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Pandemic Forced New Workflows in Philly

Rodney Byrd on how Beasley Media navigated demands of sports audio

Pro sports coverage is a crucial programming component for Beasley Media’s seven-station Philadelphia cluster.

For the Radio World ebook “Remote Contribution,” Chief Engineer Rodney Byrd, FF/EMR, talked about his pandemic experience with remote audio.

“Beasley Philadelphia is set up to operate several simultaneous back-to-back broadcasts from multiple locations … something we do on a regular basis,” he said.

“Most of our shows remained in-studio during the pandemic. Any that had more than two people who could not be socially distant while in the studio or were not comfortable being in the facility were set up to broadcast from home.”

The cluster repurposed all of its codecs that would normally be used for on-the-road broadcasts and deployed them where needed. Additional codecs were plugged in to its TOC facilities to allow them to receive more remote signals. 

“We also carry the Philadelphia 76ers basketball and the Philadelphia Flyers hockey teams. A majority of sports broadcasters and announcers were not able to travel with their teams.”

When a restart of sports was announced, the leagues and local regional sports network for TV and radio worked together to repurpose technology in the venues. 

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“All NHL and NBA venues have several IP codecs installed as HD video feeds from the venue hosting the game, back to the replay center,” Byrd said. “We used the provided video feed from the league for video and connected to the arenas where the games were being played for effects and PA. This allowed us to broadcast all games from the Wells Fargo Center.”

He said that worked until the following year, when things began to open. “We were faced with the task of having to produce two sports broadcasts simultaneously from the Wells Fargo Center. We had to produce a way to have an ‘away’ setup as well as a ‘home’ setup for each team.”

Temporary fiber had to be installed because one of their locations was a trailer in the TV truck compound for basketball. Hockey away games were called from a conference room in the offices of the Wells Fargo Center. 

“We still have an away broadcast space set up in the facility, just in case any of our sports broadcasters cannot travel.”