The author is co-owner and VP of Viper Communications Inc.
OSAGE BEACH, Mo. — I am co-owner of six radio stations in the Lake Ozark region of Central Missouri, which include talk, country, soft rock and classic rock formats. I worked for CBS/KMOX in St. Louis for 21 years until I left corporate radio for station ownership in 2001. We have the Number 1 and 2 stations in this three-county area of Miller, Camden and Pulaski counties.
From when we first felt the impacts of COVID-19 we have managed to stay on the air with no major issues, however we did have to initiate “broadcasting from home” for many of our contributors and guests on the talk station.
We have always performed a lot of remotes using our Tieline Merlin codec and the Report-IT Enterprise app, as well as some other Tieline remote codecs. This is a challenging region and we encounter extreme conditions from which to broadcast. There are lots of hills and very few cell sites. We are a resort community and are situated on a huge lake called the Lake of the Ozarks. Maybe you’ve seen the Netflix series “Ozark” that is partly filmed here.
We have often done remotes from waterfront restaurants and bars using Report-IT. Until we got a Via + codec with SmartStream PLUS it was a challenge. This new technology uses the Wi-Fi of the establishment and the cellular service resulting in dramatic cutting down of dropped or skipping audio
We use Report-IT in various ways. For news reports, we often record audio files in the field using Report-IT and then use the FTP upload feature in the app to transfer recordings directly to our server at the station. It’s so much easier than messing around trying to pull files from a phone. The audio is waiting back at the station to be edited right away by another reporter. We also have news reporter John Rogger in Florida who regularly uses Report-IT for live hits and co-hosting in some of the talk shows.
During the COVID-19 ordeal we were well prepared and have used Report-IT a lot for our news/talk station KRMS(AM) 1150 kHz. Our host has always been located in the studio, however we have several guests who appear weekly that weren’t able to come in.
This station covers a range of different topics, from financial to boat repairs, and Report-IT has been very handy and our go-to solution. I simply created user accounts for each guest and all they had to do was download the free app onto their smartphone, log-in and then connect. Even a non-radio boat mechanic who hosts a show could do it. This has been extremely easy to deploy and allows them to go live from wherever they have their phone.
The sound quality is great too, even at low bitrates. Many users plug in an external mic and headphones using a very affordable adapter cable I found online and this makes it sound like they are actually in the studio!
With the Report-IT app we always configure it to use SmartStream Plus. So this means the cellphone being used can stream over both Wi-Fi and cellular simultaneously where it’s available. When we have lots of tourists in town the cell sites can get overloaded, so the importance of redundant streaming cannot be underestimated. This has been rock solid in most situations and provides the redundancy we require in such a challenging location.
At the studio we have a fiber connection and run the Merlin codec with two LAN connections with separate IP addresses from the same ISP. This has proven to be the most reliable configuration in conjunction with configuring the unit to use SmartStream PLUS redundant streaming.
At the time of writing we seem to have been able to manage COVID-19 infections quite well and cases are low here. However, with the tourist season nearly upon us, we will have to remain vigilant. Whatever happens, we are well prepared and can react immediately and ramp up Report-IT deployments if and when required due to any lockdown procedures if necessary.
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, contact Dawn Shewmaker at Tieline USA in Indiana at 1-317-845-8000 or visit www.tieline.com.