Syracuse University Broadcasts Live with Tieline
Report-IT/Bridge-IT the Key Element Behind Live Reporting for Syracuse University Radio Journalists
By Randy Wenner, Broadcast and Digital Journalism Instructor, Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University
SYRACUSE, NY – For most of its existence, Syracuse University’s Broadcast and Digital Journalism department had never owned any professional radio live reporting equipment, in part because radio journalism had been a small part of the curriculum, and the hardware expense of devices like hardware codecs was more than we could budget for. But as the curriculum evolved to incorporate more radio news training, the desire to allow students to broadcast live intensified.
The easy first step for us beyond using cellphones was Skype, which was essentially a no-cost solution that provided better-than-phone quality reports. But Skype was not a perfect solution for us, dependent on broadband signal strength and simultaneous competition for bandwidth from other broadband users (not to mention PC-based issues of other programs using up PC resources, forced reboots from updates, etc.) We frequently lost reports from dropout, or faced stuttering/buffering issues, or at best had the somewhat tinny-sounding Skype audio quality.
After experimenting with several alternative broadband-based live reporting options, our department chose to partner with Tieline. Tieline worked very hard to make the Report-IT/Bridge-IT product fit within our academic budget. Having a dedicated hardware receiver that focused on optimizing audio quality made a great deal of sense, and the sound of live reports was unquestionably much clearer – broadcast quality.
As cellphone technology improves, so does our success with strong-signal Report-IT live reports. Students now use their own smartphones, along with the Report-IT app. We have several dozen app licenses, so we are able to provide all students in radio courses with the app each semester (and management of the licenses is very easy.)
The Report-IT app itself is impressive and allows us to accomplish everything we wanted in a live reporting app:
- Audio recording in the field
- Sound bite isolation in the field
- Live reporting from the field
- Live reporting incorporating sound bites, triggered from the field by the reporter
- Feeding back of raw interviews from the field
- Even use by interviewees, who can send back clean audio of an interview conducted remotely
It’s surprisingly easy to set up the Report-IT app so that when students log in, it automatically contains a one-touch button that allows students to FTP audio directly to the studio without worrying about entering FTP server addresses, logins, etc. There is a bit of technical setup to install the receiver and configure the accounts, but the online documentation is excellent, and the Tieline support staff has been extremely helpful.
Every semester we put to use the capabilities that Report-IT offers, and are excited about encouraging students to do more with the app in the field as we continue to explore the Tieline technology. Students have broadcast live from all over the Central New York region using Report-IT. We feel like we are doing what we should be doing as a professional communications school: offering students a chance to use contemporary technology embraced by many professional radio news organizations, which will prepare them for success in the field by allowing them to understand and develop skills in the technology, and incorporate those skills into their developing overall communications skillset.
(Syracuse Live with Tieline first published June 2021. For more information on Tieline codecs visit www.tieline.com)