Selecting Remote Radio Equipment for WJHI(LP)

In Indiana, basketball is king. Therefore, live sports remotes were a key consideration when selecting remote radio equipment August 16, 2017

Jeffersonville High School is closely tied to the community, and its student radio station is a great way to engage with them.

In Indiana, basketball is king. Therefore, live sports remotes were a key consideration when selecting remote radio equipment. Our gymnasium seats 5,000 spectators, and listeners are keen to follow our team, the Jeffersonville Red Devils.

I have tried lots of audio codecs and found that many are unreliable. I researched audio codecs heavily and heard about Tieline’s ViA remote codec before it was released.

ViA has a 4.3-inch color touchscreen with menus designed to provide a familiar and intuitive user experience.

From the day I saw it, I said that’s the one! It appeared to have many of the features on my check-list: flexibility, top notch design, and most importantly, high-end quality and performance.

Because we use a Wheatstone AoIP network as the basis of our facility, it made sense to use Tieline’s Merlin PLUS with the Wheatnet-IP interface. This allows allows for a simple Ethernet connection back in to the entire AoIP network. The Merlin is a rackmounted codec that receives incoming IP streams originating from our ViA codec, and we route them using WheatNet-IP Navigator software. Our installer, Dave Dreyer from Enterprise Technical Solutions, found the set up and installation to be easy and intuitive.

The Merlin PLUS accepts up to six simultaneous connections, and this was important because we wanted to integrate multiple simultaneous remotes and cross between each one.

To facilitate these additional remotes, we purchased a 10-pack of Tieline’s Report-IT Enterprise. This allows students to do live reports directly from their smartphones, either Android or iOS. They can do this directly by using the native mic on the phone, or by attaching external XLR adapter cables in order to use a hand-held mike. We use this feature often — the kids love the fact you can broadcast using an app, as they are so comfortable with smartphone technology. It’s very easy to use and sounds awesome.

ON-AIR REMOTES WITH VIA

Our broadcasts are extremely popular, so the equipment has to be super reliable — it simply has to work.

Students create all their own content, and we broadcast around 10 to 15 hours of live remotes during quiet weeks and around 20 to 25 hours during busy sports seasons. We call most school sports including basketball, football, baseball, softball, volleyball and wrestling. We are also looking to expand into swimming and track and field coverage. Weekends are particularly busy times.

Tieline’s Fuse-IP data aggregation technology enables the user to bond multiple IP interfaces for a more reliable connection.

For sports remotes with the ViA codec, we usually have three announcers — play-by-play, color commentary and stats coverage. We use the USB and line in inputs on the codec for digital playback of pre-recorded interviews, announcements and sponsorship messages. These come from a PC or standalone digital playback device.

We usually connect over a LAN or use the built-in Wi-Fi feature to connect to local access points. The integrated web-browser makes it simple to enter Wi-Fi network credentials if required.

We also use ViA to broadcast from outdoor concerts, local festivals, live shows at businesses and school board meetings, and we’re looking into covering city meetings. Additionally, we do live “man on the street interviews” to feature a slice of community life, often using a cell phone generated Wi-Fi hotspot.

The internal battery lasts for hours — I was going to buy a second battery as a backup but have found there’s no need.

I have tried all of the high quality algorithms and they all sound great. Normally, we encode audio in stereo with Tieline’s Music PLUS algorithm at 256 kbps, with Tieline’s automatic jitter buffer settings.

We’ve never had any issue with latency, and our competitors want to know what we’re using because it sounds so great. In fact, it’s quite funny that when I explained latency over IP networks to a recent group of students, they didn’t realize there was latency! They hadn’t even noticed.

Talkback is sent from the studio out to the remote site in mono.

ADVANTAGES

The ViA codec is very easy to learn, and that’s important, since we have new students each year. They pick it up easily, and with ViA, I can train them in a single day, and they will be ready to go live.

They love the touchscreen which makes it simple to configure and connect — and so do I.

I can even preconfigure recallable setups as “programs” before the students take it out in the field.

Sponsorships are also important for us to cover operating expenses, and both ViA and Report-IT allow us to do quick cut-ins from local businesses that are station contributors.

There’s no doubt we have a state of the art facility, and it wouldn’t be possible without Tieline. We are only just scratching the surface as to the variety of broadcasts the VIA and Tieline systems will let us do in the future. The flexibility provided by the latest technology lets us dream up a new broadcast idea and then just go out and do it.

WJHI was covered in a previous Facility Showcase, which can be found online at http://tinyurl.com/y9gwkupr.

Dench is the station manager and radio and TV Instructor at Jeffersonville High School in Clark County, Ind. He has taught for 43 years at schools in both Kentucky and Indiana and was the project designer and project manager for equipment installation at WJHI.

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