Wheat:News Radio Current Issue

WHEAT:NEWS RADIO  October 2018 Vol 9, No 10

WBZ Boston Shuffle

WBZ Boston2

By Scott Fybush 

CBS spun off its radio station division last year, which set in motion a complicated Boston chess game in which WBZ 1030 ended up in the hands of iHeartMedia and WBZ 98.5 ended up as part of the Beasley cluster by way of the Entercom-CBS Radio merger.  

WBZ 1030 moved into iHeart’s newly expanded studios in Medford. Meanwhile, over at the Beasley studios in Dorchester, MA., CE Dennis Knudsen and his colleagues carved out two former production studios to create a big, beautiful new space for 98.5 The Sports Hub. Although both WBZs are now separated by geography and ownership, they share something in common: both are using LXE consoles and WheatNet-IP audio networking.   

During my swing through Boston to visit my alma mater, WBZ 1030 (you can read about it in last month’s Wheat News or Radio Insight Tech), I decided to stop into the Sports Hub’s new studios to see how it all came together. 

I found The Sports Hub studios situated at the front of Beasley’s second-floor studio core on Morrissey Boulevard, just south of downtown Boston along the harbor near the JFK Library. Beasley runs five FM stations here, but this one consumes a disproportionate share of resources because of all the programming it produces. The Sports Hub originates the networks for three of Boston's big four sports teams: the Patriots, Bruins and Celtics. (And don't forget about the major-league soccer team, the New England Revolution!) Adding in live local sports talk all day long and TV simulcasts of the midday and afternoon shows on NBC Sports Boston, and it’s no wonder they built two control rooms instead of just one. 

CLICK FOR WBZ PHOTO GALLERY

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Sports Hub morning co-host Fred Toucher takes control of his studio mics with the LXE console in his air studio.


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An LXE console in the Sports Hub air studio provides an extra layer of control for air talent, including morning co-host Fred Toucher.


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Wheatstone technology helps provide maximum flexibility for the Sports Hub's busy format. The air studio feeds not only radio but also several simulcasts on NBC Sports Boston, which controls the studio lighting and video screens.


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Wheatstone's LX-24 console is the nerve center for the Sports Hub's main control room, with a view into the busy air studio.


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To the right of the main console in each control room, a Wheatstone L-8 console provides additional flexibility for producers who need to pull sound bites for podcasts, the web or post-game show highlights.


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Maximum control! The Wheatstone LX-24 console in each of the Sports Hub's dual control rooms gives producers total flexibility to switch in local and remote sources, and to route output not only to the station's own air but also to feed team networks and send overflow sports coverage to sister stations. A custom row of buttons on the right side of the console lets any control room take ownership of the Sports Hub air signal.


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The first thing visitors see on the second floor of Beasley's two-story building is a pair of windows looking in to the Sports Hub air studio, the result of combining two former production rooms.

You’ll see in this photo gallery that Wheatstone LX-24 consoles are at the center of each control room. This makes it easy to switch control from the morning show team in one control room over to the midday team in the other one - or run Patriots coverage from one while a conflicting Bruins or Celtics game comes from the other side. Morning co-host Fred Toucher likes to control his own mics for his cast, and so he asked his engineers to provide him with his own console. That's why there's an LXE console at one end of the air studio, in the seat that only Toucher uses. To the right of each LX-24, there's a smaller L-8 console. Producers stationed at that position can pull sound separately for podcasts, post-game shows and all the other bits and pieces that go into today's sports radio. 

Connecting all this together is the WheatNet-IP audio network, which handles the switching control from console to console while seamlessly handling mix-minuses and all the other complications of live talk radio. 

Boston Public. More Wheat.

By Scott Fybush 

While in Boston, I also discovered a hot public radio battle underway –  with Wheatstone consoles and routing at the core of contenders WGBH and WBUR! Both stations originate lots of national programming. Over at WBUR, CE Michael LeClair was especially happy to show off the big expansion his station just completed. WBUR almost doubled its space by growing into the next office building down the block from its existing third-floor space at the edge of the Boston University campus. 

