Radio News September 2018

WHEAT:NEWS RADIO  September 2018 Vol 9, No 9

How I Ended Up at WBZ One Saturday Evening

Note: We apologize for attaching images of WBUR to the WBZ story in the email newsletter. We've corrected the situation. Stay tuned for a story coming soon about WBUR.

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Top photo shows WBZ new studios. Bottom photo shows studios before being updated. Check out the galleries below each image for more photos.

By Scott Fybush

On a Saturday night in August, WBZ 1030 came to the end of its long historical road at 1170 Soldiers Field Road, switching over to new studios in iHeartMedia's expanded cluster facility in suburban Medford. Having been there when the current studios went on the air back in 1996, I wasn't going to miss this bit of history. And so I was back with my old colleagues to watch the last live all-news block go out from the old studios, followed by a couple of hours of prerecorded talk programming before the switch was finally thrown to hand control over to the new digs up in Medford. 

It's been more than 20 years since I loaded up my old used Saturn and said goodbye to my newsroom colleagues at the most legendary station where I'd ever worked, WBZ 1030. At the time, I thought I'd always know where to find my old friends. Even then, WBZ was about to celebrate its 50th anniversary at the same address, 1170 Soldiers Field Road, right across the Charles River from Harvard. Our studios, mind you, weren't 50 years old. In fact, we'd just finished moving across the building from 1970s-vintage studio space into a shiny new addition that housed a combined newsroom for WBZ radio and our forever sister station, WBZ-TV 4. 

Oh wait - did I say "forever"? Because in radio, nothing's ever forever. Back in 1997, WBZ TV and radio had just come under the CBS ownership umbrella after our founding owner, Westinghouse, had bought CBS. And of course just last year, CBS spun off its radio station division, which set into motion a complicated Boston chess game in which WBZ radio ended up in the hands of iHeartMedia. 

That’s how I came to be at 1170 Soldiers Field Road on a Saturday night in August. I wanted to be there when WBZ 1030 made the switch over to new studios in iHeart's expanded cluster facility in suburban Medford. WBZ would be integrating operations with three other existing FM stations along with two other FMs moving in and an AM, which, ironically, was our old nemesis WRKO AM. 

Is there anything eerier than a radio studio that's been silenced? As the iHeart engineering team got busy pulling out critical servers and starting to dismantle the old WBZ studios, I took a last walk around the building, and said goodbye to the "WBZ Radio Hall of Fame" plaques outside the front door (they'll move up to Medford soon, I'm told).

I then got to step inside the new home of WBZ 1030 on its third morning there. After all those years in windowless newsrooms on Soldiers Field Road, WBZ's new digs are a revelation. My friends there now get a wall of windows looking out over the Boston skyline to the south. The days when I'd write a newscast and then run down two hallways balancing a big stack of carts atop a pile of printed scripts? That's far in the past. 

Most poignant was the shared talk studio that serves my alma matter WBZ and our one-time rival WRKO. And of course, Wheatstone was there with WheatNet-IP audio networking to bring it all together, along with customizable LXE consoles and virtual news workstations. 

I couldn’t have imagined 20 years ago that the news workstations would amount to little more than a touchscreen tablet! These were customized using Wheatstone’s ScreenBuilder virtual development platform, so every writer, editor and anchor can bring up any source in the system instantly to preview a news cut or record an interview. 

And speaking of glass, the new studio itself is all glassed in and equipped with a pair of LXE consoles to allow one anchor to get her next newscast ready while her partner is on the air. 

For a station whose predominant design ethos back in my day was "this carpet still has some threads left and the paint hasn't peeled off yet," WBZ's new space is amazingly slick, too - all industrial metal ceilings overhead and iHeart white-and-red on every wall and desk surface. 

Scott Fybush is an industry observer, consultant, editor of NorthEast Radio Watch and host of the "Top of the Tower Podcast." See more of the new WBZ studios and the rest of Scott's Boston trip on and at! 

Plugfest 2018. We’re Not Talking.


PicturedDanny Teunissen - all things Wheat in The Netherlands and beyond - behind the racks at Plugfest, which we are not talking about...

The first rule of Plugfest 2018 is to not talk about Plugfest 2018 so we won’t tell you that Wheatstone was there with the AES67 goods. Nor will we mention the huge strides we made in IP interoperability, or how much we enjoyed getting together with other industry manufacturers to talk IP in Wuppertal, Germany, last month. 

What we can tell you is that the results sounded and looked phenomenal at the IBC show in Amsterdam. 

It was all laid out for you at the IP Showcase, where show goers got instruction, case studies, and demonstrations of what we’re talking about – or rather, not talking about. This is the third IP Showcase at IBC and captured the momentum behind the migration to standards-based IP infrastructure for real-time professional media applications. 

IP Showcase was hosted by major technical and standards organizations within the broadcast industry: Audio Engineering Society (AES), Alliance for IP Media Solutions (AIMS), Advanced Media Workflow Association (AMWA), European Broadcasting Union (EBU), Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers®(SMPTE®), and Video Services Forum (VSF).

Our AES67 compatible WheatNet-IP audio network units was there doing their part and demonstrating AES67 compatibility in this overall showcase system based on SMPTE ST 2110 standards. AES67 is a critical part of the move to IP because as the IP audio transport standard specified in SMPTE ST 2110, it can eliminate the practice of HD/SDI audio embedding/de-embedding with video and all the hardware that goes along with HD/SDI workflows.  AES67 is an IP audio multicast transport standard that uses the Precision Time Protocol IEEE 1588 as the master clock reference.


