Cumulus/Dickey Broadcast Baseball

October 1, 2010


Cumulus/Dickey build the largest radio affiliate network in MLB for the Atlanta Braves

On July 23, 2009, it was announced that the new radio broadcast rights holders for the Atlanta Braves would be two Atlanta flagship radio stations, Dickey Broadcasting Company's 680 the Fan (WCNN-AM) and Cumulus Media's Rock100.5 (WNNX-FM). Planning started and equipment was ordered early in January 2010. The plan included a complete makeover of the play-by-play broadcast booth and the construction of a new pre/post-game stage in the Grand Entry Plaza. The games would be broadcast in full stereo to all 136 Braves affiliates, the largest radio affiliate network in Major League Baseball.

Turner Field was originally built as Centennial Olympic Stadium for the 1996 Summer Olympics. After the Olympics, the stadium was converted into a baseball park. The broadcast booth remained relatively untouched until March 2010, when everything from floor to ceiling was demolished. New carpet, paint and ceiling tiles were installed with cabinetry from Omnirax, which was selected as the furniture supplier because of the solid construction and ease of installation. David Holland of Omnirax worked closely with Michael Gay, project manager for Cumulus Media, to design function into flash for both the broadcast booth and the pre/post-game stage.

In the booth

Broadcast booth equipment featuring a Mackie Onyx 24.4 console

Broadcast booth equipment featuring a Mackie Onyx 24.4 console


The center point of the broadcast booth is the Mackie Onyx 24.4. This console features a 24-channel/4-bus design with mic preamps on every channel. The console has a 4-band Perkins EQ, with six aux sends with long 100mm faders. This console gives operator Brian Giffin lots of flexibility and power over his mix. In addition, there is a Broadcast Tools SS 16.4 stereo switcher making switching among stadium dry pairs a flash. The entire mix is tweaked by Gary Kline, vice president of engineering and IT for Cumulus Media, with a TransLanTech Sound Ariane Sequel. This unit gives transparent yet powerful control over everything from low ambient crowd to the overpowering bursts of celebration.

The signals from the broadcast booth, pre/post-game stage, and Hispanic broadcast are transported to the station via a single T1 on an APT WorldNet Oslo multiple channel audio multiplexer. There are three two-channel input/output analog audio cards, utilizing Enhanced apt-X 16-bit coding. This gives us three bi-directional stereo audio paths, which is great for individual feeds from both booths and the stage with individual talkback and IFB. There is a four-channel duplex two-wire FXS/FXO card that transports to POTS extensions off the station phone switch to the ballpark for offline communications. As a backup, we have two ISDN lines, one at the booth and one at the stage. We use Telos XStreams for this backup service and for all the audio to and from other ballparks and the feed to Skyview Networks in Scottsdale, AZ.

The announcers in the booth use Sennheiser's MD 421-II mics because of their rugged design and pronounced directivity. All three mics are processed by AirTools Voice Processor 2x. This programmable microphone processor has two independent processors in one rack space controlled via software. The fourth unused channel on the AirTools is for a reporter using a Lectrosonics HM plug-on wireless transmitter on an Electro-Voice RE-27 or a Lectrosonics SMQV wireless mic pack with an RE-27. The receiver is a Lectrosonics VRMWB venue receiver with three VRS modules: two for field reporters and one tuned to the IFB frequency of the pre/post-game stage area beyond left field. In addition we use one of the AirTools processors to control the two Sennheiser ME 66 shotgun mics set in a near-coincident pair for crowd and bat sounds.

Pre-game show at the Champion Stage

Pre-game show at the Champion Stage


All the headphones used are Sony MDR7505 powered by a Presonus HP60 six-channel headphone mixing system. This unit features two sets on stereo inputs with a mix control and one external stereo input for each channel. We send an announcer post-fader aux feed to the A stereo input and pre-fader aux feed of effects, IFB, station return audio, etc., to the B input. Now each headphone output has a custom mix between A and B inputs. It also has a talkback mic input where we split the engineer's Sennheiser HMD 25 headset mic between this talkback input on the Presonus and a talkback input to the station down one of the six audio channels on the T1. The headphone audio is sent to a Pro Co Sound Short Stop modified with a stereo pot so the talent can control his own headphone level and mute his mic. The field reporters use Sony MDR7505 headphones attached to a Lectrosonics R1a IFB receiver. We use the Lectrosonics IFBT4 to transmit audio with the same signal that the talent in the booth hears off the Presonus HP60.

