The author is chief engineer at Minnesota Public Radio.
Minnesota Public Radio and American Public Media are headquartered in downtown St. Paul, Minn. within sight of the state capitol.
It operates 49 public radio stations and 42 translators serving listeners in eight states. MPR delivers three services for broadcast via satellite. The APM program portfolio reaches nearly 20 million listeners each week. Notable programs delivered live include BBC World service, “C24” and “Marketplace.”
During my 10 years with the company I have seen the Gentner/Burk GSC system migrated entirely to Burk ARC Plus Touch, ARC Plus SL and ARC Solo at 37 sites.
Flying on AutoPilot
The decision to continue with Burk for a complete remote control system update was not automatic but made sense. The GSC-to-ARC transition was aided by using the Plus-X GSC Adapter which made transition at many of our sites plug-and-play.
While most of our sites are transmitting facilities, we also have a Burk system installed at our Network Operation Center in St. Paul, which monitors codecs, satellite uplink and downlink, building temperatures and UPS status, and at the Public Radio Satellite Systems (PRSS) NOC in Washington, where our live streamed network contribution is nominally uplinked.
Our St. Paul NOC uses AutoPilot to watch over sites on multiple computers. This gives our NOC operator a machine to use while a member of the radio network team is on another machine remotely. Sites I need to see regularly are best viewed with AutoPilot from my PC. ARC units reliably report to multiple AutoPilot instances. Additionally, the Warp Engine Polling feature minimizes processor load and IP bandwidth on computers running AutoPilot. I am aware of the smartphone options that Burk has but so far have not added that to my device. While we have the relative luxury of a full-time NOC operator, I will probably avoid that.
Transmitter sites require a primary and backup remote control connection, so most sites still have a POTS line to provide a modem connection in the event of an IP failure. We have recently seen situations where the POTS line will not work reliably with the modem and there are a couple of sites that use the Burk RSI voice interface for backup. Burk works well at sites that use wireless internet as well.
I am a big fan of Custom Views in AutoPilot. One red spot on a screen will stand out even among hundreds of statuses and meters. I have created small custom views for specific purposes, like switching between two transmitters sites or keeping a close eye on equipment experiencing issues.
We are getting more versed at employing SNMP, which is taking over transmitter M and C. Our GatesAir FAX transmitters and Intraplex IP Link codecs get along well with Burk SNMP Plus. Our XDS/ATX-Networks satellite receivers display lock status and Eb/No using SNMP on multiple AutoPilot Custom Views.
In conclusion I can say we are pleased with Burk Technology products and are consistently imagining new ways to use this system.
Radio World User Reports are testimonial articles intended to help readers understand why a colleague chose a particular product to solve a technical situation.
For information about this product contact Matt Leland at Burk Technology in Massachusetts at 1-978-486-0086 or visit www.burk.com.