Broadcasting From Home and Hotels: an Improvised National Studio

Trevor Long broadcasts live from his home and around the world
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In Australia, Trevor Long is a radio presenter, doing a regular radio show across Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. However, he almost never goes into the station�s studios, instead broadcasting live from his home and from locations around the world.

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�Talking Lifestyle,� a brand new style of talk radio with lifestyle content. The breakfast shows, seven days a week, provide news and information and a large amount of cross-promotion for the many other lifestyle shows across the week: covering everything from finance and travel to technology. It broadcasts from studios in Pyrmont, a picturesque coastal suburb of Sydney just a mile or so away from the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Trevor�s show, Talking Technology, is available in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney on AM and DAB+, as well as online. The program, anchored by Nick Bennett, airs weekdays 8�9 p.m. Using Omny Studio, the show is also available as a podcast, too. But Trevor�s commute is normally as simple as walking into his home office.

�I have three kids,� he told Radio magazine via email. �Family and work balance is critical � so when the management at Talking Lifestyle asked me to do the nightly show, we made the decision to allow me to host it remotely to ensure I could still see my family as much as possible. Adam Lang and Michael Thompson the senior management team at Talking Lifestyle have been extremely supportive of that, and it's meant I can give the show 100% with almost no distractions.�

His studio at home was built as a podcast studio: the Two Blokes Talking Tech podcast with Stephen Fenech has been recorded there for over 300 episodes, and he also produces the Your Tech Life podcast. He installed a Behringer analog mixer and installed three microphone positions, using Shure SM7B microphones. The walls are coated with acoustic foam.

He replaced his mixer with a Mackie DL806 digital unit, which he�s enthusiastic about. �This thing is the bee�s knees. Any iPad or iPhone on my Wi-Fi network with the app installed can control any fader or input and output. This means a guest mic position can have audio controls, and I can put the mixer off to the side and simply use an iPad in front of me when recording. It's the best thing I've ever bought.�

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�Using my iMac, I have an IP phone connection, and use a USB to analog converter to feed that into the mixer allowing me to use my computer as a phone hybrid for taking and making calls � as my Your Tech Life podcast is essentially a pre-recorded talkback show.�

The studio itself cost around US$7,500 to build, and the only additional work to achieve his radio studio is a Comrex Access unit and an additional cable internet service to keep a separate connection from his home network. He�s hopeful that the NBN, Australia�s high-speed broadband network, will reduce the need for this additional internet connection.

A home studio is one thing, but Trevor is a busy technology commentator, broadcasting nationally on Channel 9�s �Today Show� and �A Current Affair;� and he runs his own online men�s lifestyle magazine, which covers tech, cars and lifestyle. As a result, he�s often traveling � and the show still needs to broadcast.

�I travel with a 4G modem, and ethernet and Wi-Fi connections for the Comrex. I've found that an Ethernet connection is by far and away the most reliable way to connect, though Wi-Fi in hotels is normally OK, with perhaps two or three "blips" an hour. Using a Netgear Nighthawk M1 I can connect to the mobile network, but also have an Ethernet into the Comrex, this is my preferred approach when traveling in Australia.�

As any traveler will tell you, hotel Wi-Fi networks often pose special issues. Trevor has found a tip. �Most hotel Wi-Fi networks require a web page login. The Comrex Access has a very old web browser and fails in most cases. In these circumstances, hotel IT support can normally add the Comrex to their network using the MAC address which works seamlessly.�

Since the program is multi-platform and doesn�t just air on AM radio, audio quality has been important. �I�m not an audiophile,� Trevor says, �but I do notice when someone is using a crappy microphone. That's been my main concern, buying the Shure SM7B's lifted my podcast quality to a new level, and ensures my radio work is now on par with the studio.�

�It's the one reason you can tell when I'm on the road, because I use a Beyer Dymanic DT 109 headset and microphone in my travel kit. I will probably switch to something else for a more studio like sound.�

For Talking Lifestyle, the small team looking after the program makes everything work flawlessly, he says. �We have a team working on the show, our EP Sam coordinates everything with assistance from our AP Andy, and it's all technically co-ordinated by studio producer John.� They use shared Google Docs to ensure that the entire team can see the notes for the program.

And it clearly works. �Some of my industry colleagues who are audiophiles haven't noticed I was broadcasting from home.�

Trevor believes that more radio will happen this way in future. �With this technology getting smaller, and cheaper by the year, it's only going to increase.��