, we have a way to get high-resolution real-time visuals from our sites, and this goes way beyond security applications. It’s true that with these new surveillance arrays, we can remotely investigate alarm system trips to see if they’re real or not, and we do give our security monitoring contractors logins so they can do this, but the uses go way beyond that for our purposes. It’s almost like having a manned site.

The cost, if you do the installation yourself, is a lot less than you might think. NVRs are about $300 plus drives. Auto-tracking dual-mode PTZs are under $900. Dual-mode bullet cameras with remote zoom are under $300. The NVRs can handle eight cameras with the internal switch, but you can expand that with an external PoE switch.

With a state-of-the-art video surveillance system, monitoring of our transmitter sites has moved way beyond remote control.

Cris Alexander, CPBE, AMD, DRB, is director of engineering of Crawford Broadcasting Co. and technical editor of RW Engineering Extra.

The post Surveillance Systems Are Powerful Site Monitors appeared first on Radio World.

IP Security Considerations for Radio Broadcasters

Wed, 08/07/2019 - 18:00

The author is marketing and technical communications manager for Tieline.

It has never been more important to ensure broadcasters employ vigilant IT cybersecurity protocols in broadcast plants. If you are connected to the internet, you are at risk.

As unbelievable as it seems, many broadcasters still have a laissez-faire attitude to IP network security. Why?

Some of the main reasons for this include:

  1. An incomplete strategic threat analysis.
  2. Underinvestment in adequate security systems across the network.
  3. A lack of investment in adequate human resources and training.
The CIA Triad of Network Security

In the past, the broadcast plant was somewhat protected from external intrusions. Wayne Pecena from Texas A&M University is a frequent lecturer on IP networking and cybersecurity to the broadcast industry. “The broadcast technical plant has been relatively immune from cybersecurity threats as the traditional baseband signal design was difficult to penetrate from outside the station,” said Pecena. “Overpowering a traditional STL path required very specific equipment located at a very specific location.”

Given the integrated nature of broadcast and the IP world today, this is no longer the case.


All broadcast operations these days are vulnerable to cyberattacks and some of the more obvious reasons to implement and maintain network cybersecurity include:

  1. Protecting a company’s assets: Threats include hackers, computer viruses, Trojan horses, worms, spyware, Denial of Service (DoS) attacks and more.
  2. Staying on-air: If hardware is disabled by security threats it can take your network off-the-air!
  3. Complying with broadcast regulations: Hackers have previously been able to take control of certain unsecured devices and maliciously streamed content.

“Cybersecurity threats and mitigation’s must be addressed in a proactive manner by the broadcast engineer to allow the broadcast station to take advantage of the cost savings, features, and services offered by an IP based IT infrastructure,” said Pecena.

These days it pays to be especially vigilant. Government agencies and the banking sector have often led the way with cybersecurity and broadcasters must apply the same level of vigilance.


As studios have transitioned to IP-based environments a strategic approach to cybersecurity is essential. Broadcasting products are increasingly computer-based running Linux or Windows and controlled using browsers over a variety of IP networks. Utilizing a firewall on its own is simply not enough.

A “Layered Approach” to cybersecurity establishes security on several levels. Wayne Pecena recommends using the Data Flow aspects of the OSI model as an implementation guide:

  • Layer 1: Physical Access — Restrict physical access to network infrastructure and control and monitor electronic access.
  • Layer 2: Data Link — Control hosts that can connect to your equipment, e.g. port and MAC Address restrictions. Disable unused ports.
  • Layer 3: Network — Network equipment security features such as Access Control Lists (ACL) e.g. administrator and lower level access, Firewalls, secure connectivity (IPSec) and application security.
  • Layer 4: Transport — Implement TLS/SSL security.

This approach helps to ensure the Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability (CIA) triad of Network Security Goals is achieved.

The Segmented Network


A segmented network architecture adds another layer of security to your network. Zones with independent security layers make it much less likely that breaches will occur. It also helps quarantine areas if there is a security breach in one zone. To achieve this, consider separating broadcast content and transmissions from financial, admin and email functions within a broadcast facility.


Charlie Gawley, Tieline’s VP Sales APAC/EMEA, has visited more broadcast plants than most. He has worked closely with broadcasters in Europe, Asia and Australia, advising on streaming live audio over the internet with a variety of IP technologies.

