Friday Night Delivery

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Paramount Broadcasting stations KFLP-AM/FM broadcast country music (25kW FM) and agricultural news (250W AM) from their studios in Floydada, TX. The station's most popular offering on the FM is the weekly syndicated program West Texas Friday Night Scoreboard Show, which airs Friday nights from 10 p.m. to midnight throughout the high school football season. The weekly show reports highlights and scores from 150 Friday-night high school football games played in West Texas. Six employees support the live program, including the host/producer, main talent, a scoreboard writer, production engineer and two phone reporters.

When KFLP started gathering its affiliate audience, the station chose satellite services to distribute the show. Shortages in receiver supply and scheduling conflicts within the provider's distribution network created challenges at the affiliate level. Technical difficulties piled on top of the other challenges, as the station was forced to rely on third party engineers to address problematic feeds and troubleshoot the issues.

Rate increases were the final straw. Last year, KFLP opted to explore other distribution platforms that were less expensive and without the many technical issues of satellite. The goal was to establish a system that used identical technology at each affiliate and allowed KFLP to take complete ownership of the solution, including the engineering aspect.

The station implemented a low-latency audio over IP system within its existing radio broadcast workflow to distribute the program live to 35 affiliated stations. Based on Barix audio over IP encoding and decoding hardware and a backend streaming infrastructure from Stream Guys for Internet distribution, the approach provides a highly robust and reliable multipoint platform for audio distribution that maintains the superior audio quality required for professionally broadcast, syndicated programming.

The workflow

The broadcast workflow for West Texas Friday Night Scoreboard begins at KFLP headquarters, a 24'×24' building comprised of three production studios connected to a master control center for on-air operations. KFLP's strategy is to use technically strong, operationally simple equipment that fits into the modest budget of a small-market station. Much of the station's equipment is consumer grade as a result, although there is a strong emphasis on maintaining high quality content and well-engineered broadcasts.

West Texas Friday Night Scoreboard is produced in Studio A, a 9'×9' studio featuring a Yamaha MG124c mixer with eight hard-wired, unbalanced input sources to produce the live broadcast. On-air sources include an Electro-Voice PL-20 microphone (host) and a Sennheiser MD-421U auxiliary mic for guests; a Telos Zephyr Xstream ISDN unit, two Dell computers with BSI Simian automation, an Optimus CD-8400 compact disc player, and a Realistic utility switch for toggling between AM and FM feeds. The Dell computers are labeled as CPU 1, which triggers commercials and recorded interviews during the show; and CPU 2, used to update the KFLP website and maintain contact with stringers who electronically submit scores to the program.

Pre-recorded interviews for WTFNSS are produced in Studio B.

Pre-recorded interviews for WTFNSS are produced in Studio B.

Reporters begin calling in from the field about 10 p.m. Central Time to provide play-by-play highlights and game recaps. An AT&T 944/964 four-line telephone system is the anchor that supports the on-air reports. The audio to the telephone is sent through the Yamaha mixer, utilizing its mix/minus feature to emphasize or reduce caller audio in the mix. An Excalibur Handi-Coupler acts as an interface between the mixer and telephone so the producer can split the send and receive audio from the phone line, and provide exceptionally clean audio at a lower cost than investment in a hybrid unit. The Telos Zephyr Xstream (ISDN) allows KFLP to originate or receive ISDN calls, which the station can also use to produce very clean sounding POTS calls in tandem with a Lucent ISDN 970 phone.

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