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Australia’s Nova Breakfast Show Walks to Work — Live

USB modems, cellular technology and Tieline ViA make it happen

The Nova93.7 gang on its way to work. Note Engineer Simon Lovell in the background with his kit to keep the team on the air.

How many of you walk eight kilometers (five miles) to get to the station every morning? OK, how many of you walk eight kilometers while doing a remote broadcast at the same time? The morning team at Perth, Western Australia’s Nova 97.3 has been there, done that. Nathan, Nat and Shaun, hosts of the 6–9 a.m. breakfast show did it to celebrate “Walk to Work Day.”

It took a bit of creative engineering to pull this off. Nova’s Technology Manager Malcom Sully, along with Technology Support Engineer Simon Lovell, began with Tieline’s ViA codec. Around it, they built an entirely wireless solution with redundancy to keep going no matter what.

The ViA codec has three mic/line inputs, and three cabled handheld mics were used for the hosts. They also attached two USB modems to the codec, one for the local Telstra cellular network, the other feeding the local Optus network. Tieline’s SmartStream Plus dual-redundant streaming was sent over the two connections to a Tieline Merlin codec back at the studio. Mono program audio was sent back to the studio and a mix-minus was received on the return path.

Lovell walked with the breakfast crew over the eight-kilometer journey, carrying the ViA and a battery-powered Sennheiser IEM transmitter, which was fed mix-minus audio from the XLR output on the ViA. The IEM transmitter was mounted on a pole above his head, which was probably a little bit of overkill, but it ensured a reliable link to each announcer’s receiver as they walked through the streets.

Sully adds that the entire broadcast exceeded his expectations. “It was an incredibly successful remote, and the ViA using SmartStream Plus performed flawlessly. We anticipated perhaps one or two dropouts, but we had none. There was a slight increase in the jitter buffer at one stage, but the codec managed the streaming seamlessly and after we passed through this area, the codec returned to regular low-latency transmissions.”

Along the eight kilometer journey, the morning team was joined by sports personalities and other guests, providing numerous opportunities for interviews. Given the success of the broadcast, and the breakfast crew’s newfound love for the outdoors, there’s every chance going forward that the Nova 97.3 studios will be used less in future. More importantly, Nova 97.3 has proved beyond doubt that you can achieve rock-solid cellular live broadcasts from pretty much anywhere using the technology available today.