The British Forces Broadcasting Service provides radio and television programs for British service members and their families. Engineer David Ramsey shared his experiences building radio and television facilities that reached forward deployed British Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan at a Monday session, “Extreme Broadcasting — Providing Radio and Television Services in Conflict Zones.”
Those BFBS facilities ranged from a standalone compound of radio studios and production facilities built from shipping containers and shrapnel-proof brick at an operating base, to an ad hoc temporary 250 watt FM transmitter built to reach Mosul, Iraq, in the early days of the Iraqi war. In that part of the world, temperatures can reach well over 100 degrees F.
Ramsey believes the construction and operations of stations in those extreme conditions is part of the job. “When we speak to other broadcasters, we realize what we do is so unusual. When we hear that the military is going to deploy, we’re very excited about the prospect of providing services to them.”
Ramsey says newsgathering in such conditions is best kept simple with built-in microphones handling audio from recorders, audio from the cameras and even iPhone-recorded audio. “When you’re jumping on and off helicopters, you need to keep your kit at an absolute minimum; a microphone cable can get lost or trashed, where if it (recording capability) is in a nice and compact unit you tend to find it’ll work first time, every time.”