Radio One Catches a NetWave

User Report: Cleveland facility upgrades studio with Harris networked digital audio
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CLEVELAND Radio One Inc. is one of the nation's largest radio broadcasting companies, and the largest that primarily targets African-American and urban listeners. Radio One owns and/or operates 53 radio stations in 16 urban markets in the United States.

One of our key markets is Cleveland, where we undertook an extensive studio upgrade. The Radio One/Cleveland facility had been a patchwork of legacy Harris PR&E and other digital consoles that had been repurposed quickly in the days of frenzied consolidation. Operators were faced with learning entirely different layouts from studio to studio, with no two having similar functionality. And the fast-paced timing of stations populating the building — bringing with them their various levels of complexity — did not allow for a unified yet flexible plan.

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Gary Zocolo is all smiles with his Harris console system. A plan

We chose to upgrade to Harris Netwave 16-input digital audio consoles, and the consoles went on the air and into production rooms between October of 2008 and January 2009 with the assistance of Director of Engineering John Soller and Corporate VP of Engineering John Mathews.

We maintained operations in our four on-air studios and production rooms, while shuffling station operations around into the first two studios to be completed. We moved a largely automated station into a temporary studio, which allowed us to work on two studio upgrades concurrently.

The studio construction included massive infrastructure improvements and new studio furniture from Studio Technology of Philadelphia. Vince Fiola, manager of Studio Technology, provided consultation to help maximize available space in an ergonomic design.

The routable and scalable nature of the Netwave consoles expanded by magnitudes the flexibility, versatility and inter-studio compatibility of the overall operation. Suddenly, resources such as satellite receivers, remote codecs and program feeds that formerly were mission-specific became available everywhere with Netwave.

That improvement multiplied the options available to the four stations, each with specific needs and missions. Mix-minus feeds for remotes and essential fast-paced telephone interaction with listeners and recording artists improved in function and reliability.

The Netwave consoles are laid out in a traditional fashion, and the operation is intuitive for anyone who has ever operated a linear fader console. The reduced footprint of the consoles allows for plenty of workspace for on-air personnel, co-hosts and guests compared to previous generations of consoles.

Many operational features stand out.

The heads-up mirrored metering is easy to read, along with the clock and timers. The dual metering system is bus-selectable, which is convenient for setting up remote and other external feeds. The autocue metering function also gives an accurately calibrated view of any source before it hits the air.

The headphone, cue and studio monitor controls are selectable, and the dual external monitor busses conveniently allow for both real-time in studio monitoring and confidence monitoring of the profanity and HD delayed air signal. Switching back and forth between them is quick and easy. The nature of the mixed digital and analog environment is accommodated easily due to the console's versatility.

On-air sources for the console include four mics in each control room studio, three channels of the digital content delivery system, two CD players in each studio, telephone interfaces, a workstation PC with a professional audio card and a dedicated telephone feed editing PC with professional audio card. The production rooms maintain some legacy devices, such as MiniDisc recorders/players and DAT machines, for the occasional content that arrives in those formats.

Networked

The consoles are networked into a Harris VistaMax Envoy system. Source sharing was one of the giant leaps forward with the routing system on these consoles. All networks, codecs and other remote feeds are available in all studios, which enhances production ability and versatility with interview capability.

The Radio One studios have been host to numerous national talents doing network shows from the Cleveland facility, at times in an air studio running totally separate programming on the local airwaves. The networking ability of the VistaMax consoles has proven useful during a digital delivery failure in one studio, and operations were switched with ease to a production studio while the content PC was repaired.

VistaMax also has greatly simplified individual source wiring between studios. Since all inter-studio/TOC audio is digital and utilizes a segregated Ethernet for audio transport, the need for large trunks of various sources was eliminated, which also helped the speed of the installation.

We get an overall analysis of system health, along with detailed routing audit trails and text-based routing tables, with the VistaMax Control Center software and the Community Monitor software. The VistaMax command client allows for remote access and PC routing if the need arises. It also is a handy resource in switching monitor feeds in listening areas. Radio One Cleveland also uses two independent source/destination selectors in both TOC and the engineering office suite for convenient access and monitoring of all signals.

Overall, the Netwave and VistaMax installation at Radio One/Cleveland has facilitated a huge step forward for us. We're reaping the benefits of a high-quality, reliable, efficient and versatile operation, both on the air and in our production studios.

For information, contact Paul Barzizza at Harris Broadcast in Ohio at (513) 459-3400 or visitwww.harris.com.

Gary Zocolo is a chief engineer with Radio One/Cleveland.

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