“Best of Show Up Close” is a series about nominees and winners in the annual Future Best of Show at NAB Award program.
Henry Engineering nominated its SportsCaster unit. We talked to founder Hank Landsberg.
Radio World: We learned during the Best of Show process this spring that Henry Engineering now offers the SportsCaster. You says that it simplifies audio for covering sports on radio or TV. How does it do that?
Hank Landsberg: The SportsCaster (used with Henry’s Sports Pods) integrates the three essential functions of play-by-play audio: (1) program audio mixing, (2) headphone audio mixing and distribution, and (3) intercom. By integrating all three functions into one comprehensive rackmounted system, you eliminate the need for multiple mixers, DAs, headphone amps, intercom systems, power supplies, etc. Instead of “reinventing the wheel” with a carload of gear at each broadcast, the SportsCaster system handles all functions with one device in one place, which can be easily operated by one person!
RW: Tell us about the product — what is it and what sets it apart from similar offerings in its product class?
Landsberg: The SportsCaster is the only product on the market that does all this! When used with Sports Pods, the system mixes the talents’ mics and other audio sources. That is the easy part. The hard parts are (a) creating a different headphone audio mix for each announcer, the producer, the field reporter, and for camera operators, and (b) integrating a duplex intercom system into the headphone audio so that all members of the broadcast team can communicate, off-air, without interrupting the play-by-play audio.
The producer can give cues to the play-by-play announcers. The spotter can give player stats to the announcers via the intercom. The producer can cue the field reporter, and insert his report into the live coverage. The announcers can cue the field reporter directly, off-air, to coordinate live sideline reports. The producer can call the shots to the camera ops. Everyone hears what they need to hear, without hearing coms meant for someone else. SportsCaster does all of these things, in an easy to use format. It installs quickly, using Henry Engineering’s Cat-5 linking protocol, so wiring is minimal.
RW: What does it cost? Is it shipping?
Landsberg: List price is $1,295. It is in stock and shipping now.
RW: Is this you in this great history photo on your website?
Landsberg: Yes! When I was CE at Drake-Chenault, circa 1974!
RW: What else should we know about the Sportscaster or Henry Engineering’s business these days?
Landsberg: The SportsCaster was designed in response to requests from guys who produce sports broadcasts for high schools and colleges. This is very popular, because schools can webcast their games, in addition to broadcasting them on conventional TV. Many high schools, middle schools, and even elementary schools now have very comprehensive video production programs and curricula. The video equipment is mostly PC-based, making it inexpensive and easy to use. But the audio … that’s a different story! SportsCaster fills the void, and makes play-by-play audio as efficient and easy to run as the video is now.
Meanwhile, Henry Engineering continues its tradition of building products that solve problems for radio, and now TV too!
The Future Best of Show Awards program honors and helps promote outstanding new products exhibited at industry conventions like the spring NAB Show. Exhibitors pay a fee to enter; not all entries win. Watch for more coverage of participating products soon. To learn about all of the nominees and winners, read the 2019 Best of Show Program Guide, due out in June.