Merlin Saves the day for WROR Loren and Wally Morning Show
By Paul Shulins, Director of Technical Operations for Greater Media Boston
WROR’s Loren and Wally Show, one of the most popular morning shows in Boston, recently decided that they wanted their show to originate from the Peter McCauley Pavilion on Revere Beach in Revere Massachusetts. The event was the tenth anniversary celebration of the national sand sculpting festival, something right up their alley!
With absolutely no facilities at this outdoor location (right on the beach), and no time to order an ISDN Line, we decided to see if Tieline’s Merlin was up to the task of getting high quality audio back and forth with total reliability. Even though we own BGAN Satellite equipment, the cost of using it for a five hour remote would prove to be astronomical. Besides, with only one “B” channel at 64 kilobits/second, and the restriction of using the G.722 coding algorithm, we would not have the usual two returns available for both PA and IFB.
So the first task was to find internet access at the remote venue. We employ a regular outside contractor when needed, to provide temporary, reliable high bandwidth on demand. This venue is very isolated, so it was a real challenge for him to set up the network of wireless repeaters required to get us the service we required, but at the last minute, he was able to pull it off! Now it was all up to Merlin.
Without the ability to test in advance, we were forced to set up at 2:30 AM for a 5:30 AM broadcast. Even though Merlin had worked for us for WKLB, this broadcast was more complex, and afforded us much less margin for error, since the entire morning team was on site, and there was nobody to throw back to at the studio! It all had to work perfectly.
Well, Merlin did not disappoint. We had a solid connection to the studio at 25 mbps. During the 5 hour remote, using dual streaming, we had no dropouts at all! Once again I chose to use the Opus coding algorithm at 256 kbps. The sound was exceptional, with latency equivalent to that of G.722. We also had two return channels of audio available for both PA and IFB.
The Merlin offers dual power supplies, and dual one Gigabit Ethernet ports. These features add to the rock solid reliability already built into the unit. Using Tieline’s SmartStream PLUS dual IP streaming from different providers gives us the ultimate in reliability, since the Merlin can seamlessly switch between streams instantly to recover lost data packets from either stream.
So having Merlin available worked out great for Greater Media Boston. Without it, I don’t know how we would have been able to come through with a reasonable cost, and high quality technical solution for our short notice remote.