CKUA Makes an Epic Move
Another important design consideration was the location of essential computers. Because of the networking, all computers critical to on-air operations are connected via Adderlink KVMs to TOC. This allows for monitors, mice, and keyboards to be extended to the appropriate control rooms. This lets us control the noise (computer fans), control the dust and more easily manage the computers should they develop problems or require patch around.
We also decided to go with Wheatstone AoIP audio drivers on all broadcast-related computers, including our automation play-out systems. There's not a soundcard in the entire facility. The sound quality is astounding even to this day; there's no A/D/A conversion, and therefore no buzzes and other noises resulting from soundcards. Essentially we are fully digital to the input of the station's processor.
Across the hallway is a bright open work area for announcers, traffic, copy, Web and content directors (here we don't call them program directors -- it's all about the content). Each announcer has his own work space to listen to CDs and prep his show. In addition, four multi-use editing suites are available, equipped with IP-12 consoles, Adobe Audition, CD players, turntables and phone hybrids -- everything needed for phone interviews, voice tracking or just listen to CDs. Even these smaller studios could go to air if needed or provide a secondary Internet program feed.
The lower floor houses our vast music library, all temperature- and humidity-controlled and indexed for safekeeping. Currently all CDs have been digitized on 67TB (and growing) of Isilon clustered storage. The database is browser-based, owned by and custom-designed for CKUA. Through WheatNet-IP, announcers can easily access the browser (from anywhere) for songs, sounders and taglines they need for their show. They access what they want, preview, and send the results to the automation system. This kind of access is important as we don't use music scheduling software to run the station. Announcers select what they want to play that day. This database is crucial to our operations, as we employ many contractors who provide shows to us, making this resource a critical requirement. It also allows for announcers to perform show prep from anywhere, pre-loading their selections or remote voice-tracks.
We occupy four floors in our new building, including the third that holds senior management, administration and support offices for engineering, marketing, and sales, and several board rooms. The fourth and fifth floors of the Alberta Hotel will be leased -- with the exception of the fifth floor terrace, which can be used for broadcast or live performances as well. We've even had requests for wedding ceremonies. The views are just spectacular. Part of the main floor is also leased out and restored as the original tavern of the hotel.
Unlike the old Jasper studios, we have a central TOC that is open for viewing through glass. It really makes you realize and appreciate what is required to operate a modern broadcast facility. It's the heart of all systems (not only broadcast) fully integrated and working as one. We use Cisco switches throughout the facility with adequate balance and redundancy. In the four primary control rooms we use smaller Cisco switches, allowing each to operate as its own island in case of complete network failure.
Remember your entire operation in essence now runs on a CAT-6 cable, which requires careful consideration, planning and layout. The best advice: First, have all network cables run, installed and terminated with each run certified by professionals. Second, invest in the best true on-line UPS you can afford. This will allow for clean power and prevent your system from re-booting during power bumps, which takes time and costs money in lost revenues.
Furman PL-8 C
Henry Engineering Multiport
Middle Atlantic PD-815R-PL
Neumann BCM104, KH 120
Wheatstone LX-24, IP-12, SideBoard, WheatNet Blades, GP16, M1, M2
Rodts is director of engineering, IT and facilities at CKUA Radio Network, Edmonton, AB.
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