“I have noticed that in the past 10 years many engineers’ attitudes to cybersecurity have moved from somewhere between ‘blasé and somewhat interested’ to being ‘highly concerned’ about network intrusions from nefarious characters,” said Gawley. “There is no doubt this correlates with the growth in reliance on IP throughout the broadcast plant.”

“As a manufacturer of devices that are very often connected to the open internet, Tieline believes in continual development of security features to avoid ever-present and continually evolving threats,” he said. “These days broadcasters are not only asking more questions about the security features in our products, they also offer suggestions and actively engage in developing network cybersecurity strategies before their product is shipped. Forewarned is forearmed as they say.”

SSL Certificate Installed in a Tieline IP Codec.


Tim Neese from MultiTech Consulting, Inc., is a broadcast systems integrator with clients throughout the U.S. When connecting Tieline codecs to the internet he recommends a range of security procedures.

“We always recommend clients take full advantage of the built-in security options, have a schedule for password changes, and make use of a firewall. The ability to implement SSL connections is a great addition to the built-in feature set and in many cases removes the need for a VPN connection to securely administrate the codec. For point-to-point connections, we recommend limiting, via a firewall, the IP addresses that can connect to the codecs.  In all situations, open only the necessary ports, maintain and review logs of connections and connection attempts, and implement firewall monitoring that generates alarms for excessive traffic on administrative addresses/ports.”

[Read: IBC Exhibitor Viewpoint: Charlie Gawley, Tieline]

Finally, it may seem obvious, but ensure you use secure and high-quality passwords to reduce the chance of passwords being compromised across your network. Using a good quality password manager helps to create strong and unique passwords. In addition, when an employee leaves your organization be sure to kill off all their passwords and create new ones for any shared accounts.


This is well summed up by Wayne Pecena. “We are all aware of the advantages offered as the traditional baseband broadcast plant is transitioned to an Information Technology (IT) infrastructure based upon Internet Protocol (IP) transport. What is often not mentioned or even ignored is the downside. As an IT system, cybersecurity can no longer be an afterthought and must be a top of mind concern for the broadcast engineer. The broadcast plant is no longer immune to cybersecurity threats. Cybersecurity concerns will only continue as the traditional rack room environment becomes an IT system, which may well live in the ‘cloud’ whether on premise or not.”

If you want to ramp up your IP cybersecurity knowledge base the NAB has a good program, which offers an introduction to cybersecurity and the challenges faced in the broadcast station environment.

For more information see

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The post IP Security Considerations for Radio Broadcasters appeared first on Radio World.

Read the Aug. 7 Issue of RWEE

Wed, 08/07/2019 - 15:58

RW Engineering Extra is all about providing hands-on engineering content for today’s “crazy-busy” technical executive or engineer in the trenches. White papers, tech tips, in-depth engineering commentaries and expert columns, headed by Cris Alexander of Crawford Broadcasting. Here’s your latest issue.

Surveillance Systems Are Powerful Site Monitors

We can peek in with the browser of our choice or a mobile app. We can look at live views, pointing the PTZ camera at whatever was of interest, or look at recorded material.

Diplex Two Four-Tower DA Stations 60 kHz Apart? No Way!

When Cumulus Media made the decision to sell the WMAL(AM) transmitter site, a major diplexing challenge was launched involving two four-tower DA stations 60 kHz apart on the dial.


The post Read the Aug. 7 Issue of RWEE appeared first on Radio World.

Tower Rule Compliance: Whose Responsibility Is It?

Wed, 08/07/2019 - 14:22
Getty Images/Polawat Klinkulabhirun

The author is an attorney with Womble Bond Dickinson (US) LLP. She represents telecommunications and broadband carriers across the United States.

Marking, lighting and maintenance responsibilities for multi-user communications towers can be confusing. Let’s try to sort things out by looking at what the FCC’s rules say.

The question of compliance responsibility is often a grey area. Part 17 of the Federal Communications Commission’s rules governs the construction, marking and lighting of “antenna structures,” which we generally refer to as “towers.” 

