LAWRENCE, Kan. — The Jayhawk Sports Network is an IMG Sports subsidiary that handles coverage of the University of Kansas athletics program. We’ve got a television network as well as a radio network, and — because our Division I sports teams are often candidates to perform well in any given season — we serve a large audience of devoted fans.
Bob Newton at a remote with his gear, including a Comrex Access codec and an older piece, a Comrex BlueBox codec.
I’ve been the producer and engineer of the Jayhawk Radio Network for more than 30 years, and we’ve been using Comrex equipment from the start. From the SLX single-line frequency extender, we stuck with Comrex through the introduction of ISDN and the shift to IP technology. We still use Comrex POTS and ISDN codecs because the University of Kansas has its own switch and lines are available in some of our stadiums for us to take advantage of. But as soon as the Access was introduced, we purchased three systems, along with detachable mixers, to use for football and basketball coverage. At this point, we use IP as our primary method of broadcast when ISDN is ridiculously expensive or just unavailable.
Access has been totally reliable for us every time we’ve used it, and I trust the technology. While we have experienced dropouts from our internet service provider, Access has always delivered high-quality audio for us over lower bandwidth than ISDN. I’m amazed that Access sounds just as good as our ISDN lines, while running on only 40 kbps. It feels like magic.
We use Comrex’s Switchboard support software with our Access units. That makes connecting to networks like ours that use firewalls without fixed IP addresses easy. Instead of having to enter the static IP every time we connect, we just pre-enter network information, and when the time comes to broadcast, select a connection destination from a dropdown menu. This makes things so much simpler, especially for our nontechnical users.
I’m on-site as often as possible, and I help out announcers everywhere I go. Our women’s basketball announcer, however, doesn’t have an engineer — he’s a one-man show. To keep his setup simple, he has the Access 2USB with the attachable Access five-channel Portable Mixer. That’s his entire setup and he has no trouble with it. He keeps POTS connected to the Access as well to make sure we can switch over if there are any hiccups in our Ethernet connection. With just this piece of equipment, he’s able to announce from anywhere.
I know ISDN won’t be around for much longer, and Access will soon become primary for us in every context. It’s going that way — ISDN quickly is becoming impractical. But I feel confident, going into the shift, because I trust Access and I know what we can do with it. The future is bright.
For information, contact Chris Crump at Comrex in Massachusetts at (978) 784-1776 or visit www.comrex.com.