WASHINGTON — New World Radio Group has been broadcasting international radio content since 1992, and now it encompasses a trio of stations: WNWR(AM)/1540 in Philadelphia, WCRW(AM)/1190 in Leesburg, Va., and our flagship station, WUST(AM)/1120 in Washington. WUST is known as “the multicultural voice of the nation’s capital,” providing foreign language and English programming to the region’s diverse ethnic communities.
I’ve been a fan of audio over IP for years now, and moved our infrastructure away from traditional telco solutions. With the bandwidth available today, moving to IP just made total sense, as it offers greater scalability and virtually unlimited flexibility. We want to stay on the forefront of technology, and for our paying clients who are supplying programs, we want to get their audio into our studios at the best possible quality.
We chose Barix audio over IP devices, which are distributed in the U.S. by LineQ, to connect our stations and our remote contributors. We were attracted to Barix because of how much functionality their products offer at a cost-effective price point. Beyond affordable pricing for the equipment itself, our IP-based links provide ongoing cost savings versus alternative distribution methods.
The primary application for our Barix units is enabling our client programmers to do remote shows from their own studios, while delivering studio-quality audio into our stations. With numerous Barix units deployed across multiple clients, the cost savings are amplified. We use additional Barix units as backup studio-transmitter links to our transmitter sites, and to backhaul satellite audio inexpensively from WUST to our other two stations. In this latter case alone, we realize big cost savings by not needing an expensive satellite installation at each location.
We use a Barix Instreamer at WUST to encode audio for distribution to our other sites, and Barix Exstreamer 500s to receive and decode the resulting IP audio streams. For connecting clients’ remote studios, we use Exstreamer 500s at both ends. We chose the Exstreamer 500 because it’s a broadcast-grade model with balanced audio inputs and outputs, which is important given some of the environments we’re installing them in such as transmitter sites. We also have a handful of Exstreamer 1000s for deployments that require AES/EBU digital audio.
The Exstreamer 500 and 1000 are versatile, able to function as either encoders or decoders. That flexibility comes in handy when we get new program producers, as I can grab a Barix unit off the shelf to supply to the client without worrying about its specific capabilities.
Security is crucial to us, and again, Barix gives us the tools we need. There has been lots of press attention given to hacked radio stations in recent months, but they all shared a common fault — the users had never configured a password on the STL devices. The Barix units do offer security; you just need to use it, which is easy. It takes literally five seconds to set up a password and secure the device.
While the Exstreamer units could be connected point-to-point with static IP addresses, I use the cloud-based Reflector service — offered by Barix in partnership with streaming specialists StreamGuys — for almost all our Barix-driven links. The Reflector service makes setup plug-and-play, without having to manually configure network and streaming parameters.
This simplicity is particularly valuable when supplying Barix encoders to our contributors. I can set up a Barix unit to use Reflector, configure its security and hand it to the client, and they can take it to their studio. They essentially just plug their studio output into the Barix box, connect it to their internet service, and they’re on the air, with Reflector taking care of the details.
We also like the monitoring functions of the Reflector service, which give me visibility of the performance of the system and notify me of any issues. Like the Barix units themselves, I can access the Reflector service through a browser-based interface, letting me remotely manage and control the equipment at multiple stations from anywhere I go.
From STL to connecting remote studios and occasional on-location remote broadcasts, the Barix Instreamer and Exstreamer devices and Reflector service have securely delivered studio-grade audio with great reliability and remarkable ease of use, all while saving us money.
For information, contact Brenda Stadheim at LineQ/Barix at (866) 815-0866 or visit www.barix.com.