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ViA Brings Wireless Freedom to Eastern Shore Radio

Tieline codec is put to use for high school sports, graduations and other local events

Tieline ViA was used for coverage of this forum of the Eastern Shore of Virginia Chamber of Commerce.

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 products for radio remotes and sports.

Program Director Will Russell has been with Eastern Shore Radio in Virginia for 12 years. His first experience with Tieline was using a Report-IT app for sports coverage.

“We realized the superiority of the audio quality, but the phone app had its limitations.” The Tieline ViA remote codec turned out to be the solution.

“Tieline’s SmartStream Plus redundant streaming technology is crucial for us,” he said. “Wireless technology is improving, but it still has its issues on the Eastern Shore. Knowing we have two signals and one can replace packets if required, really makes live remotes less stressful.”

Eastern Shore covers a lot of high school sports, and it also has aired graduations during COVID, with parents listening in their cars on the radio.

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“Recently, we covered a political debate on the radio and provided video with Facebook Live.”

Russell said they normally employ SmartStream Plus using an iPhone hotspot connection over Verizon, along with a Verizon Jetpack tethered hotspot.

“Rural cellular connectivity is always the challenge. Sometimes you’ll have enough signal for sound, but not for video. Video is nice, but at the end of the day we are a radio station.”

For sports, Russell uses one or two headsets for the play-by-play and color commentator, and adds a third mic for crowd effects. For video he’ll use a mini-USB cable to send line-level audio from the ViA into a dongle for an iPhone video stream.

“We connect to a Bridge-IT codec at the studio. After one of the graduations a member of the local school board came up to me and said the sound was just as good as being there in person. I think this is the best compliment a radio person can get on the technical side of things.”

Russell said redundant streaming is simple to configure and that Wi-Fi works well too. “The ViA remembers hotspot connections, which is nice. We have broadcast in stereo, but with internet connectivity sometimes an issue, we went back to mono to reduce bandwidth without sacrificing audio quality. Studio-based audio is streamed back to the Tieline ViA from our studio console for remote site monitoring.”

Recently, a friend and client wanted to make a big announcement about the entertainment for a fundraiser he was holding.

“He had a two-day window to announce it, but unfortunately he came down with COVID and couldn’t come to the studio. He didn’t want to make such a big announcement on the air with a regular telephone call. So I went to the venue and set up the ViA, ran a 10-foot cable for his mic to ensure social distancing, and we made the announcement live on location. This remote was made on battery power and was cool all the way around.”