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CLICK FOR MORE PHOTOS OF WBUR

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WBUR Wheatstone B 3

WBUR Wheatstone B 3

The showplace here is the new studio for Here & Now, the midday show WBUR produces in conjunction with NPR. The floor-to-ceiling glass and light wood floors and walls make for a lovely showcase for a new LXE console, augmented by big wall monitors that show the whole production team what's happening at a glance. 

Scott Fybush is an industry observer, consultant, editor of NorthEast Radio Watch and host of the "Top of the Tower Podcast." See more of the new WBZ studios and the rest of Scott's Boston trip on RadioInsight.com and at Fybush.com! 

The One that Got Away

A quick shout out to Jack Cosgrove, who retired this month after 20 years with Wheatstone. Jack was our go-to repair technician for all things Wheat, although some of you might remember him as Arthur Carlson in our WKRP Thanksgiving redux, Turkey Drop 2016

He has been an important part of our support team for the past two decades – a support team that includes long-time Wheaty technicians Jeff Vance, Dick Webb and Buddy Westphal. Virtually every Wheatstone product ever manufactured is still supported in our factory in New Bern, NC. Jack has worked on every console, network unit, audio processor and equalizer ever designed by Wheatstone – except one! (You can read about Jack Cosgrove and the elusive 8X in Wheat News article Wheat Support to Parts Unknown).

We’ll miss seeing him at his bench every day! 

Vox on Sports

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The need to record and edit simultaneously during live shows is not uncommon in broadcasting, but it’s especially vital to sportscasters who cover live sporting events. 

That explains why our VoxPro digital recorder/editor has been finding its way into sports venues of late. Commonly used for recording and editing live call-ins for morning radio shows, VoxPro is now being used by the NBA Portland Trail Blazers and other sportscasters for live coverage.  

Unique to VoxPro is its controller with scrub wheel plus software editing tools designed specifically for real-time, fast-paced live production. The form and function of VoxPro is dedicated entirely to live coverage so these sportscasters can easily drag and drop sound bites into a Hotkey and add fades and effects as needed, all while editing or recording a separate track in a side window AND sending a mixdown to air! 

We’re also beginning to see something else happening in the sports studio. Sound effects and music beds specific to an athlete or a particular play are being prepared in advance and recalled for playback using VoxPro’s Hotkeys.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we see many other uses for VoxPro by sportscasters as time goes on, especially now that professional games are as much multimedia spectacles as they are contests between two teams,” commented Rick “Doctor Vox” Bidlack, VoxPro systems and design engineer.  

PR&E Photo Fun

We happened to be looking through the PR&E photo archives recently and came up with these gems.

Here is one of Frasier sitting in front of a PR&E mic control panel with a PR&E console in the background. Although the furniture looks like PR&E-manufactured furniture, it was actually made by a set designer to look like PR&E furniture

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Here we have two remote broadcast studios PR&E built for Universal Studios, Florida. These are BMX digital consoles, and yes, that’s some impressive Jaws and Terminator fan art you’re seeing. 

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Oh, and here’s another photo that we happened to have on hand. This is our DMX, the first PR&E AoIP networkable console.

DMX Callouts

For a limited time, you can get an 8-channel DMX console with engine, I/O and software for only $4995. Contact BSW or SCMS or contact us direct at 252-638-7000 or go to PR&E Fall Sales Event.

IP QA

Your IP Question Answered

Q: We expect to be able to use AES67 at some point. How hard is it commission AES67 in your network and others?

A: We think you’ll find that manufacturers have worked hard to make AES67 adoption fairly straightforward. We recently did an extensive commissioning experiment with AES67 devices from Genelec, Ward-Beck, Dante, and Axia into the WheatNet-IP system. Setup was uneventful, and the system proved to be very robust even during some pretty intense torture tests. During the plugfest, we discovered five key findings for commissioning AES67, which you can read about here

Under the Hood of the X4 Processor

“Jeff Keith, Steve Dove and I set out to look at pre-emphasis as not something that is a scourge on the FM dial…We’re diving into the DNA of how pre-emphasis works.”  

In this video, originally a Facebook Live presentation from the NAB Radio 2018 show floor, Mike Erickson talks to Scott Fybush about distortion free clipping, HD/FM signal alignment and TSL, and what else is under the hood of the new X4 audio processor. 

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-- Scott Johnson, Editor

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