The remaining equipment in the booth is rounded out with two rackmount Marantz PMD-580 digital flash recorders with companion Marantz PMD-661 portable digital flash recorders. This gives us the ability to record locker room or field interviews and play them back in game. In addition we installed two Henry Engineering USB MatchboxII multi-mode stereo codecs. Our engineer, Brian Giffin, can connect his laptops via USB to the console for recording and playback of interviews, effects or highlights directly to the console with balanced stereo outputs.

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Cumulus/Dickey build the largest radio affiliate network in MLB for the Atlanta Braves

On the stage

The Champion Stage in the Grand Entry Plaza

The Champion Stage in the Grand Entry Plaza


The pre/post-game stage was demolished and a new air-conditioned booth was constructed by Champion Window Sidingand Patio Rooms of Atlanta. This booth was constructed with sliding glass windows to allow fans to interact with the talent and give a TV-set look and feel. The talk table was built by Omnirax and the equipment is similar to the travel equipment with a few exceptions.

The Mackie 1642-VLZ3 is rack-mounted in one of the two SKB 1SKB19-R1010 Roto GigRigs. We chose these racks for the portability of removing them during the off season. Loaded below the mixer is an Aphex 320D Compellor to provide overall control of the audio back to the station. There are two AirTools Voice Processor 2xs processing four Electro-Voice RE27 for the talent, and a Lectrosonics VRMWB venue receiver with three VRS modules: two for field reporters and one tuned to the IFB frequency of the broadcast booth's IFB. Below that is a Lectrosonics IFBT4 IFB transmitter, a Denon DNC640 CD player, and a Tascam TU690 AM/FM rackmount receiver. The second GigRig has two computers for the three 50” LCD TVs, and a Crown CTS-4200 to power two Klipsch AW-650 waterproof speakers mounted outside the stage and two JBL C2PS Control 2P speakers for inside the stage.

The play-by-play position with custom cough/headphone box and instant replay monitor

The play-by-play position with custom cough/headphone box and instant replay monitor


The stage has four dry pairs from the booth and a backup ISDN line. We have the ISDN line split between the stage and the Chop House where our sister stations broadcast before some of the games. We use the first dry pair for program out of the Aphex Compellor and the second as IFB from the station via one of the channels off the APT WorldNet Oslo T1 multiplexer. One of the pairs is used as a POTS line off the FXO card of the Oslo, which gives the board operator a direct line to the main studio at the station. The last pair is used for Ethernet data by utilizing a pair of StarTech.com 110VDSLEXT Ethernet extenders to transmit and receive Ethernet from the cable modem in the booth giving the talent and operator at the stage Internet connections.

Stadium dry pair feeds

Stadium dry pair feeds


Equipment List

AirTools Voice Processor 2x
Aphex Compellor 320D
APT WorldNet Oslo
Broadcast Tools SS 16.4
Crown CTS-4200
Denon DNC640
Electro-Voice RE-27
JBL C2PS Control 2P
Klipsch AW-650
Lectrosonics HM plug, IFBT4, R1a, SMQV, VRMWB
Mackie 1642-VLZ3, Onyx 24.4
Marantz PMD-580, PMD-661
Omnirax cabinetry
Presonus HP60
Pro Co Sound Short Stop
Sennheiser HMD 25, MD 421-II, ME 66
SKB 1SKB19-R1010 Roto GigRigs
Sony MDR7505
StarTech.com 110VDSLEXT
Tascam TU690
Telos XStream
TransLanTech Sound Ariane Sequel


With wiring changes and installation of additional T1 and ISDN equipment at the studio, the 2010 broadcast season of the Atlanta Braves has gone off without a hitch. It took a lot of folks to pull this off and make it one of the best-sounding sports broadcasts in America.


Lehmuth is engineering manager of Rock100.5, Q100 and 99X, Atlanta.



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