Violations of FCC tower rules by owners and licensees can and will result in FCC penalties and fines. Although the tower owner is primarily responsible for compliance with the FCC’s tower rules, FCC licensee-tenants can also have significant responsibilities. 


Initial Construction: FAA No Hazard Determination, Antenna Structure Registration and Environmental Compliance Responsibility

In the initial construction of any tower, it is the tower owner who has the primary responsibilities for FCC tower siting rule compliance. These primary responsibilities include compliance with environmental rules and determining whether a new or modified tower requires a determination from the Federal Aviation Administration. If an FAA determination is required, then the tower owner must also register the tower on the FCC’s Antenna Structure Registration system. 

The registration of a new tower on the FCC’s ASR system requires compliance with the FCC’s environmental rules to ensure that the environmental effects of proposed towers, including their effects on migratory birds, are fully considered prior to construction. Such compliance requires environmental notification under the ASR rules and under the environmental rules for environmental consequences. 

Under the environmental rules, there are eight environmentally sensitive categories of construction: 

  1. on wilderness areas; 
  2. on wildlife preserves; 
  3. near threatened or endangered species or critical habitats; 
  4. near properties listed on, or eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places; 
  5. on Indian religious sites; 
  6. in flood plains; 
  7. on wetland fill, deforestation or water diversion surface features; and  
  8. with high-intensity white lights in residential neighborhoods. 

If a proposed tower construction falls within any one of these categories, the preparation of a formal environmental assessment is required before an FCC ASR will be granted. 

Upon the grant of an FCC ASR, a tower owner may proceed with tower construction. It is the tower owner’s responsibility to notify the FCC, and where required, the FAA, of construction completion within five days. Likewise, a tower owner must also notify the FCC of the dismantlement of a tower. 

[To Sell or Not to Sell?]

Once constructed, any change or correction of a registered tower in the overall height of one foot or greater, or of geographic coordinates of one second or greater in longitude or latitude, requires a revised determination from the FAA and the filing of an application for modification of the existing ASR with the FCC. 

The tower owner is also responsible for posting the ASR number at the tower site and providing a copy of the ASR to each tenant on the tower. 

Additionally, the tower owner must notify the FCC of any change in ownership within five days. 

Constructed Towers: Tower Painting and Lighting Responsibility

The primary responsibility for tower painting and lighting falls on the tower owner. Tower owners are responsible for observing the tower’s lights every 24 hours, either visually or by observing an automatic indicator designed to register any failure of such lights, to ensure that all such lights are functioning properly as required. 

Alternatively, to detect any failure of tower lights, the tower owner must provide and maintain an automatic alarm system, and inspect the system every three months to ensure proper operation. The tower owner must also maintain the tower and clean and repaint the tower as often as necessary to maintain visibility as required by the FCC and FAA rules. 

Any observed or known improper functioning of a top steady burning light or any flashing obstruction light on the tower, if not corrected within 30 minutes, must be reported immediately to the FAA. A further notification to the FAA must be given immediately upon resumption of normal operations. 

[Guidelines for Designing or Transitioning Systems to Digital Operation]

The tower owner must keep a record for two years of any observed extinguishment or improper functioning of a tower’s lights including: 

  1. the nature of the extinguishment or improper functioning; 
  2. date and time; 
  3. date and time of FAA notification; and 
  4. the date and time of repairs or replacements made. 

Pre-Collocation Responsibility

For FCC-licensed communications facilities locating on an existing tower, the FCC’s environmental rules apply to all FCC actions, including the granting of any FCC license or permit. 

Even where no specific FCC authorization is required for a specific facility, a person or entity that is otherwise an FCC licensee is required to ascertain whether the collocation of an antenna on a tower may have a significant environmental effect under the FCC’s Nationwide Programmatic Agreement for Collocations. 

Prior to locating an antenna on an existing tower, an FCC licensee must ensure that its collocation is permissible. To do so, the licensee should ensure that the tower went through the proper environmental review prior to construction by obtaining a certification from the tower owner that it complied with, and remains in compliance with, the FCC’s tower siting and environmental rules.

