Steve Neumann and Linda Uhas
Continuing our series on how radio is covering political conventions, next stop — WINT(AM/FM) — Integrity Radio, WINT 1330 AM and 101.5 FM, from Willoughby, Ohio. Steve Neumann is program director and a show host for the station.
Radio World:What were WINT’s plans for covering the Republican National Convention in nearby Cleveland?
Steve Neumann: We broadcast our morning drive program, “The Wake Up Show” live, 6:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., from Media Row at the RNC. Our focus each morning was on giving our listeners a recap of what happened the day before, especially what happened the night before, since many may not have watched it on TV. And we tried to set the stage for that day’s events and keep our listeners apprised of any surprises and unexpected developments. Since this was going to be such a fluid and dynamic event, we pre-empted our regular programming from noon to 1 p.m. each day and broadcast a live update show from The Q. While we certainly hope to snag interviews with the well-known movers and shakers at the convention as they made their way to the different outlets along Media Row, we also wanted to provide our listeners with insights and analysis from our local political leaders.
RW: How many staff, both on-air and technical, were involved?
Neumann: I did the engineering on-site as well as my regular duties as host of “The Wake Up Show.” Joining me as usual were co-hosts, Linda Uhas, Al Hehr and station owner Ray Somich. Back at the WINT studios in Willoughby, Brian Hood manned the board as he does every morning. But for the week of the RNC, nationally-syndicated talk show host, Laura Ingraham, broadcast her program live from the WINT studios in Willoughby each morning between 9 a.m. and noon. So our number one engineer and tech guru, Glenn Folley, was in the studio to assist her staff in producing the show and sending it back to her network studios in Washington, while WINT veterans Allan Parrish and Brian Hood ran the board.
RW: What was your equipment complement/audio chain and how well did it perform?
Neumann: At the heart of our live broadcast from the RNC as well as in studio back at WINT, were Telos Z/IP One IP codecs. Our hosts used beyerdynamic DT 290 and Sennheiser HMD 280 headsets because of their mics’ great noise rejection and wide dynamic range, plugged into a small Alesis MultiMix USB FX8 board. And since everybody has their own preference for headset volume, we used a Samson S-amp four-channel headphone D/A back into the Alesis board.
WINT’s Desktop Broadcast Equipment Package at the Republican Convention
Everything came out of that into the Telos Z/IP One via a single 1/4-inch to XLR cable. And the Z/IP One is plugged via CAT-5e cable into a five-port Cisco SF100D-05 computer switch, to provide a basic level of security since the Ethernet line dropped into our booth had no firewall provisioning. Along with a couple of laptops to monitor convention floor activities and news feeds, that’s the whole remote setup.
The Telos Z/IP One performed flawlessly. We did not experience a single drop out, any degradation to the signal quality, audio was superb and sounded just like we were in our studios. Connection to the Z/IP One back at WINT was automatic and took less than 30 seconds to dial in, lock on and stabilize.
By the way, I really was impressed by the simplicity of the initial setup of the Z/IP One so even a “non-techie” can be sent out to do a remote. As it turned out, I was hit with a sudden kidney stone attack so Ray Somich, our station owner, jumped in at the last minute to cover. With only a five-minute tutorial, he was able to connect the Z/IP One and get on the air.
Back at the WINT studios, they received our feed over the internet from another Z/IP One and dropped it into our on-air board. When we were done with the live broadcast from the RNC, we switched the Telos codec from a receiver to a transmitter for Laura Ingraham’s show. She simply plugged her headset into the Z/IP one at WINT, dialed up the Z/IP One back in her Washington studios with two simple clicks on the really intuitive control interface, and started her show.
RW: What special concerns or problems must you work around in planning the audio feeds or other tech infrastructure?
Neumann: The potential for interference of the broadband network was the major concern for us, with the massive amount of electromagnetic power being distributed throughout the RNC venue and other sources of interference from transformers, lighting, and other media communications gear. Plus Media Row was built inside a massive steel and concrete parking garage. We had no opportunity to go down and set up a test broadcast, so we had to make sure we put together the best possible equipment to insure a stable quality signal back to the station.
RW: What special considerations did you take regarding security?
Neumann: Of course, security is in the back of our minds, especially with recent events. But, to be honest, being inside “The Q” [Quicken Loans Arena] was probably the safest place in the city during this event. The Secret Service did a thorough job in vetting everyone at WINT before giving us clearance and issuing credentials. Equipment being brought in was inspected and scanned. They set up zones in and around The Q to make sure all of us who are covering and attending the RNC were safe, so I wasn’t too concerned. I understand the manpower dedicated to security is huge and they’ve been working on this for many months using some pretty cool technology themselves.
RW: What else might a fellow radio technical person want to know about this project?
Neumann: If you ever have to do an event like this, don’t let it overwhelm you. With a little planning and good communication between the organizers, it will seem like nothing more than another remote. The primary thing to keep in mind is to anticipate the worst so use the best possible equipment to pull off a flawless broadcast.