Sirius Satellite Radio began its flight into the world of new technology eleven years ago, pioneering the concept of digital satellite radio. Located in the McGraw-Hill building in midtown Manhattan, the Sirius national broadcast studios will begin transmission of Sirius' audio entertainment service to vehicles later this year.
A unique tri-satellite system will broadcast up to 100 channels of digital-quality radio to listeners, including 50 channels of 100% commercial free music and up to 50 channels of news, talk, sports and entertainment programming. This wide range of programming will be delivered to specially designed satellite band receivers to be offered in vehicles by Ford, DaimlerChrysler and BMW, as well receivers to be sold at retailers nationwide. Sirius will broadcast throughout the continental United States for a monthly subscription fee, allowing listeners to enjoy uninterrupted programming as they travel across the nation.
Currently housing 76 studios and four live performance studios, the Sirius broadcast center completed its initial build out in the fall of 2000, further expanding its fully digital facility with eleven additional production and on-air rooms. Sirius engineers commenced building four talk-interview studios alongside seven production-only control rooms, envisioning self-sufficient production and air rooms all with a specific focus and zero limitations. Then came the seemingly routine task of equipping the rooms with consoles. Seemingly routine.
The four talk-interview studios posed a unique challenge; each had to operate as a multi-function room within a limited amount of space. Jake Glanz, Sirius Manager of Broadcast Maintenance, and Thom Mohrman, Broadcast Engineer, spent months trying to find a console that could not only provide the flexibility and power of a major digital console but could also be retrofit into existing talk studio furniture positions. They had envisioned what Glanz calls “little fader pods.”
“We found that we had actually hit a niche in the market that nobody fills,” says Mohrman, “There are all these broadcast users that are out there building small rooms, all digital, and there are no small format digital consoles. We ran into the fact that there was nothing in a digital console smaller than eight faders, we were literally wondering why we couldn't buy a 12" × 8" box and have the capability of a digital broadcast console.”
Klotz Digital offered the solution by providing VADIS four-fader modules CB201 in a mini console frame for each of the four talk-interview studios. These four fader units allow operators flexibility to control the parameters of live show segments through to typical voice tracking for music bed. Each studio can connect to various of the combo control rooms to create host/guest interviews, talk shows, morning shows and post production/engineering work. All fader units are connected serially to the VADIS Platform in the rackroom allowing individual users to capture audio sources required for the task at hand. “It made it very efficient for us, because we could put everything into one small frame and define its use for what we specifically need,” says Glanz, “VADIS was the only thing that fit our need, it is the only thing that fit the bill.”
The remaining seven production rooms required straightforward digital on-air consoles that could act as a stand-alone unit. “The Paradigm consoles, in terms of price and performance, were exactly what we were looking for,” comments Glanz, “They fit into the holes we cut for them and they work. And the voice talent seems to love them!”
The Klotz Paradigm digital on-air consoles allow Sirius operators the ease of specifically defining their individual settings and recalling user presets by the touch of a button. Mohrman explains, “There are more than 40 air talent people going through these studios every day. There's a lot to be said from the engineering point of view when you can push one button and it changes the configuration so that you are set up the way you want to be. All you have to do is put a label under each button that says ‘push for interviewing’ or ‘push for voice tracking.’”
Though faced with a unique challenge, Sirius was able to efficiently and economically expand its facility and remain on the cutting edge of technology by installing Klotz Digital's VADIS Platform and innovative digital consoles. With broadcast technology moving rapidly forward, Sirius and Klotz Digital remain on the forefront of radio's new horizons.
8 Paradigm Digital Radio
1 VADIS 880 frame
4 VADIS D.C. four-fader