Painting and Lighting Responsibility

While a tower owner is primarily responsible for maintaining the painting and lighting of a tower, if an FCC-licensee-tenant on a tower is aware that the structure is not being maintained in accordance with the FCC’s rules and underlying ASR, or otherwise has reason to question whether the tower owner is carrying out its responsibilities, the licensee tenant must take immediate steps to ensure that the tower is brought into and remains in compliance. 

Specifically, if there are FCC or FAA tower maintenance violations, an FCC licensee-tenant must: 

  1. immediately notify the tower owner; 
  2. immediately notify the site management company (if applicable);
  3. immediately notify the FCC; and 
  4. make a diligent effort to immediately bring the structure into compliance. 
[The Development of the Directional AM Broadcast Antenna]

If a tower owner does not comply with the FCC’s rules, the FCC could require each FCC licensee authorized on a tower to maintain the structure in accordance with the ASR and FCC rules for an indefinite time period. 

Radio Frequency Radiation Levels Responsibility

The responsibility for maintaining safe radio frequency radiation levels on any tower falls squarely on its FCC licensee-tenants. The RFR limits apply to all FCC licensees. 

In instances where RFR limits are exceeded due to the emissions from multiple fixed transmitters, the responsibility for bringing the site into compliance is the shared responsibility of all licensee tenants. Tower owners are expected to allow licensees to take reasonable steps to comply with the FCC’s RFR requirements.


AM Broadcast Fencing Responsibility

A specific responsibility is placed upon AM broadcast licensee-tenants. AM broadcasters are solely responsible under the FCC’s rules for compliance with AM fencing rules. AM towers must be enclosed within an effective locked fence or other enclosure. 

The FCC has clearly stated that the fencing responsibility does not shift to the tower owner where the licensee and the tower owner are different entities. In situations where required fencing is not completed before a tower is leased, the AM licensee-tenant must complete the process before locating its broadcast facility on the tower.

AM Detuning Responsibility

AM broadcast stations are required under the FCC’s rules to be protected from nearby tower construction and antenna installations that may distort an AM broadcast station antenna pattern. Anyone holding or applying for an FCC authorization proposing to construct or make a significant modification to a tower in the immediate vicinity of an AM antenna, or proposing to install an antenna on an AM tower, is responsible for completing an analysis and providing notice to the AM licensee, and for taking any measures necessary to correct resulting disturbances of the AM radiation pattern. 

Tower and structure owners that do not hold FCC licenses are not directly responsible for complying with this AM detuning rule. But, FCC applicants and licensees cannot locate an antenna on a tower that required an analysis and notice, or is causing a disturbance to the radiation pattern of an AM station, unless the applicant, licensee, or tower owner takes appropriate steps to complete the required analysis and notice or correct the disturbance. 

[Diplex Two Four-Tower DA Stations 60 kHz Apart? No Way!]

Where a tower owner does not complete a required AM detuning analysis or provide notice, the licensee-tenant becomes the responsible party. The FCC will prohibit a licensee from locating on a tower within certain distances of an AM station, unless and until the required analysis and notice process is completed.


Both tower owners and FCC licensee-tenants have significant responsibilities with regard to tower rule compliance. While the tower owner is primarily responsible for compliance with the FCC’s tower siting, maintenance and environmental rules, licensee-tenants have responsibilities with regard to locating an antenna on a tower, and can almost always be held secondarily responsible if a tower owner fails to comply. 

The post Tower Rule Compliance: Whose Responsibility Is It? appeared first on Radio World.

Sennheiser to Unveil Immersive Automotive Sound System

Wed, 08/07/2019 - 11:58

Sennheiser has teamed with Southern California-based luxury automaker, Karma Automotive, to implement a new AMBEO immersive audio solution for in-car entertainment and communication. The system will debut inside a 2020 Karma Revero GT during Monterey Car Week, August 15–18, on Peter Hay Hill at Pebble Beach.

In development for the last two years, the system in the car consists of a multichannel loudspeaker setup arranged in two main layers, plus a subwoofer. The vehicle’s headrests, too, have been integrated into the loudspeaker concept. While the system can reportedly handle specific 3D audio sources, its AMBEO upmix algorithm is claimed to be able to turn stereo material into an immersive mix.

Audio sources and levels are managed via a GUI allows the driver and passengers to personalize the sound according to their preferences, with options including the listener’s preferred degree of immersion and position within the sound stage. For phone conversations, the system includes beam-forming microphone arrays integrated into both sides of the cabin.

