By Greg Landgraf, Manager of Radio Technology for Corus Radio Inc in the western region of Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg.
Corus Streams with Tieline in New Studios
Radio Calgary at Shaw Court experienced an electrical explosion and fire in 2012 and fire suppression systems doused the studios with water, causing catastrophic damage. Refitting studios was a daunting challenge and an incredibly stressful time. Initially, we found building space in downtown Calgary and broadcasted remotely for 9 weeks using Tieline ISDN codecs from makeshift control rooms. We constructed temporary studios during this time and worked from there for 3 years, while fitting out new permanent studios at the Corus Centre.
In Calgary we currently have a mixed bag of Merlin, Genie and Commander codecs and we plan to add a Gateway to our Toronto studios. We have a national Genie Distribution network set up in Toronto to distribute syndicated programming to all Corus radio sites. This replaced our previous satellite distribution network. Corus also uses the Report-IT application for live news and special programming. Several commercial remotes are also performed with Report-IT using the FTP functionality to record and upload into our Burli system for playout — we call this ‘As Good as Live.’
We have point-to-point connections for our stations that share formats and talent. A number of simulcast programs are accomplished this way using Genie Distribution codecs. Tieline Bridge-IT codecs are employed as secondary and tertiary connections to main, backup and repeater transmitter sites and as communication links between markets.
For on-location live remote shows we use Tieline ViA codecs exclusively. These take place locally, nationally, and internationally. Using IP increases the number of places that we can broadcast from considerably and decreases the ‘lead time’ required to plan remote broadcasts. Especially when compared to traditional ISDN and POTS line installs.
Remotes are generally around 3 hours and up to 12 hours for special programming such as Radiothons. We use Tieline’s WheatNet-IP enabled Genie and Merlin codecs at the studio and feed mix-minus integrated IFB from our Wheatstone system to remote sites.
Across the country we have approximately 26 ViA codecs and we use the USB, digital and analog interfaces to connect all types of audio equipment, including laptops, digital recorders, pool audio feeds, TV feeds, and PA output feeds. ViAs are primarily for remote live show broadcasting and several are currently with announcers to broadcast from home.
The Pandemic and Broadcasting from Home
Having enough equipment is always the challenge. Several ViA codecs are used by show hosts at home and we can feed local computer audio and simultaneously record off-line audio for later playout.
Our remote ViAs connect to studio Merlin codecs through our Peplink/Pepwave VPN system to ensure reliability and security. For the most part we use our Peplink/Pepwave bonded cellular system for connections from remote ViAs to our studio Merlins. If hardwire internet or WiFi connections are available we also program those into Pepwave for bandwidth aggregation.
Tieline Music PLUS encoding at 96 kbps sounds best on voice, while conserving data usage. Our cellular networks are very good and combined with Peplink/Pepwave data bonding the connections are excellent. We generally see latency in the 80-200ms range using auto jitter buffer with the ‘Best Compromise’ setting. Electrical power is usually provided on location, but the internal battery is useful as a UPS backup for the VIA.
The ViA codec’s performance is excellent and it is an ‘All In One’ solution that dramatically decreases setup time. They are easy to use and have all required audio functions built into the unit. Feedback we get is: “Wow, that little box can do a lot!!”
The codecs are very reliable and the quality of the connections is excellent. The touch screen is easy and very intuitive to operate and we use the Matrix Editor to configure monitor mixes, routing, PA splits and communication.
Web-GUI monitoring and control is not essential but we have used Toolbox software and tested the Cloud Codec Controller at several locations.
I believe announcers will work from home more in the future, and radio studio facilities will shrink in step with that. The one thing the pandemic is teaching us is that we can successfully produce shows with people working from home. The upside is that talent can work pretty much from anywhere. Announcers don’t even need to live in the same city as the radio station. At this point more robust remote control and communication will be required.
Want More Info?
For more information on Tieline’s ViA, Gateway, Gateway 4 and other codec solutions, visit www.tieline.com/products or contact Tieline sales:
- For USA, Canada & Latin America contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
- For Australia and International: email@example.com
(Corus Streams with Tieline, first published in RedTech Magazine, September/October issue 2021)