Play 99.6 takes their radio studio to the streets
Mustafa Al-Shahwan, Lee McGrath and Odey Abdl-Ghani with a Tieline Commander Field Codec
Starting a new radio station is full of unique challenges - from purchasing new transmission equipment to recruiting the right staff to run the station. Zafer Younis, owner and Station Manager of Modern Media in Amman, Jordan knows this better than most - as he oversaw the design and fitout of Play 99.6, the first English-speaking popular hits music station in Jordan.
"Finding qualified technical operators was tough," Zafer said. "Most qualified technical staff were already employed in Government stations so we had to recruit people first and then put them through training courses."
These challenges have not stopped Play 99.6 from being technically progressive. Rather, it has steeled them to break new ground in the region for innovative and interesting broadcasting.
"We were the first station to do remote broadcasts in Amman," Zafer said. "We did our first remotes via a telephone hybrid system and expensive, labour-intensive radio links - until I heard about Tieline codecs."
Tieline Commander and I-Mix codecs are capable of connecting between any two locations using a standard POTS phone line, ISDN, X.21, GSM, IP/Internet or even over 3G cell-phone networks.
Zafer was introduced to Tieline by chance, when listening to a live radio broadcast of an orchestra playing from within a tent during Ramadan. "I was intrigued as to how the sound could be so clear and so alive over a remote broadcast?" Zafer said." It was like I was in the same place as the orchestra."
Zafer called someone he knew at the station broadcasting the event and was told how a Tieline codec had provided the audio signal from the remote location. After hearing the sound and being so impressed, Zafer contacted Fouad B. Serhal, Tieline's authorized support and distribution partner for the Middle East, to learn more about audio codecs.
"At first I was a little worried about buying codecs because of our technical team's lack of experience with them," Zafer said. "Fouad and his team were incredibly helpful though and they assisted us with setting up the codecs and integrating them into our systems - in fact they helped with all sorts of technical questions and were available 24/7."
"We believe in providing great service and helping our customers with technical assistance wherever possible," said Tieline's Fouad Serhal. "This is particularly helpful for users who are connecting codecs for the first time or trying a new configuration like IP."
Play 99.6 has used their Tieline codecs over normal telephone lines, GSM cell-phone networks and IP/Internet connections. "We looked at other codecs but chose Tieline because they are so flexible and able to adapt to all connection transports," said Zafer.
Tieline Commander G3 codecs use interchangeable plug-in modules to connect over POTS, ISDN, X.21, GSM and 3G. For IP an Ethernet cable connects directly into a LAN port on the codec.
All Tieline codecs support high quality, low delay mono and stereo audio at bit rates as low as 24Kbps over standard phone lines, 3G and IP/Internet connections. High quality stereo connections are provided at bit rates as low as 48Kbps. Play 99.6's studio codec is a Commander G3 rack unit codec, connected to an ADSL broadband line and a POTS phone line.
"At first we connected the codecs over POTS and GSM, but as more and more locations now have broadband available we are increasingly connecting over IP," Zafer said. "Using IP is like magic and it sounds fantastic." GSM connections are only used when POTS and IP connections are unavailable. Tieline's Voice G3 algorithm provides up to 7 kHz in audio quality over GSM CSD (Circuit Switched Data) at bit-rates as low as 9.6Kbps.
Play 99.6's morning program regularly goes on the road using their Tieline codecs. "We have a lot of sponsors who pay for us to come and broadcast from where they are located," Zafer said. "When we switched to the Tieline codecs we found that our sponsors loved the new sound and our growth in program sponsors was exponential!"
"Clients are very impressed when they see the codecs and how much easier it is to set them up than it was to set up radio links," Zafer added. "The difference is massive - it takes literally 15 minutes preparation and we are set to go, whereas with radio links you need much more setup time."
The codecs have also made the Content Manager's job at Play 99.6 a lot easier too. "There is a lot more flexibility in programming, mainly because it is so much simpler to set up a remote using the codecs."
"We have broadcasted from malls, shops, concerts and from areas outside our radio station's coverage like the Dead Sea," said Zafer. "We have even had a lot of requests to broadcast from the city of Aqaba, which is 300 kms away from Amman - this would not have been possible without the Tieline codecs."
Tieline codecs have extremely flexible audio routing and talkback capabilities. After two codecs connect, high quality audio is sent from a remote broadcast location to the studio and program sound is sent from the studio to an announcer. When broadcasting live from public places, a broadcast quality mix-minus feed from the studio can be mixed with the announcer's audio on-location and sent to a PA system using codec analog outputs. This avoids any issues that can occur with transmission delays.
"I would definitely recommend Tieline codecs," Zafer said. "The Commander G3s have saved us a lot of money and with the backup of Tieline's technical support through their dealer network, we are very happy with our decision to purchase them."