Extreme Studio Networking at Clear Channel Seattle

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Along the hallway in the center of the studio complex and separate from the rack room is what is called the Remote Broadcast Rack. All ISDN, POTS codecs, Marti RPUs, and any other remote equipment is located here for shared access by staff and stations. Staff can select any of the gear from their E-1 or E-6 consoles anywhere in the studio, allowing them to share existing gear rather than Clear Channel having to buy new equipment. Instead of buying new ISDN units, for example, the cluster has six ISDN units that staff from any of the seven stations can use on a rotating basis.

The physical and operational changes that come with an IP operation this size are significant. For starters, the control surfaces are a huge departure from the older consoles, which you couldn't possibly manage without moving from one end of the board to the other. Now, operators can stand in front of the E-1 or -6 and have full range of control -- controls that can be changed at any time by different board operators.

Wheatnet Navigator

Wheatnet Navigator

There's obviously a lot going on under the hood, too. It's a very dynamic environment. Devices are always talking to each other about command and control, and not just streaming audio between them. This gives the studios unbelievable flexibility. In fact, no sooner had the team finished installation when they began making changes. Two studios have changed function entirely, and currently, Clear Channel is in the process of converting another multipurpose studio into a dedicated studio for a syndicated country show.

Once the networking was laid out, though, the rest was easy because it's just a matter of changing crosspoints around and relabeling a few connections. Now changes are made as a matter of routine, which is pretty remarkable considering the size and depth of this networked operation.

Equipment List

Cisco 3750G Stackwise switches
Comrex Access, Matrix
Fostex CR500, RM-1
PreSonus ACP88
ProTools consoles
RCS NexGen automation
Studio Technologies furniture
Telos Zephyr Xstream, 2101
Wheatstone E-1 control surfaces, E-6 control surfaces, IP88a Blades, SideBoard mixers

Engineering Team

■ Erik Kuhlmann, senior vice president of engineering, Clear Channel Media + Entertainment
■ Dan Mettler, senior vice president of engineering, Central Region, Clear Channel Media + Entertainment
■ Steve George, regional vice president of engineering, Plains Region, Clear Channel Media + Entertainment
■ Bill Major, assistant director of engineering, Seattle Clear Channel Media + Entertainment
■ Terry Ryan, remote coordinator/engineer, Seattle Clear Channel Media + Entertainment
■ And the many other Clear Channel engineers who came to aid in the installation. Their help was greatly appreciated.

Major is assistant director of engineering, Clear Channel Seattle.

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