The author is senior broadcast radio engineer for BYU Broadcasting.
PROVO, Utah — In the fall of 2016, as a senior broadcast engineer, I was given the engineering responsibility for studio and transmission functions for the radio stations at BYU Broadcasting, which is located on the Brigham Young University campus in Provo, Utah. The radio stations consist of KBYU(FM) 89.1 MHz HD, BYU Radio HD2, and KUMT(FM) 107.9 KHz.
At the broadcast center, BYU Radio, in concert with the BYU Athletics department, produce and provide play-by-play and game analysis, for football, basketball, soccer and baseball games live over air, including webstreams. In 2018, we also assumed responsibility for the distribution of our live sporting events to our radio affiliates.
With this new responsibility added to the mix of our radio sports operation, there was a separate request to increase the number of live sporting events. This means we can air two, occasionally three, different sporting events simultaneously. However, we can’t hire four or five remote engineers and send them jet setting across the USA — that cost was not an option for us. But there was another way.
With the exception of football, our sports announcers are required to travel with the remote mixing gear, and then mix/engineer their own shows.
Of course, that is a double-edged sword! Doing this reduces the amount of engineers needed to travel, but then you are relying on your talent to have at least some basic audio mixing skills.
To perform this miracle, I needed to find a magical box. A remote unit that would be ridiculously easy to use, insanely versatile and, last of all, be intrinsically redundant like never before.
When I attended the NAB Show last year, I visited the Tieline booth. I had previously purchased a Tieline product called Merlin. What a great name for a product that comes from a company that I consider to be the wizards of remote connectivity.
I was so impressed with this unit, I wanted to give Tieline the first crack at this unknown magic box I had conjured up, a Swiss Army Knife of radio remote codec units. I was not expecting to get all of the requirements on my list checked off. Well, to my amazement Tieline did have one such unit in its arsenal of remote weaponry: the ViA.
I have no idea why it’s called the ViA, but after my demo, ViA stands for Very Intelligent Apparatus. My magic box was a reality.
ViA is a compact unit that can handle a three-headset mix, plus one aux bus that can have analog, digital, or USB sources routed to it. It features a beautiful touchscreen display that makes navigating menus a breeze and is equipped with a good size rechargeable battery, which will keep you on the air and running when the power goes out. (Trust me I know.) It includes AGC, compression, gating, filters, EQ on each channel. Also, there’s a built-in SD card stereo/mono recorder and playback device with full library recall, custom playlist option, mixing ability and a full blown matrix and cue routing control.
There are more features on this box that I could write about, but consider this: A person can take this little unit, add the new dual LTE module and three headsets on the road, set up in the middle of nowhere with no power, connect up with dual bonded LTE SIM cards and broadcast for two hours without a hitch. You’ll quickly become a believer in Tieline. ViA is the real deal.
Let me finish by commenting on a Tieline product that works with their remote gear line, which of course includes the ViA. This product is the Cloud Codec Controller.
No matter where the ViA is located in the U.S., as long as it is turned on with an internet connection (LAN, LTE or wireless) and assigned an IP address, I will be able to connect to the unit via the CCC software and have complete control of it. And I really mean complete control, just as if I were standing right in front of the unit itself.
That was the feature that won my full allegiance to the Tieline company. It gave me the peace of mind and confidence that sending the ViA on the road with no engineer, is not only doable, but is now the active protocol. In reality, there really is an engineer with the unit; he just happens to be sitting at his desk computer back at the station, making any necessary adjustments.
The Tieline ViA was a golden find. As for Tieline, they are the Swiss Army Knife of remote radio broadcasting.