User Report: Bearcast Radio Enjoys the Harris Oasis
— Bearcast Radio has been the sound of the University of Cincinnati
since the turn of century, playing music from the College Music
Journal Top 200 charts and offering diverse talk and sports
most university radio stations, Bearcast Radio is staffed mostly by
student DJs, with high turnover each semester. Unlike most university
stations, Bearcast Radio is online-only, accessible at
www.bearcastradio.com and through the Shoutcast website and
station typically features live personalities from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.
during the academic year, with automation otherwise supporting
playout. Recently, there has been a thirst to incorporate automation
into the live DJ experience at Bearcast Radio, as well as a dire need
to simplify the on-air experience through a modern console. A visit
to the Harris Broadcast booth at the NAB Show proved fruitful on both
Broadcast is known for its PR&E brand of consoles, but an unusual
demonstration initially captured our attention. Called “Desktop
Radio,” the complete package included its PR&E Oasis on-air
console and a WideOrbit automation system, with direct USB
integration for audio and logic; as well as three microphones,
monitors and other key equipment — notably its World Feed Panel, a
breakout box with multiple I/O options for source equipment.
Oasis console was alone an important upgrade. The studio had long
used a Studer On-Air 2000 console, a real workhorse that offered
technology quite advanced for its time. However, at six feet in
length, its footprint was massive. And with 13 years on its
touchscreens and on-air components, it was beginning to fail.
Oasis consumes far less space, but its foremost benefit is the
learning curve and simplicity — important given the consistent
student turnover. There is no better example than the two large,
horizontal vu meters. These are instrumental in training students
quickly how to monitor and comprehend audio levels, and make
on-the-fly adjustments to position and fade. By comparison, students
had a difficult time reading the Studer meters (which were off to the
right side), and often the on-air levels were too low or peaking with
Harris Broadcast did a good job of including what broadcasters need
for on-air operations, and not confusing matters with unnecessary
features. The A/B switching for each fader accommodates simple
expansion, and its built-in mix-minus capability will allow Bearcast
Radio to expand live talk capability in the future. For now, the talk
operation is fairly simple, with a single phone line for live callers
and remotes, and other standard on-air sources (mics, CD players,
automation system and the World Feed Panel are the two most
interesting Oasis tie-ins. The direct USB connection pulls four
channels of audio into the console, allowing students to operate in
“live assist” mode with automation instead of fiddling constantly
with CDs. Students can pot up four faders and automatically switch
from one channel to the next for seamless on-air broadcasts.
the World Feed Panel enables Bearcast Radio to bring more excitement
to broadcasts through live or unusual sources. This is essentially a
3RU interface panel that accommodates temporary connection of
portable devices into the Oasis, such as an iPod or laptop. It
accommodates all common connections, like RCA and XLR, as well as an
active USB interface.
this panel can accept high-quality audio from an Oasis output and
feed it to a video camera, allowing a simple capture for a talk show
with integrated video and audio. This eliminates the need to mic the
talent individually, or connect shotgun mics to separate mixers and
cameras. It is helpful for occasional specialty shows, such as
interviews with the university president.
forward, Bearcast Radio expects to add a second Oasis console to its
production studio, where students can train without interrupting
on-air operations — while also working to fully explore the power
that the Desktop Radio solution brings to the table.
information, contact Brian Clifford at Harris Broadcast in Ohio at
(513) 459-3714 or visit www.harrisbroadcast.com.