Larry CostiganNEW YORK — As coordinating producer for Westwood One Sports, I handle the logistics of getting equipment to our various broadcast crews around the country. During a typical NFL football season, from September through the Super Bowl, we do five NFL games plus a Saturday college broadcast every week. So on any given week during the fall, we have broadcast crews moving around to six stadiums and cities across the United States. I decide which equipment is best for the application; hire the various broadcasters, engineers, statisticians and announcers; and assign them to each city.
In my 16 years with the company, we have used various Telos Zephyr products for play-by-play origination and other pickups of live events. Right now, our main path of transmission is an ISDN line. For these broadcasts, we rely quite heavily on Telos Zephyr Xstream ISDN codec units. They are durable and can stand up to a bit of a beating as they get shipped around the country. I believe we have been using our original three Zephyr Xstream units for more than 10 years.
Eventually, however, broadcasters are going to have to face the sun setting on ISDN. We are discovering that a lot of locations are moving away from ISDN, as are we, particularly on some of the college football and college basketball broadcasts we do. It’s only natural, then, that Westwood One Sports has increasingly been transitioning to IP technology. Thankfully, Telos has come out with their latest Zephyr product, the Z/IP One IP codec for remote broadcasting.
The “Z” in Z/IP One actually stands for “Zephyr,” and uses improved versions of the same codecs in the original Zephyr, but offers more potential bandwidth. We know these new Z/IP One units will offer even better audio performance. In fact, while Westwood One Sports relied on Zephyr Xstreams in both directions for the last Olympics in Sochi, Russia, we used Z/IP One units as backup. For the upcoming Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero, we plan to take the plunge with the Z/IP Ones for the primary feed. We also like the idea of saving on costs with the new Z/IP One units. Because ISDN lines can easily run $100 to $200 a month, and accrue per minute usage fees, IP is less expensive.
Ultimately my job, and that of Howard Deneroff, executive producer for Westwood One Sports, is to make sure that our broadcasts sound as good as possible. Howard is particular about this, and believes that we sound much better when we’re doing a broadcast on a Zephyr. “It doesn’t matter who my announcers are — whether they have voices like Mickey Mouse or Darth Vader — they always sound better,” he says.
We have done all of our network broadcasts this way for all these years simply for that reason. As we say our goodbyes to ISDN, we look forward to embracing broadcast over IP. If the performance of the Telos Zephyr Xstream is any indication, we have as much to get excited about — and more — with the Telos Z/IP One.
We can’t wait to see what the future sounds like.
For information, contact Cam Eicher at the Telos Alliance in Ohio at (216) 241-7225 or visit www.telosalliance.com.