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Seacrest Studios Comes to Cincinnati Children's Hospital
Making radio - and more
The on-air and production environment brings all the tools of a modern digital radio studio together, including two automation systems, a multi-channel console, processing gear, telephone codecs, production accessories and source equipment. This enables patients and staff to produce a variety of music, entertainment and educational programming. The radio programming typically comprises DJ-hosted music shows, sports and entertainment talk shows, storytelling and community interaction.
The Ryan Seacrest Foundation also brings artists and celebrities through the studios as they pass through town, with live performances broadcast to patient rooms. Harris Broadcast supplied its World Feed Panel to accommodate these live performances, a 3RU audio signal connection system with an interface panel for cabinet side-wall mounting. It supports all common connector types - RCA, XLR, 3.5 mm, 1/4" TRS balanced and unbalanced - and an active USB interface to support temporary connection of instruments, laptops, DJ coffins and other live performance equipment to the house system.
The "house system" in this case is a 12-channel Harris Broadcast Flexiva NetWave console, with removable faders to accommodate future audio signal networking as needed. The NetWave provides on-air personnel with a direct view meter display for clear comprehension of audio levels, which is helpful to patients and staff learning radio for the first time. The console supports multiple on-air sources, including the mics, a Comrex STAC six-line talkshow system, a 360 Instant Replay effects system and a Tascam CD and MP3 player. A Telos Zephyr Xstream rackmount codec is in place for local stations broadcasting live from the studio, providing ISDN and Ethernet options for distribution to host studios.
The two automation systems - a BSI Op-X and an RCS Selector - provide the studio with plenty of redundancy for overnight programming, since the station is typically manned only for 8 to 10 hours a day. The BSI Logger feature is useful for pulling air checks done throughout the day. These are interspersed with music to create a complete air shift.
Most radio streams are delivered to the room with an accompanying HD or digital video feed. Patients and staff often use the video equipment to create music videos or other shows and segments using the in-studio green screen. Live on-air shows can also be conducted while another is recorded. Onlookers in the atrium might see an interview being recorded in the studio while a previously produced program plays on the external studio monitor, as well as Channel 33 in the rooms.
The signal flow gets interesting from this point, as the radio and video elements are multiplexed and routed long distance to the main headend. Audio leaving the NetWave (including audio from a video playback computer) is first moved through an TransLanTech Sound Ariane Sequel. This device provides an AES output that is sent to the AES input of a Blackmagic ATEM production switcher. Here, the radio audio combines with four active video inputs (two ceiling-mounted cameras and an in-studio tripod, plus the playback computer video). All video is captured as HD 720p60 at a 16x9 aspect ratio.
The program-out signal is passed to a Blackmagic Hyperdeck HD recorder, and this unit and a second Hyperdeck connect to a two-input Extron HD video switcher. This represents the start of the final phase of the studio workflow, which is able to pass live (Input 1) and recorded (Input 2) content.
Both Hyperdecks also connect to a Crestron touchscreen for playback control at the DJ deck. This proved to be a challenging component of the integration, as discrete commands required for the RS-422 control were forced through an Ethernet control port. Overall, it required adding 20 static IP addresses on the studio network switch to accommodate all radio and TV devices - a demanding task in a real-estate-challenged space.
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