BATH, N.Y. In early 2008, Family Life Network began contemplating the idea of remodeling its air studio facilities to include a new studio console plus related hardware and software.
We are a Christian radio network of 14 FM stations reaching a potential listenership of more than 3.5 million people across major portions of upstate New York and Pennsylvania.
Family Life Network host Sonny Delfyette works with the Wheatstone E-6 control surface. Bearing in mind the needs of our staff, we decided to upgrade the studio based upon a system that was easy to use, provided superior reliability and used cutting-edge technology.
FLN engineers reviewed several systems and, after weighing the options, chose Wheatstone WheatNet-IP.
Because FLN is a noncommercial listener-supported radio network, donor support was a major factor in funding the purchase of the equipment. This being our first major studio upgrade in over 15 years, we were thrilled to see the project gain generous support from donors. Not to mention, Wheatstone offered us the opportunity to beta-test its new system, again helping with affordability.
With funding on hand, the remodeling project began in December of 2008 and wrapped up in February.
We did a full-on renovation by gutting the air studio to bare walls, rewiring the entire system and purchasing new studio consoles. We also modernized the space by installing new lighting equipment, furnishings and, of course, the fully-digital WheatNet-IP system.
Now FLN has the ability to integrate traditional broadcast engineering functions into an IT-based network, allowing us to link audio and control of many different sources in different locations.
Our new WheatNet-IP system consists of a 16-fader Wheatstone E-6 console control surface, one ip88e Digital Engine, two ip88a analog I/O blades, two ip88ad analog/digital I/O blades, and two WheatNet-PC Windows drivers for our Broadcast Electronics AudioVault delivery system and Adobe Audition workstation.
The WheatNet-IP blades form a Gigabit Ethernet audio network connected through Cat-6 cabling. Additionally, the Wheatstone Glass-E virtual console software allows us to control the E-6 surface from live remote broadcasts.
One such remote was during our last fundraiser, a three-day listener drive that we do twice a year to raise operating capital for Family Life.
With the new system in place, we could control the entire radio broadcast from the main auditorium while the actual E-6 console surface stayed in the new air studio. The system worked flawlessly and reduced the major engineering effort of putting a remote board in the auditorium to feed the old on-air console. It also allowed us to continue using the air studio for different things during the fundraiser.
Now each operator has saved configuration settings, allowing them access to the equipment they use most often. Flexible logic controls have enabled us to expand the capabilities of our studio and trim down the wiring process. For example, we've gone from a three-microphone setup to a five-microphone setup, giving us more guest space in the studio.
Morning co-host Sonny Delfyette, who previously co-hosted a nationally-syndicated program from Los Angeles said, "The WheatNet-IP system is just amazing. It gives us more flexibility than I had working in L.A."
I have to add that this was a once-in-a-decade opportunity to move the network ahead of the game. This system performs like a BMW — sleek, powerful and loaded with features.
FLN was the first domestic radio network to implement the WheatNet-IP system. That's an accomplishment we owe to Wheatstone's technical teams and to Family Life's generous supporters for helping us fund the project.
All together, we did something great for the ministry. Now we have a solid, reliable broadcast system that helps us do what we do — only better.
Wheatstone has already released several software updates, all of which were installed seamlessly and increased system functionality even more. Thanks to a quality system and great tech support, we're looking forward to a long, profitable relationship with Wheatstone.
For information, contact Wheatstone at (252) 638-7000 or visitwww.wheatstone.com.
Cecil Van Houten is program director for the Family Life Network.