Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now


Stars Sundance on KPCW(FM)

When the famous film festival comes to town, station fires up

KPCW does a live remote for the festival at a local store at last year’s festival. From left are Roger Crawford, station remote engineer; Katie Noble and Nell Larson, hosts of the ‘This Green Earth’ program; and guest Diane Bell, writer and director of ‘Obselidia.’

KPCW(FM) is a community-owned and -operated station on Swede Alley in Park City, Utah, a resort town in the mountains of northern Utah.

Each January, Park City is host to the largest film festival in the United States, the Sundance Film Festival. The entire town goes into high gear for the event, and KPCW is no exception. In addition to the normal broadcast schedule, the station provides in-depth coverage of Sundance along with originating remote broadcasts and providing broadcast facilities to out of town media.


A small facility at 2,000 square feet, KPCW has two fully configured studios, the live air studio and the Joe Wrona Production Studio. A smaller studio is used mainly for news production, and there is a mini studio in the pledge room. During Sundance, the pledge room becomes a green room where guests wait for their interviews.

The air and production studios utilize Harris RMX consoles; the other two use smaller Harris NetWave units. All other technical gear including two Harris Envoy frames reside in a six-rack equipment wall. The Harris system has the flexibility and depth required to do the complex setups that take place during Sundance.

Isabella Rossellini sits in the KPCW studios for the 2011 Sundance Festival.

Audio production and news editing go on despite the special festival programming and ISDN sessions. Live interviews with actors, directors, writers and critics take place in the air studio during morning and afternoon drive shows. A one-hour daily Sundance-themed program, “The Daily Buzz,” is hosted by Eugene Hernandez of the Lincoln Center and originated from the production studio.

Last year our festival coverage began with a two-hour remote from a local Whole Foods market, which donated 5 percent of their profits that day to KPCW. The setup included a full remote studio with IFB audio coming from the main studio, all under the control of a volunteer audio engineer. The remote audio was transmitted to the main studio via a Marti transmitter.

Over the years, KPCW has originated a multitude of ISDN sessions for NPR, BBC and other news organizations. The KPCW studios are one street away from the center of Sundance activity on Main Street in Park City. This makes it convenient for celebrities, film critics and other attendees to be interviewed.

Eugene Hernandez of Lincoln Center

Most ISDN sessions take place in the Joe Wrona Production Studio, which features a multibus Harris RMX console. The numerous program busses on the RMX are useful for creating mix-minus monitor feeds for the talent and custom program feeds to the destination.

The ISDN unit is a Musicam USA CDQ Prima LT Plus that can be configured for most any compression algorithm and data rate. All ISDN sessions are planned carefully and scheduled by the KPCW production department. When possible, test sessions are conducted to verify the ISDN links and to verify audio quality.

Australian Craig “Hutchy” Hutchison airs a four-hour talk show live from KPCW. The show is produced from Australia with show material sent via email. The studio IFB system allows Hutchy to take phone calls from home in real time.

The broadcast schedule during Sundance changes on a daily, and often hourly, basis. The staff of KPCW has learned how to adapt to last-minute interviews and ISDN feeds. The 2012 festival runs Jan. 19–29.

Ticket box office at the 2011 festival. Photo by Stephen Speckman

Mario Hieb, P.E., is chief engineer of KPCW(FM).