Disaster Discovery

Disaster Discovery

DisasterDiscoveryEvery year about this time we hear from the engineer or GM or PD or some other poor soul who happened to be the last one out of the station when the big storm/flood/earthquake hit.


Maybe it was even you, the guy left alone with his thoughts and the WheatNet-IP (WNIP) system blinking up at you as if to ask, what’s next? If you’ve done some emergency planning, there’s probably not much to worry about. Even if you haven’t, the WheatNet-IP audio over IP system is going to help you out, starting with silence detection and auto routing the main feed over to another BLADE that isn’t connected to the switcher/power source/whatever that took the hit. Corus Radio, Calgary, Senior Engineering Manager Greg Landgraf told us the group’s WNIP kept his stations afloat during a surrounding flood that forced the staff out of the studios, per city orders. “The Wheatstone system continued to operate, unmanned, until the power was disconnected,” he said.

If it comes to this, and we sincerely hope that it doesn’t, it might help to remember that WNIP is going to be right there beside you – and in front of you, in back of you, and all around you, actually. You’re not in the foxhole with a fickle PC as a single point of failure, which, as we all know, is the first thing to go MIA during an emergency. As you look out over the studio from wherever you sit, you’ll see lots of WNIP BLADEs, or network access units, each talking to each other so that if one BLADE or group of BLADEs goes down, you always have BLADEs to spare in order to stay on the air. BLADEs will be doing some of the thinking for you, too, and making sure that they’re sensing for dropped feeds and adjusting for outages so that you don’t have to even think about what IP addresses get priority where or any of the other the QoS issues that just aren’t going to be top of mind during an emergency.

By the way, at any time here, you can call the Wheatstone emergency hot line. It’s open 24/7, and you will find that the people in Wheatstone support are about as level-headed as they get; they’ve taken a few calls from broadcasters calling from underneath a desk or inside the equipment closet.

But let’s be honest here. If things get really bad, you probably won’t be thinking about WNIP at all, let alone the studio. Although you probably will, eventually, when you’ve returned to the studio or after you’ve moved to a new location with a WNIP BLADE under your arm, able at last to get back on the air. Then, you’ll be glad to know that that BLADE you’re carrying holds the entire brain trust of your operation, so you can just plug it in and you’re basically on the air again.  Remember that flood surrounding Corus’ studios in Calgary we mentioned earlier? After the power was turned off to the studios, they ran programming from backup BLADEs at the transmitter sites. Once the water receded and power was back on, they returned to the studios and to a fully operational WNIP. “The Wheatstone system was back online and all we did before transferring programming back to the studio was verify that all switches, surfaces and BLADEs were back, healthy and online. They were, and we started programming from the studios once again,” said Landgraf.

Here’s hoping your next disaster turns out the same.

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