DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — One of the greatest things about being in radio is that you occasionally have a chance to be involved in some unique broadcasts. While some broadcasts are unique for the events they cover, others are so memorable that the broadcasters themselves become the story.
Such was the case recently with our crew at Channel 4 FM in Dubai, when the marketing team thought it might be fun to do a live 5- to 10-minute broadcast segment from the Ambassador’s Lagoon outside the iconic Atlantis the Palm Resort. This was to be more or less as a publicity stunt to promote the exotic location. We’re not talking poolside, mind you, but broadcasting from within the pool — an underwater broadcast from a pool that hosts a variety of sea life.
This might have been interesting enough, though such an aquatic broadcast had been done before. Our plan soon evolved into something much more when our Station Producer Lucas Poole suggested that Stu Tolan, host of the “Celebrate Mornings” breakfast show, not only broadcast underwater but attempt to break the record for longest underwater broadcast.
We then learned that this would mean staying on-air and underwater for nearly five hours — no small amount of time to broadcast live while wearing scuba gear. Our team was up for the challenge and preparations began to break the record.
One question on all of our minds was if the tech could hold up for such a stunt. There were a number of challenges ahead of us, and the engineering team initially didn’t feel prepared for the record-breaking broadcast.
We were informed that one of the requirements to set the record was that the broadcast crew could not disconnect from the studio for more than two minutes, so we would need to ensure a stable link from the site of the broadcast to the main broadcast studio at all times. In addition, the broadcast hosts would need to remain in communication with a representative from the Guinness Book of World Records.
These requirements presented some challenges for our technical crew to ensure these lines of communication would remain stable throughout the broadcast, and that any delays in communications or getting callers on the air would be minimal.
The equipment rack with the Telos Z/IP One in the center.
Complicating things, the resort could not provide a stable internet connection because it is reserved for guests, so the only access would be via cables. As such, a good bit of equipment would need to be hauled to the broadcast site so everything would be at the ready.
As a solution, we used a router that connected to a Telos Z/IP One IP audio codec, and then to the main broadcast studio. The studio features 100 percent Livewire infrastructure, so getting the audio feed into the studio would be easy using the Z/IP One, especially with sufficient backups. We assigned two Z/IP Ones to the studio, so if one failed, the second one would take over and the broadcast could remain live. For this broadcast it was all about convenience, quality and low latency — Livewire fit the bill perfectly for that.
All the coordination paid off, and on May 13, Stu and the Channel 4 “Celebrate Mornings” went live from underwater. Everything went smoothly, and various guests joined our team underwater during the show including news reporters and our own program director, while our co-presenter presented poolside throughout the event. With the help of the engineering staff and the marketing team, the broadcast came off without a hitch.
In the end, the record was not only broken but shattered; the broadcast went well beyond the five-hour mark, giving future underwater broadcast hopefuls a high bar to shoot for. It certainly wasn’t your everyday broadcast, but at a place like Atlantis the Palm, “A World Away from the Everyday” is the norm.
We have more pictures of our record-breaking event at our website — www.channel4fm.com.
For information, contact Cam Eicher at Telos in Ohio at (216) 241-7225 or visit www.telosalliance.com.