Your IP Question Answered

Q: In examining our IP audio network options, I’m discovering that one of the key criteria is the software that configures the system. You don’t hear much about this, but it’s key to the system, right? 

A: Absolutely, because much of the setting up and control is done through a navigator type program, which ironically, is what we call the one for WheatNet-IP. As part of the system, when activated, WheatNet-IP NAVIGATOR can continuously query the network so that you have the option of always having a monitor and control center for the current configuration and status. While NAVIGATOR can provide all the parameters related to a connection, including audio level and any salvos associated with it, the system can and does run perfectly when NAVIGATOR isn't running. So yes, it’s key to everything, but you don't need to leave the key in the lock, so to speak.

We Survived Hurricane Florence!

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As many of you know, Wheatstone’s factory is located a few miles from downtown New Bern, North Carolina, which was hit head-on by tropical storm Florence. Our little town survived gusting winds over 80 mph on September 14, with initial water levels reaching at least 10 feet above sea level. 

We closed down our factory ahead of Hurricane Florence’s arrival and shifted tech support to Wheatstone engineers in California, Texas and Syracuse, N.Y. Meanwhile, many of our sales staff were at the IBC show in Amsterdam, watching weather maps and news reports as events unfolded in our little community and hoping for the best. 

We’re happy to report that all our staff and their families have been accounted for and the factory stands high and dry on Industrial Drive as it always has, thanks in part to the sturdy construction of our plant. 

Thank you all for your continued best wishes and especially to our local broadcasters who stayed on the air to keep us informed during wind and high water. 


Meanwhile, In Amsterdam...

VP7 UpdateGlamShot

  …our VoxPro 7.1 digital recorder/editor made Best of Show! The new VoxPro version 7.1 features smarter hotkeys, customizable shortcuts and improved file naming and importing functions. 

Next Stop, Radio Show in Orlando

Wheatstone NAB RADIO 2018 PromoWeb

We’ll be there with all the goods on studio optimization and virtualization. See what we’re putting on your tablet now and be one of the first to hear the X4 audio processor everyone is talking about. See you in Orlando, Wheatstone Booth 44.

Seven AoIP Problem Solvers

SevenAoIP Problem SolversThere are issues and challenges aplenty in broadcast facilities today. IP audio networking can solve a few of these. Here are seven that top the list.    

1. Emergency intercom. Why add onto your plant intercom when your existing IP audio network can form the communication backbone needed for a temporary back channel? Our WheatNet-IP audio network has integrated audio and control that make it possible to set up IFB communication between locations.

2. Audio, anywhere. Native analog, microphone, AES/EBU, SPDIF, AoIP, MADI, or SDI, it’s all one big happy family in the world of IP audio networking. Ingest any audio format into the WheatNet-IP audio network, and output in any audio format – go from analog to digital, AES to IP, or MADI to AES67.

3. Virtual expandability. Need to add on a newsroom, workstation or new studio? It’s all in the WheatNet-IP audio network. Create virtual mixers and other touchscreen controls using our ScreenBuilder virtual development platform, which provides the necessary widgets and scripting tools.

4. Integrated audio routing and automation. No sound cards, external logic or added routers needed. Production automation systems integrate into the WheatNet-IP audio network system using our software ACI. 

5. Change control. Change consoles or locations without having to create new logic commands. With WheatNet-IP, logic follows audio. Audio and control for that audio travel down the same cable, so you can pick up feeds and the logic for those feeds anywhere along the network. 

6. Routable audio tools. Processors and virtual mixers are built into each WheatNet-IP I/O BLADE. With two stereo 8x2 utility mixers at the point of I/O, you can do online mixing of sounds, segue remotely between feeds, and virtually overdub and pan. Similarly, EQ dynamics and other processing tools available at I/O points in the network can be used for “spot” processing of satellite feeds, headphone audio, or web streams. 

7. Redundancy. IP audio networking gives you more points of recovery should something go wrong. This is especially true of distributed and intelligent networks like WheatNet-IP that have no centralized points of failure. 

ProppFrexx ONAIR and WheatNet-IP Combined!

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ProppFrexxONAIRsmallWe recently added the ProppFrexx ONAIR playout automation system to our ever-expanding family of WheatNet-IP audio network partnerships. This innovative automation system made by our broadcast friends at Radio42 in Germany, is the latest of more than 55 third-party brands that integrate into the WheatNet-IP environment for seamless workflows across the studio network and between automation, codecs and more. 

Wheatstone technology partners include codec units by Tieline, profanity delay units by Eventide, and all the major automation systems. Third-party products or systems talk to WheatNet-IP through a Wheatstone control protocol known as ACI. In the case of playout automation systems especially, this seamless integration into the audio network through ACI lets broadcasters initiate automation controls and route audio from anywhere in the network without the use of soundcards. 

Third party add-ons are in addition to the 50 or so elements that we make for WheatNet-IP – from consoles and software apps to talent stations and mic processors. Plus, with AES67 compatibility, the WheatNet-IP audio network can expand into other network systems that support AES67, including Dante®.

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DMX Callouts

VoxPro 7.1!

VoxPro 7.1 became official recently and won a BEST OF SHOW award at IBC. Here's Kaden giving a rundown on VoxPro 7.1, along with some great demos of VoxPro overall.



Making Sense of the Virtual Studio:

Curious about how the modern studio has evolved in an IP world? Virtualization of the studio is WAY more than tossing a control surface on a touch screen. With today's tools, you can virtualize almost ANYTHING you want to do with your audio network. This free e-book illustrates what real-world engineers and radio studios are doing. Pretty amazing stuff.

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-- Scott Johnson, Editor

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