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The post Sennheiser to Unveil Immersive Automotive Sound System appeared first on Radio World.

iHeartMedia Builds Audio Transport Platform With Barix

Wed, 08/07/2019 - 11:20

MILWAUKEE — For over 20 years, iHeartMedia has relied on ISDN circuits for moving audio between our studios, transmitters and other remote field locations. In recent years, however, telephone companies across the country have warned us they will discontinue their ISDN services. 

As such, it looks likely that ISDN will go away for everybody in the near future, so we have embarked on a company-wide project to transition our legacy audio connections to IP.


While IP audio transport is well-established, a key hurdle we needed to overcome was ensuring that all of the codecs we have in the field would be able to talk to each other seamlessly. We wanted to avoid being locked into any particular codec manufacturer, so multivendor interoperability was critical. 

We decided to use the open, royalty-free Opus audio codec combined with the SIP protocol as a common “handshake.” Many manufacturers have been moving towards Opus as the preferred codec for interoperability, and we liked that it can combine low latency and excellent audio quality, with built-in error and jitter correction, all at reasonable bitrates.

SIP similarly facilitates interoperability while enabling us to get away from needing public, static IP addresses at each end. Endpoints don’t need to know each other’s IP addresses; they just “dial” a registered SIP address to start the connection process. By eliminating the public IP address, we can keep everything behind the firewall, significantly increasing security. 

We developed the back end of our new architecture first, spinning up a software-defined codec with 24 SIP Opus modules that we have been rolling out in our studio locations. 

We then turned our attention to choosing a field codec that we could standardize on for communicating with the Wheatstone Switchblade — and other manufacturers’ codecs — to bidirectionally transport high-quality audio. 

We brought our requirements to Barix, whose Instreamer and Exstreamer products we have used for over 15 years. We like Barix because their boxes have been fairly bulletproof; they’re simple devices that generally perform one defined task, but do it very well. We had confidence that Barix devices would reliably do what they are supposed to do, and do it cost-efficiently. 


Barix recently launched its next-generation hardware platform, and quickly tailored devices to meet our specifications. We approached Barix in December 2018, and they delivered beta code running on the new hardware in just six weeks. The studio side took us roughly 24 months to develop, but with Barix we went from concept to having hardware live in the field in just over three months — an incredible turnaround time. 

We currently use two Barix SIP Opus codec models — the MA400 mono encoder/decoder, and the M400-based stereo decoder — for a variety of applications. We have installed them at TV station partners for contributing live news and traffic reports; at transmitter sites for backup STL; in on-air talent’s houses for doing shows remotely and more. Since we started rolling the Barix units out in March, we are constantly finding new ways we can use them, and their affordability has made them our first “go-to” box. 

[Barix Appoints Reto Brader as CEO]

When completed, this project will span multiple sites interconnecting our 850+ radio stations. We started in locations with the most ISDN circuits, and so far have deployed in 50 markets. 

We already had many Barix Exstreamer units in the field for disaster recovery, backup STL and other IP audio applications, and the new Barix SIP Opus codecs can also be configured to be backwards-compatible with these setups. This makes it easy for us to phase in our next-generation platform. We can change the Exstreamers out immediately, and switch the new models into SIP Opus mode when the headend in that market is ready. 

While our move from ISDN to IP was forward-looking and technology-motivated, we are also already realizing immediate cost savings. The Barix units pay for themselves in less than two months with what we save on ISDN circuits. 

We see Opus and SIP as the future of interoperability in our industry. Barix’s flexible new hardware and phenomenal responsiveness are enabling us to reach that future faster. 

For information, contact Barix Technology at 1-866-815-0866 or visit

The post iHeartMedia Builds Audio Transport Platform With Barix appeared first on Radio World.

Computer Considerations for 2019

Tue, 08/06/2019 - 14:25
Fig. 1: Compact fanless computers are ideal for studio applications …

It’s only fair, as we highlighted the lowly tape cartridge label in the last column, that we consider its replacement — the computerized playout system. Starting with large, noisy computers with fans and humming power supplies, engineers were quick to adopt KVM systems (Keyboard-Video-Mouse) extenders. Although cable-rich, they permitted engineers to locate the noisy computer in a server or rack room, thereby extending their control.

