Cumulus/Dickey Broadcast Baseball

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Cumulus/Dickey build the largest radio affiliate network in MLB for the Atlanta Braves

On July 23, 2009, it was announced that the new radio broadcast rights holders for the Atlanta Braves would be two Atlanta flagship radio stations, Dickey Broadcasting Company's 680 the Fan (WCNN-AM) and Cumulus Media's Rock100.5 (WNNX-FM). Planning started and equipment was ordered early in January 2010. The plan included a complete makeover of the play-by-play broadcast booth and the construction of a new pre/post-game stage in the Grand Entry Plaza. The games would be broadcast in full stereo to all 136 Braves affiliates, the largest radio affiliate network in Major League Baseball.

Turner Field was originally built as Centennial Olympic Stadium for the 1996 Summer Olympics. After the Olympics, the stadium was converted into a baseball park. The broadcast booth remained relatively untouched until March 2010, when everything from floor to ceiling was demolished. New carpet, paint and ceiling tiles were installed with cabinetry from Omnirax, which was selected as the furniture supplier because of the solid construction and ease of installation. David Holland of Omnirax worked closely with Michael Gay, project manager for Cumulus Media, to design function into flash for both the broadcast booth and the pre/post-game stage.

In the booth

Broadcast booth equipment featuring a Mackie Onyx 24.4 console

Broadcast booth equipment featuring a Mackie Onyx 24.4 console

The center point of the broadcast booth is the Mackie Onyx 24.4. This console features a 24-channel/4-bus design with mic preamps on every channel. The console has a 4-band Perkins EQ, with six aux sends with long 100mm faders. This console gives operator Brian Giffin lots of flexibility and power over his mix. In addition, there is a Broadcast Tools SS 16.4 stereo switcher making switching among stadium dry pairs a flash. The entire mix is tweaked by Gary Kline, vice president of engineering and IT for Cumulus Media, with a TransLanTech Sound Ariane Sequel. This unit gives transparent yet powerful control over everything from low ambient crowd to the overpowering bursts of celebration.

The signals from the broadcast booth, pre/post-game stage, and Hispanic broadcast are transported to the station via a single T1 on an APT WorldNet Oslo multiple channel audio multiplexer. There are three two-channel input/output analog audio cards, utilizing Enhanced apt-X 16-bit coding. This gives us three bi-directional stereo audio paths, which is great for individual feeds from both booths and the stage with individual talkback and IFB. There is a four-channel duplex two-wire FXS/FXO card that transports to POTS extensions off the station phone switch to the ballpark for offline communications. As a backup, we have two ISDN lines, one at the booth and one at the stage. We use Telos XStreams for this backup service and for all the audio to and from other ballparks and the feed to Skyview Networks in Scottsdale, AZ.

The announcers in the booth use Sennheiser's MD 421-II mics because of their rugged design and pronounced directivity. All three mics are processed by AirTools Voice Processor 2x. This programmable microphone processor has two independent processors in one rack space controlled via software. The fourth unused channel on the AirTools is for a reporter using a Lectrosonics HM plug-on wireless transmitter on an Electro-Voice RE-27 or a Lectrosonics SMQV wireless mic pack with an RE-27. The receiver is a Lectrosonics VRMWB venue receiver with three VRS modules: two for field reporters and one tuned to the IFB frequency of the pre/post-game stage area beyond left field. In addition we use one of the AirTools processors to control the two Sennheiser ME 66 shotgun mics set in a near-coincident pair for crowd and bat sounds.

Pre-game show at the Champion Stage

Pre-game show at the Champion Stage

All the headphones used are Sony MDR7505 powered by a Presonus HP60 six-channel headphone mixing system. This unit features two sets on stereo inputs with a mix control and one external stereo input for each channel. We send an announcer post-fader aux feed to the A stereo input and pre-fader aux feed of effects, IFB, station return audio, etc., to the B input. Now each headphone output has a custom mix between A and B inputs. It also has a talkback mic input where we split the engineer's Sennheiser HMD 25 headset mic between this talkback input on the Presonus and a talkback input to the station down one of the six audio channels on the T1. The headphone audio is sent to a Pro Co Sound Short Stop modified with a stereo pot so the talent can control his own headphone level and mute his mic. The field reporters use Sony MDR7505 headphones attached to a Lectrosonics R1a IFB receiver. We use the Lectrosonics IFBT4 to transmit audio with the same signal that the talent in the booth hears off the Presonus HP60.

The remaining equipment in the booth is rounded out with two rackmount Marantz PMD-580 digital flash recorders with companion Marantz PMD-661 portable digital flash recorders. This gives us the ability to record locker room or field interviews and play them back in game. In addition we installed two Henry Engineering USB MatchboxII multi-mode stereo codecs. Our engineer, Brian Giffin, can connect his laptops via USB to the console for recording and playback of interviews, effects or highlights directly to the console with balanced stereo outputs.

-- Continued on page 2

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