ATLANTA — At GPB Media we were looking to get away from third-party monitoring of our transmitters because of the high costs involved. It was decided we would consolidate monitoring at our Atlanta Technical Operations Center because it was expanding its operations to 24 hours seven days a week.
We chose Audemat’s GoldenEagle FM for monitoring at our transmitters because nothing else on the market provided the features and flexibility available with this unit. Adding the company’s Broadcast Manager Software Suite allowed us to realize our goal of centralized monitoring; again, we found the feature set unrivalled.
Later, when we were looking for a way to monitor our return feed silence alarms and other critical signals at the TOC, we felt that Relio, Audemat’s remote facility control unit, was the only choice that would give us the flexibility and expandability we needed. With these pieces in place and working together we realized we had hit the trifecta in broadcast monitoring.
The GoldenEagle signal monitoring unit is the workhorse of the system. It is easy to set up and operate. The interface is intuitive, ensuring that parameter setting for alarm thresholds is a straightforward process. Checking the modulation and streaming of the HD Radio audio is part of our workflow whenever we have major alarms, and the GoldenEagle’s interface enables us to do this with ease. The I/O option allowed us to add our tower lights, generators and backup audio to the alarms we send.
We also have added the ability to turn the transmitter on or off through the GoldenEagle. This was implemented using ScriptEasy software, which comes with Audemat’s monitoring units. We also set up recordings at various times of the day to do quality checks.
The Broadcast Manager allows us to tie our nine television transmitters and 18 FM transmitters together and monitor everything from a central location. It provides a map of our transmitter sites complete with colored indicators; this allows us quickly to see any critical errors on a large LCD monitor in the TOC. The ability to customize which alarms go to specific engineers allows us to send only the emails relevant to each engineer.
We also added the SMS message option, which we use to send SMS messages to the engineers on critical alarms. This added layer on critical alarms helps us ensure that nothing falls through the cracks. The database allows us to look at historical data for each site to determine if patterns are developing and where to focus repair efforts.
The Relio remote control unit allows us to set up alarms from our silence sensors, EAS feeds and STL links. With a little help from the Audemat staff we were able to write alarm scripts with ScriptEasy that send outputs to a light panel and buzzer to let us know whenever we lose our return feed from a transmitter. Of course we always check the GoldenEagle to verify what is really going on. With this method of monitoring we never send out an engineer on a false alarm because we know exactly what’s going on at the transmitter site with the GoldenEagle. We have the option of changing what we monitor with the Relio and, if we decide to add another input or output, it just requires a little time with ScriptEasy.
Jeffrey Whaley is an IT broadcast engineer for GPB Media.
For information, contact Tony Peterle at Audemat/WorldCast Systems in Florida at (305) 249-3110 or visit www.audemat.com.