Fig. 2: … and can be either mounted in a rack or on a shelf.

As the evolution of systems continues, a new device is in favor — the compact fanless computer. Pictured in Fig. 1, these compact computers are super quiet.

Rick Copeland, technology infrastructure manager at Capital Public Radio in Sacramento, has standardized on the MITXPC, which is now available for a few hundred dollars.

You might think something this inexpensive and compact would be short on features. That is not the case. 

The MITXPC has dual Network Interface Cards, plus 2K of RAM. It also will handle a high-definition multimedia interface (aka HDMI) monitor. 

Fig. 3: The best payoff is the bundle of cables that are replaced with two Ethernet cables — one for the playout system and the other for the AoIP network.

Because of the size and price, these compact computers can easily be located in each studio. This frees up valuable rack and cooling space in the server or rack room, though they are slightly warm to the touch, Rick says he hasn’t noticed any studio cooling problems after relocating the compact computers to his studio rooms.

Because only two network Ethernet cables are required, the huge bundle of KVM cabling goes away (see Fig. 3), another plus.

As your computers need to be replaced, consider these cost-effective and efficient replacements when you budget for 2020.


Since we are putting everything on computers these days, it’s important to keep an eye on power supply. 

I spoke to an engineer recently who was experiencing intermittent clicks on his audio. He traced the problem to bad switching power supply capacitors. 

If you don’t have a large stock of extra supplies, at least stock up on spare electrolytics. 

Keep in mind that the capacitor temperature has a direct bearing on its lifespan, and that is why it’s important to ensure proper cooling. Defective fans, or dusty supplies raise the electrolytic temperature, hastening failure. 

I’ve always heard that under normal conditions, electrolytics had a life expectancy of about 60,000 hours, or nearly seven years. Of course, they can last longer, but keep in mind you may be on borrowed time after you pass the seven-year point.


It’s been fun reminiscing with readers about the cart machine label photo in our last two issues; in the process, I learned something new: Several engineers said they used white adhesive bandage tape, rather than the file folder labels, which were difficult to remove.

One engineer said he cut a strip and stuck it on the roller of the typewriter and typed out the cart label. Others used the same kind of tape, but identified the tape contents using a Sharpie-type indelible marker and a highlighter to give some color to the labels. 

Also, Clarke Broadcasting’s Paul Shinn explained the difference between the file folder labels and “official” cart labels (which cost more). The “official” labels were a bit wider and shorter, so they fit perfectly on the back of the Fidelipak cartridge.

Phillip Davis pointed out that he worked at a station where each jock had their own color label. This prevented the same voice from being heard back-to-back in a stop set. For music on carts, the color could stand for daypart. Phillip remembers a lot of information being typed on the music carts — in addition to title and artist, tempo, intro time, total time, as well as whether the song faded or ended cold. 

During his years in radio, Paul not only worked small, medium and major markets, but did a stint at AFVN in Saigon, Vietnam, in 1970. 

It’s fun to reminisce, isn’t it? Thank you all for your memories and comments! 


As for the winner of the “identify the label” contest, the prize goes to 23-year-old James Copeland. 

James writes that he not only knew what the labels were really for, but at 23, he had both recorded and played a cart on the air! James also reminded me that the colored file folder “cart” labels were also used to identify analog audio console inputs! Good call, James. How far we have come.

James writes that he was the PD and later operations manager at student-run KSDB(FM) in Manhattan, Kan., on the campus of Kansas State University. 

Twice a year, the station participates in a College Radio Days Vinylthon event. James wanted to make it a totally analog experience, so he found an ITC triple-banger in the closet and some Jones connectors, wired them up and was in business. The only other piece of the puzzle was hooking an Audi-Cord for recording purposes. 

All said and done, James wanted the distinction of being the youngest person to install and use a cart system. The experience gave him a new appreciation for how everything used to be, being born 40 years too late.

