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LXE Manages Live Radio for “Reset”

Wheatstone surfaces are used throughout Chicago Public Media’s new facility

Radio World Buyer’s Guide articles are intended to help readers understand why their colleagues chose particular products to solve various technical situations. This month’s articles focus on consoles and mixers.

Chicago Public Media’s “Reset” with Sasha-Ann Simons is as live as a show gets in broadcasting, covering beats from local events to political discussions with plenty of switching between venues and interviews inside and outside the studio.

This is all managed live through an LXE console surface and WheatNet IP audio networking, part of a new studio facility that the NPR station cut over to in December. 

“I can communicate with my guests or reporters straight through the board,” said Ethan Schwabe, the master control engineer for “Reset,” aired middays on WBEZ 91.5.

“I can set up and communicate with our Comrexs and Tielines directly through the faders. There’s no separate interface I have to go through. It makes mix-minuses fast and easy, and we even set that up with our DAW system too, so we can do that with Zoom or Google Meet.”

LXE console surfaces are throughout Chicago Public Media’s new studio facility. They share common controls and coloring schemes so staff can move between studios easily. 

Ethan Schwabe is master control engineer for “Reset” on WBEZ.

[See photos: “Chicago Public Media Opens New Studios on Navy Pier”]

Fader knobs are color-coded by source, and the same color coding follows from the studio to the rack room. All resources, event triggers and mix-minus and mic settings share the same positions on the console yet are universally available at any console position in the 12 studios plus the control room to the WBEZ Performance Studio. 

Programmable SS-8 button panels were scripted and added to LXE console surfaces by Inrush Broadcast Services engineers to provide intercom and other functions. Scripts run locally on the button panel itself, part of distributed intelligence in WheatNet IP to eliminate single points of failure. Intercoms are routed intelligently based on state of the studio, showing up in the headphones or cue speaker as needed.

Eventide delay control and status is extended from the TOC to SS-8 panels by way of custom scripting. Additionally, users can take studios live to each air chain through an “arm-take” interface, with feedback enabled by the full-color button displays.

Visual radio can be tied directly into the console surfaces via the WheatNet IP audio network. When one mic turns on, a camera can capture the presenter. When all guest mics are turned on, cameras can capture a room shot of the guest positions or combine multiple camera angles into one video feed. These can be AoIP networked into WBEZ’s green room and video and audio production studio.  

Producers and technicians can remote into the console to view what the talent sees on the board, down to individual meter displays on each fader. 

The LXE console surfaces with WheatNet IP replace WBEZ’s analog Wheatstone consoles that had been in service for more than two decades. “Our old [Wheatstone] board was on the air for some time, which was an accomplishment in itself,” Schwabe said.

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