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Clear Channel Chicago Upgrades Audio Network
Post-delay audio for online streams breaks off prior to hitting the Intraplex units. Online streams for all HD Radio and FM/AM signals are supported and delivered by Akamai Networks.
A bulk of the remaining TOC equipment is dedicated to signal monitoring. On-staff engineering in Chicago developed an Intelligent Silence Sensor to monitor each station. The system also monitors Arbitron Portable People Meters (PPM) for all program streams, including HD2 channels and online properties.
Elsewhere in TOC, XDS satellite receivers for Citadel Broadcasting and Premiere Radio Networks bring in syndicated programming from Doug Banks and The Steve Harvey Show, respectively. Sage Endec units are also located in the TOC to automatically trigger EAS signals for each station.
The HVAC system is designed to keep all the equipment in top operating conditioning, with three-ton and three five-ton condenser units providing forced air over powered cooling water. Three APC 40kVA UPS units provide backup to the entire system, able to support the entire operation for approximately 50 minutes. The units are only required to support the studios for a little more than 90 seconds, as Clear Channel Chicago shares a large generator with the building system.
On-air and production
The on-air operation consists of nine 12x18 studios -- one for each station and two specialty studios. All are built to similar specifications, with Harris PR&E custom furniture and turret assemblies housing all the required equipment. Harris PR&E RMXdigital consoles connect to the central VistaMax system, with jocks able to pull up sources from any of the console channels.
Other sources wired to each on-air console include five microphone processors (Symetrix 528A or AirTools 6200 units, wired mono to the five left channels), Telos 2101 phone hybrid signals, NexGen automation, Audion Labs VoxPro record/edit systems, Tascam CD players and Harris World Feed Panels. The World Feed Panel is a multi-user interface panel that provides a host of inputs and outputs for guests (musicians, TV production crews). This provides a direct-to-air interface for external source equipment.
RMXdigital is a clear upgrade from the previous on-air console. One notable improvement is mix-minus. The older consoles offered one mix-minus channel, which made live channel mixing a cumbersome process. The RMXdigital provides six distinct mix-minus channels for our jocks, providing far more on-air flexibility.
The furniture is mostly designed for stand-up shows, with one host and four guest positions. Five Electro-Voice RE-27 or RE-20 microphones hang over the guest/host positions in most of the studios, with Harris 3x6 headphone distribution amplifiers built into the furniture. CDAir W2000 CD burners are also installed in the turrets atop the furniture surfaces for talent air checks.
Production studios are similarly outfitted, though vary in size and console choice. Four 12x18 large production rooms feature RMXdigital consoles, while six smaller 12x10 production rooms feature Harris PR&E NetWave digital consoles. The NetWave delivers audio networking to the smaller production rooms via custom dual-fader modules on three channels to support routable sources. All production studios also add Adobe Audition and ProTools editing.
Music playlists for NexGen automation are built mostly on computers in the production studios. On the 28th floor, the traffic and billing operation ingests commercials, promos and other interstitials into the system. The NexGen server in the TOC automatically makes sense of the various elements coming from two different operations.
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