If you’re yearning for the good old days, James now DJs on resurrected carrier current station 640 WLHA, which existed on the campus of the University of Wisconsin Madison. In addition to 24/7 music, the site has archived air checks from the ’60s and ’70s. Its website is


Contribute to Workbench. You’ll help fellow engineers and qualify for SBE recertification credit. Send Workbench tips and high-resolution photos to

Author John Bisset has spent 50 years in the broadcasting industry and is still learning. He handles western U.S. Radio Sales for the Telos Alliance. He is SBE certified and is a past recipient of the SBE’s Educator of the Year Award.

The post Computer Considerations for 2019 appeared first on Radio World.

Cumulus Faces Possible Six-Figure Fine Over Sponsor IDs

Tue, 08/06/2019 - 12:42

The Federal Communications Commission has proposed a $233,000 fine against four Cumulus Media subsidiaries for apparent violations of sponsorship identification rules, and for apparently failing to promptly self-report these violations despite an agreement to do so under a prior Consent Decree with the Enforcement Bureau.

According to an FCC summary, in 2011 a Cumulus subsidiary failed to adequately identify the sponsor of announcements broadcast on a New Hampshire radio station. As a result, in 2016 the company entered into a Consent Decree in which it agreed to pay a civil penalty, adopt a compliance plan and report any subsequent noncompliance with the sponsorship ID rules within 15 days.

[Read: Review of Recent Enforcement Actions]

But now the FCC says that in 2017 and 2018, seven Cumulus radio stations apparently failed in 26 instances to air appropriate sponsorship identifications as required. In addition, it continued, Cumulus waited nearly eight months before reporting certain violations to the bureau, in violation of its commitments in the 2016 Consent Decree.

The proposed action is formally a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, or NAL, and neither the allegations nor the proposed sanctions are final. Cumulus had an opportunity to respond, and the FCC will consider the company’s evidence or legal arguments before resolving the matter.

Radio World requested comment Cumulus and will report any reply.

The commission said this action advances its goals of protecting consumers by ensuring that they know who is attempting to persuade them, and of protecting broadcasters and sponsors from unfair competitors that fail to abide by the sponsorship disclosure rules. It also said it is committed to making sure that parties comply with consent decrees and other FCC orders.

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The post Cumulus Faces Possible Six-Figure Fine Over Sponsor IDs appeared first on Radio World.

IBC Exhibitor Viewpoint: Charlie Gawley, Tieline

Tue, 08/06/2019 - 12:00

IBC2019 is almost here. Between now and then Radio World will conduct several short Q&As with manufacturers about their plans and offerings, to help you get the most out of the big annual trade show. Charlie Gawley is V.P. sales APAC & EMEA at Tieline.

Radio World: How has business been for the company since IBC2019?

Charlie Gawley: The international market for us has been very strong. We have seen significant growth in both the European and Asia Pacific markets, in particular France, as customers are increasingly seeing the reliability of our products over the most challenging IP networks.

Radio World: What are you hearing from your customers about their business outlook this year? In what areas should we expect growth or the most interesting projects?

Gawley: We are seeing more and more customers migrating their audio transmission and distribution networks off circuit switched-based networks such as ISDN and E1 as well as satellite IP to terrestrial-based IP networks.  For Outside Broadcasts we are increasingly seeing more customers demanding aggregation of IP data to provide more reliable bandwidth.

Radio World: Stepping away from your particular segment, what is your feeling for the overall health of the radio industry?

Gawley: From a global perspective it is pretty good, the United States is flat and there is a mood of decline, whereas in Europe and APAC there is growth. In particular revenues are growing in the United Kingdom and Australia. We put this down to bodies with a sole focus on promoting radio as a medium.

Radio World: You’ve been active in the audio codecs market for over a decade now. What’s the biggest problem or challenge facing users in this segment right now?

Gawley: For our segment it’s the last dash to get an alternative for ISDN. We have been well positioned to support customers in the transition to IP and SIP for over 10 years, when European broadcasters first foresaw the cord being cut. No two codecs are the same and it pays to do your research on what’s out there. For us, nothing beats learning what our customers use. We deliver solutions for dozens of top-tier broadcasters using Tieline for big events and at the end of the day it’s the IP in your IP streaming that wins the game, and that has been our focus for over a decade in supporting broadcasters through the transition to IP from other technologies.

Radio World: What new goodies will your company be showing? Why should attendees visit your booth?

