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Employ a One-Switch Newsroom Mute

And don’t let dot confusion wreck your USB connectors

Fig. 1: Newsroom scanners run to individual speakers.

Fig. 2: A switch, tied to a multiple-pole relay like Henry’s Superelay, can mute the speakers simultaneously. Here’s a simple idea to solve a newsroom problem. Cumulus New Mexico Assistant Chief Engineer Evan Baker responded to his news staff’s need for multiple scanners in the newsroom by running the scanner outputs to independent speakers, seen in Fig. 1.

Although the scanners add excitement and realism to newscasts, the studio is also used for recording public affairs programs. Rather than turning each scanner or speaker off, Evan ran the audio through a Henry Engineering Superelay, which is tied to an activation switch that he mounted on the side of the mixer, shown in Fig. 2. When the scanners must be muted, one switch does the job.

In planning the studio/newsroom layout, he also placed the “green room” so that guests would pass by the newsroom on their way to the air studio. Newsworthy guests could then be led easily to the newsroom to record a brief interview after their on-air appearance.


Fig. 3 shows a common problem for stations that line their studio walls with foam sound deadening material: It eventually starts to disintegrate. This is particularly true in high-traffic areas such as light switches or door handles.

Fig. 3: How would you handle this problem of deteriorating foam soundproofing? Perhaps you have encountered this problem. If so, what did you do to correct or prevent it? Email your suggestions to me at [email protected] and include a high-resolution photo to demonstrate your solution.


Frequent Workbench contributor Marc Mann writes that Terry Skelton’s idea to place a white dot on the “up” side of his USB connectors is a good one. But Marc cautions engineers to pause before applying white dots en masse. An “up” dot is fine, but not in all cases.

Marc has found that some clever equipment design engineers mount the USB “female” not to the topside of a PC board, but to the underside, to conserve space. This changes the orientation and one now must insert the plug upside down (now with the white dot facing down).

Of course, one would never force a USB plug into place; but the concern is if we tell staff the dot is always up, they may try to force it when the jack is actually upside down.

Good practice is to test the USB receptacles first, to ensure they are oriented correctly.

Marc adds that the same applies to vertically oriented USB receptacles. A white dot is fine on the narrow side, too — but which side is truly “up”?


We live in a monitor world these days, and proliferating screens can interrupt sight lines in the studio. This can be especially annoying in facilities with multi-talent morning shows.

Fig. 4: Recess your control room monitors on a shelf like this one at the Beasley Las Vegas cluster. Beasley Las Vegas Engineering Manager Lamar Smith demonstrates a workable alternative to the issue of monitor crowding in the control room.

Fig. 4 shows how the tabletop surface behind the console is cut and a recessed shelf placed in the cutout. The monitors sit on the shelf and can still be seen by the board operator/talent, but the recession lowers the height of the monitors so they no longer block the field of vision of the air staff.

Contribute to Workbench. You’ll help your fellow engineers and qualify for SBE recertification credit. Send Workbench tips to [email protected]. Fax to (603) 472-4944.

Author John Bisset has spent 46 years in the broadcasting industry and is still learning. He handles West Coast sales for the Telos Alliance. He is SBE certified and is a past recipient of the SBE’s Educator of the Year Award.