KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Our Entercom stations own Tieline Merlin and Commander G3 rack-mount and remote codecs, as well as some older Commander G1 POTS codecs and multiple Report-IT Enterprise user accounts.
Tieline codecs are an integral part of our setup, and we use them for a variety of broadcasts, including remote location news, sports events and talk shows. We also use Tieline gear for commercial client drop-in remotes, and we have used a pair of Tieline Commanders in IP mode as a backup STL.
Our Tielines are used frequently for sports play-by-play, and we still connect over POTS; however, lately, we have been using IP more often.
John Morris and one of the Tieline Merlin Codecs.RESCUE
In fact we had a situation recently where Tieline came to the rescue during the World Series between the Kansas City Royals and the New York Mets at Citi Field in New York. We were about to use some non-Tieline ISDN codecs to broadcast the game on KCSP(AM), our sports talk station and the flagship station of the Royals in Kansas City, but were unable to establish anything better than a POTS-quality connection out of state.
We called Don Free, who is the engineer for the Kansas City Royals Radio Network and he had a Tieline Commander G3 unit that we asked him to try instead over IP. He connected it to the stadium LAN and dialled into our Kansas City Merlin codec and it hooked up immediately, so it was used as the primary link for the game. We routed studio communications and a mix-minus feed back to the stadium by assigning a channel in our studio’s Wheatstone console to the Merlin codec’s input. The broadcast sounded great and was definitely comparable to ISDN-quality.
It’s not the first time this has happened to us and is occurring with increasing frequency. It appears ISDN problems are more numerous when calling out of state. Recently, I set up a remote broadcast for a guest on a network show on the West Coast. The remote engineer could not connect over ISDN if he called from there, but I could call him successfully. He told me that this had been a problem at his end for a while. Like us, he could get a local connection at full bandwidth but could not get the carriers to talk above POTS-quality out of state.
Due to the phasing out of ISDN, it’s becoming a pain to get ISDN lines installed, and it’s getting prohibitively expensive. Our in-house carrier changed hands recently and subsequently our bandwidth issues started increasing. After several weeks we still don’t have ISDN long distance-capability through this company. I’ve had assurances their techs would get back to us and so far, nada. Nice “on hold” music, I’ll give ’em that!
When I started with Entercom, we were doing Marti shoots with vans and UHF antennas on deployable masts. POTS codecs were a revelation and definitely safer. These days with POTS there are numerous issues, such as difficulty obtaining a dedicated line at the venue, the cost of line installation and bandwidth issues. Plus it’s often tough to get a phone jack handy at a remote venue, which often necessitates a 200-foot run down a hall to the “D mark” using all your JK line and in the process creating a trip hazard!
As for IP:
• IP is pretty ubiquitous and it’s now at most locations with a jack handy.
• IP bandwidth is usually no problem and it’s more stable.
• IP is cheaper and the boss certainly likes that!
The Tieline codecs saved the day for our World Series broadcast and in my opinion IP is now starting to lead the way. The connection was rock-solid and sounded great. All of our engineers find Tieline codecs easy to operate and configure and overall there’s less of a learning curve with the Tieline product — which is a big win!
For information, contact John Lackness at Tieline USA in Indiana at (317) 845-8000 or visit www.tieline.com.