Gawley: We will be showcasing on Booth 8.E74 the ease with which broadcasters can fully remote control codecs that are on the other side of the world being used by non-technical talent. In particular we’ll emphasize our new TieLink Traversal Server with its Global Address book, and the recently released Cloud Codec Controller. We’ll also show our internal Dual Active SIM 4G LTE module for the ViA codec, bringing the number of possible IP interfaces in this codec to seven.

We will also introduce a whole swag of new features and functionalities in an upcoming new firmware release, and there is always an ace up our sleeve to show attendees. So there is every reason for customers new and old to drop by to see the newest and most innovative solutions we offer.

[IBC Sneak Peek: Tieline Launches TieLink Traversal Server]

Radio World: What do you anticipate will be the most significant technology trend at IBC2019?

Gawley: Increasingly more and more glass in the studio as we move toward virtualization of the studio and cloud-based software/control. The next big thing will be 5G broadcasting and what that can deliver — and we are geared up and ready for it.

Radio World: How do your international sales and marketing efforts differ from your U.S. efforts?

Gawley: While the two markets can be best described as being like chalk and cheese, in essence their sense of passion for the delivery of their content is the same. As a customer orientated organization, our approach is the same; we listen and then we act on their requirements and this is what attracts a lot of customers to us.

Radio World: You’re a show veteran, how has the show changed since your first visit?

Gawley: With the exception of location and format, the technology, platforms and trends continue to progress. And, in addition to a few more grey hairs, familiar faces evolve and new ones arrive.

Radio World: What’s your favorite thing about this show?

Gawley: Without a doubt it’s the opportunity to directly discuss our products with clients and get a lot of feedback over a short period of time.  This is integral to the ongoing evolution of our products and it’s what our customers like.

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The post IBC Exhibitor Viewpoint: Charlie Gawley, Tieline appeared first on Radio World.

AEQ Helps ISB Cover 2nd European Games

Tue, 08/06/2019 - 00:00

International Sports Broadcasting, host broadcaster for the 2nd European Games 2019 held in Minsk, Belarus in June, turned to AEQ for the event’s communications tasks.

Esteban Galán at the 2nd European Games 2019 in Minsk, Belarus in June.

ISB managed the International Broadcasting Center along with 11 venues during the event, which hosted some 4000 athletes from 50 European countries competing in 15 different sport disciplines.


Esteban Galán, ISB’s head of technical operations, says they implemented AoIP network interfaces, intercom systems, audio codecs, commentary units, broadcast monitors, 12 mobile units and more than 200 cameras to produce multilateral coverage of the games.

About 700 broadcast professionals worked to ensure the signals reached 190 worldwide right holders at the IBC and their home countries. In total, ISB says it produced close to 800 hours of coverage of which 600 hours was live.

During the event, the organization relied heavily on gear from AEQ and Kroma. The company used an AEQ Crossnet intercom system with multichannel AoIP for the communication channels. It installed 45 user panels, mainly at the IBC, along with a few at the bigger venues.

“The Dante Network allowed for the Crossnet to carry our signals originating from any point in the network,” explained Galán. “Signals could be accessed through the NetBox 32 and eight AD units as well as the Netbox 4MH’s that were deployed to send signals to the mic.”


Galán said the Phoenix Venus 3 audio codec allowed them to connect locally to AoIP multichannel networks and was ideal for international contributions of commentary programs and return audio.

[Read: AEQ Netboxes Provide Access to IP]

“We used the Venus 3 to interconnect a few of the venues with the AEQ Phoenix Alio commentary unit. The Alio [a portable audio codec with mixer functions for either local or remote control] comes in really handy when talent in the commentary position are non-technical and may need assistance.”

The International Broadcasting Center at the 2nd European Games 2019 in Minsk, Belarus.

The other venues such as the main stadium relied on the AEQ Olympia 3 AoIP multichannel commentary unit. Olympia 3 is a sound mixer that operates as an independent or standalone commentary unit, or can be linked to a small, medium or large commentary system.

AEQ specifies that it can also connect to a Dante-based AoIP routing system and receive or send audio from/to any device incorporating Audinate’s Dante technology or the AES67 protocol.

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The post AEQ Helps ISB Cover 2nd European Games appeared first on Radio World.