A broadcast here. A broadcast there. Seems there is a broadcast everywhere. Being the flagship station for the San Diego Padres and a new FM sports station, KWFN, The Fan, there does seem to be broadcasts everywhere. This was a special year for the Padres as their very own Trevor Hoffman was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Along with that comes a broadcast, and I just acquired my second Tieline ViA remote codec. Coincidental? In any case it was time to configure, train our engineer, Steve Cilurzo, and send them off to Cooperstown!
Tieline provides a number ways to make a connection with the ViA. I can do a direct connect and teach those going out to do the “labor”, but I prefer to make life easy for the users and create programs for many combinations of connections. Programs can be created directly on the ViA, but I prefer to use the Web GUI which also helps manage the units as time goes on. As our primary connectivity of choice is IP, those options are configured first to connect to any of my Merlin PLUS units in the shop.
The wired Ethernet and USB ports are configured first. I have a G3 Commander allocated for POTS connectivity, so that gets programmed, too. I make WiFi available, but we know how flakey that can get. Once configured all I need to do is show the operators how to choose specific programs for specific situations and stations. For Cooperstown the programming department ordered a DSL and a POTS line, but I included a USB 4G LTE modem as my go-to when all else fails. Believe me, all else fails often in the real world.
In Cooperstown the setup is simple and effective. For two air talent and a producer, the three inputs and built in headphone amp makes the ViA ideal for this situation. In testing prior to the broadcast we found the DSL to be very limited in bandwidth, made worse by the fact the talent used their laptops and tablets, so the USB modem and 4G LTE comes to the rescue. I have had very good luck with this setup, though we are now making provisions on making such connections more reliable for talk shows. For these two days, it was successful. The live portions of the show went quite well.
The time zone difference highlighted a feature of the ViA which those who use the Report-IT application know well; recording capabilities. The ViA comes with a SD card slot, standard, just for recording. No more worries trying to keep someone at the station focused on recording, the crew on the road was able to take care of that at their convenience. They were able to record interviews for playback during their live show. The producer would remove the SD card and use a laptop for editing.
Once he was done, the SD card was inserted back into the ViA. The recorded interview can be pulled up while the show is live with no interruption, and when ready, started with a push of “button” or touch screen in this situation. They were able to record live interviews while on air, for archiving and playback at a future time. It only took a little training to make sure they did not record the return feed, IFB, at the same time using the routing matrix built in to the ViA. Having this feature available on the device without the need of a computer connection is a bonus. Being self-contained makes the device more flexible for the real world.
The compact ViA comes with a battery just in case you are somewhere without power, or if power is lost. On the second day of the broadcast thunderstorms were in the forecast. This was a real concern to the program director. The volley of should we stay at the temporary broadcast tent or move to a cafe was quite interesting. I put them at peace. With a battery that can last 8 hours or more coupled with a USB modem, portability was not an issue. The worst case scenario was to start at the original broadcast area and move if the weather got bad. They could move while on the air if necessary. The decision was left to the team on site and became a non-issue once they were satisfied they could move at will. It is the little things like the battery which smooth out some tough decisions.
The Tieline ViA has been the backbone of the San Diego Padres road play-by-play, and has proven its worth for last moment broadcast decisions. It is a very good codec at its core. Three XLR inputs, S/PDIF input/output, stereo 3.5mm TRS input, and USB audio in/out gives you flexibility to gather audio. Two XLR output channels to feed audio to an external speaker or another mixer is available. The SD card comes in handy, though simple editing capabilities are not available. I suspect this is in the works, though. There is so much more to say about this device. Today the two ViA arsenal is being used for live broadcasts and high school football, some programming back to back. The ViA is a winner for The Fan, and Entercom San Diego.
For more information about ViA and other Tieline codecs, visit http://www.tieline.com/via