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Move Remote Broadcasts to the Web

Back in September I contributed an article to Radio magazine about electronic newsgathering for radio.

Back in September, I contributed an article to Radio magazine about electronic newsgathering for radio. In this edition of Tech Tips, we�re going to look at a method that could certainly be used for RENG�although the real purpose, in this case, for KOHL(FM) is remote broadcasts.

Twisted Wave Tom Briseno is broadcast instructor and program director of KOHL(FM) at Ohlone College in Fremont, Calif. Tom wrote to me and described some 21st century techniques in use there.

�I wanted to share with you how we do remotes now that our digital STL gives us a huge delay,� he began.

�Radio� the last analog broadcast medium � uses the digital infrastructure to link studio to transmitter and to stream its content on the Web. Another radio standard that needs to move to the Web is that of remote broadcasts. The old, crappy sounding, pre-recorded phone call-in should have been put to rest in the last century.�

I�m sure most of us agree with those sentiments.

Tom went on: �With Wi-Fi-capable smartphones and reliable 3G and 4G networks, pre-recorded 320 kb MP3 content or news breaks can sound fairly close to studio quality. The best part is that it hardly costs anything. Every news reporter and air personality has a smartphone and almost every radio station has a VoxPro, the main ingredients of great-sounding remotes.�

Tom mentioned a few apps that are available.

First, Twisted Wave, for iOS. (Costs $9.99, Some of its important features:
� The waveform is updated in real time
� Drag the waveform to move, pinch to zoom
� Undo/redo works instantly
� Copy/paste
� Amplify or normalize to adjust levels
� Add faces in or out
� Configure multiple FTP accounts
� Send compressed files (AAC) to save time and bandwidth

Another app used by KOHL is the iRig recorder from IK Multimedia ( Among its important features:
� One-touch recording with real-time monitoring
� Non-destructive editing tools to cut, crop and loop your recordings
� Organizes your recordings by creation date and tags with geolocation
� Transfer files via email, Wi-Fi or iTunes File Sharing with upload to FTP or SoundCloud
� Export files as compressed .m4a or uncompressed .wav
� Recording time is only limited by the storage space on your iOS device

The iRig Pre Actually, IK Media has an interesting set of products for use in recording with both iPhones and Android devices. Tom also likes the iRig Pre, which is basically an XLR interface for your iPhone, iPad or Android device.

�Also needed is a cloud service to upload the MP3s. Dropbox works flawlessly. The VoxPro can be set up to automatically download any files from the cloud service, eliminating the need for recording manually by a studio operator. Do this by configuring VoxPro�s �auto import� function (which is in the settings pulldown menu) to scan the Dropbox folder.

�Once a break or actuality is recorded it can be renamed and �shared/sent� to the cloud service, and will automatically pop up in the studio VoxPro for airing. The File will appear as a number, or it can be named before sending it from phone.

�It is best to use Wi-Fi to send the MP3s. It is not uncommon for an 8-minute MP3 to take 8 minutes to upload via 3G cell network, about 4 minutes via 4G. The same size file would take about 2 minutes via Wi-Fi.

�We have successfully used this method at many client remotes, to everyone�s satisfaction. It is generally agreed by all participants that the sound is preferable to phone call-ins or RPU remote pick-ups.�

We�re always looking for tech tips such as this, and I thank Tom for sending this one to us. If you have a slick application or technique that you�d like to tell us all about, please send it on to me via [email protected].

Irwin is RF engineer/project manager for Clear Channel Los Angeles. Contact him at [email protected].