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Reliability in the Data Center
Keep the heart of the station beating strong
Whether you call it a tech center, master control, or simply the rack room, one thing is for sure: Every radio station needs a central location at which all studio feeds converge, and from which all STLs leave. Like other aspects of broadcasting, the purposes of this central hub have changed over the years. In the old days this room was occupied by members of the engineering staff, but today this room likely holds computers workstations and servers, and probably a motley collection of devices that all require LAN connections. This, of course, is in addition to the items we still associate with radio, like audio routers, STL transmitters, audio processors, and the like. For our purposes, let's call this room the data center. That's a little more in line with where we're headed anyway.
When computers started to show up in radio station studios generally they were just shoved inside the furniture somewhere (or behind it) and a big CRT monitor was perched somewhere. A mouse and keyboard were put somewhere close. Of course as time went on, more computers showed up in the studio, with their inherent problems: fan noise, heat generation, and of course the space they use. A solution to these issues was to locate the computers remotely, and of course master control was the obvious location. The need for KVM (keyboard, video, mouse) extenders was obvious.
Belkin, for example, makes the OmniView Cat-5 KVM extender that allows users to control their computer or KVM switch from up to 300' away using (as you would expect) a single Cat-5 cable. The computer end of the system has local KVM ports that allow for local access to the remoted machine as well.
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