By Jim Hibbard/Pacific Mobile Recorders, contributions from Kat Coffey, Alan Guzzi
For the past 8 years, The Dan Patrick Show has hit the road to the host city of the Big Game! It’s a full remote for the entire week preceding the game and guests include: current and former NFL players, coaches, commentators, team owners, athletes from other sports, even some actors and Sports Illustrated swimsuit models! Beginning in 2015, The Rich Eisen Show has also been part of the pre-game festivities, with his full team and a huge guest list as well!
The console input layout has 7 mics, main and back up Tielines from the home studio (phones, bumper music, other audio drops, and a Premiere Networks countdown), truck audio and a sum of all the wireless mics which are handled by the TV truck. Wireless mics are used during the TV only portion of the broadcast, which occurs during radio commercial breaks. All 4 program buses were utilized to create discrete mix minus to accommodate both radio and TV.
Behind the Scenes with Tieline Codecs Bottom-left and Center
The Dan Patrick Show has a basic talk show setup with a 12 channel Wheatstone IP console. Dan and his four co-hosts (The Danettes) each have mic on/off/cough panels with a talkback to Dan and the remote board op. Dan’s talkback feeds his producer. Dan and the Danettes have individual channels of the headphone amplifier so we can interrupt audio and talk to each separately. There is a small speaker on set for guests to hear phone calls, bumper music and truck playback, as guests rarely wear headphones.
The Rich Eisen Show uses a 32 channel Behringer X32 PA mixer. The input list includes mics for Rich Eisen, 2 co-hosts, 2 guests, 7 wireless mics and the board op. Two Tielines feed main and back up audio from the home studio in El Segundo, CA. Communication inputs fed to the remote location with Tieline Merlins are on the second layer of the 32 channel mixer. Eight post fader Monitor sends were used for mix minus buses.
Radio remotes in new locations can be challenging! Packing enough equipment for two shows that sometimes overlap makes it trickier. And, feeding both radio and television at the same time requires extra pre-production planning. For these shows, we needed to coordinate the arrival of two pallets of radio equipment, two large road cases, and several other boxes of equipment from CA, CT, IN and elsewhere in the U.S., to arrive in Houston on the same day in order to begin the 2 ½ day setup in preparation for the week-long shows.
Merlin, ViA and Commander G3 Codecs
This year’s event was situated at the back of Houston Convention Center, as part of the NFL Experience. We had two 40’ x 40’ stages on 3 foot risers approximately 100 feet apart. The ‘technical area’ was located behind the sets and hidden by a curtain. This designated space was only 15 feet deep and housed lighting, The Dan Patrick Show ‘control room’, all the RF equipment (wireless mics and IFB), and technical personnel for both shows! Two television trucks were in the loading dock behind the building.
Generally, for The Dan Patrick Show remotes, we use Tieline Field Commanders to connect via IP to our Tieline rack-mounted G3s in our home studio in Milford, CT. The home studio feeds phone calls and audio drops. This alleviates the need to set up phone lines and phone systems in our remote locations, plus, feeding phones through the Tielines means our call-ins can use the same phone numbers they normally use. Also, we don’t have to bring extra equipment to supply audio drops since they are also fed through the IP connected Tielines.
For the remote in Houston, we used the new Tieline ViA at our remote location for our main program feed, using the Music PLUS codec. It interfaced seamlessly with our 9-year old G3 in the studio! The ViA was connected to a Cellular Modem through an Ethernet cable to our Dark Fiber network, connecting with static private IP addresses on both ends. The dark fiber network acts like one big local private network, allowing for incredibly low latency connections. Our backup program feed was with our Tieline Field Commander G3 which was connected through a cell modem. The cell modem supplied a DHCP address. That connected to a Static Public IP in CT.
The Rich Eisen Show is handled a little differently. Everything, with the exception of the phone calls and the spots, is done locally from the remote. The music playback / bumpers, truck playback and all the mics are mixed on the Behringer X32. This show usually uses a similar setup for remotes using Tieline G3s, but this time, we used the Tieline ViA for the Main Program, again, through the dark fiber network. There are 2 channels of return audio… one is full program from Premiere Networks which is ‘confidence audio’ for the on-camera board operator. This confidence feed lets the board op know when he’s back on Radio air so he can cue the TV director to re-join, so that TV and Radio once again match up after commercial breaks. The second return is phone calls and any home studio playback. The backup unit was a Tieline Merlin with the same setup.
In addition, we had another Tieline Merlin connected to LA Master control sending audio to Rich. We achieved this by using an external mixer to premix program audio, the truck director, on-cam board operator talkback and LA producers to a split IFB (Rich’s right ear). We used the Music PLUS codec to connect to G3 Commanders and Merlins to our remote studios.
The directors and producers for both shows were located in LA master control and also in the trucks in Houston. We used Tieline Commanders for them to communicate with Camera Operators using Belt Packs.
Jim Hibbard and Alan Guzzi at the Pro Am with ViA
After leaving Houston, we headed to Monterey, California for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am the following week. The Dan Patrick Show was broadcasting from the Driving Range for 3 days. The weather was not our friend on this remote. All the radio broadcast equipment, including our 2 ViAs, were located in the back of a minivan! The constant rain made mud that, in some spots, was up to our knees. Most of our wires were covered completely in mud and water. But, the show went on, and we used our cell modem for one ViA for the main program feed and a fiber connection feeding Ethernet from a switch for the backup ViA. Again, they were our central point for transmission and remote monitoring. With such varying conditions, we found the input knobs on the top of the ViA to be a convenient feature for quick setups and changes, rather than having to go through the software to make minor changes.
Remotes are no longer a mic and a Marti in the back of a van. Talent has come to expect the same level of quality and convenience they have at their home studios, and with today’s technology, that’s exactly what we are able to provide.
Dan Patrick Equipment List
- 12 channel Wheatstone E1 console
- Analog and AD Blades
- Wheatstone M4 Mic preamps
- DBX 286 preamp for guest mics (gain controls on these units work well for different guests )
- AKG C 4500B BC condenser microphones
- AKG and JBL headphones
- ProSonus Eureka mic preamps
- Wheatstone mic on/off Turrets
Rich Eisen Equipment List:
- Behringer X32
- AKG C 4500B BC condenser microphones
- Multiple Behringer RX1602 line mixers
- Shure earbuds with personal fit moldings
- Sennheiser EM-series mic receivers and transmitters
- Shure IFB transmitter and receivers
(The wireless company handled all the frequency coordination with the NFL and provided the staff to fit the hosts and guests with the wireless equipment during the shows.)
- TieLine ViAs main for both shows
- Tieline Commander, backup DP Show
- Tieline Merlin, backup RE Show
- Tieline Commanders for IFB to/from CA (Dan Patrick)
- Tieline Merlins for IFB to/from CA (Rich Eisen)
- MusicPlus codec for all units
For more information about ViA, Merlin and other Tieline codecs, visit http://www.tieline.com.
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Note: This article was first published in Radio Guide in 2017.