Field Report: Enco Systems DAD

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Southern California Public Radio operates both KPCC in Pasadena, CA, and KUOR in Redlands, CA. The two stations broadcast throughout Los Angeles County, northern Orange County and parts of San Bernardino County. Our main studios are located on the campus of Pasadena City College with auxiliary studios in downtown Los Angeles. We are an NPR affiliate that carries both live and time-shifted programs from Content Depot, as well as local talk- and magazine-type shows. We have been using DAD for digital audio storage and playback since 2004.

The automation software can be purchased and installed on any current Windows system, but we purchased the computers from ENCO. This allowed the system to come pre-configured, and Lance Harper, our chief engineer, installed it.

Playback machine on DAD desktop
Playback machine on DAD desktop
Recording machine on DAD desktop
Recording machine on DAD desktop

Since the initial installation we have added six additional workstations. Our current setup includes 18 separate machines. In Pasadena, 11 workstations are used for production, recording and on-air playback, one is used for recording live Content Depot feeds, one for Content Depot file ingestion, one to control HD-2 and KUOR, and one is a gateway between the DAD LAN and the KPCC LAN. We have three workstations at our auxiliary studios in downtown LA.

The Pasadena machines are on their own network while the downtown machines are on the company LAN. This configuration provides us with adequate security for our main network while allowing access to our remote machines.

Up to 99,999 unique cuts can be stored in the system. Each cut belongs to a user-defined group. In order to manage the library of cuts we decided to use a filing system where each five-digit cut number follows the GGSSN convention where GG is the group, SS is the show number, and N is the segment number. For example, cut number 12345 would be segment 5 of show number 34 (a Christmas special) in group 12 (Special Recordings).

Anything loaded into the system in Pasadena is immediately available in Pasadena. Retrieving audio files from the downtown studio system to playback in Pasadeana is a major challenge because the systems are on different LANs and must go through the WAN cloud. This is a big concern for us as the majority of our reporters file stories from downtown. We use an auxiliary program called Gateway, also by Enco. The gateway machine, located in Pasadena, is able to interact with both LANs. It checks for new cuts every five minutes during the day. Bandwidth is always a concern, but the gateway performs well. During heavy network traffic the gateway will sometimes fail, but we do not have the budget to have dedicated bandwidth to transfer audio.

KPCC on-air signal

We have a studio engineer on-site 24/7 to control our main on-air signal. Each studio engineer is given the freedom to use the system the best way he sees fit.

Performance at a glance
Software-based digital audio storage, recording and playback system
Manual, live-assist or full automation
Multiple options for playback
Network or stand-alone system
Support contract available

The playback machines are preferred for time-shifted network shows. The playback machine has a playlist that will sequentially play one audio file after another. The playlist can be generated from any workstation and loaded in the on-air machine as needed. The playlist can also be generated and changed on the fly. This allows studio engineers to set the playback for their entire shift, minimizing misfires and incorrect audio played on-air.

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